Michael J. Iafrate, 34, is a West Virginia native working on a doctorate in theology at the University of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto. Michael developed a personal and academic interest in the relationship of faith and politics as an undergraduate at Wheeling Jesuit University and was drawn into Ekklesia Project circles when Mike Budde visited WJU to give a lecture on politics and discipleship. Michael finished his master’s in theology and spent a few years working in campus ministry, focusing on projects that helped students make the link between spirituality and social justice, especially the movement to close the School of the Americas.
In 2006 he began a doctorate in Toronto, pursuing studies in liberationist and post/decolonial theologies, ecclesiologies, Catholic social thought and peace traditions, and social movements in Appalachia. After over three years in Toronto, he and his wife Emily and Canadian-born daughter Hazel made their way back to their home of West Virginia where Michael is now doing research toward a dissertation on Roman Catholic and ecumenical grassroots movements and social change in Appalachia. He has participated in the 2005, 2008, and 2009 EP gatherings.
Michael is also an independent musician, having played semi-professionally in various projects over the past 15-20 years. His latest is the band M Iafrate & The Priesthood whose forthcoming album “Christian Burial” is expected in late 2011. The intersection of his theological and musical passions naturally led him to hook up with Liturgical Press’ Rock and Theology project where he contributes regularly to the project’s blog and will contribute to an edited collection of essays.