LANACC Essay Winners

The Kellogg Institute for International Studies’ Latin American North American Church Concerns (LANACC) has announced the winners of the Rev. Robert S. Pelton, CSC, Memorial Essay Contest.

The contest honors Pelton, a Kellogg faculty fellow emeritus who founded LANACC and passed away in November at age 98. Pelton advocated for social justice, Church renewal, and recognition of Saint Archbishop Óscar Romero throughout his career.

“The Pelton essay contest is just one small way that we honor Fr. Bob's legacy, and the submitted essays were a remarkable testament to his life and work,” said Faculty Fellow Todd Walatka, an associate teaching professor in the Department of Theology who coordinated the contest, which recognizes original papers on topics related to the Catholic Church of Latin America and ecclesial collaboration between the North and South.

The contest winners are:

Emily Normand
First Place – Undergraduate Category
"The Road to Puebla: Popular Piety as the Fruit of Culture"

Shawn Wu
Runner-up – Undergraduate Category
"Christian Identity as 'Confused': Mestizos as Agents of Change in the Face of Injustice"

Colin Whitehead
First Place – Graduate Category
"Religiosidad Popular & Semiotics in the Evangelization of Latinx Youth"

Normand is a Kellogg International Scholar. Walatka said her essay “addressed in a detailed and creative way one of Fr. Bob's favorite topics: the advancement of theology and pastoral practice by attending to the needs, insights, and religious practices of everyday Christians.”

Wu’s essay, he added, embodied Pelton’s commitment to justice by focusing on the Americas while expanding the reader’s vision to the entirety of the global Church. Meanwhile, Whitehead focused on popular piety while reflecting on Pelton’s constant emphasis on the future and the next generation.

Walatka said the essay contest honors the missionary priest’s legacy.

“Fr. Bob was a powerful witness to the fruit that can come from real dialogue among Christians across the Americas,” he said. “He worked tirelessly to create new bonds between theologians and Church leaders and to bring to the Notre Dame community an increased awareness of both the challenges and theological riches of the global south.”


The essay contest was organized by LANACC and is co-sponsored by Kellogg and The Center for Social Concerns.

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