Jack Downey

Jack Downey

  • John Henry Newman Professor of Roman Catholic Studies
  • Professor of Religion and Classics

PhD, Fordham University, 2012

436 Rush Rhees Library
(585) 275-5224
Fax: (585) 442-2749

Office Hours: By appointment

Jack Downey is the John Henry Newman Chair in Roman Catholic Studies. He teaches courses on contemporary justice movements, liberation theologies, North American religious history, Christianity, Buddhism, and contemplative traditions. Dr. Downey arrived at the University of Rochester from Philadelphia, where he was Associate Professor of Religion and Theology at La Salle University. He received his Ph.D. from the Department of Theology at Fordham University, and is the author of The Bread of the Strong, a study of contemplative influences on Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement. His current research projects examine self-immolation, forms of protest, violence, Roman Catholicism in Alaska and Québec, and asceticism.

Research Overview

Research Interests

  • Contemporary Justice Movements; Liberation Theologies; North American religious history; Christianity; Buddhism: and Contemplative Traditions

Selected Publications


  • The Bread of the Strong: Lacouturisme and the Folly of the Cross, 1910-1985. New York: Fordham University Press, June 2015.


  • “Colonialism Is Abuse: Reconsidering Triumphalist Narratives in Catholic Studies,” American Catholic Studies (Villanova University), Vol. 130, Issue 2, Summer 2019.
  • Co-authored with Kathleen Holscher, “What the U.S. Catholic Church Gets Wrong about Native dispossession,” Religion & Politics (John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics, Washington University in St. Louis), 29 January 2019.
  • In Coelestibus: The Spiritual Combat of Onésime Lacouture, SJ,The Journal of Jesuit Studies (Boston College), November, 2018.
  • “A Metaphor for the Planet: David Buckel, Civil Rights Attorney and Environmental Activist, Ended His Life,” The Baffler, 19 April 2018.
  • “Critical Self-Reflection and Social Justice as Lasallian Mission,” Axis: Journal of Lasallian Higher Education, Winter, 2018.
  • “‘We Drank Many Gin and Tonics’: Desire and Enchantment in Thomas Merton’s Buddhist Pilgrimage,” Journal of Buddhist-Christian Studies (University of Hawai’i), Fall, 2017.
  • “Dying They Live: Suicide Protesting and Martyrdom,” The Journal of Religion and Violence (Academic Publishing), Vol. 3, No. 2: Pain, Politics, and the Monstrous Other, Fall, 2015.
  • “Making All Things New: The Mystical Anti-Modernism of Lacouturisme in Québec,” Arc (McGill University Faculty of Religious Studies), Vol. 41: Essays on Liberty and Liberation, Summer, 2014.
  • Tiny Drops: Henri de Lubac, Dorothy Day, and Anti-Triumphalism as Radical Praxis,” Union Seminary Quarterly Review (Union Theological Seminary), Vol. 64, No. 2-3,Winter, 2013.
  • “The Strong Meat of the Gospel: ‘Lacouturisme’ and the Revival of Asceticism in North America,” American Catholic Studies (Villanova University), Vol. 122, No. 4, Winter, 2012.


  • REL 104: History of Christianity
  • REL 155: Religion in America
  • REL 158: American Spiritual Autobiography
  • REL 234: Cry Freedom
  • REL 236: Catholicism in American Life
  • REL 269: Tibetan Buddhism
  • REL 284: Civil Disobedience
  • REL 289: Visionaries, Mystics, and Saints