Loyola celebrates the life of Angela Christman, Ph.D.
Angela Russell Christman, Ph.D., a professor of theology who will be remembered for her love of teaching and her deep faith, passed away this morning after a battle with cancer.
Christman, who began teaching at Loyola in 1994, brought a wealth of experience and talent to her vocation and made significant contributions to the life of the University. During her tenure, she served at various times as director of the Honors Program, director of the Catholic Studies Program, and chair of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee. She was tenured and promoted to associate professor in 2000 and promoted to professor in 2007. Throughout her time at Loyola, she was a strong voice and advocate for the central role of the humanities in education.
“Angela had a breadth of knowledge and a love of so many things that just to be with her was to be enriched,” said Claire Mathews McGinnis, Ph.D., professor of theology and department chair. “She was a weaver, a gardener who promoted the use of native species, a thoughtful, careful scholar, a devoted mother, and the consummate teacher. She was kind, she was funny, and her faith ran deep. I think the best tribute we can give her is to embrace life and learning with the gusto and fortitude she herself had.”
Christman earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Virginia before serving as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1979 to 1983. After earning an M.Div. from Virginia Theological Seminary, she was ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church—though she later returned to full communion in the Roman Catholic Church. She received her Ph.D. in Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity, from the University of Virginia, where she specialized in patristics. She published a number of articles and essays, edited two volumes on patristic biblical exegesis, and authored a book, What Did Ezekiel See? Christian Exegesis of Ezekiel’s Vision of the Chariot from Irenenaeus to Gregory the Great.
“Angela was a woman of amazing courage and faith who loved Loyola and her department,” said Frederick “Fritz” Bauerschmidt, Ph.D., professor of theology. “She sought to serve Christ faithfully with all her heart, mind, and strength and was always willing to follow her convictions, no matter the cost. She was, after all, a former Marine. She cared for her colleagues and students in a deep and personal way. It has been one of the great honors of my life to call her my friend. One of the last things she said to me was, ‘I’ll see you on the other side.’ I look forward to that day.”
Christman, who celebrated 25 years of teaching at Loyola this year, received the University’s prestigious Bene Merenti Medal this spring to mark that milestone.
“Right up to her last days on campus, Angela was deeply involved in service to the University, serving as the chair of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee where she was a key negotiator in the development of the newly passed revised core curriculum. Angela could be a fierce critic of policies and decisions that she didn't agree with, but always because she cared so much about Loyola and wanted it to be the best version of itself it could be,” said Martha Taylor, Ph.D., professor of classics. “That was also how she lived her life—fiercely and deeply with an abiding faith and constant reflection about her own weaknesses or failings always with the aim of improving herself and everyone around her.”
Christman regularly taught sections of “The Ancient World” in the Honors Program and was beloved by students, some of whom she inspired to pursue the study of patristics—the field focused on the early church theologians.
“Angela was a great friend, and she made all her friends better people because they knew her,” said Steve Fowl, Ph.D., dean of Loyola College of Arts and Sciences. “She was not always an easy friend to have. She was dedicated to her faith and her core principles; she had strong and well-considered views that were not always fashionable, but she held them with integrity. She was loyal and gracious, and her death leaves a huge hole in the fabric of those who knew her.”
Christman is survived by her husband, Tom, and their daughters, Sidney, who graduated from Loyola in 2013, and Cecilia.
Arrangements for services will be posted here when available.