Catherine Wessinger

Rev. H. James Yamauchi, S.J. Professor of the History of Religions

Office Location
406 Bobet Hall
Mailing Address
Loyola University New Orleans Department of Religious Studies 6363 St. Charles Ave.
Direct Phone
(504) 865-3182
E-mail Address


Ph.D., University of Iowa, 1985

Short Bio

Catherine Wessinger is the Rev. H. James Yamauchi, S.J. Professor of the History of Religions at Loyola University New Orleans. She is co-director of the Loyola Himalaya Adventure: Summer Study in Dharamsala, India program, in which she teaches “Tibetan and Indian Religions.”
Since 2000 Dr. Wessinger has served as co-general editor of Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions published by University of California Press.
Her articles in journals and chapters in edited books include history of religions and theoretical treatments of women and religion, millennialism, new religious movements, and religion and violence.
Dr. Wessinger has published seven books. She is the author of Annie Besant and Progressive Millennialism (1988); and How the Millennium Comes Violently: From Jonestown to Heaven’s Gate (2000). She is editor of Women’s Leadership in Marginal Religions: Explorations Outside the Mainstream (1993); Religious Institutions and Women’s Leadership: New Roles Inside the Mainstream (1996); Millennialism, Persecution, and Violence: Historical Cases (2000). In 2004 she began an oral history project with surviving Branch Davidians. She has edited and published two Branch Davidian autobiographies: Memories of the Branch Davidians: Autobiography of David Koresh’s Mother, by Bonnie Haldeman (2007); and When They Were Mine: Memoirs of a Branch Davidian Wife and Mother, by Sheila Martin (2009).
Currently, Dr. Wessinger is completing the editing of the Oxford Handbook on Millennialism, co-editing a third Branch Davidian autobiography, writing articles on the Branch Davidian-federal agent conflict, charismatic leaders, and the effects of pejorative applications of the word “cult” to religious groups, and preparing to take students on the third Loyola Himalaya Adventure, July 5-August 2, 2009.

Courses Taught

  • Introduction to World Religions
  • Contemporary Issues and Conflicts in World Religions (Honors)
  • Women in World Religions
  • Women in Religions and Cultures
  • Women in Christianity
  • Hindu Paths to God
  • Buddhism
  • Tibetan and Indian Religions
  • Religions of Asia
  • Religion and Media
  • Religious Responses to Disaster
  • Millennium Seminar