Publication Date

February 1, 2008

Perspectives Section


At its 88th annual meeting, the American Catholic Historical Association presented its two book prizes. The annual Howard R. Marraro Prize was conferred on Gerald McKevitt, the Ignacio Ellacuria University Professor for Jesuit Studies in Santa Clara University. He was honored for his book Brokers of Culture: Italian Jesuits in the American West, 1848—1919 (Stanford Univ. Press, 2007).

In presenting the prize, the award committee (consisting of Joanne Ferraro of San Diego State University, David Roberts of the University of Georgia, and Kenneth Gouwens of the University of Connecticut, who chaired),declared: "Drawing upon extensive archival research in both Italy and the United States, the author details Jesuits' methods of proselytizing an ethnically diverse population including Native American peoples. Combining religious history and immigration history, the book shows how the missionaries' Italian cultural background helped to shape their efforts at conversion and, more generally, their interactions with others in a rapidly changing multicultural environment."

McKevitt received his BA degree from the University of San Francisco in 1961, his MA degree from the University of Southern California in 1964, and his PhD degree from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1972. He also received the Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree from the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1975. Besides teaching in Santa Clara University, he was the LeRoux Chair professor in Seattle University in 2005 and the Loyola Chair Professor in Fordham University in 2006. He has been a member of the editorial board of Studies in Jesuit Spirituality since 2005. His previous books are The University of Santa Clara: A History, 1851–1977 (1979) and, with George F. Giacomi, Jr., Serving the Intellect, Touching the Heart: A Portrait of Santa Clara University (2000). He has also published numerous articles in learned journals.

Liam Matthew Brockey (Princeton Univ.), received the association's John Gilmary Shea Prize for his bookJourney to the East: The Jesuit Mission to China, 1579–1724 (Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2007). In the award committee’s judgment, “Journey to the East represents an ambitious undertaking. The scope of the work, covering Jesuit interaction with the elite as well as pastoral strategies for dealing with the masses and necessitating a grasp of Chinese, European, and Catholic history, and the range of archival sources quarried to tell this story are impressive. Despite the large subject and its complexity, Brockey succeeds admirably in organizing his material and clearly presenting it for the reader. Not least, the issue of inculturation has resonance in the present.”

The committee on the John Gilmary Shea Prize was composed of Charles J.T. Talar (Univ. of St. Thomas), David Burr (emeritus, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ.), and Mary Elizabeth Brown (Marymount Manhattan Coll.).

Brockey received his BA degree in history from the University of Notre Dame in 1994, his AM degree in 1997 and his PhD degree in 2002, both in history from Brown University. His doctoral dissertation was entitled "The Harvest of the Vine: The Jesuit Missionary Enterprise in China, 1579–1710." His book Journey to the East has won for him the Phi Alpha Theta Best First Book Award for 2007. He has also edited a volume of essays by various scholars which will be published this year under the title “Portuguese Colonial Cities in the Early Modern World.”

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