Catherine Mowry LaCugna died on Saturday, May 3, 1997, at the age of forty-four, after a long battle with breast cancer. She was the Nancy Reeves Dreux Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, the recipient of the Sheedy award for excellence in teaching, and the author of God for Us: The Trinity and Christian Life, which won the First Place Award from the Catholic Press Association in 1992. She edited the collection Freeing Theology: The Essentials of Theology in Feminist Perspective, and published numerous articles as well as her dissertation on the methodology of Hans Küng. At the time of her death, she had received a Lilly grant to work on a book on the Holy Spirit during the academic year 1997-98.
As her doctoral student I had the privilege of listening to her think aloud over a number of years, and found that her formidable intellect and deep sense of pastoral compassion were not complementary powers but the fruits of a single-minded focus on the Holy. For Catherine, the movement of creation from God and to God (exitus-reditus) was no mere model, but a deeply held conviction about the origin and end of the world and its creatures, herself included. Her theological writings reflected the directness of her engagement with the reality of God and, indeed, her disposition before this mystery had a monastic familiarity in its combination of fearlessness and utter humility. Her view of the world was both precise and thoroughly undomesticated; despair, artifice, and sentiments were sins against the Spirit that ignored the factum of the abiding presence of God.