Frances Michelle Leap PhD
Joined Seton Hill
Chicago, IL
Contact Info

My thirty years at Seton Hill have seen a lot of change to our campus and to student demographics. But what has always endured is our strong sense of community, both challenging and supportive, among faculty and staff colleagues and with students as well. This is the special gift of SHU that makes me proud of all our past, confident in our future and grateful every day I arrive on campus. These years have seen a lot of changes in my work too. Most stimulating for me has been development in inter-religious dialogue, especially with Judaism and Islam. I am endlessly fascinated by the varied ways that humanity responds to Divine Mystery and the wonder of our universe. Coming to know other faith traditions has also been a grace-filled journey of deepening faith and joy in my own Catholic tradition. I am pleased to see a similar dynamic occurring for students on our field visits to various worship sites. Truly, “to know only one (religion), is to know none,” as writer Max Mueller has noted. It is in dialogue over the questions at the heart of our living that we become most truly human, begin to know ourselves, and become effective citizens of our globe. Religious belief is clearly a strong factor on our globe today. Only by recognizing and reverencing its energy can we build the bridges of respectful challenge and mutual cooperation so sorely needed in our world. Academic research and interfaith friendships over the years have given me the privilege of some international travel. During my sabbatical in spring 2008 I studied the Qur’an in Luxor, Egypt, experiencing that scripture as the living faith of its people. I also visited SHU’s National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education in Israel and celebrated Passover dinner with a family in Jerusalem. Interfaith dialogue has been a rich and varied grace for my life.


  • 1992 Ph.D. Religious Studies, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI
  • 1982 M.A. Theology, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI
  • 1977 B.A. Theology, Loyola University, Chicago, IL


  • “Music and the Arts” in Teaching Islam: A Curriculum Guide for Primary and Secondary School Educators. Nadeem Memon, Mariam Alhashmi, eds. NY: Routledge, (forthcoming).
  • "Recommended Reading: The Qur'an as a Catholic" U.S. Catholic, Vol 77, No 8, August 2012, pp 36-38.
  • “Rocks or Rainbows: Lessons for Interreligious Dialogue” The Fountain Magazine, issue 83, Sept-Oct 2011. 38-41.
  • "In Toyota We Trust" Sightings, Martin Marty Center, University of Chicago Divinity School. Feb 25, 2010
  • "Away From the Manger" U.S. Catholic, Vol. 73, No. 12, December 2008, pp 35-36.
  • "Wind, Water, Fire, and Chocolat" in God's Grandeur: The Arts and Theology in Imagination. David C. Robinson, ed. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2007.


  • InterReligious Dialogue Award 2015 - Turkish Cultural Center of Pittsburgh
  • Humanity Day 2014 Award - Islamic Center of Pittsburgh
  • Associated Church Press - First Place Award of Excellence for "Away From the Manger"
  • Bridge Building Award - Islamic Center of Pittsburgh 1998


  • Seton Hill representative to CERIS Consortium of Educational Resources in Islamic Studies - President 2009-2011 [More Information]
  • Member CTS College Theology Society - past Board member; Convening the Arts, Literature, and Theology Section currently [More Information]
  • Member AAR American Academy of Religion [More Information]


  • "Teaching Jesus in Film: Evangelization, Catechesis, Theology?" College Theology Society Annual Convention (Omaha, NE) June 2013
  • "Thy Wit Be Done" Thirty-fifth Colloquium on Literature and Film, West Virginia University (Morgantown, WV) September 2012
  • "Founders on Film" College Theology Society Annual Convention (University of Portland, OR) June 2010
  • "The Light Shines in the Darkness: Sophie Scholl: The Final Days as a Christ-figure Film" College Theology Society Annual Convention (South Bend, IN) June 2009
  • "Reversion to the Ummah: Islamic Anthropology and Public Life" College Theology Society Annual Convention (Dayton, OH) June 2007
  • "Wind, Water, Fire, and Chocolat: Film Images of Pneumatology" College Theology Society Annual Convention (Denver, CO) 2006
  • "Reading the Signs of the Times: Gospel and Culture in Dream of the Rood and The Passion of the Christ" College Theology Society Annual Convention (Mobile, AL) June 2005
  • "Why Do They Hate Us? Muslim and Christian Students Crossing Boundaries" American Academy of Religion Annual Convention (San Antonio, TX) 2004


  • Co-Chair of President's Task Force for Setonian Identity and Mission: 2015 to present
  • Chair of the Liberal Arts Curriculum: 2011 - 2020
  • Sabbatical research on Qur’an and culture, Luxor, Egypt, Spring 2008
  • Fulbright Hays four week study tour, Egypt, Summer 2007
  • Founding member of CERIS - Consortium of Educational Resources in Islamic Studies, 2003
  • Wrote proposal and received funding to host Fulbright Visiting Specialist from the Muslim World, Spring 2005
  • Developed internet exchange between SHU students and students of South Valley University in Egypt
  • Visiting Professor, South Valley University, Qena, Egypt, December 2003