Featured Research

  • Analyzing "Religious Covenants" on Church Property
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    Garnett and Reidy analyze an important issue the Church and other religious organizations face when alienating real estate in their new working paper on "Religious Covenants":


    When religious institutions alienate property, they often include religiously motivated deed restrictions that bind future owners, sometimes in perpetuity.  These “religious covenants” serve different purposes and advance different goals.  Some prohibit land uses that the alienating faith community considers illicit; others seek to ensure continuity of faith commitments; still others signal public disaffiliation with the new owners and their successors.  Some religious covenants are required by theological mandates, but many are not.  This paper examines the phenomenon of religious covenants as both a private law and public law problem.  We conclude that most, but not all, of them likely are enforceable, and, furthermore, that traditional private law rules governing covenant enforcement represent a bigger impediment to their enforcement than public law principles. 

    Fr. Reidy, CSC, recently published another piece, "Condemning Worship: Religious Liberty Protections and Church Takings," in the Yale Law Journal.

  • Designing Churches of Great Beauty

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    Stroik is a well-known scholar and architect of Ecclesiastical architecture. His portfolio includes churches and church renovations across the United States. Stroik’s works include Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel in California, the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Wisconsin, the Jesuit Chapel of the Holy Cross in Florida, and the Cathedral of St. Joseph in South Dakota. He has done masterplanning for College, Parish and Monastic campuses.

    His scholarship includes The Church Building as a Sacred Place: Beauty, Transcendence and the Eternal. In 1998, Stroik founded the Institute for Sacred Architecture and edits its journal, Sacred Architecture.

  • Measuring the Resiliency of Catholic Churches in Italy

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    Walsh, along with Elizabeth Kerr (Engineering), received a grant from the Global Gateway Faculty Research Awards program, as well as the Fitzgerald Institute for Real Estate, for their work on risk assessment of churches in Italy entitled, “Seismic resilience of Catholic Churches in Italy incorporating the development of an operational framework for assessment, case study non-destructive testing, and numerical modeling.” 

    Through these grants, both undergraduate students and faculty have the opportunity to help assess the resiliency and structural soundness of churches that the Catholic Church would not otherwise have the resources or expertise to evaluate. 

    This research is taking place at the Rome Global Gateway.


  • Understanding the Effects of Catholic School Closures on Urban Neighborhoods

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    Garnett published Lost Classroom, Lost Community: Catholic Schools' Importance in Urban America (University of Chicago Press) (with Margaret F. Brinig), an important book on the effects of Catholic School closures on urban neighborhoods in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles.


    In the past two decades in the United States, more than 1,600 Catholic elementary and secondary schools have closed, and more than 4,500 charter schools―public schools that are often privately operated and freed from certain regulations―have opened, many in urban areas. With a particular emphasis on Catholic school closures, Lost Classroom, Lost Community examines the implications of these dramatic shifts in the urban educational landscape. 

    More than just educational institutions, Catholic schools promote the development of social capital―the social networks and mutual trust that form the foundation of safe and cohesive communities. Drawing on data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods and crime reports collected at the police beat or census tract level in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles, Margaret F. Brinig and Nicole Stelle Garnett demonstrate that the loss of Catholic schools triggers disorder, crime, and an overall decline in community cohesiveness, and suggest that new charter schools fail to fill the gaps left behind.

    This book shows that the closing of Catholic schools harms the very communities they were created to bring together and serve, and it will have vital implications for both education and policing policy debates.