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Dr. Martha Ann Kirk

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Sr. Martha Ann Kirk

Martha Ann Kirk is a Professor of Religious Studies at the University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, Texas. She also directs an outreach program of ecumenical and international presentations with story, drama, and dance focusing on issues of justice and peace. She holds a Th.D. in Theology and the Arts from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA, 1986; an M.A. in Religion from Fordham University; and an M.A. in Art Education from the University of New Mexico. She was a scholar in-residence at Tantur Ecumenical Institute in Jerusalem in 1995 and has had study tours or research trips to biblical lands in 1996, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2005, and 2007.  Kirk is a member of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, a Roman Catholic congregation, and has been active in their liturgy, justice, peace, and formation committees. When she was part of the leadership team of the Sisters in the U.S., she worked to build bridges with the Sisters' ministries in Peru, Mexico, and Zambia.

Texas Pax Christi, a branch of the international Catholic peace organization Pax Christi, recognized her as the Peacemaker of the Year in 2005.  In recognition of her work, particularly that building bridges between Jews, Christians, and Muslims, she received the San Antonio Bar Foundation Peacemaker Award presented by the Mayor of San Antonio, Texas,  in 2004.   St. Mary's University President's Peace Commission honored her with the "Art of Peace" Award which recognizes the use of the arts in peacemaking.  The Constance Allen Heritage Guild for Lifetime Learning, presented her a “Yellow Rose of Texas Education Award.” 

Kirk’s most recent book is Women of Bible Lands: A Pilgrimage to Compassion and Wisdom  (Liturgical Press and available in San Antonio from Viva Books).  A CD-Rom "Illustrations and Guides for Women of Bible Lands," with over 370 color pictures and discussion guides sponsored by Women’s Global Connection can be used with the  text. See . Women of Bible Lands:  A Pilgrimage to Compassion and Wisdom is the first guide book to associate stories about or by Jewish, Christian, and Muslim women with over 200 sites in Israel, Palestine, Sinai, Egypt, Tunisia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon,  Syria, Greece, and Turkey. The stories of women from the nineteenth century B.C.E. to the ninth century C.E. are from the Bible, the Qu'ran, and many other sources, originally written in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Syriac, Coptic, or Arabic. Ancient words and journeys strengthen readers for the challenging pilgrimage from the head to the heart whether or not they can travel to the countries.  The book includes suggestions for using the women's stories in ritual with music from "Ancient Echoes," a CD from SAVAE which reconstructs music of biblical times. (See


Kirk dramatizes “Fools Turn to Violence, but Wisdom Prepares a Feast---Abigail’s Story” based on I Samuel 25, with music by Covita Moroney  of SAVAE

Among Kirk’s publications are “The Serendipitous Dance of Death” in Wising Up: Ritual Resources for Women of Faith in Their Journey of Aging edited by Kathy Black and Heather Murray Elkins (Pilgrim Press, 2005);   “Come Dance Sophia’s Circle,” in Post-Modern Worship and the Art. edited by Doug Adams and Michael E. Moynahan, SJ (Resource Publications, 2001);  The Word Made Flesh, Danzando con la creacion  video of dance and drama with music by Rufino Zaragoza, OFM (1995); "Biblical Women and Feminist Exegesis: Women Dancing Men's Ideas or Women Dancing Women," in Dance as Religious Studies, edited by Diane Apostolos-Cappodona and Doug Adams (Crossroads/Continuum, 1990);  Celebrations of Biblical Women's Stories Tears, Milk and Honey  with songs by Colleen Fulmer (1987); Daughters Who Image God, Weep with God and Sing God's Praise, video of drama, mime, and dance (1987, all published by Sheed and Ward); God of Our Mothers: Seven Biblical Women Tell Their Stories, cassettes and study guide (1985); Dancing with Creation: Mexican and Native American Dance in Christian Worship and Education (1983), and "Liturgical Drama" for The New Dictionary of Sacramental Worship. She was featured on the video Preparing the Way, as one of the fifteen leaders at the International Christian Dance Fellowship Conference, Jerusalem.

She has shared workshops at the World Council of Churches 50th Anniversary Conference and "Festival to Close the Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women" in Zimbabwe in 1998 and the Second European Ecumenical Women’s Synod in Barcelona in 2003. She was a keynote speaker and panelist at "Women of Faith in Culture and Society Conference" with Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Druez women in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. She has taught and given a retreat at Marinella Centre in Dublin. She gave a workshop at the World Council of Curriculum and Instruction 25th Anniversary Conference in Amritsar, India. She presented "Biblical Women and Feminist Exegesis: Women Dancing Men's Ideas or Women Dancing Women," at the "Global Issues in Dance" Conference in Hong Kong and "Dance in Christian Worship and Education as a Source of Enculturation and Empowerment" at the International Conference on Dance Research on Morelia, Mexico. Kirk has also given presentations in England, Canada, the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic, as well as, all over the United States.

Nobel Laureate , Máiread Corrigan Maguire and Kirk in the Peace People Office, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Kirk has been coordinator of the undergraduate Religious Studies program and co-director of the graduate Justice and Peace Studies Program at Incarnate Word. She has received the University's Moody Professor (outstanding teacher award). She has received grants from the  Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, the Texas Committee for the Humanities, a part of the National Endowment for the Humanities, from the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts and from the Fourth Freedom Forum, seeking nonviolent resolutions to international conflicts. She is a member of the North American Academy of Liturgy; American Academy of Religion; Catholic Theological Society of America, Society of Biblical Literature; and the Sacred Dance Guild. Though she has been involved in university education since the 1970's, she has taught both high school and elementary school and continues to do special presentations for students of all ages. In light of the United Nations' and the World Council of Churches' "Decade to Overcome Violence," her particular interests at this time are spirituality and education seeking justice and peace and what women might contribute to this.

Some of Kirk’s publications on-line:
“A Little Child Shall Lead Them: Iraqi Refugees in Jordan” with photos of children and stories of families from Kirk’s recent research trip will appear in the St. Anthony Messenger,  November 2007, see /

“Vietnamese Christians Share God’s Beauty in Sacred Dance,” expanded article from the Sacred Dance Guild Journal with color illustrations and video,  Articles.   

“Cambodia and Vietnam: Touching the Wounds of the Grandchildren of War,” The Word Today, Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word,”  March –April, 2007.

“From east to west and north to south, let us praise God. Gifts from many cultures enriching God’s people”  Sacred Dance Guild Journal, Fall 2006  Vol 49, No. 1 expanded with color illustrations at  Articles.   

“Martha Ann Kirk---Embodying Christ to the World” A profile by Letha Dawson Scanzoni, cover story of Christian Feminism Today, Spring 2006,  1-4. See

"We Refuse to Be Enemies": Using Online Dialogue to Engage Students in Learning Spirituality and Justice  which was presented in the “Spirituality, Justice, and Pedagogy” Conference sponsored by the Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning, September 22-24, 2005, at Calvin College, Detroit, see:

“Martha Ann Kirk, Th.D. ‘86” Featured Alumni in GTU Current, News of the Graduate Theological Union,  Summer 2005, 14. See

“Forgive Us Our Trespasses---that dangerous word,” The Word Today, Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word,” Vol.5,  September-October, 2004.

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