Dr. Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz, a well-known and somewhat controversial Catholic theologian who spoke in Memphis in March, died Sunday after a brief battle with cancer. She was 69.
Isasi-Diaz’s appearance in Memphis made news after Christian Brothers University withdrew its invitation to host a conference featuring her as a keynote speaker, due to her “divergence from a basic Catholic teaching.” The Drew University professor, who supported women’s ordination, also preached at a family member’s same-sex wedding in 2009.
Isasi-Diaz, founder of mujerisa theology, spoke at First Congregational Church, which agreed to host the Vanderhaar Symposium.
“After her lecture here, she was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer,” said Dr. Barbara Holmes, a former professor at Memphis Theological Seminary. “When she was made aware of the prognosis, she died as she lived with great dignity.”
Isasi-Diaz was born and raised in Cuba. She moved to the United States in 1960 with her family, and then entered the Ursuline novitiate in California. She was living in Madison, N.J. where she taught ethics and theology at Drew.
“She was a true prophetic woman of peace,” said Janice Vanderhaar. “It is hard to believe that Dr. Ada Maria passed this way less than two months ago to share with us her incredible message of Compassion and Solidarity at the Vanderhaar Symposium. We were indeed blessed by her powerful presence in our midst.”