Sister Donna Ruth Hawk-Reinhard, AF, DSc, PhD

Background and Intersections of Interest

Before beginning my formal study of theology, I trained first in the practical application of the sciences as a chemical engineer (B.S. Missouri University of Science and Technology; M.S. and D.Sc. Washington University in St. Louis), specializing in separation sciences.  My work as an engineer focused on seeking differences that allow for product purification.  Chemical engineers are trained to work from both a macro perspective (i.e., entire production process) and micro focus (i.e., how does this piece of equipment serve the larger purpose of the process).  This blending of serving the “big picture” with “dive deep into the details” shapes my theological work.

My study of the queen of the sciences, theology, is through the lens of three denominations:  I grew up in the United Methodist Church, received my MDiv through a conservative Presbyterian seminary (Covenant Theological Seminary), then did my doctoral work in a Roman Catholic setting (Saint Louis University, historical theology). 

My preferred way of studying theological texts is intertextuality, which allows me to use the analytical skills that I learned as a chemical engineer to full advantage.  I enjoy studying texts in their contexts, balancing deep dives with broader readings of a given author, looking for the stated purpose of the author in the text.  I am particularly drawn to Christian education texts, especially catechetical and mystagogical texts because of their practical, epistemological goal of forming the identity of the person as a Christian.

I am especially interested in how liturgy and ritual form the individual within the context of community life.  I have taught spirituality at the Episcopal School for Theology, Diocese of Missouri and sacramental spirituality for The Robert E. Webber Institute of Worship Studies.  I currently teach sacramental theology for the Bishop Kemper School of Theology.

I am a confirmed member of the Episcopal Church and a vowed (professed) member of Anamchara Fellowship, a canonically-recognized Christian Community of The Episcopal Church, serving as Prioress of Clonmacnoise Priory (for members of AF residing the Diocese of Missouri and the Diocese of Arkansas), and chair of the Breviary Workgroup.

Texts that Formed Me

Theology, especially Soteriology

Athanasius’s On the Incarnation 

Cyril of Jerusalem’s Catechetical Lectures

Norman Russell’s The Doctrine of Deification in the Greek Patristic Tradition helped me shift my soteriological thought toward sacramental theosis

Augustine of Hippo’s On Teaching Christianity 

Sacramental Theology

Cyril of Jerusalem’s  Mystagogical Lectures 

Hugh of Saint Victor’s On the Sacraments of the Christian Faith 

Bonaventure’s Commentary on the Sentences, Book 4

Hans Boersma’s Heavenly Participation:  the Weaving of a  Sacramental Tapestry 

Thomas Rattray’s Some Particular Instructions about the Christian Covenant 


Augustine of Hippo’s On the City of God against the Pagans 

Richard Valantasis’s The Making of the Self and Dazzling Bodies   


Michael Polanyi’s Personal Knowledge and The Tacit Dimension 

Esther Meek’s Longing to Know


Not all of my formational texts are books–I have been formed by pilgrimages to English Cathedrals and parish churches as well as time in front of Irish scripture crosses.  I am fascinated by the use of carvings and paintings to focus attention and to teach biblical texts and theological themes.  Maybe most important in these explorations of sacred art within medieval worship spaces is what I have experienced as an invitation from God through these artisans to recover a sense of awe, delight, playfulness, and humor in my theological endeavors.

Lincoln Cathedral provided a welcoming space for me to experience and reflect upon how theological space and liturgy work together to form Christians through the centuries.  It was at Lincoln Cathedral that I began to ponder the theologically-informed art of baptismal fonts and the intersections between the wrestling griffons and dragons, Ephesians 6:10-17, and 4th-century baptismal theology.  My understanding of Christ as merciful Judge has been shaped by gazing upon the magnificent Dean’s Eye window and the depiction of Christ in Majesty in its tympanum.  

St. Mary and St. Bartholomew’s in Cranborne, Dorsett, provides a provocative catechetical text through its depiction of the seven deadly sins and the seven works of mercy visually framing the baptismal font.  Here I see lex orandi, lex credendi, and lex vivendi worked out in practical ways within the theological space.

St John the Baptist, Clayton, provides a striking example of a mystagogical text (Christ in Majesty and the Last Judgment on the chancel arch) that depicts a pre-Reformation Eucharistic theology that I see recovered in the work of the Usagers, especially Thomas Rattray’s eucharistic theology.

The Church of St Mary and St David, Kilpeck, Herefordshire is an amazing example of the work of the masons of Herefordshire and their blending of Celtic, Anglo Saxon, and Norman motifs that I consider to be an artistic foreshadowing of the Anglican via media.

Muiredoch’s High Cross at Monasterboise, especially its  tender depiction of the angels ministering to Jesus while he is being crucified, challenged the remaining vestiges of a Reformed penal substitutionary atonement theory that was once my default atonement theory.

Both the Scripture Cross at Clonmacnoise and at Durrow continue to invite me to contemplate the active role of the Father and the Spirit in the crucifixion and resurrection, supporting the continuity of a robust Trinitarian theology in this historical moment of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.

What I'm Currently Reading

Athanasius. “The Letter to Marcellinus”

Billet, Jesse D.  The Divine Office in Anglo-Saxon England 597-c.1000  (2014)

Corning, Caitlin.  The Celtic and Roman Traditions:  Conflict and Consensus in the  Early Medieval Church (2006)

Keating, Daniel A.  Deification and Grace (2007)

Martimore, A. G., ed.  The Liturgy and Time.  The Church at Prayer, Vol IV.  (1993)  Trans. Matthew O’Connell.

Rumsey, Patricia M.  Sacred Time in Early Christian Ireland (2007)

Schmemann, Alexander.  Introduction to Liturgical Theology (1966)  Trans.  Ashleigh E. Moorehouse

Woolfenden, Gregory W., Daily Liturgical Prayer:  Origins and Theology (2004)


I write a weekly meditation on the Collect of the Day.  You can find the most recent posts here.