Defining Moments in the History of Christianity: A 2020 Adult Learning Series

Defining Moments in the History of the Church

Why do we believe?  What are the core beliefs and doctrines of our Catholic tradition?  How did they emerge over the last 2,000 years?  Come for an introduction to the history of Christian thought and beliefs.  In four 60-minute lectures, with plenty of time for questions and discussion, Ascension member Peter O’Leary will address major events in Christian history and explain their impact on the church.  Feel free to attend any or all programs.

Wednesdays, February 5 & 12, & Mondays, February 17 & 24
7:30 pm
Ascension School Pine Room
601 Van Buren Street, Oak Park, IL 
Childcare available from 7:30-8:30 pm for children ages 3-11.

RSVP on our facebook page or email Mary Catherine Meek at
Reservations appreciated but not required. However, if you plan to use childcare we do need advance notice - please notify Mary Catherine at

The Pine Room is located in the lower level of the school. Enter Door 1 at 601 Van Buren Street and follow the stairs leading down. A lift is available. Sponsored by the Ascension parish Lifelong Learning & Faith Formation Committee.


On Wednesday, February 5, Peter O’Leary will present the four primary characteristics of Christianity and the history of the four Gospels, as well as other early Christian gospels, including the Gnostic gospels discovered in 1945 at Nag Hammadi in Egypt. 


On Wednesday, February 12, Peter O’Leary will present on the ecumenical councils that developed the creeds and Christian doctrine, and will discuss the shift of Christian power from Rome to Constantinople.  


On Monday, February 17, Peter will review the differences between Eastern and Western Christianity, including spiritual life, monasticism, liturgy, culture, art, and theology, along with the impact of the Great Schism of 1054.  


On Wednesday, February 24, come learn more about the Reformation and Counter-Reformation as Ascension member Peter O’Leary concludes this four-part series. What is the impact of the Protestant Reformation? What reforms were made by Lutherans, Anglicans, and Calvinists? How did the world react? How did the Church respond? For this final week, Peter will review the proliferation of Protestant sects in the 1500s and 1600s, the responses to Protestantism, and the importance of the Protestant ideals in America, the most powerful Christian nation in modern history. The series will conclude with an apocalyptic vision of the end times and the tenets of pre-millennial dispensationalism. There will be plenty of time for questions and discussion.      


Peter O'Leary is a lector and catechist at Ascension, a graduate of the University of Chicago Divinity School, a professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago, and a poet and literary critic.