Thursday, September 25, 2014

Adé Bethune Lecture Series: Dr. Julia Upton Lecture

Dr. Julia Upton (center) with Catherine G. Murphy Gallery Director Kathy Daniels (left) and St. Catherine University Archivist and exhibition Curator Deborah Kloiber (right).
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The Adé Bethune lecture series commenced last week with a talk by Dr. Julia Upton, RSM, of St. John's University in New York.  Dr. Upton’s talk focused on themes highlighted in the exhibit, Adé Bethune: The Power of One Person, currently on view at the Catherine G. Murphy Gallery.

Dr. Upton shared her favorite portraits of Bethune, including the one at right, and discussed her importance as a "wisdom figure who lived a life worth emulating."  She gave a biographical background of Bethune, from her aristocratic origins in Belgium, her family's emigration to New York City in 1928, to her meeting with Dorothy Day and her subsequent work for The Catholic Worker

Dr. Upton’s lecture featured slides of places that were important in Bethune’s formative years, including her childhood home in Brussels, which is located across the street from the church where Bethune attended mass daily with her grandfather.  Dr. Upton suggested that Bethune’s religious devotion may have been a result of growing up quite literally in the shadow of her neighborhood church in Brussels.  She showed a photo she took from the back yard of Bethune’s childhood home in which the dome of the church looms over the roof of the house.

Dr. Upton also highlighted Bethune’s significant artistic legacy, including her work as a liturgical designer. She explained how Bethune used volunteers from the local community to help with her commission at the Church of St. Paulinus in Clairton, Pennsylvania.  Bethune drew figures of various saints in the panel paintings of the church sanctuary and had volunteers assist with filling the colors in.

Professor Upton described Bethune as a "feisty woman" whose temperament made her an effective advocate for the social causes she championed in Newport, such as affordable housing for the elderly.  She discussed Harbor House, the intentional community for the elderly Bethune planned, which was completed in 2002.

Dr. Upton is the author of six books, including one forthcoming about Adé Bethune.

For more information about the exhibit and the accompanying lecture series, visit:

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