Alumni News

Alumna Katherine Karam McCray recognized for research on disability and Orthodox ethics

Katherine Karam McCray

Saint Vladimir’s Seminary (SVOTS) Alumna Katherine Karam McCray is representing Eastern Orthodoxy in the field of disability theology. As recognition of her promising scholarship into Orthodox Christian ethics and disability, McCray has been awarded two prestigious—and highly competitive—dissertation fellowships for the upcoming year: the NEH Dissertation Fellowship at Fordham University and the Louisville Institute Dissertation Fellowship.

McCray graduated from St. Vladimir’s Seminary with a Master of Theology (Th.M.) degree in 2014. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of St. Michael's College, University of Toronto, in religious ethics.

“I’m very proud to be representing Eastern Christianity in unexpected spaces,” said McCray, adding, “Many Christian ethicists overlook the robust Eastern moral tradition, and we have rich alternatives to contribute to conversations about human nature and responsibility.”

McCray’s dissertation investigates how the development of individual autonomy in early modern Christianity disenfranchised persons with disabilities and presents alternative models for autonomy from Eastern Orthodox anthropology.

“Most Orthodox work on ethics, particularly virtue ethics, positions our tradition as lacking, as though we are late to the game of asking difficult questions. I believe this puts young Orthodox scholars on the backfoot, obligating us to compare and contrast with Western models instead of representing what Orthodoxy offers from inside our own contexts. I hope my work on disability serves as a milestone. Orthodox ethics is not a new field, and we are continuing to make important ongoing contributions to modern discourse.”

McCray is making other academic contributions on the topic of disability in addition to her dissertation. She has presented two papers at the Orthodox Christian Association of Medicine, Psychology and Religion (OCAMPR), one about bipolar disorder and another about complex-PTSD, both with attention to how the community can provide support. Most recently, she penned a forthcoming book chapter on Orthodox anthropology and disability for the Templeton Foundation grant, Science and Orthodoxy Around the World (SOW), entitled “Dependency as Ontology.” Other SVOTS faculty members contributing to this project include Dr. Peter Bouteneff and Dr. Ana Iltis.

McCray's discussion with Bp John and Dr Rossi

McCray also serves on the Mental Health Task Force of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops and contributed research for the new Peace of Mind Training Pilot Program, which offers training in Mental Health First Aid to clergy and community leaders with an Orthodox theological approach. Together with St. Vladimir’s own Dr. Albert Rossi, McCray speaks with fellow SVOTS graduate Bp. John (Abdalah) about Orthodox approaches to mental health care in the video series Mental Health and Orthodox Christianity.

“I think that the area Kate is working on is unfortunately neglected, and so I commend her on her scholarship and promising academic career,” said St. Vladimir’s Academic Dean Dr. Ionuţ-Alexandru Tudorie.

The entire St. Vladimir’s Seminary community congratulates Katherine Karam McCray on her two fellowship awards! May God grant her many fruitful years in her scholarly ministry!

Bottom Photo: McCray with Bp. John (Abdalah) and Dr. Albert Rossi in the video series Mental Health and Orthodox Christianity