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Three Things Talks

The Vincentian Center for Church and Society at St. John's University presents Three Things Talks, a series that addresses issues of Catholic belief and teaching. The talks are intended for adult Catholics who want to know more about their faith, and for those who are interested in what Catholics believe. Each talk emphasizes three important ideas.


“Go to Joseph”

Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., senior research associate-in-residence in the Department of Religion at Hofstra University, joined us for a discussion on “Joseph and Silence,” providing the audience with a deeper understanding of the significance of his silence. Then, Matthew Lewis Sutton, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at St. John’s University, brought us through “Joseph and Prayer” from the perspective of a father.

Additional Resources

For books and films recommended by both speakers, please click here.

A Lourdes Pilgrimage: Prayer, Penance and Procession

On April 10, 2021, Marlene Watkins, Foundress of the first Lourdes Hospitality of the Americas, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospitality North American Volunteers, presented "A Lourdes Pilgrimage: Prayer, Penance and Procession.” Since 1858, over one hundred million people have made the journey to Lourdes, France. Why? Discover the value of pilgrimage, the timeless gospel message of Lourdes, and the relevance to us today.

About the speaker

Marlene Watkins headshot

Marlene Watkins is the Foundress of the first Lourdes Hospitality of the Americas, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospitality North American Volunteers, which accompanies the seriously ill and profoundly disabled to the Sanctuaries in France with medical supportive care, volunteers, university students and youth.  Lourdes Volunteers introduced the privilege of serving the Sanctuaries and the Universal Church in Lourdes to Americans and brings groups of volunteers from schools, universities, including St. John’s University first Service Mission to Lourdes.  She has traveled to Asia, Africa, Europe and across America-the-Beautiful to share the Message of Lourdes through Virtual Pilgrimage Experiences in parishes, schools, prisons and to groups of all ages. She has appeared on CBS, PBS, BBC and frequently on EWTN, as well as speaking on Catholic national and local radio broadcasts, to audiences at international conferences and has been featured in books and newspapers about Lourdes and her experiences as a volunteer. Marlene was named an Outstanding Catholic by Our Sunday Visitor in 2015. Marlene is a wife, mother and grandmother from Syracuse, New York, and is a professed Secular Franciscan.

The Psalms: 150 Conversations with God

Rev. Patrick J. Griffin, C.M., Executive Director of the Vincentian Center for Church and Society at St. John's University, presented on "The Psalms: 150 Conversations with God.” Each psalm represents a person who turns to his/her God with a prayer that arises from a human heart. The Psalter captures experiences of every kind and echoes voices of need, contrition, and thanksgiving. In this conversation, we reflected on these words of our ancestors in faith and recognize how they continue to be our words.

Additional Resources on the Psalms

  1. "Praying the Psalms," by Thomas Merton
    A guide on how to pray the psalms from a wonderful Christian spiritual writer.
  2. "Songs of the Heart: An Introduction to the Book of Psalms," by Nahum M. Sarna
    A Jewish author’s beautiful explanation of the character of some of the psalms.
  3. "Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible," by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
    A classic, heartfelt reflection on the nature and meaning of the psalms.
  4. "Psalms: Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching,” by James L. Mays
    A readable full commentary on all the Psalms

About the speaker:

Fr. Patrick Griffin headshot

Fr. Patrick Griffin, CM, a Brooklyn native, was ordained a Vincentian priest in 1979. After ordination, he completed a doctorate in Biblical Studies and has taught at various universities and seminaries. From 1993-1999, he worked in Rome as the Econome General of the Congregation of the Mission (the Vincentians). From 2010-2014, Fr. Griffin ministered in Paris as the Director General of the Daughters of Charity. In March 2014, he returned to St. John’s University in NY where he assumed his current position as the Executive Director for the Vincentian Center for Church and Society.

Ad Intra, Ad Extra: Papal Infallibility After 150 Years

Christopher Denny, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at St. John's University, discusses how the Dogmatic Constitution of the First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, transformed both the church's understanding of the papacy and Catholicism's relationship to the wider world. Watch the first talk in the series below.

About Christopher Denny, Ph.D.

Christopher Denny headshot

Christopher Denny is an associate professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at St. John's University in New York, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in historical theology from the patristic to the modern era.  Denny is the author of A Generous Symphony: Hans Urs von Balthasar's Literary Revelations (Fortress, 2016); the coeditor, with Patrick Hayes and Nicholas Rademacher, of A Realist's Church: Essays in Honor of Joseph A. Komonchak (Orbis, 2015); and the coeditor, with Jeremy Bonner and Mary Beth Fraser Connolly, of Empowering the People of God: Catholic Action before and after Vatican II (Fordham UP, 2014). Other recent publications include articles in the Journal of Interreligious Studies, Horizons, the Journal of Ecumenical Studies, the Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies, and Christianity and Literature. Denny is the recipient of best-article awards from the Catholic Press Association, the College Theology Society, and the Conference on Christianity and Literature.

Download the Three Things Talk flyer(PDF)