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Dr SR Judith Coyle, IHM

Lecturer and Speaker at St Augustine College

A Rare Privilege
Doctor Sister Judith Coyle is a specialist in Christian Spirituality and Head of Theology at St. Augustine College, Johannesburg, South Africa. She is the author of ‘Therese of Lisieux: Heroine of Struggle’. St Therese (1873-1897) was a French Catholic who died in obscurity at 324 and is a venerated saint until today.

Dr Sr Coyle has a special interest in Liturgy and Spirituality especially as these developed since the Second Vatican Council. That council dramatically shifted the way in which the Catholic Church articulated its life and mission in the modern world. It made space for updating the liturgy (including the use of vernacular languages), embracing the role of laypeople, introducing the concept of religious freedom, and encouraging dialogue with other faith traditions. The spirit of Vatican II urged a balance with differing points of view throughout the Church. The way the teachings of this council have played out and their continuing interpretation and implications in a now post-modern world are an area of special concern, especially relative to the role of women within the tradition.

Dr. Coyle is frequently called upon for public lectures on topics related to the Second Vatican Council, Liturgy and Worship, Women in the Church, Catholic Religious Life, and Christian Spirituality.

About her

She received a BA degree from Marygrove College, Detroit, an MA in Liturgical Studies from the University of Notre Dame, and a DTh in Christian Spirituality from the University of South Africa in 2004.

Three years after completing her MA at Notre Dame, USA, Dr Sr Coyle came to South Africa as a missionary for her religious community of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) in 1985. She never dreamed that her posting to South Africa would become her life’s work and devotion to a country far from her native America.

Now in her 38th year in South Africa, Dr Sr Coyle joined St Augustine College 18 years ago, when it was a rather newly established independent, not-for-profit Catholic College - the only one of its kind in South Africa. Her previous posting was lecturer and administrator at St. Joseph Theological Institute, a seminary cum theological institute in KwaZulu Natal, where she worked for 19 years. In 2005 she lectured in Christian Spirituality at UNISA and in 2006 she began her work at St. Augustine College. She has lectured and supervised students in the Honours, Masters and Doctoral Programmes.

Annually at its graduation St. Augustine College presents the Bonum Commune Award Equivalent to an honorary doctorate conferred by state universities, the Bonum Commune recognises those who have made outstanding contributions to education, the common good and/or St Augustine.

Dr Sr Coyle has presented the Bonum Commune awards to Fr. Albert Nolan, Msgr Marc de Mûelenaere, Archbishop Buti Tlhagale and Prof. Garth Abraham. In presenting the award to Archbishop Tlhagale in 2019, she emphasized the key role he played in formation of St. Augustine College. It was while he was serving as secretary general to the Catholic Bishop’s Conference in 1995 that he promoted the establishment of what was to become St. Augustine College. He became its first grand chancellor from 1999-2011.

“I have worked in South Africa since my arrival in 1985, initially in pastoral and academic work, but since 1995 primarily in academic spaces. I have lectured in liturgy and spirituality, and as other needs arise at St Augustine College, various other areas of pastoral theology and scripture…In this time it has been my privilege to witness the history making events of the release of Nelson Mandela, the first free elections in 1994, the establishment of the first truly democratic government in South Africa, and the subsequent developments in its continued struggle to overcome the legacy of apartheid and establish itself as an inclusive, free and democratic state. It has been a rare privilege indeed.”

About her book

‘Therese of Lisieux: Heroine of Struggle’, delves into the life of St Therese who became a Carmelite nun at an early age. St. Therese of Lisieux was known for her writings on spirituality and her "little way", teaching that the least action done in love was of immense worth. She was later canonized as a saint by the Catholic Church and today is recognized as one of the most popular saints in post-modern times, despite dying in obscurity at 24.

St Therese of Lisieux is the patron saint of foreign missions, priests, and those seeking the ordination of women in the Catholic Church.

Ready to Join?

St Augustine offers short courses, certificate courses and a range of degrees from the bachelors through to the doctorate level, all of which are recognised and accredited by the relevant branches of South Africa’s Department of Higher Education and Training.
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Address: Cedarwood Office Park, Mount Lebanon Rd, off Western Service Rd, Woodmead, 2191
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