Irish chaplain, author to speak at MC

Irish chaplain, author to speak at MC

Jan. 24, 2017

Crises in economics and in the economy will be topics of discussion when Father John McNerney, head chaplain at the University College Dublin and author of Wealth of Persons: Economics with a Human Face (Cascade Books 2016), visits Maryville College Feb. 13-14.

The public is invited to two separate events where McNerney will present:  A 7 p.m. lecture in Fayerweather Hall’s Lawson Auditorium on Feb. 13; and community worship, scheduled for 1:15 p.m., Feb. 14, in the Samuel Tyndale Wilson Center for Campus Ministry.

McNerney, an occasional lecturer to undergraduate and graduate students in the fields of business ethics and philosophy, is currently a visiting professor at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. His trip to Maryville College is being funded partly through a grant from the Presbyterian Church (USA).

“I met [Fr. McNerney] in 2011, when I presented a paper at an Economy of Communion conference in Brazil, and I’ve since seen him at other conferences,” said Dr. John Gallagher, Maryville College professor of management and organizer of McNerney’s visit. “His work is related to my own research, so it’s interesting and relevant to me, but I believe his presentations at Maryville College will cause students to see their business decisions in a slightly different way.”

Chaplain is Focolare, EOC member

McNerney is a consecrated member of the international Focolare movement, which began in Italy in 1943. The movement is now worldwide, with more than four million adherents (mostly Roman Catholic) who are dedicated to removing barriers between people and fostering unity among all the peoples of the world. Consecrated members take vows of poverty, obedience and chastity.

McNerney is also a member of the national Economy of Communion (EOC) commission in Ireland. An initiative of the Focolare movement, the EOC is an organization Gallagher has studied extensively for his book Structures of Grace: Business Practices of the Economy of Communion (New City Press 2015).

Book emphasizes humans in economy

Wealth of Persons is McNerney’s second book (John Paul II: Poet and Philosopher was published in 2004) and draws from wide-ranging sources throughout history and economics, philosophy and other disciplines.

Gallagher said McNerney’s new book makes the point that economic activity takes place between people and is not abstract.

“The marketplace is a place of encounters,” the professor said. “Exchanges, yes, but face-to-face encounters.

“This idea of person-centric business or person-centric economics is central to the Economy of Communion (EOC). It’s difficult to overstate how crucial person-to-person relationships are in the way that EOC participants think about business. If we consider how necessary we know it is for leaders to take the development of, say, employees, seriously, it only makes sense that the development of persons be a strategic priority of all the firm’s activities.”

Gallagher went on to explain that EOC companies “humanize the economy” by consistently putting relationships over profit-maximizing and using profits to address acute social needs and concerns.

“Their business practices respect the inherent dignity of each person,” he added.

Following the Feb. 13 lecture, Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Alcoa will host a reception outside Lawson Auditorium. Books will be available for purchase.


Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the Fall 2017 semester is 1,181.