Sister Marth Ann Kirk

Sr Martha Ann Kirk (CCVI)

Department of Religious Studies Phone: (210) 883-5934

With a Th.D. in Theology and the Arts from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, Calif., she has been a professor of Religious Studies and of the Arts at the University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, Texas, teaching over 7,000 students, writing six books, and visiting over 30 countries, often leading students. She is interested in furthering San Antonio’s flourishing as a City of Compassion within the global Charter for Compassion movement leading to respect and justice for all and for the Earth itself. In light of this, she has become an International Compassionate Integrity Training Facilitator. She is an SA2020 Ambassador, encouraging progress toward a shared vision for a thriving San Antonio.

She has been the San Antonio Peace Laureate, the Texas Pax Christi Peacemaker of the Year, and recognized in various ways for building interfaith and intercultural bridges. She was included in the PBS "Women, War, and Peace" series as a “Teacher of Peace.” She promotes social justice and service learning within the University of the Incarnate Word Ettling Center for Civic Leadership and Sustainability. As a Sister of Charity of the Incarnate Word of San Antonio, she serves as a leader in their International Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Committee.

  • Th.D. in Theology and the Arts, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California, 1986
  • M.A. in Religion and Religious Education, Fordham University, Bronx, New York, 1977 (Comprehensives with Honors)
  • M.A. in Art Education with a minor in Art History, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque,New Mexico, 1973
  • B.A. cum laude in Secondary Education with concentrations in Speech, Drama, and Art, Incarnate Word College, San Antonio, Texas 1968
  • University of the Incarnate Word:
    • Professor of Religious Studies, 1992 -
    • Associate Membership on the Graduate Faculty as a member of dissertation committees
    • Thomas A. French Chair in Religious Studies, 2006 - 2009
    • UIW New Faculty Mentoring Program, 1998 -
    • Director of Liturgical Outreach Program, 1986 -
    • Coordinator of Religious Studies Department, 1991 - 1995
    • Co-director of Graduate Justice and Peace Studies, 1986 - 1989
    • Assistant Professor, 1978 - 1980
    • IWC Lecturer, 1972
    • Scholar-in-Residence, Tantur Ecumenical Institute, Jerusalem, 1995, with travel in Israel/Palestine, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, and the Sinai and further research in the Middle East in the summers of 1996, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009 (tours in collaboration with Women’s Global Connection)
  • Oblate School of Theology (part time) Spiritual Director and Teacher for the Ministry to Ministers program, 1987 - 1992
  • Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, Summer Instructor, 1983 - 1985, Creative Arts for Worship, Preaching, and Spirituality, 1987
  • Franciscan School of Theology, Berkeley, Visiting Professor,
    • Taught: Women's Spirituality through Story, 1981 - 1983;
    • Coordinated and critiqued weekly Prayer Services with Lay Presiding and Preaching;
    • Spiritual Director for students
  • Incarnate Word High School, Religion, Drama, Speech, Art, and English teacher, 1968 - 1970
  • St. Peter's School, San Antonio, Art teacher in grades 1 to 8, Spring 1968

The Academic work listed above.

Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, U.S. Province Leadership Team, part time, 2000 - 2002

“Valyermo dancers celebrate 50 years of sacred dance,” National Catholic Reporter, Oct. 14, 2022

San Antonio Interfaith Leaders Unite to Create a “City of Compassion,” Interfaith America, June 24, 2022.

“Digging, Growing, and Transforming,” Interfaith America, March 10, 2022,

“When COVID-19 Kept Us Apart, Interfaith Ties Brought Healing,” Interfaith America, February 7, 2022.

“Young women work together to present at UN forum,” Global Sisters Report, September 2, 2022. Co-authors, Martha A. Kirk, Tatum Spriester.

Developed and coordinated a virtual conference attended by over 150 people “Stores of Truth and Transformation: Compassion, Civic Engagement, Teaching Social Justice,” Aug. 4 – 6, 2021, with recordings and resources available online

Presentation in the Gulf South Service Learning Summit, 2021, “ Creative Life and Relationships Emerging from Dia de los muertos,” building relationships in three countries and four institutions. Described in “May the Communion of Saints bring us comfort!” Global Sisters Report, February 21, 2020 and shown in “Incarnate Word Cross Cultural Contact and Compassion”

“Tears Are Washing Our Eyes That We May See, Teaching in San Antonio, TX, a ‘City of Compassion,’” , 2021, adapted for the Social Emotional Learning series of UNESCO and the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development, from an article for the Newsletter of the World Council of Curriculum and Instruction, Summer 2020 pp. 18–22. Co-authored with Victoria Saldana.

“Prophetic Voices,” Presenter for the 45 th Anniversary Women’s Ordination Conference, Nov. 28, 2020

Blessed is She who Dances for Justice and Peace: Carla De Sola” Presentation for the Sacred Dance Guild Festival, a virtual gathering with presenters from 7 countries, August 3, 2020.

Featured in a short film “Sister Martha” Peace Educator in the PBS series “Women, War, and Peace” which premiered in a program with Abigail Disney sponsored in San Antonio by the local PBS station KLRN, March 20, 2019 at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. The film can be seen

A respondent for the opening keynote of the World Council of Curriculum and Instruction Conference, “The Flowering of Global Citizenship Education: Empowering and Transforming Our Common Humanity Toward a Culture of Peace” by Dr. Toh Swee-Hin, who is a UNESCO Prize for Peace Education Laureate, Rome, Italy, July 15, 2018. Also presented “Roots Serving the City, Branches Serving the World: Incarnate Word Sisters Founded in 1869 in Response to the Mayor’s Pleas, University of the Incarnate Word Students and Faculty Reaching Out in Service Locally and Globally”

Presented on the panel “Empowering women through local leadership opportunities” a United Nations Parallel Session Event, in the Sixty-first session of the  Commission on the Status of Women, New York City, March 16, 2017. (Read about it

Presented in and wrote article on the “Istanbul Summit: "Women's Perspective on UN Post-2015 Development Agenda" June 2014, with over 300 people from 45 countries focused on carrying the UN Sustainable Development goals into the future through local participation.

Carla De Sola: From Alpha to Omega. An oral history with biographical narrative by M.A. Kirk including extensive archival illustrations and information found in De Sola’s personal collection, in the Carla De Sola Collection of the Graduate Theological Union Archives, the Archives of Juilliard School, New York City, and the Archives of St. John the Divine Cathedral, New York City. The transcripts of this accompany the Carla De Sola YouTube Channel with 28 films See “Documenting a ‘Living Legacy’ On-line: Carla De Sola

Iraqi Women of Three Generations: Challenges, Education, and Hopes for Peace Co-authored with Patricia Madigan, San Antonio: peaceCENTER and Gülen Institute, 2014. (The book is based on the exhibit of photographs and stories which is available

“Transformando las áreas de violencia al sureste de Turquía a través de la educación y la ayuda de personas inspiradas por Gülen” in Iniciativas Transnacionales de Educación, Diálogo y Ayuda Humanitaria: El Movimiento Gülen, eds. Ali Condri, Juan Manuel. México D.F.: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), 2012.

Hope and Healing: Stories from Northern Iraq Where Persons Inspired by Fethullah Gülen Have Been Serving, Houston: Gülen Institute University of Houston, 2011

Five articles related to religious dance and drama: "Los Seises," "Dance of Death," "Feast of Fools," "Isadora Duncan," and "Martha Graham" for the New Catholic Encyclopedia Supplement 2011, ed. Robert L. Fastiggi, Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Cengage Learning, 2011.

“Martha Ann Kirk-Embodying Christ to the World” A profile by Letha Dawson Scanzoni, cover story of Christian Feminism Today, Spring 2006, 1-4.

“The Serendipitous Dance of Death” in Wising Up: Ritual Resources for Women of Faith in Their Journey of Aging edited by Kathy Black and Heather Murray Elkins from the collaborative effort of the Feminist Studies in Liturgy Group of the North American Academy of Liturgy, Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press, 2005, pages 137-144.

Women of Bible Lands: a Pilgrimage to Compassion and Wisdom. A Michael Glazier Book. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2004

“Come Dance Sophia’s Circle,” Post-Modern Worship and the Arts. Doug Adams and Michael E. Moynahan, SJ, editors. San Jose, CA: Resource Publications, 2001, pp. 102-115.

“Liturgical Drama,” Collegeville Catholic Reference Library, CD-ROM (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2001).

Presented “Women Church-Celebrating Women,” a workshop at the World Council of Churches in 50 th Anniversary Conference in Zimbabwe, with the closing of “The Ecumenical Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women,” 1998.

The Word Made Flesh, Danzando con la creación video. Kansas City: Sheed and Ward, 1995.

Celebrations of Biblical Women's Stories Tears, Milk and Honey, Kansas City, MO: Sheed and Ward, 1987.

Daughters Who Image God, Weep with God and Sing God's Praise, drama, mime, and dance on a 55 minute video with study guide. Kansas City, MO: Sheed and Ward, 1987.

Dancing with Creation: Mexican and Native American Dance in Christian Worship and Education, Saratoga, CA: Resource Publications, 1983.

  • American Academy of Religion
  • Catholic Academy of Liturgy
  • North American Academy of Liturgy
  • Pax Christi
  • Sacred Dance Guild
  • World Council of Curriculum and Instruction
  • Women’s Ordination Conference

Dance, drama, arts, literature as windows to the transcendent; biking, walking, sitting in nature almost every day as contemplative experience; building friendships, especially across cultures, faiths, and barriers

  • A Founding Fellow of the 2020 San Antonio Compassionate Institute, awarded by Mayor Ron Nirenberg, June 6, 2021
  • The “Compassion in Action” Award presented at the annual SoL Source of Light Adult Interfaith Education Center gathering, 2019
  • Authored the nomination that led to the University of the Incarnate Word receiving the inaugural United Way “Higher Education Community Impact Service” Volunteer of the Year Award on April 9, 2019 at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts.
  • Recipient of the 2019 Robert J. Connelly Faculty Leadership Award, January 7, 2019.
  • Recognized as the “2013 San Antonio Peace Laureate” with the Incarnate Word Sisters for compassion by the San Antonio peaceCENTER, January 27, 2013. See “CCVI’s Honored by peaceCENTER,” Today’s Catholic,  February 22, 2013. “ 2013 San Antonio Peace Laureate: Sister Martha Ann.” E-Brief News of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, January
  • “Faculty of the Year 2011” presented by the UIW Student Government Association, April 2011.
  • "Insigne Verbum" Award "For Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue in Pursuit of Peace" given by the University of the Incarnate Word at the Graduation Ceremony, December 11, 2010.
  • "Peace Award" at the Institute of Interfaith Dialog Friendship Dinner with the theme "The contributions of education and dialog in the journey toward a harmonious society," November 14, 2010.
  • "Commitment and Dedication Award in recognition of your dedicated efforts, leadership and inspiration in the development and promotion of Interfaith Harmony," presented by CAIR-SA (the Council on American Islamic Relations-San Antonio), at the Seventh Annual Interfaith Ramadan Iftar, 2010.
  • A special award presented by the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, a civic and human rights advocacy group, at the First Annual Ramadan Civic Iftar-2009, "Ramadan: A Month of Sharing: Building Bridges of Mutual Understanding" with Mayor Julian Castro and Mayor Suzanne DeLeon. Imam Mahdi Bray, executive director of the Washington, D.C. office presided, 2009
  • “Sister St. Pierre Cinquin” Award for Faith, the Mission Continues Award (for 2007, presented in the spring of 2008).
  • Honored as the Texas Pax Christi Peacemaker 2005 at the state conference, April 23. This was cited in National Catholic Reporter, May 20, 2005, Vol. 41, No. 29, 4.
  • “Art of Peace Award” from the St. Mary’s University President’s Peace Commission for using the arts in the service of peace, justice, and human understanding, March 28, 2003.
  • “San Antonio Bar Foundation Peacemaker Award,” presented by Mayor Ed Garza, March 1, 2003 particularly for work with Muslim, Christian, and Jewish dialogue.
  • Piper Professor Nominee selected by I.W. faculty and administration, 1995, 1996, 1997.
  • Moody Professor (IW outstanding teaching position), 1991-2.
  • Guatemala Solidarity Trip, May 2023.
  • Initiated and Assisting in the Development of the “Service Learning and Engaged Scholarship” LibGuide with Lorena Cestou, Graduate Research Assistant and Librarians.
  • Mentor of the Young Women’s Global Leadership Program
  • Lewis Center of the Americas Faculty Network
  • Women and Gender Studies Advisory Board
  • A Leader in the International Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Committee of the Incarnate Word Sisters including editorial work with the blog Justice, Peace, Creation
  • Development and leadership in the SA Compassionate Institutes
  • Active with Women’s Global Connection, 2003-2020, developing global educational partnerships, conferences, and tours, and contributing to the Girls Global Summit leadership program.
  • Various Study/Service Tours with graduate and undergraduate students:
  • Organizer or co-leader of Service and Solidarity Tours to Mexico and/or the US-Mexico border area: Vera Cruz, Mexico City 1979; Talapa and Mexico City, 2004; Juarez, El Paso, TX, Anthony, NM, 2005; Monterrey, 2007; Piedras Negras, 2008, 2009; El Paso, 2010; Rio Grande Valley, 2011, 2012, 2013
  • "Biblical and Contemporary Women in the Holy Land," both teaching and facilitating dialogues with Jewish, Muslim, and Christian women leaders. 1996, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009 (tours in collaboration with Women’s Global Connection)
  • Peru: Faith and Solidarity Study Trip, 2002, 2006, 2012, 2015, 2017, 2019.
  • With the Institute of Interfaith Dialogue. Interfaith Tours in Turkey: Graduate students in “Adult Education: International Dialog” in 2008; Undergraduate students in “Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in Dialogue” 2011, 2013, 2014.
  • Women of Ireland including the Women’s Ordination Worldwide Conference, Summer, 2001.
  • Advisory Board of the San Antonio Raindrop House (formerly called Institute of Interfaith Dialogue) 2009-
  • UIW Special programming for the October Month of Justice, Peace, Creation with Peace Day and Women’s History Month.

She illustrates the responsibilities of a “second generation student at Incarnate Word” to further some of the values of global citizenship education and compassionate, justice-seeking, active local community involvement imparted eight decades ago to her mother Ada Koenig Kirk who received a BA in 1943 and then an MA in 1965.  

  • Charter for Compassion
  • Creativity
  • Social Justice
  • Peacebuilding
  • Catholic Social Teaching
  • Arts as Spirituality and Theology
  • Feminism
  • UN Sustainable Development Goals
  • Ritual
  • Liturgical Theology
  • Social Justice Leadership;
  • Arts for Christian Worship (drama, dance, story, and visual)
  • Spirituality and Prayer
  • Christianity through Art
  • Christian Worship
  • Women in Christian Tradition
  • Women and Faith
  • The Holocaust—Never Again (Cross Referenced as Human Rights)
  • World Religions
  • Lay Leadership of Prayer and Preaching
  • Liturgy
  • Women, Justice, and Faith
  • Meditation and Non-violence
  • World Religions and International Conflict
  • Christian Morality
  • Art History I and II
  • Cultural History
  • Twentieth Century Art History
  • Art Education in the Elementary and Secondary Schools
  • American Art History
  • Life Drawing
  • Study/Service tours to Mexico, Turkey, Holy Land, Peru, Ireland, and US/Mexico border areas