Skip navigation

IONA College Logo | Go to Home Page

Faculty & Staff

Ernest Billings (Billy) Brewster, Ph.D.

Billy Brewster

Clinical Lecturer

Office: Spellman Hall, Second Floor
Degrees: Ph.D., East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University, 2018
M.A., Religious Studies, National Chengchi University, 2011
B.A., History, Princeton University, 2008

Dr. Billy Brewster teaches Buddhist Traditions, Religious Traditions of China and The Religious Imagination. His research interests include combining philology with a doctrinal-historical approach to key ideological developments in early medieval Chinese Buddhism. He is currently working on a manuscript on Buddhist conceptualizations of death and dying, titled, The Yoga of Dying.

Kathleen P. Deignan

Kathleen P. Deignan

Professor of Religious Studies
Director, Iona Spirituality Institute

Office: Spellman Hall, Second Floor
Phone: (914) 633-2590
Degrees: Ph.D., Historical Theology, Fordham University, 1986
MA, Christian Spirituality, Fordham University, 1980
BA, English, Sacred Heart University, 1971
Program in Spiritual Direction, Fordham University, 1990

Sr. Kathleen Deignan’s current interests are in the areas of classical and contemporary spirituality with a focus on creation theology and spirituality. Her work is devoted to transmitting the spiritual and intellectual legacies of Thomas Merton and her mentor Thomas Berry in a variety of academic, artistic and pastoral formats. A GreenFaith Fellow, Dr. Deignan completed a two-year post-doctoral training for religious environmental leadership. She is a member of the American Academy of Religion, the Catholic Theological Society of America, the International Thomas Merton Society and the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality.
See more on Sr. Deignan

Teresa Delgado, Ph.D.

Teresa Delgado

Chair, Religious Studies Department
Professor, Religion and Ethics
Program Director, Peace and Justice Studies

Office: Spellman Hall, Second Floor
Phone: (914) 633-2682
Degrees: Ph.D., Systematic Theology, Union Theological Seminary
MPhil, Systematic Theology, Union Theological Seminary
MA, Systematic Theology, Union Theological Seminary
BA, Religion and Women's Studies, Colgate University

Dr. Teresa Delgado teaches courses at the intersection of theology and ethics. Her research interests and scholarship engage the experiences of marginalized peoples to articulate a constructive theological/ethical vision. She has published on topics ranging from diversity in higher education, transformational pedagogies, constructive theology and ethics, and justice for racial/ethnic/sexual minoritized persons. Dr. Delgado's book, A Puerto Rican Decolonial Theology: Prophesy Freedom, was published with Palgrave Macmillan in 2017. She is currently working on a manuscript in sexual ethics, titled Loving Sex: Envisioning a Relevant Catholic Sexual Ethic.
See more on Dr. Delgado

Jennifer T. Kaalund, Ph.D.

Jennifer T. Kaalund

Assistant Professor

Office: Spellman Hall, Second Floor
Phone: (914) 637-2742
Degrees: Ph.D., New Testament and Early Christianity, Drew University, 2015
STM, New Testament, Union Theology Seminary NYC, 2008
M.Th., Biblical Studies, Seton Hall University, 2007
BA, Chemistry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1997

Dr. Jennifer Kaalund has research interests in Christian scriptures, African American history and culture, the Bible in popular culture, and the study of early Christianity in its Roman imperial context with a focus on womanist hermeneutics and postcolonial and cultural studies. Her dissertation, “Dis/locating Diaspora: Reading Hebrews and 1 Peter with the African American Great Migration,” explores the constructed and contested Christian-Jewish identities in Hebrews and 1 Peter as read through the lens of the “New Negro,” a 20th century African American identity construct.

Kim Paffenroth, Ph.D.

Kim Paffenroth

Director, Honors Program

Office: Spellman Hall, Second Floor
Phone: (914) 637-2743
Degrees: Ph.D., Theology, University of Notre Dame, 1995.
MTS, Biblical Studies, Harvard Divinity School, 1990.
BA, Liberal Arts, St. John's College, 1988.

Dr. Kim Paffenroth has training primarily in the study of the New Testament and the Early Church, and he continues to publish in these areas. His work on St. Augustine (354-430 CE) is especially noteworthy. He also investigates how early Christian beliefs are expressed in more recent works of literature or other arts either in what used to be called "high culture" or in popular culture. In the latter area, he has focused his attention on what many would consider non- or anti-Christian genres, especially horror literature, films and television. His zombie novels have enjoyed some success in the last several years and been translated into German, Italian and Russian.
See more on Dr. Paffenroth

Elena G. Procario-Foley, Ph.D.

Elena G. Procario-Foley

Director, Core Curriculum
Brother John G. Driscoll Professor of Jewish-Catholic Studies

Office: Spellman Hall, Second Floor
Phone: (914) 637-2744
Degrees: Ph.D., Systematic Theology, University of Chicago, 1995
MA, Divinity, University of Chicago, 1985
BA, Theology and Philosophy, Fordham University, 1985

Dr. Elena Procario-Foley teaches Iona's core courses in Religious Studies. She has also developed the study abroad course to Auschwitz: Memory and Reconciliation: The Churches and the Holocaust. Dr. Procario-Foley's early research focused on the christology of Flemish Dominican theologian Edward Schillebeeckx. She is interested in the various branches of systematic theology, their conversations with both pastoral practice and Christian feminism, and Catholic theology after Vatican II. Procario-Foley currently focuses work in the field of Jewish-Catholic relations.
See more on Dr. Procario-Foley

Rachana Rao Umashankar

Rachana Rao Umashankar

Assistant Professor

Office: Spellman Hall, Second Floor
Phone: (914) 633-2644
Degrees: Ph.D., Anthropology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2012.
BA, Anthropology-Sociology, Knox College, 2004.

Dr. Rachana Rao Umashankar specializes in courses about the anthropology of religion and Islam in South Asia. Her research interests are in the anthropology of religion, the politics of religious identity, history and memory, and Islam in South Asia. Dr. Umashankar received the Jr. Master Teacher and Lecturer award in 2016, and the Catherine McCabe Award for Innovation & Excellence in Teaching in 2018.
See more on Dr. Umashankar

Faculty Emeriti

Brian E. Brown

Memory and Reconciliation: Iona in Poland

The Religious Studies Department at Iona offers a life-changing spring study abroad experience in Poland. Sponsored by Iona’s endowed professorship in Jewish-Catholic Studies, the program brings faculty and students to Auschwitz for an intensive week of study during spring break. Check out our blog to see photos and read about how students have confronted the tragedy and interpreted the meaning of the Holocaust.

Student Success

Iona has given me the chance to study what I truly love: Religion.

Lisette C. Noisette

Religious Studies major