News : Catholic Experts

Catholic Experts

The University is home to several Catholic scholars in our Department of Religious Students who conduct research and teach courses on theology, the U.S. Catholic experience, Catholic history, Christian traditions, the Vatican, religion and culture, religion and politics, and many more. The world's media turned to many of them for insight on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and transition to Pope Francis. 

The University also is home to the Center for Catholic Education that promotes, enhances and supports Catholic schools through development programs for teachers, leaders and students. 

The University of Dayton news and communications office offers a broadband studio for television interviews via Skype, Lifesize or FaceTime that provides high-quality broadcast capabilities at no cost to news outlets. The 24/7 studio, which can be set up in as little as 30 minutes during normal business hours and 90 minutes on nights and weekends, features a 4K UHD camera, with auto-white balance, focus, brightness and contrast controls; upload/download speeds up to 100 mbps; LED lighting, lavalier mic; IFB connection, professional University of Dayton background and a central campus location that's convenient for faculty. Read more about our studio here. 

For satellite TV interviews, the University of Dayton news and communications office usually works through ThinkTV, which is 10 minutes from campus, and will try to accommodate other arrangements in Cincinnati or Columbus, which are 60-75 minutes away.

Latino Theology/Latina Theology, Migrations, Racial Justice, History of Latin American Catholic Women

Neomi DeAnda, assistant professor, religious studies
(o) 937-229-4321,
PR contact: Meagan Pant, (o) 937-229-3256, (c) 937-212-2979,

DeAnda teaches at all levels from undergraduates through doctoral students, including Latino/Latina Religious Experience and liberation theology at the undergraduate level; History from Trent to Vatican II and Beyond and God and the Human Experience at the master’s level; and a Ph.D. seminar in Latin@ Theology. She is author of the forthcoming book, A Theology of Breast Milk: A Latina Perspective for which she received the Louisville Institute First Book Grant for Minority Scholars. DeAnda is also a mentor for American Academy of Religion. She has served as co-chair of the Latina/o religion, culture and society group of the American Academy of Religion, treasurer for the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States, and book review editor for the New Theology Review. National Catholic Reporter named her one of 12 women under 40 creating change in the Church in 2012. She is fluent in Spanish.

Interviewed by: BBC, National Catholic Reporter and Univision, among others.

Theology, Church History, Pope and Papacy, Vatican and Vatican II

Dennis Doyle, professor, religious studies
(o) 937-229-4219,
PR Contact: Cilla Shindell, (o) 937-229-3257, (c) 937-367-2889,

Doyle is a Catholic theologian and author of The Church Emerging from Vatican II

Interviewed by: The Associated Press, The Washington Post, The Globe and Mail (UK), Catholic News Service, Al Jazeera America, Los Angeles Times and National Catholic Reporter among others.

Catholic Social Teaching, Politics and Culture

Vincent J. Miller, Gudorf Chair in Catholic Theology and Culture
PR Contact: Cilla Shindell, (o) 937-229-3257, (c)

Miller is an expert on religion and politics, religion and consumer culture, the U.S. Catholic Church's involvement in politics and public policy, social justice and public policy and the moral consequences of budgetary policies. He is author of Consuming Religion: Christian Faith and Practice in a Consumer Culture and is currently working on a book on the effect of globalization on religious belief. Miller has been widely sought for his comments on the global financial crisis, Catholic social teaching and the federal budget's impact on the poor.

Interviewed by: Fox News (The O'Reilly Factor), The New York Times, The Associated Press, The Washington PostNational Catholic Reporter, Catholic News Service, and Religion News Service, among others.

Catholic History, Theology, Catholic Higher Education

William Portier, Mary Ann Spearin Chair of Catholic Theology
(o) 937-229-4435,
PR Contact: Cilla Shindell, (o) 937-229-3257, (c)

Portier, president of the College Theology Society, is the author of books on U.S. Catholicism and theology and has contributed nearly 100 articles and reviews in the areas of theology, U.S. Catholic history, and Catholic higher education. His article "Here Come the Evangelical Catholics" was chosen by the College Theology Society for the 2005 Award for Best Journal Article.

Interviewed by: The New York TimesThe Washington Post, NPR, The Catholic Telegraph, and The Associated Press, among others. 

Catholic Identity, Intellectual Life; Authority, Dissent and Community

Daniel Thompson, associate professor and chair, religious studies
(o) 937-229-4539,

PR Contact: Cilla Shindell, (o) 937-229-3257, (c) 

Thompson has written about Catholic identity and the Catholic intellectual tradition. His research and writings have focused on the challenge of dissent with church authority and how faith communities stay together in the face of change.

Interviewed by: The Philadelphia Inquirer and USA Today, among others.

The Global Church, Education, Communication

Sister Angela Ann Zukowski, M.H.S.H., director, Institute for Pastoral Initiatives
(o) 937-229-3126,
PR Contact: Cilla Shindell, (o) 937-229-3257, (c)

For more than 40 years, Zukowski has served the church at the Vatican and around the world as an advocate for global communication. She was a member of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications (Vatican) 1994-2002 and received the "Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice" Medal from Pope John Paul II in Rome in 2001.

Interviewed by: National Catholic Register, The Catholic Telegraph and Catholic News Service, among others. 

Historical Perspective, Women in the Church

Sandra Yocum, associate professor, religious studies
(o) 937-229-4322,
PR Contact: Cilla Shindell,  (o) 937-229-3257, (c)

Yocum, past-president of the College Theology Society, is a well-known writer and lecturer nationally on U.S. Catholic life and thought. Her research interests include U.S. Catholic history and women in the Church, and the Catholic sex abuse crisis. She has published articles in encyclopedias and several journals including Theological Studies, Horizons, Church History, U.S. Catholic Historian. She co-edited American Catholic Traditions: Resources for Renewal with William Portier. 

Interviewed by: National Catholic Reporter, The Associated Press,, Los Angeles Times and Voice of Russia, among others. 

Religion and Pop Culture, American Media Framing

Joe Valenzano III, assistant professor, communications
Media Contact: Meagan Pant,  (o) 937-229-3256, (c)

Valenzano's research interests include rhetoric and public communication, political communication, religious communication and culture, and communication education. He has written about Pope John Paul II's death as a final homily and Pope Benedict XVI's trip to Turkey. He teaches a course called "Priests, Preachers and Politics: Religious Communication."

Interviewed by: CNBC, Bloomberg, NPR and Catholic News Service, among others.

Theology and Social Media

Jana Bennett, associate professor, religious studies
(o) 937-229-4196, 
PR Contact: Cilla Shindell, (o) 937-229-3257, (c)

Bennett is associate editor of the blog Catholic Moral Theology and writes on moral theology in relation to marriage, feminism, disability, the Internet and social media.

Interviewed by: The New York Times, National Catholic Reporter and Religion News Service, among others.

Human Rights and Social Justice

Mark Ensalaco, Director of Human Rights Research
(o) 937-229-2750,
PR Contact: Shawn Robinson, (o) 937-229-3391, (c)

Ensalaco is also an associate political science professor who specializes in political violence and terrorism. He is a member of Peace and Social Justice Advisory Committee of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities and the Catholic Relief Services' Scholars in Global Solidarity. He is a former member of the Ohio attorney general's trafficking in persons study commission and a co-founder of the local anti-trafficking group Abolition Ohio. He is fluent in Spanish.

Interviewed by: Reuters, CNN en Español, Christian Science Monitor and The Associated Press, among others.

African-American Catholic History

Cecilia Moore, associate professor, religious studies
PR Contact: Cilla Shindell, (o) 937-229-3257, (c)

Moore also is the associate director of the degree program for the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana. She is working on the history of black conversion to Roman Catholicism in the 20th century.

Interviewed by: National Public Radio and the Dayton Daily News. 

Environmental Justice

Sr. Leanne Jablonski, adjunct professor, religious studies; coordinator of the Sustainability, Energy & the Environment learning-living community; director, Marianist Environmental Educational Center
(o) 937-429-3582,
PR Contact: Shawn Robinson, (o) 937-229-3391, (c) 937-232-2907,

Jablonski directs the 100-acre Marianist Environmental Education Center that specializes in restoring communities of land and people and focuses on ecological restoration through research and service-learning, bridging the faith and science communities, and environmental justice. She also coordinates the Ohio Interfaith Climate & Energy Campaign of the Ohio Council of Churches and the environmental justice working group of the Ecological Society of America. National Catholic Reporter highlighted her work in teaching key Catholic principles about the environment.

Interviewed by: National Catholic Reporter, The Columbus Dispatch and The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer.

Catholic Education

Susan Ferguson, director, Center for Catholic Education
Media Contact: Meagan Pant, (o) 937-229-3256, (c)

Ferguson is a member of the National Catholic Educational Association, Catholic Higher Education Collaborative and Catholic Higher Education Supporting Catholic Schools. She has taught classes on the teaching profession, teaching religion, student teaching and young catechetical leaders. 

Mary, the mother of Jesus, in apparitions, and Nativities

The Rev. Johann Roten, S.M., Marian Library director of research, art and special projects

Media Contact: Cilla Shindell, (o) 937-229-3257, (c) 937-367-2889,

Father Roten's expertise includes how faith and the Catholic Church intersect in different cultures, especially how cultures see the birth of Christ and express their perspectives in Nativities. He frequently also serves as a resource on canonization and apparitions. A former student of Pope Benedict XVI, Roten served on a Vatican-appointed commission about Mary in the 1990s. Swiss by birth, Roten speaks English, French, German, Swiss-German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Latin and Greek. He ministers in Polish, Hungarian and Lithuanian in the ethnic churches of Dayton. 

Interviewed by: PBS, The New York Times, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, The Associated Press, The Cincinnati Enquirer, San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post, Denver Post, The Dallas Morning News, The Baltimore Sun and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, among others.