My main research interests are Catholicism, civic engagement, the construction of meaning, family and young adults. Insofar as other areas intersect with Catholicism (e.g., Catholicism and ethnicity), I am also engaged.
I have been involved in a variety of collaborative and independent research projects. I am a researcher on the latest wave of the American Catholic surveys that began in the 1980s led by William D’Antonio. Every six years since, sociologists of Catholicism have collaborated to bring readers the most up-to-date summary of what is happening among today’s American Catholics. With this wave, we are including interviews with prominent Catholic leaders to help illuminate how the Church might respond to Catholics’ changing realities. Drs. Michele Dillon, Jim Cavendish and Paul Perl and I are now in this interview phase and we’ll be writing up the findings soon; stay tuned!
My first authored book, Catholic Activism Today: Individual Transformation and the Struggle for Social Justice, was released June 2020. It is the sum of many years of research on American Catholic civic engagement. It is tremendously rewarding to give back to a field from which I have gained so much.
I was a Research Fellow at the University of Notre Dame’s Center for the Study of Religion and Society (2019-2020). The research team, led by principal investigator Dr. Tricia Bruce, conducted in-depth interviews with over 200 Americans to better understand their attitudes toward the abortion issue. The vast majority of the research on abortion is either quantitative–which lacks nuance and depth–or it is with activists–who are not representative of the “average American” on their abortion attitudes; this study fills an important gap in the literature.
I was also a Research Fellow through Villanova University’s Center for Church Management (2018-2019). Under the mentorship of many senior scholars, especially Dr. Scott Thumma and Dr. Stephen Fichter, and the collegial guidance of the eleven other fellows, I examined Latino Catholic financial stewardship and clergy responses. It was a pleasure to work with such a fine group and on this timely issue.
I have worked with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on multiple occasions. I was on the editorial team for their Journeying Together process, which in 2021 brought hundreds of young adults and youth ministers together to better understand race, ethnicity and cultural experience. I was involved as a data analyst and co-author of the report for their 2017 survey of campus ministers and I was the principal investigator and co-author of the report for their 2018 interview study.
My first collaborative research endeavor was my invitation to be a “younger scholar” at The American Parish Project. I am still grateful to have met such accomplished scholars and to have been a part of this project that is instigating more research on American parish life.