March 10, 2016, Chicago, Illinois – In the Spring months of 2016, Sister Jamie Phelps, OP, PhD, has been and will be recognized for her 50 years of dedicated service to the Church in various ways – from her own study and teaching of theology and preaching to her service through writing and lecturing, psychiatric social work, community organizing, spiritual direction, and pastoral ministry.
Sister Jamie received the How Beautiful Are Their Feet Award during a special dinner at the 2016 Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference (SDPC) for social justice, held February 15-18 in Houston, Texas. Founded in 2003, SDPC is a cross section of African American faith leaders and their congregations. The organization’s mission is to “nurture, sustain, and mobilize the African American faith community in collaboration with civic, corporate, and philanthropic leaders to address critical needs of human and social justice within local, national, and global communities.”
Sister Jamie will also receive an honorary doctorate – her first – from Aquinas Institute of Theology, a Dominican graduate school located in St. Louis, Missouri, during its May 6 commencement exercises. In a letter to Sister Jamie, Rev. Seán C. Martin, President, noted that the Board of Trustees had voted unanimously to award her “the Doctorate of Human Letters, honoris causa, in recognition of your many accomplishments as a theologian and as a member of the Dominican family.”
Sister Jamie noted that these recent awards “are part of the hundredfold God promises for those who attempt to follow in the Way of Jesus. While one does not do ministry to garner recognition or awards, it is nice when your ministry is affirmed by others. To God be the glory!”
An Adrian Dominican Sister since 1959, Sister Jamie is currently a freelance theologian and lecturer, facilitating Bible study at St. Ambrose and St. Thomas the Apostle Parishes in Chicago. She served for eight years as the Director of the Institute for Black Catholic Studies and the Katherine Drexel Professor of Systematic Theology at Xavier University in New Orleans. Before that, she had taught theology in the Chicago-based Catholic Theological Union (CTU) from 1986 to 1998 and Loyola University, 1998 to 2003. Sister Jamie has also served as a visiting professor of theology at the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio, from January to May, 2003, and twice at the University of Notre Dame: in 2005-2006 and 2012-2013.
Sister Jamie has also been engaged in other ministries: theology instructor in a catechetical training program for African American Catholics in the Archdiocese of Chicago; a psychiatric social worker and community organizer at Chicago Child Care Society; a theology teacher at Aquinas High School in Chicago; and a pastoral associate at three Catholic parishes in Chicago: St. Columbanus, Holy Cross, and St. Laurence.
Through the years, Sister Jamie has also written and lectured extensively on a variety of topics, such as African American Catholics, the mission of the Church, religion and human rights, evangelization, religious life, and the Christology.
Sister Jamie hold’s a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Siena Heights College (now University) in Adrian, Michigan; a master’s in social work from the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle, Chicago; a master’s in theology from St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota; and a doctorate in systematic theology from The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.