Saint Xavier University Chicago Campus

Squeaky Weal Lecture Series

Squeaky Weal Past Speakers

Selected Squeaky Weal lectures (2002-present) are available in DVD format from the Robert and Mary Rita Murphy Stump Library at Saint Xavier University. Titles may be viewed at the Library's website. DVDs may be borrowed for a week or viewed at the library.

Past Speakers 2017

February 23: Sister Jeanne Christensen, R.S.M.

Jeanne Christensen

"Ending Human Trafficking" focused on how human trafficking is today's tragic form of slavery and a devastating reality for many people around the world. Religious Sisters are among the leaders in efforts to raise awareness, rescue victims and eliminate this abuse in the world. Sister Jeanne Christensen spoke from her vast knowledge and advocacy work concerning this crisis and the efforts to end it. 

Past Speakers 2016

April 14: Dr. Liane Cochran-Stafira, Dr. Matthew Costello and Jeff Tangel

Our Common Home: "An Interdisciplinary Conversation on Environmental Responsibility" featured a panel presentation and discussion on Pope Francis' Laudato si. SXU scholars responded to the encyclical from perspectives in economics, biology and political science. These scholars evaluated the document and critiques from within their respective fields. They explored and engaged the audience on how caring for the environment is a theological and spiritual matter. Also, the discussion included how the various disciplines -- both favorable and critical -- may come together to elucidate how we are to critically evaluate this matter and how to move forward responsibly as a global community.

"I urgently appeal for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation that includes everyone." - Pope Francis, Laudato si

The environment is one of the Sisters if Mercy Critical Concerns, and it is also part of the Christian tradition to be responsible stewards of the gift of creation.

This event was co-sponsored with SXU student group Environmental Concerns Organization.

February 12, 19, 26 and March 4, 18: Lunch and Laudato Si

On Fridays during Lent (February 12, 19, 26 and March 4 and 18), we gathered after noon mass and enjoyed soup and bread while looking over the main points of the document. We learned, discussed, reflected, prayed and ate! We hope you enjoined your time with us on some or all of these dates!

Past Speakers 2015

September 10: Thomas More Donnelly, Jose Alonso, Xiaorong Jajah Wu and Marilu Gonzalez

Sisters Immigration Billboard

"Welcoming the Stranger: Perspectives on the Experience of Immigration" was inspired recently by the words of Pope Francis, Christians are becoming ever more aware of the call to solidarity in an age of globalization. SXU hosted a panel presentation and discussion on the reality of immigration in the United States. The panel presented various perspectives on immigration: first-hand accounts of the immigration experience, the Christian call to justice and hospitality, and the legal aspects of immigration. The Sisters of Mercy hold immigration as one of their Critical Concerns, along with anti-racism, women, environment, and non-violence. Credit for the picture goes to the Catholic Sisters of the Upper Mississippi River Valley.

The speakers consisted of Thomas More Donnelly, associate judge, Circuit Court of Cook County; Jose Alonso, senior attorney, Immigrants and Workers' Rights Practice Group; Xiaorong Jajah Wu, supervising attorney, Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights; Marilu Gonzalez, director, Catholic Charities City of Chicago Southwest Regional Office. The moderator was Father Tim Gray, director of formation, Priests of the Sacred Heart

February 5: Dr. Jon Nilson

Jon Nilson

In "What is 'Black Theology' and Why Do We Need It?", theologian Jon Nilson invited us to consider how theology can help navigate the path to racial equality. Dr. Nilson described the field of "black theology" and its part in the construction of a more just world. This lecture examined racial injustice in light of Christian theology, and invited us to consider religious experience and cultural values in our world today. Below is the audio recording from the event:


Past Speakers 2014

October 30: Defamation, the Play

Defamation The PlayIn its fifth season, momentum builds for Chicago playwright Todd Logan's original courtroom drama. This season, Defamation has a twist: the audience is the jury.

The audience as the jury in Saint Xavier's presentation of play Defamation, stimulated critical dialogue on issues of race, religion and class within national climate of growing intolerance.

In this case of a striving African-American professional woman suing a wealthy Jewish businessman for defamation, the real issues on trial are race, religion and class, all of which the audience/jury had to openly untangle in order to reach a verdict. The resulting conversation came at a critical time as numerous indicators show American society is becoming less integrated and accepting of differences.

The show was held at 6:30 p.m. in McGuire Hall.

October 9: Rev. Michael Pfleger

Michael Pfleger"Is Nonviolence Still a Value?" offered the reflections of St. Sabina co-pastor and social activist Fr. Pfleger on the title question and others: What does or what could the philosophy and practice of nonviolence bring to current situations of injustice and violence, domestically and internationally? Is nonviolence as a strategy for personal and social change still powerful or merely a memory of times past?

Past Speakers 2013

April 9: Kevin Stein, Ph.D.

Kevin SteinIn "Poetry and Politics: A Reading by Illinois Poet Laureate Kevin Stein," the state's official champion of poetry celebrated national Poetry Month by reading and commenting on selections from his newly published volume, Wrestling Li Po for the Remote.

Past Speakers 2012

October 25: Jerome McDonnell

In "Developing Global Activism: Stories from the Front Lines," McDonnell, the host of WBEZ's "Worldview," drew on his interviews with activist groups around the world to discuss their strategies, frustrations and hopes. Co-sponsored with SXU's Honors Program.

March 21: J. Dennis Hastert, Past Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives

Hastert DennisIn "Civility in Government: A Conversation," a sponsored Sweeney Family Lecture, Speaker Hastert commented personally and engaged with panelists Daniel Hynes, J.D.; Mary MacLaren, Ryan McLaughlin, and Sr. Susan Sanders, R.S.M., Ph.D., on the topic of bipartisan relationships in Congress.

February 9: Tom Dart

Tom DartIn "Justice: Through the Eyes of the Sheriff," Cook County Sheriff Dart brought his perspective as the official charged with overseeing the second largest single-site jail in the country to reflections and needed initiatives with regard to justice in society.

Past Speakers 2011

November 2: Dr. Daniel Sulmasy, O.F.M., Ph.D., M.D.

SulmasyIn "Beyond Death Panels: Ethical Issues in Care at the End of Life" physician and medical ethicist Dr. Sulmasy discussed the moral principles involved in decisions about continuing or ending medical interventions as a person approaches death. Co-sponsored by the SXU School of Nursing.

September 27: Hon. Terry Duffy

Terry DuffyIn "The Importance of Ethics in Business," CME Group Executive Chairman Duffy shared his personal story of entrepreneurial success, commenting on ethical challenges along the way and offering advice to would-be business leaders of the future.

April 5: Toni Preckwinkle

Toni PreckwinkleIn "The First 100 Days in Office," Cook County Board President Preckwinkle reviewed the challenges facing Cook County, with emphasis on the County's two largest endeavors -- health care and criminal justice.

April 2: Don Hahn and Michael Carroll

In the Chicago Premiere of Hand Held, a documentary film produced by Hahn and featuring Carroll, audiences experienced the plight of Romanian orphans, discovered and photographed by Carroll -- a plight that led to his founding of the Romanian Children's Relief organization. The inaugural sponsored Sweeney Family Lecture.

March 15: Mary Dempsey, J.D.

Mary DempseyIn "The Role of Public Libraries in the Digital Age," Chicago Public Library Commissioner Dempsey spoke of the changing role of public libraries as educational resources for students and adults in an age dominated by digital technology.

February 17: Christine Wiseman, J.D.

Christine M. WisemanIn "A Seven Year Odyssey on Texas Death Row," former SXU President Christine Wiseman discussed her work on the Billy Conn Gardner death penalty case and its impact on her assessment of the constraints on justice within the American legal system.

Past Speakers 2010

October 28: Blair Kamin

Blair KaminIn "Terror and Wonder: Architecture in a Tumultuous Age," Kamin's illustrated lecture explored architecture's reflection of contemporary cultural and political forces and examined the current "tumultuous age" replete with "artistic triumph and urban disaster ... frugal energy-saving architecture and giddy design excess." Kamin's recently released book, Terror and Wonder: Architecture in a Tumultuous Age, was available for purchase.

March 23: Justice Anne Burke, J.D.

Anne BurkeIn "Private Catholic/Public Servant: A Jurist Reflects on Faith and Profession," Justice Burke discussed the dynamic and sometimes stressful relationship between her personal beliefs and the obligations and pressures inherent in her public role. Her reflections speak to all who seek a balance between faith and profession in their own lives.

March 12: Jim Coates, Leslie Heaphy, Larry Lester

In "A League to Remember: The Negro National League," the panel commemorated the 90th anniversary of the first black baseball league to survive an entire season. The presentation will include discussions about the league's players and sportswriters, integration issues and Chicago's influence on the league's success.

February 11: Tom Negovan

Tom NegovanIn his lecture "Assignment Afghanistan: A Chicago Reporter's Journey to War and What He Learned There," he reflected on that experience and on the difficulty of the soldiers' dual mission of befriending the local population and discovering and defeating Al-Qaeda and Taliban operatives.

Past Speakers 2009

November 4: Paul Green

Paul GreenIn "Revenue, Revenue, Wherefore Art Thou? Has Government Become Too Expensive?," Professor Green suggested that many of the decisions about where or how to obtain revenue and where or how to cut services could be challenged ethically, or, at the least, ought to be informed by an ethical perspective.

March 31: Mary Schmich

In "Adapt or Die: Surviving Change in the New Millennium," Mary Schmich asked us to consider how the ordinary person copes and adapts in order to survive, or possibly, thrive.

February 19: Bill Kurtis

In his home state of Kansas, Bill Kurtis has launched the Tallgrass Beef Company to champion the environmental and health benefits of grass-fed cattle. Insights from this experience informed his lecture "The Case Against America's Diet," which took a look at the obesity problem now facing the United States.

Previous Speakers from 2008-2001


  • R. Scott Appleby: "Politics As If Catholic Social Teaching Mattered"
  • Joseph Parisi: "Between the Lines: An Intimate History of Poetry Magazine and the Revolutions in Modern Verse by Women"
  • John Callaway: "John Callaway's State of the Union"


  • Nikki Giovanni: "Diversity and Racism: Bridging the Gap between Racial Relations at Saint Xavier University" Multiple sponsors.
  • Jean Bethke Elshtain: "What Does It Mean To Be Human? C.S. Lewis on the Abolition of Man" Co-sponsored with the SXU Honors Program.
  • Sr. Helen Prejean, C.S.J.: "The Journey Continues" -- Talk in tandem with production of the play "Dead Man Walking" by students from SXU, McAuley High School, and Brother Rice High School
  • Kathleen Kennedy Townsend: "How American Churches Are Failing Our Faith, Our Politics, and Our Country"
  • Paul Green: "Governing Chicago: Its History from a Moral Perspective"
  • Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn: "Civic Responsibilities in Turbulent Times"


  • Serrin Foster: "The Feminist Case Against Abortion"
  • Augusta Read Thomas: "Music and the Search for Meaning: Inspiration, Creativity, and Meaning" -- a performance of her original music as composer-in-residence at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
  • Don Hampton: "The Athlete's Ethic of Discipline, Teamwork, and Integrity"
  • William Brooks: "Music and the Search for Meaning: The Creative Process and Meaning" Co-sponsored with the Chicago Composers Forum and the Beverly Arts Center
  • Shulamit Ran: "Music and the Search for Meaning: Interpreting the Signs and Symbols of Meaning"
  • Bill Rancic: "Ethics and Entrepreneurship"
  • James Mobberly: "Music and the Search for Meaning: Performers, Technology, and Meaning"

Portraits of Women in Islam Conference, November 10-11, 2006

  • Francis Tiso: "Mediating Place and Space: Contributions of Muslim Women to Interreligious Dialogue"
  • Kecia Ali: "Progressive Muslim Sexual Ethics: Reflections on Academia and Activism"
  • Scott Alexander: "Hagar as an Abrahamic Symbol of Freedom from Oppression"
  • Macia Hermansen: "Neither of the East Nor of the West: American Sufi Women: Spirituality, Leadership, and Gender Justice without Borders"
  • Ingrid Mattson: "Heaven's Gate: How Muslim Women Open or Close Doors for Their Sisters"


  • Joseph Parisi: "Poetry and the Search for Meaning: On a Personal Note"
  • Lisel Mueller: "Poetry and the Search for Meaning: The Need to Hold Still"
  • W.S. Merwin: "Poetry and the Search for Meaning: An Evening with W.S. Merwin at the Newberry Library" (Sponsored by SXU's Center for Religion and Public Discourse but held at the Newberry)
  • Sr. Gaye Moorhead, R.S.M.: "'Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses' -- NOT!"


  • John White: "Moments and Memories of Joseph Cardinal Bernardin"
  • Kevin Stein: "Poetry and the Search for Meaning: God of the Second Chance"
  • Sr. Moira Kenny, R.S.M. and Mary Dean: "Waging Peace: Prayers, Prison, and Protest"
  • Carol Marin: "Truth's Tortured Life: Trying to Find and Tell the Truth in News"


  • Gretchen Helfrich: "Knowledge, the Media, and the Good Life: Reflections of a Public Radio Broadcaster"
  • Judy Valente: "A Monday through Friday Catholic: A Journalist Looks at How To Be a Catholic and a Professional in Today's Media World"
  • Kathy O'Malley and Judy Markey: "The Girlfriends Speak Their 'Peace'"
  • Sr. Helen Prejean, C.S.J.: "Dead Man Walking -- The Journey Continues"
  • Jim Edgar: "Centering Yourself in Public Life"


  • Rev. Andrew Greeley: "The Facts about American Catholicism"
  • R. Scott Appleby: "The Sex Abuse Scandal: Implications for the Roman Catholic Church"
  • Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.: "Defending Yourself While Forgiving Your Enemies"


  • Mike Flannery: "Journalism, Politics, and the Good Life: Reflections from a Television Political Analyst"
  • Imam Amin Kholwadia: "A Snapshot of Islam: A Discourse on God, Jihad, and Nonviolence"

For More Information

For more information about the Squeaky Weal Lecture Series, please contact the Center for Religion and Public Discourse at 773-298-3981 or