Award-Winning Author Headlines 2024 Pierre Lecture

February 29, 2024

Dr. Jessica Coblentz talks Theology and Depression during Annual Event

Dr. Jessica Coblentz San Antonio – February 29, 2024 – The University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) Religious Studies Department was proud to present the annual 2024 Pierre Lecture on Thursday, February 22 in the Student Engagement Center ballroom. This year’s featured speaker, Dr. Jessica Coblentz, spoke on the topic of “Depression as a Wilderness Experience: Exploring Some Theological Resources for Life with Depression.”

“Dr. Coblentz suggested that the traditional theological answers for understanding and responding to depression can be less than helpful,” says Dr. Michael Romero, director of the UIW Pastoral Institute. “There are other underused theological resources for dealing with depression. This is especially pertinent given the rising numbers of reported mental health issues and depression in the wake of the pandemic. Indeed, several attendees were open about their struggles with depression.”

Coblentz is an assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies and Theology at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana, where her research and teaching focuses on Catholic systematic theology, feminist theologies and mental health in theological perspective. Coblentz is the author of “Dust in the Blood: A Theology of Life with Depression,” which is the recipient of the 2023 College Theology Society Best Book Award.

Romero says he was particularly struck by the way Coblentz used the story of Hagar’s being cast out into the wilderness (Genesis 21) as a resource for dealing with depression as a wilderness experience. He is also hopeful that the audience took away a new perspective on theology and theologians.

“Seeing the relevance and importance of the kind of work contemporary theologians are doing, particularly in conversation with the human sciences,” concludes Romero. “Also, how to respond to those who suffer with depression, including what not to say.”

The UIW Religious Studies Department established the Pierre Lecture series in 2001 to focus on the contributions of women scholars who are addressing current issues in the fields of theology and religious studies, particularly those scholars who are grappling with the complex issues of social justice, ecology and globalization. The department focuses on scholars who are doing critical work in areas consistent with the mission of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word such as human rights, respect for human dignity, systemic change, globalization, multiculturalism, the environment and other pertinent topics.

The Pierre Lecture is sponsored by the generous support of Haciendo Caminos, a Lily Endowment grant.


MEDIA CONTACT: Michael Valdes, Media and Public Relations Manager, Office of Communications & Brand Marketing, (210) 829-6001, (210) 422-4052 or

About UIW

With over 140 years of tradition, the University of the Incarnate Word is committed to educational excellence in a context of faith in Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word of God. UIW programs constitute a liberal education that fosters a well-grounded intellectual resilience, a disposition toward lifelong learning, and an acceptance of responsibility for the ethical consequences of our ideas and actions. Founded in 1881, UIW is the largest Catholic university in the state and the fourth largest private university in Texas. UIW students can choose from degrees offered at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels. The University is committed to graduating students with the lowest amount of debt load possible and to help them secure a career that lifts their lives, their families and their communities. With a beautiful main campus in the heart of San Antonio, in 2019, UIW purchased a 10-acre landmark property at 4119 Broadway which increased the footprint of the UIW Broadway Campus by 15%. The building is now known as Founders Hall. UIW has locations throughout San Antonio, South and Central Texas, two campuses in Mexico and a European Study Center in Strasbourg, France. UIW is a leader in international education, with over 146 “sister schools” in 45 countries and it is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution. The University is a member of the NCAA Division I Southland Conference and is proud to have 25 teams representing 14 different sports. UIW is a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word.