Department or Program


Second Department or Program

Religious Studies


Catholicism is a global religion with members who come from a diverse array of countries and sociocultural backgrounds, yet the Catholic Church and its members throughout the world value a shared set of traditional practices. This complex relationship between collective orthodoxy and personal variation among Catholics is particularly visible in the liturgical ritual of the Nicene Creed, a statement of faith that is professed as part of every Sunday Mass. Based upon contextual cases from the Lewiston Prince of Peace Catholic Parish, I argue that when the Nicene Creed is performed, elements of unity and individuality coexist and contribute to a Catholic community whose members value the same traditions in different ways. This thesis utilizes scholarly theory on ritual performance, ethnographic observations from my participation in church services, and interviews with local Catholics to analyze the complex dimensions of liturgical engagement with the Creed. My study stresses the importance of recognizing how individualized signification complicates institutionalized unification. Differences in identity, experience, and interpretation allow for diversity within even the most orthodox religious practices, such as the Nicene Creed. These insights may inform other studies of religious traditions, especially those in Catholicism. Additionally, I address my position as a scholar-believer analyzing my own faith: being both a Catholic and a student situates me with intersecting identities in this study, and this stance relates to ongoing academic discussion of ethnographic ethics and practices.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Danforth, Loring

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 pdf file

Open Access

Available to all.