Drew mourns the passing, celebrates the rich legacy of a pioneering theologian

On May 13, Drew University lost a beloved colleague and teacher with the passing of Professor Emerita Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz. According to her sister Gloria, who posted to Ada Maria’s blog, she slipped away into her eternal life with “no struggle, agony nor any signs of discomfort.” She leaves behind an amazing legacy.

“Her identity as a liberationist theologian was shaped very early on in her Catholic upbringing in Cuba, where her deep concern for the poor and the oppressed was nourished,” wrote Drew Theological School Dean Jeffrey Kuan in a message to the university community. “Her mother taught her the importance of la lucha (struggling) for one’s beliefs without giving up. She took on her feminist identity in 1975 and soon led in the development of Mujerista Theology. In rejecting the word kingdom, she helped popularized the term kin-dom, because ‘it is obviously a sexist word that presumes that God is male. Second, the concept of kingdom in our world today is both hierarchal and elitist.’”

More than just a theologian, she was active in the struggle of others. When the Our Lady Queen of Angels church was closed, she helped lead the protest vigils and Sunday services in the sidewalk of the church, where she preached regularly.

Dr. Isasi-Diaz joined Drew in 1991 as professor of ethics and theology. She retired in 2009. Kuan, Associate Dean Ginny Samuel and others are planning a fall Craig Chapel memorial service to celebrate her life and legacy.

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