Aquinas Institute names Oosdyke as new dean

The Aquinas Institute of Theology, a seminary and graduate
school for students pursuing careers in ministry, has selected a
woman to fill the position of vice president and academic dean.

Sr. Mary Kay Oosdyke, O.P., Ph.D., will take the place of Sr.
Diane Kennedy, O.P, who accepted a position as associate provost at
Dominican University in suburban Chicago.

Oosdyke earned her master’s degree from the Aquinas Institute,
and stands as only the second woman to be named dean at the
Institute, a rare distinction in theological studies.

Prior to working at the Institute, Oosdyke served as the
director of the Master of Arts in Ministry program at Ursuline
College in Ohio and taught in the historical and doctrinal theology
department at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. As dean, her
job centers around assuring academic quality of the Institute’s
theological and pastoral programs.

Oosdyke plans to focus on assisting laywomen and laymen in
feeling more confident in their roles as theological leaders in the
community. She chose Aquinas due to the richness and mission of the

“The Aquinas Institute is holistic, healthy and grounded in good
theology that takes the tradition seriously and helps people to
integrate their faith tradition,” Oosdyke said. “The people are
young with lots of energy.”

Oosdyke also feels strongly that competent,
theologically-educated women have the potential to make a
significant contribution to the church. Oosdyke thinks that women
bring an otherwise absent lens, especially within areas of social
and health-care ethics.

“Women have a real strong capacity to contribute,” she said. “I
want their voices to be heard.”

According to Oosdyke, the Aquinas Institute is unique because of
its unusual configuration of women and men together.

“There is an openness to hear both sides and collaborate,”
Oosdyke said. Other people then pick up on this collaboration,
which helps to promote the growth of the community.

Oosdyke also hopes to partner with Saint Louis University to
incorporate her ideas into the community. In fact, Eloise Buker,
Ph.D., director of the women’s studies program at SLU, has already
been in contact with Oosdyke. “Since I’ve come here, I’ve been
energized,” Oosdyke said. “There is a positive energy.”