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Michael M. Mendiola, Class of 1970, Rest In Peace

Michael M. Mendiola, Class of 1970, Rest In Peace, Brother...!!!

Michael Manuel Mendiola Associate professor of Christian ethics at Pacific School of Religion (PSR), died December 18 at his home in Oakland after a battle with cancer. He joined the faculty in 1994 after serving as a visiting faculty member since 1992. He was especially interested in bioethics and sexual ethics, with particular reference to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. His recent projects included a book on the nature of human suffering and moral reflection, and an introductory book on Christian ethics. Born in Globe, AZ, in 1952, Mendiola received a BA in philosophy from St. Mary's Seminary in Perryville, MO, an MA in religious studies at DePaul University in Chicago, and a PhD from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. He earned his doctorate in ethics under PSR professor Karen Lebacqz. "The first thing everybody noticed about Michael was his infectious laugh and his energy and enthusiasm for the field of ethics," Lebacqz said. "He was one of the best natural-born teachers there ever was, and part of his gift was that he really loved his subject matter and really loved teaching it." In 1998, Mendiola founded the seminary's Bay Area Faith and Health Consortium, seeking to explore the ways in which communities of religious faith and the health care sector might work together to promote human health and well-being. "Michael was a bridge person in this conversation between the sacred and the secular," said PSR's dean, Mary Donovan Turner. "With his background in ethics and his interest in medical ethics, he worked with the medical community to help health professionals think through ethical issues related to their work." Mendiola was also central in the founding of the seminary's groundbreaking Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry (CLGS) in 2000. "His creativity and his sense of organization and his sense of call for what the center could be was really important in the formation and development of CLGS," said the center's executive director, Mary Tolbert. Mendiola served as the first chair of the CLGS executive committee. Michael Mendiola is survived by his spouse, Paul Gabel; by three sisters, Jo Ann Aguirre, Rosie Baroldy, and Armida Bittner; by several nephews and nieces; and by a family of friends. Contributions can be sent to the Michael M. Mendiola Scholarship Fund at Pacific School of Religion, 1798 Scenic Ave., Berkeley, CA 94709. A Memorial Service will be held at First Congregational Church in Berkeley at 2pm on Sunday, February 1, 2009.

Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Dec. 28, 2008

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