Monthly Archives: April 2015

Guest Blog: In Tension Lies a Hidden Harmony

In a beautifully crafted reflection, Brian Anderson explores the struggle of redefining peace within tense times.

His thoughts and message arose from the recent divestment issue surrounding Loyola, but hold true for a lot of issues that individuals, various groups and our country as a whole are facing today.

As the Interfaith Campus Minister for Loyola’s Campus Ministry, Brian understands that there will always be tension, but the response to such unrest should come from open minds and open discussion. Creating interfaith dialogue is essential.

Read his post below and share any thoughts or questions you may have in the comment section below.


In Tension Lies a Hidden Harmony

These past few weeks in Campus Ministry, my job has been very emotionally busy. Normally, I come to work and have a to-do list for upcoming programs and events that I’m working on with my students. However, with the issue of divestment being discussed in the Student Government Loyola Chicago (SGLC), much of my energy was focused on being present to students on both sides of the issue. They came to me with their anger, frustration, and fear. They came to me wanting a space to be heard, to be recognized and most importantly, how to find a peaceful solution to this issue.

And so I did the best I could to be an open ear and a safe space for their emotion. But what I did not do, or at least not yet, is serve as a conduit for those people to speak to one another through a constructive dialogical space. And for this, I’m frustrated and concerned.

I’m frustrated because of the many forces playing on our students’ lives that keep them from feeling that they can speak to one another without fear of harassment or attack. I’m concerned because this issue serves as another example of the lack of dialogue in our community.

Without dialogue, the humanity of the situation is lost. Tweets, blogs, news headlines, and facebook updates speak about “those people” over there as if they have no complexity or back story to their opinions and beliefs. They paint a cardboard caricature with an emoji and a half sentence.

With dialogue, one realizes that no one is ever so easily painted. We all have things in our history that complicate us and make us the beautifully flawed individuals that sit in class, eat in the dining halls, and walk across campus beside everyone else.

Therefore, how do we come to a solution within the tension? In the Campus Ministry department, for the past four years, we’ve been developing various means of engaging the community through the lens of interfaith dialogue. Our faith traditions are rich with examples of how best to live life and approach tough situations. Two examples come from our Abrahamic traditions.

In Psalm 34, verse 14, from Hebrew scripture, it states “Seek peace and pursue it.” From the Qur’an verse 49:13, we read “O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.”

These statements of belief do not ignore the tension, but call upon us to seek peace because of it. Tension and conflict will never not exist. Our world is too complex, too “gritty.” Therefore, we need to start viewing peace not as the absence of tension but a space to explore tension through conversation and respect.

As I write this, I think of the piano that I received from my grandmother. Musical instruments like pianos and guitars will only make beautiful music if they have tension in their strings. The vibrations from those strings when struck by something new and foreign brings that music to life.

As we enter into the summer break, I am going to take the time to reflect upon how to live in tension that doesn’t break me and my community, but instead creates a sound that brings harmony and peace to all those living within it.


Join the conversation by following @BrianSchmisek on Twitter and @LoyolaIPS on Instagram! Also, network with the Loyola Chicago IPS community on LinkedIn.

Graduating Student Feature: Meet Anna

While at IPS, Anna Dudek has taken advantage of some of the great things IPS has to offer to enhance education. Anna has learned a lot during her studies and shared with us some experiences, accomplishments and wisdom. We know you will succeed in your goal of helping young people “see the presence of God in their own lives.”

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Hometown: I was born in Poland and for the past 10 years I have been living in Chicago.

What did your studies focus on at IPS?
In the Institute of Pastoral Studies (IPS), my studies focused on Master of Arts in Religious Education. I strongly believe that taking classes on campus gave me opportunities to have social interaction and instructor feedback available in traditional classrooms. Discussions and teamwork are a couple of benefits of learning through this format. Two years ago, it was a privilege to go to John Felice Rome Center as a part of Loyola’s 1st summer study abroad. Loyola’s campus is wonderful and I couldn’t miss the opportunity to go there last year as well. I highly recommend the John Felice Rome Center for a study abroad experience in Rome.

What has been your biggest accomplishment while at IPS?
“Contextual Education,” one of the courses offered at IPS, gave me the opportunity to initiate Advisory Board for Office for the New Evangelization in Archdiocese of Chicago. The Advisory Board exists to advise, assist, support and advocate activities designed to carry out the mission offered to parishes and those in their care (school, catechist, youth, young adults’ families and etc.).

What was your favorite class and why?
I cannot say which class was my favorite because IPS has good professors and each of the classes impacted my life. Christian Doctrine & Its History with Professor Peter Jones helped shape my understanding of Christian Theology from the first century to the present day, with special attention to Christology, the doctrine of the person and work of Jesus Christ. Thus, Foundations of Christian Spirituality with Fr. Steve Krupa S.J. gave a beautiful overview with special attention to current issues in the field of spirituality and Christian spirituality in our time. Yet, I can clearly identify with the class of New Testament in Rome. I can certainly say I had a most pleasurable time with our group of great friends and outstanding teachers: Professor Brian Schmisek, Professor Heidi Ann Russell and Fr. Steve Krupa S.J. I am very happy that I could take the course of the New Testament on the site where St. Peter was martyred and became the first Pope. As I look at my pilgrimage in Rome I discover that I could participate in the history of the Church. The frescoes that decorate the walls and the ceiling of Basilica present full reconstitution to the community of the Church. It’s amazing that I could visit the places where early Christians gave their lives for their faith. Morning Mass in the basement of St. Peter Basilica was an enormous spiritual experience for me.

Do you have any advice for future students?
Do not be afraid and take advantage of what IPS offers you. Loyola University prestige has the potential to be an excellent education. The IPS has excellent faculty and very good resources. My dream was to study abroad and IPS gave me this opportunity.

As a recent graduate, in what way will you go forth to “change the world?”
I think that many young Catholics experience Christ every day through Mass, prayer and in the community where they grow up. Albert Nolan in his book Jesus before Christianity points out that:

“Faith, like a mustard seed, is an apparently small and insignificant thing that can achieve impossibly great things.”

I feel excited that I can work with the young people. I want to support the young people and to help them discover deeper meanings of their faith. Together I hope they find the happiness of being Disciples of Christ. I believe many young people are looking for a real experience of God. They would like a religion that helps them know life with its joys and sufferings. Young people need to recognize the story of Jesus and the gospel message. Nolan also points out:

“The only power that can heal and save the world, the only power that can do the impossible, is the power of faith.”

As an Evangelization Associate in the office for the New Evangelization, I want to teach young people that “Everything is possible for God” (Mk 10:27).

We must open ourselves to authentic communication with God and take a serious look at the liturgy and the Bible. God always wants us to say something to others. I believe that my charisma will help to build a warm and evangelistic atmosphere that involves people in parish ministry.

Today, young people speak new languages and they have to experience the practical reality of building a faith community:

“Pray for one another (James 5:16);
Care for one another (1 Corinthians 12:24b-25);
Bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2);
Spur one another toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24).”

I want to help them to see the presence of God in their own lives. Like my parents who helped me see God in my life, I want to empower young people to participate fully in the celebration of the sacramental life of the Catholic Church. In the book The Difference God Makes: A Catholic Vision of Faith, Community, and Culture, Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I. clearly points out:

“Creating a culture that provides a more evangelically authentic environment for daily life in the United States is less a program with clergy defined stages than a movement of gradual growth. Cultural change is slow, but it can be steady if our purpose is clear and our nerves are strong. Evangelizers need a broad vision and strength for the long haul.”


Connect with Anna via Facebook.


Join the conversation by following @BrianSchmisek on Twitter and @LoyolaIPS on Instagram! Also, network with the Loyola Chicago IPS community on LinkedIn.

Graduating Student Feature: Meet David

David Gibbons will be completing his four year journey with IPS in just a couple weeks when he graduates with his MA in Pastoral Counseling. Like many of our students, it was a challenge for David to balance life, work and education, but he did it and did it successfully!

“Just take it one day at a time – it will not last forever and every day is a wonderful opportunity for learning and growth. Make the most of the community of peers and the wisdom of the professors,” advised David.

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I am originally from Portsmouth, UK and have been living for the past 7 years in Barrington Hills, IL.

What did your studies focus on at IPS?
I have been taking the MA in Pastoral Counseling since 2011, taking all classes on campus except one – The Counseling and Care of Men, which I took online.

What do you want to be doing upon graduation?
I will continue as Rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Barrington Hills and work part time as a counselor at a Counseling Center in the Northwest suburbs.

What has been your biggest accomplishment while at IPS?
Taking another step on the path to integration!  Plenty of work to do, but the great gift that IPS offers: its classroom experiences, friendships, learnings, and opportunities to put the class learning into practice has helped make a significant shift in my personal growth journey.

Were there any challenges you had to overcome during your time here?
Juggling full time work, family, classes, internship and commuting has been a significant challenge.

What was your favorite class and why? 
Pastoral Psychodynamic Assessment and Intervention because it provided a rich framework for plotting a client’s current situation as well as needs and some strategies and plans toward healing and wholeness.

Do you have any advice for future students? 
Just take it one day at a time – it will not last forever and every day is a wonderful opportunity for learning and growth. Make the most of the community of peers and the wisdom of the professors.

As a recent graduate, in what way will you go forth to “change the world?”
Hopefully – I’d like to be part of the emergence of spiritual growth and integration into our society to influence and even heal our culture.


Join the conversation by following @BrianSchmisek on Twitter and @LoyolaIPS on Instagram! Also, network with the Loyola Chicago IPS community on LinkedIn.

Graduating Student Feature: Meet Elizabeth

Elizabeth Reardon is ready to accept her Master’s degree in May and commit fully to work in her archdiocese. Elizabeth tells us about her challenges, achievements and motivations. She also has some great advice for students just beginning their journey.

E. Reardon
Pictured above with Fr. Krupa at the Alpha Sigma Nu Awards Ceremony


Hometown: Though originally born in the South, I have lived in Plymouth, MA for the past 19 years.

What did your studies focus on at IPS? 
As a student at Loyola’s Institute of Pastoral Studies, the focus of my Master’s studies has been Religious Education. While primarily an online student, I have been fortunate to visit Loyola’s campus and travel to Rome as part of Loyola’s 1st summer study abroad.

What do you want to be doing upon graduation? 
Presently, I am working towards Pastoral Associate certification with a board review anticipated sometime in late May and a course in canon law forthcoming. Thus, I have begun looking for a position within the Archdiocese of Boston as a pastoral associate or faith formation coordinator. Having served in lay ministry in various capacities for many years, this is definitely where my heart is being led to follow. Likewise, with the shortage of priests and the rapid movement of parishes into a collaborative status, there is a great need for a growing number of “workers in the vineyard”.

What has been your biggest accomplishment while at IPS?
The greatest accomplishment or honor given while at IPS would have to be my acceptance into Alpha Sigma Nu, the National Jesuit Honor Society. Words cannot express the truly humbling experience of being selected for inclusion into Alpha Sigma Nu with such an amazing group of students dedicated to both academic excellence and service. Spanning ethnicities, and continents they embody God’s incredible diversity and gifts of the Spirit, witnessing God at work in their lives today. Through them, I both experience community and recognize the consequences of my faith to work for peace and justice yet also hope and trust in the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. How blessed I am to have been given such an amazing “family” in Christ! For those professors, priests, theologians, friends and colleagues who have shown support and love, but challenged and inspired me to reach deeper and go further in my faith – Thank you!

Were there any challenges you had to overcome during your time here? 
Yes, in returning back to college later in life there is the new struggle of balancing family, prior commitments and coursework. I found that whenever possible that I would work ahead to allow for unforeseen events that arise, and for much needed time with my family. While there were overlaps in my attention, I fully sought to make the time given to each activity worthwhile.

What was your favorite class and why?
There is no way I can choose just one class as my favorite, yet I can clearly identify the classes that have helped shape my pastoral perspective for the future. Liturgy and Christian Sacraments with Heidi Russell in Rome, has been an essential foundation for understanding what it really means to live a life fully in the sacraments. Exemplifying what it is to embrace a life of communion, this further empowers a life of discipleship and mission. Thus, Church and Mission with Peter Jones gave a beautiful glimpse of the mission that continually beckons us as a Church to walk with others on a path of mercy, reconciliation and renewal. In doing so, we are called to reexamine our lived discipleship through our faithfulness to Christian ethics and social justice (Christian Moral Theology and Ethics with Therese Lysaught). This calls for an authentic witness of our faith to the often troubling circumstances of the world around us.

Do you have any advice for future students?
When the going gets tough, pray and if you feel alone in the struggle, reach out to other students. They are going through the journey with you and IPS is an incredible community of faith. Also, I went my first year without a spiritual director and this is an invaluable gift. Not only for your personal spiritual development, but this time will help you better discern where God is leading you to be.

As a recent graduate, in what way will you go forth to “change the world?”
I believe that just as our faith is not static, but a living and vibrant encounter, so should our pedagogical attitude be. Through the interaction of reflection, engagement, and practice there is much work to be done in bridging the gap between liturgy and their lived expression in the life of the community. This final step is for me where I currently find myself wanting to contribute more in the world around me. For, how can one live a sacramental life and not feel compelled to seek also its expression in addressing the challenges of poverty, human dignity, and liberation?

**Connect with Elizabeth:
Blog –
Facebook & Google+ – Elizabeth Reardon
Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest –  @theologyisaverb


Join the conversation by following @BrianSchmisek on Twitter and @LoyolaIPS on Instagram! Also, network with the Loyola Chicago IPS community on LinkedIn.

Graduating Student Feature: Meet Pearl

May 2015 graduation is quickly approaching! In honor of our wonderful graduates, IPS will begin to feature graduating students on the blog.

To kick off this series, we would like to first feature IPS Graduate Assistant Pearl Chiang. She has been so helpful and has brought so much joy to the office, we are going to miss having her here!

Read about her future plans below and find out what we already know… that she is an amazing person with a bright future ahead of her!

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Hometown: Troy, Michigan

Degree: Pastoral Counseling

What do you want to be doing upon graduation?
Working in a private practice, preferably a Christian Counseling practice, with emphasis on family therapy and holistic methods of therapy. My end goal is to start my own practice with a couple friends who are in the field.

I currently have a couple interviews lined up, so hoping for the best!

What has been your biggest accomplishment while at IPS?
Becoming more aware of who I am, what my needs are and what my limits are.

Were there any challenges you had to overcome during your time here?
I was diagnosed with stage 3 Breast Cancer at the beginning of last year and by the grace of God was able to stay the course and finish my studies. I am now in remission and appreciate the support of IPS and my cohort in the hardest and most transformative year of my life.

What was your favorite class and why?
It’s a tie for Psychopathology and Assessment & Intervention with Michael Bland. These classes are the most relevant and I refer to my notes from those classes almost every day in my internship setting.

Do you have any advice for future students?
Take advantage of every opportunity to get to know your classmates because 3 years goes by in the blink of an eye. Also, go out to coffee with your professors. They are extremely wise and you can gain a wealth of knowledge by racking their brains.

As a recent graduate, in what way will you go forth to “change the world?”
When I’ve been asked that question before in other contexts, it was very easy to give a carbon copy answer and say, “I want to help people and these are the ways…” Now having been through IPS MAPC program, my outlook has changed. I still want to change the world by helping people and the way that I feel that I have been called to do that is to provide counseling. It also means meeting people where they are and supporting them in that, without imposing your own agenda.


Join the conversation by following @BrianSchmisek on Twitter and @LoyolaIPS on Instagram! Also, network with the Loyola Chicago IPS community on LinkedIn.

IPS Celebrates Six Retiring Faculty Members

As this year comes to an end, IPS must say goodbye to six incredible faculty members. It has been an honor to have each of them as members of the IPS and greater Loyola community. They have been mentors for our students, enriched the lives of everyone at IPS and continue to be leaders in the community. You will always be a part of IPS.
Thank you.

140820_WTC_Summer02Please read what our IPS retirees would like to share:

Stephen Krupa, S.J.
“The IPS years have been very special for me. I will miss most my IPS Faculty and Staff colleagues and, of course, the students. I am grateful for all that my students and colleagues taught me over the years, and I hope that I contributed to the moving forward of the gospel and mission of Jesus by what I taught while at the Institute.”

Mary Christine Athans, BVM, Ph.D.
“As a Loyola alum from my undergraduate days, it has been wonderful to be teaching at IPS since I returned to Chicago in 2002. The enthusiasm, remarkable background and diversity of the students as well as my marvelous colleagues at IPS made my first ‘retirement’ a joy. Thank you for becoming a special part of my life!”

Dr. James Whitehead
Dr. Evelyn Whitehead
“Over forty years the Institute of Pastoral Studies has been for us a community of colleagues and friends, a fruitful setting for our ministry, and our spiritual home. We are most grateful!”

Dr. Gerard Egan
Dr. Jeanette Egan
“We would like to thank Fr. Garanzini for his tenure as President. The improvements we have witnessed in the years we taught here at Loyola (Gerry 40, Jeanette 29) have been amazing. Thank you Fr. Garanzini.

Next, we would like to thank all the IPS directors, faculty and staff from Fr. Jerry O’Leary to the present. THANK YOU ALL. We especially like to thank Paul Giblin for his help in experimenting with a variety of ways in teaching the counseling skills courses, but also in suggesting ways to develop the core of these courses, which we have team taught since IPS offered a MA in Pastoral Counseling. THANK YOU PAUL.

Lastly, and most importantly, we wish to thank our students, male and female, lay and religious, young and not so young, from over a dozen countries around the world. You have been wonderful, helping us in every instance to form communities of trust which are essential for our mode of teaching. You have enriched our lives. We have learned, grown and had some good times together. THANK YOU to each and everyone of you.

We will miss the IPS community.”

flagsPlease join us on April 10th for a retirement celebration as we say farewell to these six wonderful IPS faculty members. We will celebrate and honor their achievements, remarkable careers and devoted service in their communities.


Join the conversation by following @BrianSchmisek on Twitter and @LoyolaIPS on Instagram! Also, network with the Loyola Chicago IPS community on LinkedIn.

Holy Week and the Death Penalty

The article, “400+ Catholic and evangelical leaders want to kill the death penalty” from The Washington Post, talks about the recent letter from Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza that supports the abolishment of the death penalty in the US. The letter was signed by hundreds of Catholic and evangelical leaders, including professors from IPS. 


“As Christians preparing for the holy days of Christ’s suffering and death on the cross, we speak out with renewed urgency against the death penalty. Torture and execution is always a profound evil, made even more abhorrent when sanctioned by the government in the name of justice when other means of protecting society are available. All who reverence the sanctity of human life, created in the image of God, must never remain silent when firing squads, lethal injections, electric chairs and other instruments of death are viewed as morally acceptable.

We urge governors, prosecutors, judges and anyone entrusted with power to do all that they can to end a practice that diminishes our humanity and contributes to a culture of violence and retribution without restoration. We especially ask public officials who are Christian to join us in the solidarity of prayer this week as we meditate on the wounds of injustice that sicken our society. In many ways, capital punishment is the rotten fruit of a culture that is sown with the seeds of poverty, inequality, racism and indifference to life. We silence our hearts in prayer for those killed and families who mourn their loss. We can never know your pain and anger. Let us work together for healing, restorative justice and a system that punishes criminals without bringing more darkness and death into our world. As Pope Francis has reminded us, capital punishment is “cruel, inhumane and degrading” and “does not bring justice to the victims, but only foments revenge.”

It remains a shameful reality that the United States is one of the few developed nations in the world that still executes its citizens. Last week, the governor of Utah signed a bill that will bring back firing squads. Missouri recently executed a prisoner with severe brain damage. In Georgia, hundreds of clergy and other faith leaders have asked the state to commute the death sentence of Kelly Gissendaner, a Christian and student of theology, to life without parole. Several botched executions in recent years have pulled back the veil on this inhumane and ineffective practice. We are heartened by polling that shows Americans are increasingly opposed to the death penalty. Now is a critical time. The U.S. Supreme Court recently announced it would take up an appeal by a Florida death-row inmate challenging the state’s capital sentencing procedure, which permits inmates to be executed even when the jury is not unanimous. In April, The Supreme Court will hear a case that will decide the constitutionality of lethal injection protocols in Oklahoma.

In this sacred season of suffering, death and new life, we pray that our simple Christian witness is received with open hearts.”

In faith,

Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza (Ret.) Former President
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Houston, TX


Join the conversation by following @BrianSchmisek on Twitter and @LoyolaIPS on Instagram! Also, network with the Loyola Chicago IPS community on LinkedIn.