Monthly Archives: April 2016

Success is in the Stars for Dr. Heidi Russell

Dr. Russell joined IPS in 2008. She holds an M.Div from Washington Theological Union and a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Marquette University. She also served for six years as Director of Christian Formation for a parish.

In addition to a number of peer-reviewed articles, conference papers and parish presentations, she has written two books, the most recent of which is Quantum Shift: Theological and Pastoral Implications of Contemporary Developments in Science.



While the field of science has made incredible advances in the past century, and more and more scientists have gone to great lengths to make these developments accessible to the public, we still rarely hear ministers and communities of faith discussing the implications of these developments for the life of faith. Quantum Shift explores recent developments in science from relativity to quantum mechanics to cosmology and then suggests ways in which people of faith might engage these scientific developments to foster their understanding of God and what it means to be part of the world we believe God created. Heidi Ann Russell demonstrates how these scientific developments offer us new and exciting images that spark our theological imaginations and reinvigorate our spiritual lives.

When describing her motivation for writing this book, Heidi talks with passion and a sense of discovery:

“I find the developments in contemporary science fascinating. When I first read about the double slit experiment in quantum physics, it made me realize that everything I had learned about science growing up and what I thought of as reality was not really the case at the most fundamental levels. It seemed to me that if theology is going to be relevant in today’s world, we must engage this shifting view of reality,” said Dr. Russell.

Though she loves learning about new scientific developments, Dr. Russell said writing this book was just as challenging as it was rewarding.

“Each chapter opened up a whole new world of science, and I was really starting from scratch each time. It was exciting, but also overwhelming at times,” commented Dr. Russell. “Karl Rahner has a great phrase he uses – ‘gnoseological concupiscence’ – in a nutshell, it means that we live in a world in which there is too much for us to possibly know everything. There has been such an explosion of information across so many fields, no one can possibly learn it all. I felt that challenge in writing this book.”

After reading this book, Dr. Russell hopes that “people walk away seeing developments in science as exciting rather than threatening.”

She added, “Too often people view theology and science as pitted against one another. I hope people read the book and stand in awe at the mystery of the created world and the God we believe created it.”

For more information or to purchase the book, please visit the Liturgical Press website.


Dr. Russell has another recent accomplishment – she has been promoted to Associate Professor with tenure.

She was first hired as a Clinical Instructor for IPS. Two years later after a national search, she was hired as a tenure-track Assistant Professor, and has developed a well-earned reputation as a gifted teacher. Dr. Russell brings solid scholarship and pastoral experience to the classroom, whether in Chicago or overseas, having taught with IPS in Kenya and in Rome, Italy.

Receiving the promotion, especially tenure, “was a tremendous relief” to Dr. Russell.

“I love IPS and teaching here, and I truly had no desire to go somewhere else.”

When asked what her proudest moment at IPS has been, she did not hesitate to say it is seeing her students succeed.

“Every year at graduation, I feel like a proud mother watching my children leave the nest. I am so proud of our students and what they do and how they change the world and the Church on a day to day basis.”

Dr. Russell went on to describe a touching moment between her and her students:

“My most significant memory at IPS was the day I came to my Liturgy and the Christian Sacraments class following the adoption of my son. Unbeknownst to me, the class had prepared a special prayer service for me, blessing me in the adoption and baptism of my son, who had been with me for almost two years through foster care. It was a blessed moment, when I felt overwhelmed by the gift of being able to work every day with the amazing people that are our students here.”

Looking to the future now, Dr. Russell said she is excited to be able to continue teaching at IPS, witnessing how students will serve the Church and the world, and continuing her research for her current book, Source of All Love: Catholicity and the Trinity.

To conclude, Dr. Russell said, “I am so grateful to my students and colleagues who have made IPS the special place that it is to work. I’m delighted to know that I will be a part of IPS for many years to come.”


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

IPS Director Brian Schmisek Authors Two New Books

IPS Director Brian Schmisek authored two books that were recently published.

The first book is titled Ancient Faith for the Modern World. 

Ancient Faith is actually a revision of a book I wrote almost a decade ago. It’s a popular topic and I am asked to speak on it at parishes and various conferences. So it’s as though the book is getting new life breathed into it,” said Dr. Schmisek.

Ancient Faith for the Modern World

The Apostles’ Creed is the most ancient statement of the Christian faith still in regular use in the church today. Children are taught to memorize it, anyone who prays the Rosary says it at the beginning of each set of mysteries, and it remains one of the basic prayers in the Catholic canon. Yet where did it come from, what does it actually mean, and why are we called to believe it? In this well-researched, engaging, and accessible book, author Brian Schmisek carefully explains each of what the church calls the twelve “articles” of the Apostles’ Creed and explores their meaning for a twenty-first century faith. Included at the end of each chapter is a “bottom line” summary of that article of the creed and questions for discussion on how the belief can impact daily life.

You may purchase Ancient Faith for the Modern World through ACTA Publications.

A Greek Reader for Chase and Phillips

The other book is titled A Greek Reader for Chase and Phillips. 

“The Greek Reader is a project I started in graduate school and picked up again only recently. It’s dedicated to two of my Greek professors who inspired me with a love for the language,” said Dr. Schmisek.


This companion reader to Chase and Phillips, A New Introduction to Greek, (Harvard University Press: Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1961) is a compilation of slightly edited “real Greek” from Plato, Xenophon, Plutarch, Diogenes Laertius, and the Septuagint. The reader has a preface introducing the student to the Greek authors. The lessons reinforce grammar and vocabulary in this classic introductory textbook. Students meet Socrates, Plato, Cyrus, Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, his horse Bucephalus, and more. They read about events surrounding Socrates’ trial and execution, Plato’s analogy of the cave, Caesar’s capture by pirates, the first chapter of Genesis, and a famous Psalm. In short, students are exposed to some of the classics of Western Civilization in this short reader, which seeks to complement the proven Chase and Phillips.

You may purchase the book through Wipf and Stock Publishers.

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

Student Feature: Meet Carrie

Carrie Czajka was an online student and recently completed the MA in Health Care Mission Leadership program this past December. Read our Q&A with her below to see what she has to say about her experience at IPS and how she is going forth and setting the world on fire.

Carrie Czajka

Some of the young guys from my last job called me ‘Old School.’ Hey, if the shoe fits…

Where are you from?
I am from Detroit, MI. I recently saw a sewer cap on a sidewalk in downtown Detroit that had the following names listed on it: The Motor City, Day-Twah, The Big D, and Dee-Troit. It made me chuckle.

A favorite of yours:
I love Detroit Tigers baseball and spend a ridiculous amount of time listening to their radio broadcasts. What I like about baseball are the stories. Every player, every team, every city, and every stadium has its own backstory. Our local broadcasters (as I’m sure others do around the country!) do a terrific job of weaving these stories into their broadcasts.

A quote/motto or prayer/bible verse that has significance to you?
I am a talkative, high energy person by nature. I was well into my 40s before I learned to appreciate what “Be still and know that I am God” really meant. Silent retreats have become an invaluable part of my faith life.

What is your educational background?
I graduated from the University of Michigan with a BA in Psychology. I was so happy to finish my undergraduate degree that I swore I was never going back to school again. Ever. But I was bored in my career and decided to go back to school. I completed a Masters in Healthcare Administration from the School of Public Health at UNC in Chapel Hill. A tidbit about Chapel Hill: the fire trucks there are painted ‘Carolina’ Blue. No kidding.

Anyway, a few years later I completed a Certificate in Leadership Training from Georgetown (the hardest work I have ever done…lots of self-exploration…it’s exhausting!). Then I did an Internship in Ignatian Spirituality at Manresa in Bloomfield Hills, MI.

What were you doing before beginning your IPS journey?
I was working in a large Catholic health care company.

What made you decide to come to Loyola IPS?
I was really fortunate to have a mentor who encouraged me to go back to school. He told me that there are people who have a heart for mission work and specialized training would be useful. He was right.

How would you describe your experience at IPS?
I had an extraordinary experience at Loyola…even as a distance-based student. My professors were first rate, my classmates were engaged, prepared, and committed to their coursework. The shared commitment to learning made for a much more rewarding experience.

What was your favorite class? 
I had so many great classes that it is hard to pick one. I had an opportunity to go to Rome with IPS in the summer of 2014. I would highly recommend a ‘Summer in Rome’ session if you are able to attend. It is simply wonderful.

I loved the course I took in Cultural Competency. And I am still talking about a leadership course I took last summer. What I loved most about my experiences during IPS was seeing my faith tradition with fresh eyes. I am grateful for the discussions, readings, assignments etc. that challenged my way of thinking or feeling about a topic.

Do you have any recommendations for future students?
Take a course that seems out there, but sparks your interest. Don’t be afraid to completely rethink how you feel about something. It can be very liberating. Most importantly, take time for good self-care. Rest, exercise, visit with friends, and find some quiet time to be with your own thoughts.

In what way will you go forth to “change the world?”
About a year ago, I started working with with a Jesuit priest in Detroit on the launch of an Ignatian leadership program. The ‘Contemplative Leaders in Action” (CLA) program is up and running in several other major metropolitan areas, but is new to the Motor City. The CLA program has three focal areas: leadership development, spirituality, and service. The target audience is young professionals (mid 20s to late 30s) and I am having a great time with this project. It is bringing a lot of my gifts and talents together in ways I had not anticipated. And I feel really fortunate to working on this effort…particularly at a time in Detroit’s history when there is so much growth and activity. There is a sense of hope in the City that we have not seen or felt in a very, very long time.

In addition, my Capstone project for Loyola included the development of a formation program for emerging leaders working in Catholic health care. I have been brainstorming with some former colleagues about ways in which we can use this program for first line managers working in the local system office. I have a soft spot for the ‘next gen’ of leaders and I am excited to be involved in efforts to encourage their growth and development.

Connect with Carrie:
Part of the reason why some of the young guys at my former job called me ‘Old School,’ is because I have been slow to adopt social media. I can be reached via email:

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

IPS Students Uniting Against Lead Epidemic

IPS students are uniting to create change for a health issue that is affecting millions of families and children across the country and they are asking you to support the mission too. Among them is Emily Benfer (IPS social justice certificate student, clinical professor of law, and the director of the Health Justice Project) who wrote a piece about this issue that was recently published in the New York Times. In addition, there is Alicia Crosby (MASJ ’16) who recently drafted an email, making the points below.

Children across the country are developing lead poisoning and suffering from the devastating and permanent harm it causes. Over 1.6 million families with children in federally assisted housing across America are at risk of exposure to lead hazards because outdated federal policies, in place since the 1990’s, fail to protect them. It’s clear that we must call this crisis what it is – a lead epidemic. The lead present in these homes, as well as in pipes and soil, creates environments in which Black children are nearly 3x more likely than their white peers to have elevated blood lead levels. The crises we see in Flint, Michigan as well as those emerging in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and other locales are just the tip of the iceberg. Join the Health Justice Project at Loyola University Chicago and the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law as they work to elevate public awareness and mobilize communities to take action to alleviate this epidemic’s irreversible effects.

Credit: Dylan Petrohilos
Photo credit: Dylan Petrohilos

You can help end the lead epidemic and protect our children’s futures. There are a number of ways you can connect to this movement for change.

Inform yourself and others on the root causes of and solutions to the lead epidemic by reading and sharing these articles:

Sign the petitions! The Health Justice Project is working with and Groundswell to raise public consciousness about this and encourage civic engagement.

Contact your Congresspeople and remind them of their duty to protect children from harm and to end the lead epidemic! Millions of children have endured irreparable brain damage as a result of lead poisoning. We need to say to Congress “No more; not one more child!” The Lead-Safe Housing for Kids Act of 2016 (HR4694/S2631) will make critical changes to federal policy and better prevent lead poisoning. Encourage your elected officials to join Sen. Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Menendez (D-NJ), Rep. Quigley (D-IL), Rep. Ellison (D-MN), and the growing number of Congressional leaders who support the end of the lead epidemic.

Get your community involved! Your organization or congregation can endorse the effort to end lead poisoning in federally assisted housing. Join the Health Justice Project and the 30+ groups who have committed to supporting the push for lead safe housing.

Join in for digital action during key points in the campaign! Email if you want to participate in social media storms making policymakers as well as civic and faith leaders aware of the need for lead safe housing and other measures to address this lead crisis affecting so many. Feel free to join in at any time or to tweet at/tag people when using the following hashtags: #LeadEpidemic #PoisonInOurWalls #LeadSafeHousing.

Get updates via social media! This movement can be followed on Twitter (@LeadSafeHousing & @e_catalyst) and at this Facebook page.

By drawing attention to this issue, the Health Justice Project hopes to inspire people to pursue justice within their own communities so that our most vulnerable, our children, can live healthy lives and reach their fullest potentials. No family should have to choose between having a home or protecting a child’s health.

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