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Bro. Sullivan, C.F.X. LECTURE Series
Past Speakers 2015 to 2021

Bill McKibben, Environmentalist and Author, October 2021
Bill McKibben

Of all the challenges the planet faces, none is as large as its fast-heating climate—and no one has worked longer or harder than Bill McKibben to document and fight the ever-growing crisis. Author of the first book about global warming—1989’s The End of Nature—McKibben went on to found 350.org, which has become the biggest grassroots climate campaign in the world. His latest book, Falter—a New York Times bestseller—offers a call-to-arms, 30 years after The End of Nature set the stage.

Prior to his visit to St. John's, McKibben spoke with a group of Prep students. The conversation centered on fossil fuel divestment and McKibben challenged students to consider the ways that they can use their voice to positively impact the organizations that they are a part of. Students have adapted this conversation into a podcast that focuses on the ways that the St. John's community can act on McKibben's challenge by including additional interviews with faculty and staff at St. John's. 

Related link: Bro. Sullivan Lecture Series Hosts Environmentalist Bill McKibben

Greg Boyle, SJ, Founder of Homeboy Industries, March 2021 

A native Angeleno and Jesuit priest, from 1986 to 1992 Father Boyle served as pastor of Dolores Mission Church in Boyle Heights, then the poorest Catholic parish in Los Angeles that also had the highest concentration of gang activity in the city. Father Boyle witnessed the devastating impact of gang violence on his community during the so-called “decade of death” that began in the late 1980s and peaked at 1,000 gang-related killings in 1992. In the face of law enforcement tactics and criminal justice policies of suppression and mass incarceration as the means to end gang violence, he and parish and community members adopted what was a radical approach at the time: treat gang members as human beings. In 1988 they started what would eventually become Homeboy Industries, which employs and trains former gang members in a range of social enterprises, as well as provides critical services to thousands of men and women who walk through its doors every year seeking a better life. 

Related Link: An Evening of Human Kinship

Vijay Gupta, Violinist and Social Justice Advocate, February 2021

Vijay Gupta

An esteemed performer, communicator, and citizen-artist, Vijay Gupta is a leading advocate for the role of the arts and music to heal, inspire, provoke change, and foster social connection. Gupta is the founder and Artistic Director of Street Symphony, a non-profit organization providing musical engagement, dialogue and teaching artistry for homeless and incarcerated communities in Los Angeles. Recognized for his “dedication to bringing beauty, respite, and purpose to those all too often ignored by society while demonstrating the capacity of music to validate our shared humanity”, Gupta is a 2018 John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellow. 

Related Link: Healing and Wholeness Through Music

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power, October 2019

The youngest-ever U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power has been a leading voice internationally for principled American engagement in the world. One of TIME’s “100 Most Influential People,” she has spent half of her career explaining complex geopolitical events as a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, war correspondent, and Harvard professor – and the last eight years helping to shape them. In April, 2017 she returned to teaching, as the Anna Lindh Professor of Practice at Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Law School, where she is writing her newly-released book, The Education of an Idealist, which chronicles her years in public service and reflects on the role of human rights and humanitarian ideals in contemporary geopolitics. 

Related Link: Sweating the Small Stuff

Jim O'Connell, M.D., April 2019

Dr. Jim O’Connell has been taking care of his homeless patients of Boston for over 30 years. Much to his chagrin, he has been called a saint. His patients simply call him “Dr. Jim.” Armed with a backpack filled with medical supplies, new athletic socks, and Dunkin’ Donut gift cards, he combs the streets of Boston, making house calls wherever his patients find themselves—under bridges, down alleyways, in parks—and every Thursday at his bustling clinic at Mass General Hospital.

Dr. O’Connell graduated summa cum laude from the University of Notre Dame, received a master’s degree in theology from Cambridge University, earned an M.D. from Harvard Medical School and completed his residency in internal medicine at Mass General Hospital in 1985. That same year, Dr. O’Connell began full-time clinical work with homeless individuals as a founding physician of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP). In addition to his busy clinical practice, Dr. O’Connell has been instrumental in pioneering many innovations in homeless medicine. He is an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, the recipient of numerous awards and honors including the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Award. An internationally acclaimed speaker on homeless medicine, he has been featured on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross and CBS Evening News and is the author of Stories from the Shadows: Reflections of a Street Doctor.

Chris Lowney, December 2018

Chris Lowney, best-selling author, social entrepreneur and philanthropist, will be our first speaker of the school year at the Brother Robert J. Sullivan, C.F.X. Lecture Series at St. John’s. Lowney has spoken about business, ethics, and inter-religious dialogue. A Jesuit seminarian turned managing director at J.P. Morgan & Co., he chairs the board of Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), one of the nation’s largest healthcare systems with more than 100 hospitals and nearly $16 billion in annual revenue. He has helped to launch an online university program at refugee camps in Africa and beyond. He co-founded Contemplative Leaders in Action and founded Pilgrimage for Our Children’s Future.

Dr. Kenneth R. Miller, 2018 

Professor of Biology, Brown University

"To Seek God in All Things: Finding Grandeur in an Evolutionary View of Life"


Dr. John Peter Kenney, 2017 

Professor of Religious Studies, Saint Michael's College Augustine

"St. Augustine and Fake Religion"


Mark O’Donnell, 2016 

The Chestnut Hill Center and Mary Cipriano, St. Patrick Academy

"Mentoring in Formative Years to Build Lifelong Character"


Father Iain MacLellan, O.S.B., 2015

Director of the Alva de Mars Megan Chapel Art
Center, Saint Anselm College – "Beauty and the Arts"

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