Ilia Delio, OSF, PhD, is a Franciscan Sister of Washington, DC, and an American theologian specializing in the area of science and religion, with interests in evolution, physics, and neuroscience and the import of these for theology.
Ilia currently holds the Josephine C. Connelly Endowed Chair in Theology at Villanova University and is the author of twenty books, including "Care for Creation" (coauthored with Keith Warner and Pamela Woods), which won two Catholic Press Book Awards in 2009: first place for social concerns and second place in spirituality. Her book "The Emergent Christ" won a third-place Catholic Press Book Award in 2011 for the area of Science and Religion. Her recent books include "The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution, and the Power of Love" (Orbis, 2013), which received the 2014 Silver Nautilus Book Award and a third-place Catholic Press Association Award for Faith and Science. Ilia holds two honorary doctorates, one from St. Francis University in 2015, and one from Sacred Heart University in 2020.
“An American Franciscan Sister, Ilia Delio, a theologian at Villanova University, is now emerging as the single finest exponent of Teilhard’s vision and its relevance for science and cosmology in the twenty-first century.”
Ilia graduated with a B.S. in Biology from DeSales University and pursued a master's degree in Biology at Seton Hall University, followed by a doctorate in Pharmacology from Rutgers University–New Jersey Medical School. Her area of specialization was neurotoxicology, with an emphasis on neuromuscular disease, and she wrote her dissertation on axonal dysfunction in an experimental model of Lou Gehrig’s (ALS) disease. She relinquished a postdoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins University in Alzheimer’s research to enter a Carmelite monastery. She later left the monastery and joined a Franciscan community. After entering the Franciscans, she returned to research and did a postdoctoral fellowship at Rutgers University Neurotoxicology Laboratories, where she became a Research Fellow. Her work at Rutgers included experimental drug treatment for diabetic neuropathy and the assessment of sensory nerve damage due to methylmercury intoxication.
While in formation with her Franciscan community, she was asked to study theology and was sent to Fordham University. She obtained a master's degree in Theology and a doctorate in historical theology, studying under Professor Ewert Cousins.
Following graduation from Fordham, she taught in Science and Religion at Trinity College, Hartford, CT. For the next twelve years, she was Professor and Chair of Spirituality Studies at Washington Theological Union, where she taught courses in the History of Christianity, Franciscan theology, and Science and Religion. She then became a Senior Research Fellow at Woodstock Theological Center, Georgetown University, concentrating on Science and Religion. When Woodstock closed in June 2013, she was hired by Georgetown University as Director of Catholic Studies and Visiting Professor.
In my own view, Ilia Delio’s work presenting Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s vision shows us the most significant pathway we can travel toward a vibrant and beautiful Earth Community. With both passion of the heart and brilliance of the mind, Ilia presents a vision that combines science and spirituality. Her work is rare and precious achievement. She is one of the planetary leaders of our time. The more extensive the reach of her work, the better chance the Earth Community has for a beautiful future.
Ilia Delio is an internationally renowned speaker on a variety of subjects. Her teaching and leadership commitments keep her very busy but she is always pursuing deeper connections with organizations and groups who share her vision for the future of science and religion.