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Kathleen Kennedy Townsend draws packed audience at SXU's Shannon Center

Maryland's first woman lieutenant governor shares family stories and personal views

Chicago (Sept. 7, 2007) � Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Maryland�s first woman lieutenant governor, wowed more than 600 people last night at Saint Xavier University�s Shannon Center, mixing in details of growing up the daughter of Robert F. and Ethel Kennedy while sharing her own strong views on church and faith in today�s society.  

Kicking off Saint Xavier University�s 2007-08 Squeaky Weal lecture series, Townsend�s lecture was titled �How American Churches Are Failing Our Faith, Our Politics, and Our Country.� Afterwards, Townsend answered questions from the audience and signed copies of her new book, Failing America�s Faithful: How Today�s Churches are Mixing God with Politics and Losing Their Way.

Kennedy Townsend noted that people seem to be turning to God for superficial reasons. �Somehow, in the last 40 years, God has been turned into a person like a self-help guru,� she said. �People go to God to stop drinking, to get thinner, to get richer, to win a football match, to get a nicer house or a better job."

Paraphrasing the indelible words of her uncle, President John F. Kennedy, she said, "It becomes almost like you ask not what you can do for God, but what God can do for you. And in that whole process, we�ve shrunk God to fit our needs rather than something larger than ourselves. This has been dangerous and sad and devastating for our nation, and I think it has to change."

Saint Xavier�s Squeaky Weal lecture series explores the role of religion in civic life and the importance of being involved in civic and political issues. The series is sponsored by the Center for Religion and Public Discourse.

�The audience was treated to a rare opportunity that was both thought-provoking and timely,� said Sister Susan Sanders, R.S.M., vice president for University Mission and Heritage and director of the Center for Religion and Public Discourse at Saint Xavier. �Kathleen Kennedy Townsend�s exploration of the relationship between religion and politics was the perfect beginning to this year�s Squeaky Weak lecture series.�

Townsend is president of Operation Respect, a nationwide character education program that teaches right from wrong, and personal and social responsibility. She is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University�s School of Public Policy. 

Townsend has a long history of accomplishment in the public arena. In addition to being Maryland�s first woman lieutenant governor, she was deputy assistant attorney general of the United States. She also founded and directed the Maryland Student Service Alliance, leading the fight to make Maryland the first state in the nation to require all high school students to perform community service.

She currently serves on the boards of directors of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Civic Works, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, the Institute for Human Virology and the Character Education Partnership. An honors graduate of Harvard University, she received her law degree from the University of New Mexico, where she was a member of the law review.

The next Squeaky Weal lecture will feature political analyst Paul Green at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 3. For more information about the lecture series, please contact Kathy Mareska at (773) 298-3981 or mareska@sxu.edu, or visit www.sxu.edu. 

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Founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1846, Saint Xavier University was the first Mercy college in the United States and is Chicago�s oldest Catholic university. Serving approximately 5,700 students at its campuses in Chicago, Orland Park and its Loop location, the University offers 35 undergraduate majors; more than 40 graduate program options in arts and sciences, business, education and nursing; and a variety of program options in continuing and professional studies. Recognizing Saint Xavier�s excellence in education, U.S. News and World Report has ranked SXU consistently among the Best Colleges in the Midwest.

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