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College of Arts and Sciences

Thomas Rzeznik Receives Prestigious American Catholic Historical Association Award

Pasquier, presents award to Rademacher and Rzeznik

Michael Pasquier (at right), ACHA outgoing president, presents the award to Nicholas Rademacher (left) and Thomas Rzeznik (center). Photo courtesy of the American Catholic Historical Association.

Thomas Rzeznik, an Associate Professor in the Department of History, was honored with the inaugural Robert F. Trisco and Nelson H. Minnich Prize by the American Catholic Historical Association (ACHA) for his exceptional role as the co-editor of the journal, American Catholic Studies.

The prestigious national award was presented to Rzeznik and Nicholas Rademacher of the University of Dayton for their outstanding contributions as co-editors of the scholarly journal, American Catholic Studies. The award was bestowed on January 5, 2024, at the ACHA’s 104th annual meeting in San Francisco, which was held in conjunction with the American Historical Association, whose national conference was attended by more than 1,000 scholars and historians.

“It was a real honor to be recognized as the inaugural winner of the Trisco-Minnich Prize. It was endowed by the late Monsignor Robert Trisco and Nelson Minnich, Ph.D., of The Catholic University of America, renowned figures in the field. As editors themselves of the Catholic Historical Review, they understood that the work of editing often goes unrecognized,” said Rzeznik. Bestowed annually, the prize is awarded in odd number years to the editor of a journal or periodical and in even number years to the editor of a book.

American Catholic Studies, published by Villanova

American Catholic Studies (co-edited by Thomas Rzeznik) is entering its 25th year.

Rzeznik has served as the co-editor of American Catholic Studies (ACS) since 2013; Rademacher has been co-editor since 2018. In announcing the award, ACHA leadership shared that through the efforts of these editors, “ACS, which is the only scholarly publication devoted exclusively to an interdisciplinary approach to U.S. Catholicism, has earned a reputation as an important venue for articles, forums and reviews.”

"I am thrilled to see Professor Rzeznik recognized formally for his extraordinary scholarly work and longstanding commitment to American Catholic Studies,” said Jonathan Farina, interim dean, College of Arts and Sciences. “Editing a scholarly journal is a terrific honor but also demands an enormous amount of time, tact and intellectual labor that is too often taken for granted by academics,” Dean Farina added, “Dr. Rzeznik well deserves this national recognition for his leadership publishing this distinguished journal. We are proud to have him at Seton Hall at the forefront of Catholic Studies in our very robust Department of History.”

Margaret McGuinness, from La Salle University, and Anne Klejment, from University of St. Thomas (MN), who serve on the journal’s Committee on Publication, an advisory body, praised the journal’s accessibility to “both scholars and educated laity” in looking at all aspects of U.S. Catholicism. In making the nomination they noted:

During the past several years, Dr. Rzeznik and Rademacher have introduced several innovative features in the pages of ACS. They have, for instance, published Roundtables and Forums that seek to draw scholarly attention to topics that are relevant to the larger culture. Examples include “Writing Catholic History After the Sex Abuse Crisis” (2016), “Race, Masculinity, and the Making of American Catholicism” (2016), “Catholic Sex Abuse and the Study of Religion” (2019), and “Studying Masculinities Catholic Style” (2021). These have been some of the most widely read and frequently cited features in the journal. They are an important means of cultivating scholarly conversation and elevating emerging voices.

We are impressed that ACS has encouraged—and continues to encourage—emerging scholars and graduate students who are just beginning to submit their work for publication. They are very supportive of those who are “new” to submitting work for publication and try to provide them with constructive criticism and suggestions that will not only improve the essay under consideration, but will serve them well as they continue to produce monographs and articles.

Michael Finnegan, president of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia, the sponsor of the journal, remarked “Since 1887 our Society has published a quarterly journal. American Catholic Studies is now considered a must read for Catholic scholarly history. Much of that success is due to the dedicated work of our co-editors. Tom has championed not only outstanding content, but wider distribution through digitization, Project MUSE and JSTOR. ACHS is fortunate to have Tom on board and we congratulate him on a well-deserved recognition.”

American Catholic Studies (formerly the Records of the American Catholic Historical Society) is recognized as the oldest, continuously published Catholic scholarly journal in the United States. It has published for more than 125 years, including through the Depressions, World Wars, and all the changes that have taken place in scholarship publishing. The American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia (1884), began sponsoring the journal in 1887, concerned that Catholics were losing their history. In response, members of the society began collecting historical documents and working to preserve the Catholic past, Rzeznik explained.

In addition to maintaining the high standards of scholarship, “We are recognized for innovation in our pages and for working closely with our authors, including graduate students. I was really moved from a note I received right before the conference, from one of contributors, Professor Deborah Cohen from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, who shared ‘In closing, I want to thank you for the rigorous, helpful, and supportive reading of my piece. It isn’t always the case, even for flagship journals,’” Rzeznik said.

Rzeznik shared that ACS is entering a milestone year in 2024, with the new volume 135 reflecting the 25th anniversary of the journal’s rebranding as American Catholic Studies. The University community can access prior issues by visiting Project Muse. In addition, the full run of the journal from 1887 on has been digitized and is available through JSTOR. AMCHS members can also access journals online.