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Toth-Lonergan Endowed Chair Lecture, 'What Business Is For'  

Headshot of Michael Stebbins x320Our semi-annual Toth-Lonergan Lecture will be delivered by Endowed Visiting Professor, Dr. J. Michael Stebbins. His talk, "What Business Is For" explores the nature of business and its relationship to spirituality.

Tuesday, April 19th, 4 p.m. in the Beck Rooms. The lecture will also be available on Zoom. Please click here to register for the event.

Dr. Stebbins will sketch a way of answering the much-debated question, "What is the purpose of business?" Building on the work of Bernard Lonergan and others, the answer will include insights regarding the structure and dynamics of human cooperation, the activities of human cognition and decision making, the nature of human freedom, the ethical norms that are intrinsic to business structures and operations, and the existential challenge of promoting progress as well as avoiding and reversing decline. 

Dr. Stebbins will make the case that from a theological standpoint, not only can business be a vehicle through which a career can be experienced as a calling or vocation, but also that it can function as an instrument for cooperating with God's larger purposes for humanity.

About J. Michael Stebbins
Dr. Stebbins' areas of expertise include systematic theology, ethics, human cognition and decision-making, and the theological and philosophical work of Bernard Lonergan.

Most recently Dr. Stebbins served as the Executive Vice President of Mission at Avera Health, a four-state Catholic health care system headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. In that role he exercised system-level responsibility for mission and formation programs and, more broadly, for the integration of Avera's Catholic identity and mission into its operations.

Dr. Stebbins has also served as the director of the Gonzaga Ethics Institute at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, and as the director of the Arrupe Program in Social Ethics for Business at the Woodstock Theological Center, located at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Earlier in his career he worked as a registered nurse at Children's Hospital in Seattle.
Dr. Stebbins holds a B.A. in philosophy from Gonzaga University, a B.S. in nursing from the University of Washington, and a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Boston College. He is the author of The Divine Initiative: Grace, World-Order, and Human Freedom in the Early Writings of Bernard Lonergan (University of Toronto Press). Dr. Stebbins can be contacted at

The Toth/Lonergan Endowed Professorship in Interdisciplinary Studies
The Toth/Lonergan Endowed Professorship in Interdisciplinary Studies was created by the University's Center for Catholic Studies to honor two great scholars: Bernard Lonergan, S.J. and Deacon William Toth. Dr. Stebbins is the third Visiting Professor to hold this title, succeeding Mark Miller of the University of San Francisco (2017-2018) and Fr. Louis Roy of the Dominican University of Ottawa (2019).

Fr. Lonergan (1904-1984) was a renowned scholar, who, as noted by Time magazine, was "considered by many intellectuals to be the finest philosophic thinker of the 20th century." Lonergan's classic works, Insight: A Study of Human Understanding (1957) and Method in Theology (1972), link faith and theology with the contemporary sciences and professions by way of a generalized empirical method (GEM). The 25 volumes of his Collected Works, published by the University of Toronto Press, include works on theology, the sciences and macroeconomics. Since 2009 Seton Hall has annually published The Lonergan Review, edited by Msgr. Richard Liddy, Director of the Center for Catholic Studies and the Bernard J. Lonergan Institute.

Deacon Toth (1940-2008), who taught moral theology at Immaculate Conception Seminary and School of Theology, founded the Institute on Work within the Center for Catholic Studies, which later became the Micah Institute. He also served as chair of the Peace and Justice Commission of the Archdiocese of Newark. Deacon Toth sought to link Catholic theology with the professions, especially business and law.
The Toth/Lonergan Endowment at the Center for Catholic Studies is an important resource for promoting Seton Hall's efforts, in President Nyre's words, "to change destinations and transform the lives of students, faculty and the community at large" as they engage in "the great conversations, controversies and challenges of society."

About the Center
Founded at Seton Hall University in 1997, the Center for Catholic Studies is dedicated to fostering an ongoing dialogue between the Catholic intellectual tradition and all areas of study and contemporary culture. In the spirit of the Catholic Church's legacy of bringing forth things "new and old," the Center's scholarly research, publications, and programming serve to generate new initiatives and facilitate conversation and collaboration among faculty, administrators, students, and the general public. The primary function of the Center for Catholic Studies (CCS) is to foster the Catholic mission of Seton Hall in creative ways. It endeavors to be an incubator for innovative initiatives in promoting Catholic identity across the university. It fulfills this role for diverse demographics within the university in five principal areas: Faculty Development, Interdisciplinary Collaboration, Intellectual Life, Student Engagement, and Ongoing Innovation.

The Center developed the undergraduate program, Catholic Studies Program, which offers a major, minor and certificate and continues to support the Program's students with scholarship aid as well as ongoing co-curricular activities. Focusing on the central role of the faculty, the Center also sponsors regular Faculty Development programs, including lectures, seminars and retreats. In addition, the Center administers two national faculty programs: Collegium: A Colloquy on Faith and Intellectual Life, and The Lilly Fellows Program.

The Center maintains a global focus in international scholarship and is the home of the G.K. Chesterton Institute for Faith & Culture, as well as the Bernard J. Lonergan Institute. The Institutes offer opportunities for study and research, as well as ongoing programs related to faith and culture. In addition, the Micah Institute for Business and Economics concentrates on communicating Catholic Social Teaching and ethics to business education at Seton Hall and the wider business community. The Center also publishes the prestigious Chesterton Review and The Lonergan Review.

Categories: Faith and Service

For more information, please contact:

  • Laura Cavanagh
  • (973) 275-2407