BY JEAN-MARIE BRALLEY
As a little girl, Dr. Anne Hendershott wanted to be a nun. She had “the best nuns as role models” in the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany who instructed her in school, she said. Now she finds herself once again side-by-side Franciscan sisters in an academic setting.
Hendershott is one of Franciscan University of Steubenville’s new faculty members for the fall 2013 semester. She is a sociologist and the author of several books and articles, which have been published in both secular and religious publications, such as The Wall Street Journal and Catholic World Report. Hendershott currently teaches three classes in the sociology department at Franciscan.
Hendershott’s Catholic faith has always played an important role in her life and continues to inform her work in sociology. “My faith helps me choose what I want to teach, how I want to teach it, how I want to look at social problems from a Catholic lens,” she said. “I look at everything from a Catholic perspective, what does the Church think of this, and how can I best address this by drawing on the strength of the Church.”
“We don’t always know what’s best, but if we just look at the Church’s teachings on things, on marriage, on children, on life, I think you can’t go wrong,” she said.
Hendershott has a particular devotion to St. Anne, “the saint of mothers,” and to St. Michael the Archangel, especially when she is writing. She keeps a statue of St. Michael near her desk and daily asks for his protection.
Although she loves writing, she said that teaching is the most meaningful work she does. “I think I learn as much from students as I hope they learn from me,” she said.
Hendershott felt called to Franciscan because of its “strong commitment to a Catholic identity,” and said that she loves being at the University.
Hendershott has been an outspoken critic of the government’s controversial HHS mandate, which requires Catholic universities, hospitals and other institutions to provide healthcare coverage for practices and procedures that the Church teaches are immoral, such as artificial contraception, abortifacient drugs, and sterilizations.
“This is a huge issue, and I can’t stop writing about it and speaking about it,” she said. “I feel driven to do that because if we don’t, we will lose whatever protection we have for religious liberty.” This past July, Hendershott participated in a religious liberty news panel that aired on C-SPAN 1.
When she is not working, Hendershott enjoys cooking, reading and writing, which she says is her vocation, but she “loves it so much it’s like a hobby.” Her favorite book is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.”
She and her husband Dana have two grown children and one grandson. A Connecticut native, she has lived in numerous places, including San Diego, Calif., where she taught for 15 years at the University of San Diego. She also has spent time working in various capacities at The King’s College, Princeton University and the University of Hartford.
Hendershott is currently writing another book, which is co-authored by one of her former students, Christopher White. It is entitled “Renewal: How a New Generation of Faithful Priests and Bishops Are Revitalizing the Catholic Church” and will be published Dec. 1.