Our Faculty Committee
Dr. Arthur P. Urbano
Dr. Arthur P. Urbano has served as the chair of the Jewish-Catholic Theological Exchange committee since its founding in 2007. He received an M.T.S. in New Testament and Christian Origins at Harvard Divinity School and his Ph.D. in Religious Studies at Brown University. His primary research area is Early Church Theology and History, including the engagement between Christian, Jews, and pagans in antiquity. He is currently working on a collaborative oral history project exploring the admission of Jewish students to Providence College and their experiences between 1917 and 1965. He co-teaches interfaith adult education courses with local rabbis at Rhode Island churches and synagogues and serves as a board member of the Sandra Bornstein Holocaust Education Center in Providence.
Dr. Daria Spezzano
Dr. Daria Spezzano is an assistant professor of theology at Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island. She holds a Ph.D. in Theology from the University of Notre Dame, and an M.A.L.S. from The Liturgical Institute. Her book, The Glory of God’s Grace: Deification according to St. Thomas Aquinas, was published by Sapientia Press in 2015. Her academic interests include: patristic and medieval theology of grace and deification, Christology, sacramental and liturgical theology, the theology of martyrdom, and the theology of art. Dr. Spezzano has served on the JCTE for four years.
Rev. James G Sabak, OFM
Rev. James G Sabak, OFM, is a Franciscan Friar of the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (New York, New York). He holds the position of assistant professor of theology at Providence College in the field of Sacramental Theology and Liturgy. Prior to his appointment at Providence College, Fr. Sabak held the position of the chaplain of the College at Siena College, Loudonville, New York, where he also lectured in the Department of Religious Studies; and was a Senior Teaching Fellow at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Fr. Sabak is currently the chairman of the American Franciscan Liturgical Commission and is a member of the Administrative Team for the Liturgy/Sacraments Topic Group of The Catholic Theological Society of America. Fr. Sabak’s research interests include study on the evolution of the liturgy in the patristic period, particularly in Rome between the fourth and eighth centuries, and on the influence and inheritance of Jewish ritual tradition in the evolution of Christian ritual practices. He has published articles on the meaning and significance of Christian liturgical practice for the contemporary Church.
Dr. James S. Waters
Dr. James S. Waters is an assistant professor of biology at Providence College and a member of Congregation Sons of Jacob located near Providence College at 24 Douglas Avenue. Originally from New York City, James was an undergraduate at the University of Chicago (A.B., Mathematics, 2005), a graduate student at Arizona State University (Ph.D., Biology, 2012), and a postdoctoral researcher at Princeton University from 2012-2014. His current research focuses on exploring the natural history, physiological ecology, and collective behavior of ant colonies. A member of the JCTE since 2016, James cares deeply about promoting interreligious dialogue, social justice, and mutual understanding. He is also passionate about Jewish culinary traditions and looks forward to baking challah, preparing latkes, and celebrating the holidays with everyone on campus.
Dr. Mahri Leonard-Fleckman
Dr. Mahri Leonard-Fleckman is an assistant professor of theology at Providence College. Her areas of expertise are the Hebrew Bible and ancient Near Eastern Studies. Raised in an interreligious home (Jewish and Protestant) and herself Roman Catholic, Dr. Leonard-Fleckman is deeply committed to interreligious and ecumenical dialogue. This commitment was core to her training at Union Theological Seminary in New York (M.Div., 2008) and at New York University (Ph.D., Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, 2014). It is also essential to how she teaches the Hebrew Bible in Christian contexts, introducing students to Jewish interpretations and showing them how an intimate knowledge of the Hebrew Bible is essential for understanding the contexts of the New Testament and Christianity. She is thrilled to have joined the Jewish-Catholic Theological Exchange committee in 2017.
Dr. Richard J. Barry
Dr. Richard J. Barry is an assistant professor of theology at Providence College, and he has served on the JCTE committee since 2015. He received his Ph.D. at Marquette University, and he has an M.T.S. from the University of Notre Dame and a B.A. from the George Washington University. His research focuses on the enduring relevance of the Jewish theological tradition — especially ancient temple theology and modern Jewish biblical scholarship — for contemporary Catholic systematic theology. His dissertation, entitled “The Two Goats: A Christian Yom Kippur Soteriology,” considers the relationship between the Levitical Day of Atonement and recent Christian theologies of the cross.