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Timothy Matovina - University of Notre Dame. Notre Dame, IN, US

Timothy Matovina

Chair, Department of Theology | University of Notre Dame


Timothy Matovina works in the area of theology and culture, with specialization in U.S. Catholic and U.S. Latino theology and religion.



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Timothy Matovina works in the area of Theology and Culture, with specialization in U.S. Catholic and U.S. Latino theology and religion. His most recent books are Latino Catholicism: Transformation in America’s Largest Church (Princeton, 2012), the edited volume Virgilio Elizondo: Spiritual Writings (Orbis, 2010), and Guadalupe and Her Faithful: Latino Catholics in San Antonio, from Colonial Origins to the Present (Johns Hopkins, 2005). Latino Catholicism has won five book awards, including selection as a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title for 2012. Research support for Matovina’s work encompasses competitive grant awards from nearly every major funding source that supports academic work in theology and religion, including the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Academy of Religion, and the Association of Theological Schools. Among his various scholarly awards, in 2010 Matovina received the Virgilio Elizondo Award “for distinguished achievement in theology, in keeping with the mission of the Academy” from the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS). At Notre Dame he has won two teaching awards, including the Julian Samora Award that members of Notre Dame’s La Alianza student organization confer on a faculty member whose research, teaching, and service advance knowledge and empowerment of Latino/a students and communities. In addition to his scholarly work, Matovina offers presentations and workshops on U.S. Catholicism and Latino ministry and theology throughout the United States.

Industry Expertise (3)

Writing and Editing


Religious Institutions

Areas of Expertise (4)

Catholic Church

Latino Theology

Catholic History in the American Southwest

Mexico's Guadalupe Tradition

Accomplishments (4)

Catholic Press Association Book Awards (professional)

The purpose of the award program is to recognize the contributions and hard work of authors and publishers of Catholic work. Award winners receive an award certificate and are recognized by their peers during the annual Catholic Media Conference in June. A list of winning entries is available in the June issue of The Catholic Journalist and on the CPA website after the conference.

Paul J. Foik, C.S.C. Award (professional)

The Fr. Paul J. Foik award is presented annually to the author of the publication judged the most important contribution to Texas Catholic history.

College Theological Society Best Book Award (professional)

At our convention each year, the College Theology Society recognizes the best book, best article, and best graduate student essay published in the previous calendar year.

CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title (professional)

Every year in the January issue, in print and online, Choice publishes a list of Outstanding Academic Titles that were reviewed during the previous calendar year. This prestigious list reflects the best in scholarly titles reviewed by Choice and brings with it the extraordinary recognition of the academic library community.

Education (3)

Catholic University of America: Ph.D., Theology 1993

Toronto School of Theology: M. Div., Theology 1983

Indiana University: B.A. 1978

Media Appearances (1)

UDMC 2014 attendees learn practical ways to live the ‘missionary option'

North Texas Catholic  online


imothy Matovina, professor of theology and executive director of the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame, presented on “Latino Catholicism: Current Realities and Opportunities,” his analysis of the fastest-growing demographic in the U.S. Discussing ways the U.S. Church has addressed the growing Latino population, Matovina said that for a demographic with 40 percent of the Catholic population, only six percent of priests are Latino. Of that six percent, only 20 percent are born in the U.S. “They’re the only ones that can truly balance two cultures,” Matovina said, referring to that 20 percent, “the culture of their parents and grandparents, and the culture of the U.S.” ...

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Notre Dame Media (5)

Faculty honored with awards at President's Dinner


Matovina won the Rev. William A. Toohey, C.S.C., Award for Social Justice. Specializing in U.S. Catholic and U.S. Latino theology and religion, Matovina is the author of the award-winning “Latino Catholicism: Transformation in America’s Largest Church.” This definitive work is becoming the “bible” for understanding the growth trajectory of the American Church, challenging conventional historical narratives—which have tended to focus on the experiences of European Catholic immigrants—while demonstrating his passion for and sensitivity to the religious practice and culture of today’s Latino population. Though busy as executive director of the Institute for Latino Studies and frequently sought-out for speaking engagements and workshops across the country, Matovina is also a generous friend and mentor to many, known for saying “yes” to students and colleagues. He previously has been honored by the Notre Dame student organization La Alianza for advancing knowledge and empowerment of Latino and Latina students and communities ...

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Institute for Latino Studies launches Virgilio Elizondo Distinguished Visiting Professorship


Timothy Matovina, professor of theology and executive director of ILS, said that Dávila “has been praised as ‘the finest, fiercest and most piercing of our public intellectuals'” ...

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Notre Dame to celebrate academics, faith and service with Texas Shamrock Series events


A panel discussion sponsored by Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters titled “Latinos and the Future of America” will be held at 3 p.m. Friday (Oct. 4) in the Worthington Renaissance West Fork I and West Fork II meeting rooms. Panelists include José Limón, Julian Samora Professor of Latino Studies and director of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies (ILS); Philip Fuentes, McDonald’s Restaurants franchise owner and ILS advisory council member; Anne Garcia-Romero, assistant professor of film, television and theatre at Notre Dame; Marcos Ronquillo, partner at Beirne, Maynard and Parsons and ILS advisory council member; Timothy Matovina, professor of theology at Notre Dame and ILS executive director; and Ricardo Ramirez, associate professor of political science at Notre Dame ...

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Father Jenkins calls for reform of immigration policies


More recently, at Notre Dame, Father Jenkins convened a presidential task force, co-chaired by Paolo Carozza, Timothy Matovina and Rev. Timothy Scully, C.S.C. to study how the University could make a unique and meaningful contribution to the current national debate on immigration. Among the task force’s recommendations is a seminal academic conference on engagement of immigrants through the perspective of Catholic faith and tradition, particularly emphasizing the experience and contributions of people in the United States who are, or at one time were, undocumented. The conference will be held in March 2014, and its proceedings will be widely disseminated to scholars, church leaders and the wider public ...

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José Limón to direct Notre Dame's Institute for Latino Studies


Timothy Matovina, a leading expert on Latino Catholicism, will serve as executive director of the institute, which is housed in the College of Arts and Letters. Both appointments take effect July 1 ...

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Articles (5)

Our Lady of Guadalupe is a missionary of mercy The apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe reveals the wonder of mercy and is a call to each of us to be ambassadors of God’s mercy in our own lives

U.S. Catholic

2016 One of the most impressive elements of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s December 12 feast is the dramatic representation of her apparitions to St. Juan Diego. I witnessed this ritual for the first time in 1992, at San Antonio’s San Fernando Cathedral. The congregation observed with hushed reverence the climactic moment when Juan Diego dropped roses that grew out of season and presented the image of Guadalupe that miraculously appeared on his tilma (cloak). As the previously unbelieving bishop and his assistants fell to their knees in veneration, applause erupted throughout the cathedral.

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Our Lady of Guadalupe: A Refuge for Many, a Feast for All to Celebrate

Pastoral Liturgy

2014 One of the most memorable Guadalupe liturgies in which I participated was the serenata (serenade), celebrated on the eve of the December 12 feast at San Antonio’s San Fernando Cathedral. The festivity and fervor of the event inundated the senses bright colors, the aroma of fresh flowers, the excitement of the crowd, and the service of emotive singing. But the most impressive moment was the reenactment of Guadalupe’s apparitions to St. Juan Diego. True to this foundational narrative of Mexican and Mexican-American faith, the first bishop of Mexico, Juan de Zumárraga, was portrayed as skeptical when he first heard Juan Diego’s message that Guadalupe wanted a temple built in her honor. The scoffing of the bishop’s assistants elicited agonizing winces from some onlookers, stony silence from others. As the story unfolds, the bishop comes to believe when the stooped indio stands erect, drops out-of-season roses from his tilma (cloak), and presents the image of Guadalupe that miraculously appeared on the tilma. As the repentant bishop and his assistants fell to their knees in veneration, applause erupted throughout the cathedral.

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The Origins of the Guadalupe Tradition in Mexico

The Catholic Historical Review

2014 Historical writings on Our Lady of Guadalupe, the most revered sacred figure indigenous to the Western Hemisphere, focus largely on her cult’s origins. Scholars disagree on whether reports of Guadalupe’s 1531 appearances to the indigenous neophyte Juan Diego initiated devotion to her or whether the apparition tradition is a later invention that provided a mythical origin for an already existing image and devotion. This essay critiques the standard argument against a foundational apparition tradition as exemplified in the work of Stafford Poole. The reevaluation sheds light on the scope of early indigenous devotion and the genesis of belief in the apparitions.

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The First Guadalupan Pastoral Manual: Luis Laso De La Vega's Huei Tlamahuiçoltica (1649)


2014 Millions of devotees acclaim the Nahuatl-language Nican mopohua account of the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego as the foundational text of the Guadalupe tradition. A number of scholarly analyses have also examined the Nican mopohua as a prime source for that tradition. But no previous study has focused on a theological examination of Luis Laso de la Vega's Huei tlamahuiçoltica (1649), in which the Nican mopohua was first published. Huei tlamahuiçoltica is the premier Guadalupan pastoral manual and encompasses other important material, such as the Nican motecpana account of miracles attributed to Guadalupe's intercession, and the earliest published synopsis of Juan Diego's life posed as a model for Christian discipleship. This article explores Laso de la Vega's contributions and the ongoing significance of his treatise for the development of theological works and pastoral ministries centered on Guadalupe.

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Priests, Prelates, and Pastoral Ministry among Ethnic Mexicans: San Antonio, 1840-1940

American Catholic Studies

2013 Vincentian, diocesan, and Claretian priests served the predominantly ethnic Mexican congregation at San Fernando parish in San Antonio during the century following the political separation of Texas from the Mexican nation. Bishops also had frequent ministerial contact with parishioners, especially after 1874 when San Fernando became the cathedral of the newly-formed San Antonio diocese. All of these clergy shared common features in their ministries. Their view of ethnic Mexicans was consistently ambiguous: they highlighted their parishioners' strong devotional traditions, but also their perceived ignorance of the Catholic faith and their vulnerability to Protestant proselytizing efforts. They served Spanish-speaking parishioners in their native tongue in order to enhance the effectiveness of their ministries. They were unanimous in their derision of what they saw as the twin perils of Protestantism and the lax morals of contemporary society. Their antidote to these threats was instruction in Catholic faith and morals and active participation in the church's sacramental life, often promoted through involvement in pious societies and devotions. An exploration of their ministries illustrates the historical breadth of what today is called Hispanic ministry, as well as the mutual influence of clergy and ethnic Mexican laity on efforts to foster Catholic faith and religious traditions.

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