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The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Theology Studies Professor Gerard Mannion Dies

Gerard Mannion, 48, a Georgetown University theology and religious studies professor and senior research fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs died of a heart attack Sept. 21. 

Mannion taught at Georgetown as the Joseph and Winifred Amaturo Chair in Catholic Studies in the department of theology and religious studies and co-founded the university’s Global Irish Studies Initiative alongside fellow Georgetown professors Coilin Parsons and Irene Jillson. 

Mannion’s personable, engaging and hardworking personality made him an excellent teacher and peer, Parsons said. 

GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY BERKLEY CENTER | Theology Professor Gerard Mannion co-founded the Global Irish Studies Initiative and served as president of the International Network of Societies for Catholic Theology.

“I had no idea what a generous colleague he was and how much he was doing because hewas humble, soft-spoken, very self-deprecating and yet an absolute machine, incredibly generous to all of his colleagues,” Parsons said in a phone interview with The Hoya. 

As the founding and network chair of the Ecclesiological Investigations International Research Network, Mannion organized an international on-campus conference in 2015 entitled: “Vatican II: Remembering the Future” which featured prominent Catholic cardinals and bishops, according to an email Provost Robert Groves sent to the Georgetown community Sept. 25. 

Parsons fondly remembers Mannion arranging conference planning meetings over dinner and drinks with coworkers. The intimate environment Mannion fostered allowed peers to get to know each other and share vibrant intellectual conversation, according to Parsons. 

“He was a great one for a party, I think everyone would agree with that, but it is also just a sign he is a confluent host and beyond generous, a great conversationalist, always willing to bring people into the conversation,” Parsons said. 

Mannion was the president of the International Network of Societies for Catholic Theology from 2017 to 2019. In this position, Mannion worked to keep the Catholic Church accountable, calling in 2015 for the institution to reform the Institute for the Works of Religion, commonly referred to as the Vatican Bank, according to a Berkley Center news release. In a 2018 TIME Magazine article, Mannion also criticized the actions of American bishops in the wake of the 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report documenting clerical sexual abuse.

Mannion took the time to take interest in his coworkers’ personal lives and connect with them during gatherings, according to the Berkley Center’s Associate Director for Programs and Outreach Claudia Winkler (GRD ’13).

“He kind of made it a point to come and spend some more time with the staff just as people and was just always really jovial and friendly and personable and had personal conversations with people,” Winkler said in a phone interview with The Hoya.

Mannion published books on ecclesiology, ethics, public theology and other fields of systematic theology and philosophy, and was a huge rugby fan in his free time, according to Parsons. Mannion was looking forward to watching Ireland play in this weekend’s Rugby World Cup, Parsons said. 

Immensely proud of his Irish heritage, Mannion’s Irish history and theology classes were always popular, according to Parsons and Jillson, who both guest lectured in one of Mannion’s classes. 

“The class was wildly oversubscribed,” Parsons said. “I met his students and I was so impressed with how engaged they were, not only with the material itself but with the scholarly and intellectual arguments about the materials. They were embedded in a conversation and that, for me, is the sign of the best kind of teaching.” 

Before coming to Georgetown in 2014, Mannion was the director of the Center for Catholic Thought and Culture and a theology professor at the University of San Diego, according to Groves’ email. He also worked at the University of Oxford, University of Leeds, University of Liverpool and Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. He held a BA from King’s College Cambridge, followed by an MSt and a DPhil, British graduate degrees, from New College at Oxford.  

Although Mannion was a fundamental member of the Irish Global Studies Initiative, the organization will continue to educate students while honoring Mannion’s legacy, Jillson said in a phone interview with The Hoya. 

“He would really want us to persevere so one of the things that we are going to do, Coilin and I, are going to continue discussions about how we commemorate his role in some very specific ways,” Jillson said. “It is really important that people know that Gerard played such a vital role — that is essentially an understatement — in the realization of this dream.” 

Hoya Staff Writer Myroslav Dobroshynskyi contributed to this reporting.

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  • S

    SeanSep 21, 2021 at 8:19 am

    Whilst at Uni (Leeds) I suffered a nervous breakdown. I became terrified and paranoid of every person including my loved ones. My life shattered. I won’t go into the details but Dr Ged Mannion helped me start to fight back against what was felt like an unconquerable fear. Thank you Dr Mannion. I will always remember you.

  • A

    Ant ToweyNov 29, 2019 at 12:32 am

    Thanks for this tribute to a great man. Miss you Ged.

  • P

    Peter ThompsonNov 3, 2019 at 3:22 pm

    I am an Irish journalist writing Gerard Mannion’s obituary for publication next Saturday in The Irish Times. I would be grateful for any memories and comments on his remarkable career sent to my email address at: [email protected] .
    My ‘phone number is 00-353-87-990-3906.
    Many thanks in advance for any assistance readers may be able to give me. Please note that I am obliged to file copy by next Wednesday evening, November 6th, Irish time.
    Regards, Peter Thompson.

  • G

    Grace EdgarSep 27, 2019 at 11:38 pm

    Thank for this tribute to Gerard. We are saddened and shocked at his sudden and untimely passing, we will never forever his love & generosity to his family and contribution to the world. Wonderful memories of growing up with Gerard & his sisters in England, holidays in Ireland and more recently in Washington DC and Melbourne Australia. We now understand discipleship in the modern world. Gerard we will never forget you and your wonderful heart and work. His writings & teachings may be viewed as ‘ Gospel chapters of current times’. Thank you Gerard for all you have been and all that continues for the good of humanity, through the gifts you leave. Love from Your cousin Grace. Victoria, Australia.