Upon This Rock: Papacy, Parish, and Politics

Two Thursdays, April 4 and 18, 6:00–7:30 p.m. | St. Anne Church (St. Christopher Room), 2140 Westheimer Road at Shepherd, 77098

The Catholic Church’s worldwide reach and spiritual influence sometimes conceal the fact that it is run by a Vatican bureaucracy shaped by its own history and often-secretive politics.  Professor Sean Theriault will help us to understand how the Vatican operates and how decisions are made.  He will also discuss the evolution of the American church and its relationship to the Vatican.  This course will be of special interest to participants on the Houston Seminar’s study tour to Italy, but it is meant for the general audience as well.

April 4: An Inside Look at the Vatican
The history of the church and the structure of the Vatican bureaucracy that developed over time dramatically affect its decisions today.  Join us for a look at the ways that history and structure shape church policies and help to explain the Papacy of Benedict XVI.

April 18:  The Politics of the American Catholic Church
The Catholic Church has had a notable effect on the development of the United States, and this sometimes fraught history continues to play a role in the church today.  Dr. Theriault will explore how the political structure of the American Catholic hierarchy operates today and how the people in the pews practice their politics.

Sean Theriault, a Distinguished Teaching Professor, was named Professor of the Year at the University of Texas, Austin, in 2011.  This honor followed his receipt of the Friar Centennial Fellowship, the highest undergraduate teaching award, in 2009.  Professor Theriault’s chief academic specialty is the U.S. Congress, but he also brings his political insights to teaching a semester-long course on the Catholic Church.  He has traveled often to Italy and has excellent contacts in the Vatican.



Finishing up Spring 2018! 

Mexico City: Past, Present, Future
April 3-9
And our travelers are there in the present!


Gorbachev: His Life and Times
Monday, April 16, 6:30-8:00 P.M. | The Junior League, 1811 Briar Oaks Ln, 77027
Co-sponsored with World Affairs Council of Houston


Behind the Pages: A Conversation with William Middleton 
Tuesday, April 24, 6:30-8:00 P.M.


For additional information about any of our courses, to register offline, or to add your name to our mailing and/or email lists, please contact our adminstrator at  or phone 713.666.9000.