Monthly Archives: November 2015

Bill Huebsch Joins IPS to Teach Vatican II

Loyola IPS is pleased to welcome Bill Huebsch for the 2016 spring semester. He will be teaching “Vatican II” and students can sign up now to take his course!

IPS Director Brian Schmisek said, “Huebsch is a popular lecturer across North America and in parts of Europe. We’re fortunate to have him teach ‘Vatican II’ this spring.”

You can view a video presentation from Huebsch to learn more about him and the course he will be teaching.


Regarding his life outside of academia, Huebsch said, “I lived on a small farm for nearly 20 years, an hour north of St Paul, MN. We raised our own food, tended a respectable flock of chickens, and spent our days roaming around the valleys and forests on the farm. It was a marvelous place to write, reflect, and live.”

Huebsch continued, “As for IPS, I’m very much a fan of this program and am delighted to be part of it. Brian has brought fresh and clear leadership to the department. I want to help prepare the next generation of leaders for parishes, at whatever age they start to study!”

Huebsch holds an undergrad degree in Philosophy and a Masters in Theological Studies from the Catholic Theological Union of Chicago. He served as a diocesan administrator for many years in Minnesota and later as DRE in a suburban Minneapolis parish. He also directed the work of the Upper Midwest Conservation Labs at the Minneapolis Institute of Art for 5 years.

He now serves as Director of the online Pastoral & Continuing Education Center at Twenty-Third Publications. He has served on the adjunct faculties of Loyola University New Orleans: Institute for Pastoral Studies, and the University of Dallas: School of Ministry.

In 1990, he established The Vatican II Project, which contributes to the effort being made within the Church to keep alive the spirit and energy of Vatican II.

A decade later, he helped establish the Whole Community Catechesis project, aimed at helping parishes and dioceses around the world implement the General Directory for Catechesis.

He has also published nearly twenty books in recent years, along with numerous booklets, articles and screenplays. One of his books, A New Look at Grace, was named in US CATHOLIC among the top seven most influential books on spirituality for today’s world.

His most recent books include:
– Jesus: the Master Catechist
– The Group Reading Guide for the Care of our Common Home
– Be Merciful: Reflections on the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy

One of his important projects has been The Growing Faith Project, which is a component, adult education resource for parish or personal use, based entirely on the Catechism.

He was the creator and author behind the first set of curriculum resources designed specifically to coach parents to be the first teachers of their own children. This work is called Growing Up Catholic: Sacramental Formation That Lasts a Lifetime.


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

Parish Health & Wellness Ministry Certificate Week

IPS’s Parish Leadership and Management Programs, in conjunction with Catholic Extension, recently held the first of four “Parish Health and Wellness Ministry Certificate” weeks.

The program focuses on the under-resourced mission dioceses of Catholic Extension who can benefit the most from this intensive training week. Catholic Extension polled all their mission dioceses, asking what their needs were. The top response was the need to assist people who work in parishes where questions regarding mental and physical health are constantly occurring. This ranged from addictions, to pregnancies, to violence, to depression, to long term care for the elderly, and more.

In response to this need, Catholic Extension partnered with Loyola IPS to create a week-long training in parish heath and wellness ministry, grounded in the belief that parishes should be a place of health and wellness of the mind, body and spirit.

LUREC group photo

IPS’s Coordinator of Parish Leadership Management Programs Mark Bersano said the goal of this initiative is to reach out and serve parishes in innovative ways by providing the kinds of courses and trainings that are outside of the typical degree programs currently offered at IPS.

The week long event began on a Sunday evening with a mass and reception dinner. The following four days of programming consisted of prayer services, workshops, speakers, skills development and more. The week concluded on Friday morning with a sending ceremony where the participants received a certificate from IPS.
LUREC certificate

This is a 4 year program that began with the first cohort in October 2015. The following cohorts will consist of different people each year, occurring in October 2016, 2017 and 2018. By the time the program is finished, Mark said that they could have up to 200 participants, with 40-50 participants each year.

“The grant funding currently allows 4 years, but we are hoping that it will turn into something that is sort of a movement in the church. There’s hope that we will be able to work with the local Chicago parishes and partner with them to build this concept that the parish is a place of health and wellness of mind, body and spirit.”

Participants consisted of people from dioceses across the United States including: Rapid City, SD; Boise, ID; Helena, MT; Las Cruces, NV; Beaumont, TX; Charlotte, NC; Brownsville, TX; Gaylord, MI; Marquette, MI; Jefferson City, MO; Belleville, IL; and more.

Mark said, “The people who were there were all pastoral ministers in one capacity or another at either the parish or diocesan level. Many of them already had something to do with healthcare and some of them were thinking about starting new ministries or expanding ministries they already had.”

Some of the highlights from the week were Kevin O’Connor’s session “Active Listening and Issue Diagnosis,” Timone Davis’s “Theology of Baptismal Vocation & Missionary Discipleship,” Dan Rhodes’s “Theology of Service” and Anna Mayer’s “Walking with the Dear Neighbor: A Model of Accompaniment.”

LUREC class
Posted with permission from Catholic Extension. Copyright 2015

“Again, the real theme was the parish as a place of health and wellness of mind, body and spirit and also that by getting involved in these things, parishoners and people in parishes could raise up their own baptismal vocations and become missionary diciples helping others,” stressed Mark.

He gave the example of someone starting their own domestic violence ministry. Or on a very basic level, someone getting involved with elderly people in the parish who might not always remember to take their medication. Something as simple as making phone calls to remind them can make a difference.

IPS Administrative Assistant Mirta Garcia was also in attendance and helped organize and run the event. She said the week went extremely well.

“All the presenters and facilitators did a great job with their individual subjects, and with weaving each topic into the next for a seamless participant experience. It was fascinating to see how the participants became more engaged with each successive day.  Seeing them make new connections and bonding with people who have similar interest and ministries was truly amazing. It was an honor to be part of this week-long intensive certification program. My favorite part was making new friends and connections with people who are passionate about their faith and ministry. I am looking forward to hearing how the participants will take everything they learned and make it blossom in their communities.”

Mark agreed, saying “people had a really good experience. They bonded extremely well. At the end of the week, they were all saying they missed their families and wanted to get home, but at the same time they didn’t want to leave. One participant even suggested having a reunion. They were there for a week and already felt that.”


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

Loyola’s First Martyrs Award Goes to an IPS Alumna’s Organization

Loyola’s new Martrys Award was created to honor the Salvadoran Martyrs. This year marks the 26th anniversary of their assassination.

In a recent letter to the Loyola community, Interim President John Pelissero wrote, “Loyola honors the Salvadoran martyrs each year because in their lives and deaths, they exemplify the Jesuit and Catholic ideals and values that we seek to emulate, such as solidarity with the poor, working for social justice, and courageously witnessing to the truth.”

Each year, the award will be presented to a faith-based organization or individual who, among other things, strives to fight social injustice, educates others, and creates awareness of issues affecting the oppressed. In addition, there is a $25,000 grant that comes with the award. This money is intended to promote the legacy of the Martyrs in El Salvador and support Loyola’s commitment to social justice.

The first recipient of this annual award is The Interfaith Committee for Detained Immigrants (ICDI). ICDI’s Executive Director Sr. JoAnn Persch will be accepting the award on behalf of the organization. Persch gradated from IPS in 1971 with a degree in Religious Education.

Another IPS graduate, Chris Murphy, is Loyola’s current Director of Staff Mission Formation and Faculty Staff Chaplain. He said that the ICDI is “currently responding to migrants and refuges from El Salvador and Latin America. The suffering of these people is rooted in many of the same structural injustices to which the martyrs responded. The work of the Interfaith Committee reminds us of the way to which we are the direct heirs to, and responsible for, the ongoing mission of the martyrs. For the Interfaith Committee’s dedication to addressing injustice they will receive the Martyrs Award from Loyola University Chicago.”

When given the news of being the recipient of the Martyrs Award, Persch said, “As an alum of Loyola and as Director of ICDI it made me very proud. We are an ever growing program and this award will encourage our growth to be able to serve more people. To be selected as seeing our ministry in tune with the strong faith and courage of the martyrs is very touching.”

Sr. JoAnn Persch, RSM, a Loyola alumna, photographed at Sisters of Mercy in Chicago, on October 28, 2015. Sr. JoAnn is the recipient of the Martyr's Award for the Interfaith Committee for Detained Immigrants.  (photo by Natalie Battaglia)
Sr. JoAnn Persch, RSM, a Loyola alumna, photographed at Sisters of Mercy in Chicago, on October 28, 2015. Sr. JoAnn is the recipient of the Martyr’s Award for the Interfaith Committee for Detained Immigrants.
(photo by Natalie Battaglia)


Persch began her long and successful career at IPS where she said she was given the foundation needed to carry out programs ranging from child and adult education to parish ministry.

She recalls that at the time, the IPS Religious Education program was only offered during the summer.

“We had outstanding professors who would come from all over to teach in the program for the summer,” Persch said. “I really enjoyed the Scripture classes and also then Father John Gorman (now Bishop Gorman) who taught religious psychology. I have used what I learned many times.”

As the co-founder of ICDI, Persch has been able to see the growth of ICDI in the nine years of its existence.

“I see the hand of God working in every way. We have such a wonderful committed staff and amazing volunteers who really see our responsibility to our immigrant sisters and brothers. The fact that in nine years we are able to assist through all of our programs has to be the work of God.” Persch added, “We all receive so much more than we give through our relationships with our immigrant sisters and brothers.”

Though Persch is living in the present and fighting social injustice day by day, she is also preparing of the future.

“I want to share leadership so that when I can no longer serve in this capacity others are prepared and imbued with the vision and mission of ICDI… I would hope that we could continue raising funds that will not only keep us solvent, but keep having the ability to grow to meet the needs as they arise.”

This award is not only a great honor and opportunity for Persch and her organization, it is also somewhat of a homecoming for her.

“IPS has always held a very special place in my heart and I am so happy to be connecting again.”


**The award ceremony is taking place on November 16 at 3:30 pm in Damen Student Center Multipurpose Room South. There will also be a Memorial Mass at 5:15 pm in Madonna Della Strada, followed by a reception in McCormick Lounge.


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

IPS Student Alicia Crosby Awarded President’s Medallion

The President’s Medallion has three words etched onto it: leadership, scholarship and service. The award annually recognizes Loyola students who exemplify these words in their everyday lives, both inside and outside of the classroom.

This year, Alicia Crosby was selected as the recipient of the award for IPS. Read our Q&A with Alicia below to find out just a few reasons why she is so deserving of this honor.

How does it feel to be honored with this award?
It’s definitely a privilege, but is also a little surreal. In getting this degree, I’ve been committed to working hard and using my research to press into things that matter to me. It’s an incredible honor when the people who dedicate themselves to helping guide you along in this journey acknowledge that hard work and your passions through nominating you for something like the President’s Medallion. There are so many amazing students in our department who are doing great work so I really do consider it an honor to be chosen to receive this award.

What is your degree program and why did you choose this path?
In May I’ll receive my MA in Social Justice and Certificate in Non-Profit Management and Philanthropy. I’ve chosen this path because after years of praying and seeking, I came to understand that I feel most alive when I give voice to who people are meant to be then work to remove barriers that could potentially stop them. My work in sacred, social service, and educational contexts let me know that I needed to find an institution that could equip me to do the sort of interdisciplinary work that advocacy and activism require while also getting theologically grounded. In seeing IPS program materials some years ago speaking about things like moving people towards God’s “prophetic intent” for them, I knew this was where I was called to be.

Tell us about the work you are doing in your community.
I’m the co-founder of Center for Inclusivity (CFI), an organization that fosters healing community for people at the intersection of faith, gender, and sexuality. We work to provide services like clinical counseling, pastoral care, educational initiatives, and community gatherings to promote healthy exploration, growth, and healing for individuals affected by the perceived divisions surrounding issues of spirituality, sexual orientation and gender identity. Our heart is to connect the individuals behind “issues” and create safe space where people can bring the fullness of who they are to a community that will celebrate and care for them.

What is your motivation behind this work?
In my last few years of work as an educational advocate, I had a number of students come out to me and share they identified as LGBTQ+. I’d worked with many of them for years and in asking why they took so long to tell me, they noted that they understood me to be a person of faith and needed to trust that I wouldn’t sever our relationship because of them sharing their orientation.

That broke my heart. Those youth learned from the theology of others that their sexuality and gender identity makes them undesirable and unworthy of love. Faith is something that should be used to heal and help you lean into who you are, not cause you to hide for fear of abandonment (or worse). The work I do with CFI is about making the world a safer place for them by helping to create space where they can, in youth or in adulthood, express the fullness of who they are and know that they are accepted and have community.

What classes and/or professors have been instrumental to your success? And how?
Anyone who knows me can tell you the answer to this question is Dr. Peter Jones. Peter is absolutely amazing and his presence in my life has been such a blessing. He has pushed me in my thinking about so many things from theology to ethics and justice. Then he allowed me the space to process my thoughts both in and out of the classroom. I know that if I’m struggling with anything, I can count on him to be my ever patient, sagacious mentor who will help me unpack my thoughts and affirm me. I’m so grateful for his guidance and friendship.

What are your future goals?
I’ll continue my work removing barriers where I see them so that people are able to explore the fullness of what God has for them. For the foreseeable future this will be reflected through my work with Center for Inclusivity, but I don’t want to put limits on what I do or what God will do through me. Wherever I find myself, I just want to use my talents and gifts to clear the way for others to walk into who they are called to be.

If you want more information on Center for Inclusivity, please feel free to visit

Those wanting to see Alicia’s personal musings can check out her blog


The award ceremony is taking place on Friday, November 6th. After the ceremony, you can celebrate the accomplishments of all the President’s Medallion recipients at the President’s Ball.


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