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Layla Karst - Loyola Marymount University. Los Angeles, CA, US

Layla Karst Layla Karst

Assistant Professor of Theological Studies | Loyola Marymount University


Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts


Layla Karst is an assistant professor in the Department of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University where she teaches and writes at the intersection of liturgy and ecclesiology. She is working on a book manuscript on the theology of Christian pilgrimage and the pilgrim church. Her current research also explores the ways that racism, sexism, and sexual abuse have impacted our liturgical celebrations and the function of lament in addressing these liturgical challenges. Her publications include articles in the journals Liturgy, Practical Matters, and the Proceedings of the North American Academy of LIturgy and she is a regular contributor to PrayTell’s 60-second sermon series. She holds a PhD from Emory University and an MDiv from the University of Notre Dame.

Education (3)

Emory University: Ph.D, Liturgical Theology/Religious Practice 2018

University of Notre Dame: M. Div. 2010

Whitworth College: B.A 2006

Courses (6)

THST/CATH 1020 American Catholicism

What does it mean to be American and Catholic…and who gets to decide? This course will critically examine the American Catholic religious experience in the United States from its Spanish, French, and English origins to today’s culturally and theologically diverse contexts. Through the study of both primary and secondary texts and site visits to Catholic communities, students will examine different markers of Catholic identity including beliefs and teachings, community and belonging, religious practices, and participation in public life, and explore the ways Catholics have negotiated their religious identity and faith within the American experience.

THST 1050 In Search of a Way

This course will introduce students to the meaning and significance of spiritual practice in its Christian expression by a variety of practical spiritual traditions from their early historical roots to present-day practices. Over the semester, we will explore five spiritual ways: the way of discipline, the contemplative way, the way of practical action, the way of beauty, and the prophetic way. Together we will explore the relationship between religious experience, religious practice, and religious belief while exploring the tools Christians have employed on their spiritual journeys of transformation. We will engage these questions through the study both primary and secondary texts as well as by through practical experimentation and reflection.

THST 4090 Major Theological Thinker: Elizabeth Johnson

What is the right way to speak about God? This course will explore the ways we talk about God in light of the human experience, especially the experience of women, through the perspective and texts of one of the dominant theological voices of our time. We will explore the major themes and methods of Elizabeth Johnson’s theological writings in order to assess the theological significance of human experiences for our understanding of the nature of God, the work of salvation, and the mission and identity of the faith community. Students will also be invited to consider the vocation of the theologian and their own identity as theological thinkers and writers.

THST 6040 Liturgical Theology

This course will engage the dynamic relationship between praying and believing that constitutes the field of liturgical theology. It will introduce students to key texts, themes, and issues in theological reflection on and from Christian sacramental and liturgical practice. Students will learn to use historical, theological, and practical approaches to explore the rituals, symbols, texts, and performance of the Christian liturgy. We will also engage the Christian liturgies as theological sources and practices through which the church does theology and consider how our liturgies shape, express, and even critique Christian theology and practice.

THST 6078 Supervised Pastoral Field Education

Contextual field education is an integral component in pastoral theological education. This seminar addresses the integration of theological competence with pastoral skills through reflection on students’ concrete practices of ministerial leadership. Drawing on an interdisciplinary framework that is both theoretical and practical, students will explore two sets of foundational questions: (1) What is pastoral theological reflection and how is it done? (2) What does it mean to be a public pastoral minister? Student learning in this course happens in three distinct contexts: field work, mentoring, and a classroom seminar.

THST 6075 Pastoral Liturgy

This course examines the role of liturgy in the lives of Christians and their communities. Rooting our conversation in the vision and norms for liturgical celebrations set forth by the Second Vatican Council, we will explore the tensions between liturgical norms and liturgy as practiced and experienced in both offline and online contexts. Our explorations of liturgical norms and practices will be conducted in the spirit of critical inquiry and intellectual generosity that seek to deepen our understanding of the richness and diversity of liturgical practice as it is both imagined and lived out in both spaces.

Articles (5)

Mirror of the Church: Liturgy as Ecclesial Self-Recognition

Proceedings of the North American Academy of Liturgy

“Mirror of the Church: Liturgy as Ecclesial Self-Recognition,” Proceedings of the North American Academy of Liturgy, (2022): 71-83.

A New Creation: Translating Lourdes in America


“A New Creation: Translating Lourdes in America,” Liturgy, 32, no. 3 (April 21, 2017): 29-37.


Practical Matters

“Itineraries,” Practical Matters, 9 (July 15, 2016): 1-4.

Sacred Spaces, Sacred Journeys

Practical Matters

“Sacred Spaces, Sacred Journeys,” edited by Layla A. Karst and Sara Williams, Practical Matters, 9 (2016).

Liturgy of Lament

Black Catholic Sourcebook

Harris, Kim and Layla Karst, “Liturgy of Lament,” in In Spirit and Truth: Black Catholic Sourcebook. Ed. M. Roger Holland II. GIA Publications. (forthcoming)