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Dr. SimonMary Aihiokhai delivers Orlando Biomedical Ethics and Catholic Social Teaching Lecture

Published: 09/09/2022

Dr. SimonMary Asese Aihiokhai, joined by Dr. Richard Orlando and Cindy Orlando

Dr. SimonMary Asese Aihiokhai, joined by Dr. Richard Orlando and Cindy Orlando

Dr. SimonMary Asese Aihiokhai delivered an engaging keynote this week during the Gannon community both in person and virtually during the first Orlando Biomedical Ethics and Catholic Social Teaching Lecture held at the Ruskin, Florida campus.

Dr. Aihiokhai shared his lecture entitled, “A Case for A Eucharistic Approach to Healthcare According to the Social Teachings of the Catholic Church,” during which he emphasized that a career in health care goes beyond the rituals of the job, and focused on themes of community, radical solidarity, healing, and history. He cited the ethical responsibility each of us has, in particular those in health care, to all others, and discussed some of the inequities that occur when that responsibility is not honored.  

“Caring for another person in a time when they are in most need of such tender presence and support speaks to a calling that goes beyond the simple embrace of a job.” Dr. Aihiokhai made the case that the social teachings of the Church are grounded in an anthropological vision rooted in an ethical commitment to the wellbeing of others that is entirely eucharistic, and encouraged all to “read the signs of the times.” 

Discussing how the Eucharist itself is about healing, Dr. Aihiokhai addressed that healing is not a private experience. “The common good is about the flourishing of all society,” he said. “Each of us is also tasked with this responsibility of being caretakers of the common good. Healthcare practitioners have a prominent role in preserving the common good. Their ability to see the issues that affect the members of the community allows for them to be important agents of life and the conscience of society when society strays away from what is considered a healthy way of being.” 

Finally, Dr. Aihiokhai concluded in a complementary fashion toward Gannon’s students and community. He noted that Gannon’s location in Florida was a direct indication of the university’s dedication to caring for the common good, and the students he spoke with exemplified this as well by thinking beyond themselves, asking the right questions and reflecting on the future. 

About our Keynote Speaker

Dr. Aihiokhai was born in Nigeria where he received his undergraduate education in philosophy at the Spiritan School of Philosophy. He began his graduate studies in theology and religion before migrating to the United States to continue at Saint John Seminary in California, earning a graduate degree in theology with a focus in medical ethics. He obtained his Ph.D. in systematic theology from Duquesne University in 2013. 

Currently an associate professor of systematic theology at the University of Portland, Dr. Aihiokhai serves as the coordinator of the University’s Theology Thursday Lecture Series and was the recipient of the University of Portland 2021 Outstanding Scholar Award. He is a Fellow at the Westar Institute and a board member of the College Theology Society.  

He has worked extensively with communities at the margins in Nigeria and in the United States of America. As a product of multiple contexts, Dr. Aihiokhai is intentional at creating spaces for multiple perspectives in his research and teaching.  

Dr. Aihiokhai is well-published including a monograph titled Fostering Interreligious Encounters in Pluralist Societies. Hospitality and Friendship. He has delivered over 80 scholarly papers, and keynote addresses, and invited lectures nationally and internationally. His most recently published book explores the contributions of women of color to the Woman Suffrage Movement in the United States of America.  

Dr. Aihiokhai will gladly tell you that at the heart of all that he does as a theologian is to create spaces for God’s life to be experienced by all in our world. 

About the Orlando Biomedical Ethics and Catholic Social Teaching Lecture

This lecture is part of a biannual lecture series to help drive a more humane world by empowering people with the knowledge and skills they need to respond to the rapidly changing contours of the biomedical and health sciences. The series is supported by the Orlando Biomedical Ethics and Catholic Social Teaching Endowment created by Dr. Richard Orlando and his wife, Cindy Orlando. 

Gannon is recognized as a leader in training global citizens and is inspired by the Catholic intellectual tradition, especially its teaching on the dignity of the human person. 

The mission of the Biomedical Ethics and Catholic Social Teaching Endowment is to establish the university as an interdisciplinary focal point for biomedical ethics and social responsibility, offering sound discernment and professional development. 

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