Monthly Archives: October 2019

Ignatian Legacy Fellows

They say without a vision, the people might perish. Make no mistake, John Fontana has a vision.

Back in May of 2018, I sat down with John to do a long interview for my radio show, Things Not Seen, which airs weekly here in Chicago.

He was telling me about a new program he was developing in conjunction with the Institute of Pastoral Studies, called the Ignatian Legacy Fellows–which aims to completely redefine how C-suite executives think about retirement.

“Members of the baby boom generation everyday are passing into what we would consider to be retirement age,” Fontana said. “It’s an untapped resource of capital certainly, but it’s also an untapped resource of wisdom and experience. And if we do what we normally do with retirees, which is just a kind of shoo them away in our society, we’re going to lose all of that.”

With this, he breaks into a big smile. “The Ignatian Legacy Fellows Program is an attempt to capture that.”

Fontana himself is a businessman and a pastoral theologian. He attributes the grounding of his successful career to an Ignatian retreat he took when he was 23 years old. That experience shaped the way he thought about not only his career, but also about every facet of his life.

“So for me, the movement of God that I’m able to see in the workplace, and in my family life, is what sustains me as a human being and also has me participating in the vocational mission to be able to build the kingdom,” Fontana said.

When we spoke last year, Fontana and his co-director, Mariann Salisbury, at the Ignatian Legacy Fellows Program were in the midst of recruiting their first cohort of a couple dozen retired executives to commit to a year of travel and engagement to explore Jesuit universities and missions around the world, to grow in solidarity, and to deepen their faith in the service of others.

Now, a few weeks ago this past September, the cohort began their pilgrimage. They kicked things off with a week here at Loyola, meeting with students and faculty, and doing a deep study in the Ignatian spiritual exercises, engaging the Stritch School of Medicine, the Institute for Environmental Sustainability, the Hank Center for Catholic Intellectual Heritage, the Institute of Pastoral Studies, the Jesuit high schools and Arrupe Program. They also engaged Matt Malone, SJ, Editor of America magazine.

Over the coming year, they will spend a week every other month in a new location. Their next stop will be the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University, located in Berkeley, California, as well as the Ricci Center at the University of San Francisco, and Santa Clara University’s centers of learning, where they will explore the social ethics of entrepreneurship and business.

Their travels will continue with a trip to explore the Church’s missions to the poor in Lima, Peru. Thereafter, the cohort heads to Boston College and to Georgetown University. “Then we will culminate the year-long journey as we go to Spain as our pilgrimage continues and really get caught up in the spirit of Ignatius,” Fontana said. After Spain, the journey will conclude in Rome in September 2020.

The challenge for Fontana and the Ignatian Legacy Fellows’ leadership team is to shift the paradigm on aging from vulnerability to wisdom. They will utilize the life stories of each member of the cohort to hone reflective skills for adaptive leadership. Executives transitioning into retirement are thought to have “made it,” but they face profound questions about their role in the world, the meaning of their work, and their legacy.

The hope is that the program will set the tone and open up serious spiritual possibilities for these executives as they enter the “third chapter” of their earthly journeys. Fontana hopes that this will also translate into an awakened sense of stewardship for institutions that provide religious and theological education.

“What’s interesting is these days a lot of money is going toward business schools or medical schools or engineering and STEM programs,” Fontana continues.

“Theologians don’t make a lot of money. The people who train in pastoral ministry don’t get rich, so that the resources are not coming into those places of higher education right now. As a result, the study of theology is undervalued.”

The program will leverage the strengths of each host institution, situating the learning cohort in a contextual environment that brings their theological studies to life. In each location, these higher questions will be grounded in the real-world issues of poverty, justice, and inequalities of access that face communities around the globe.

“This program is about supporting theological education,” says Fontana, “because if you don’t have that, you’re going to have a tough time on values and ethical decision making in your business life or your family life. . . and the Jesuit tradition is grounded in the liberal arts; without that grounding, the Jesuit schools don’t have a reason for being.”

They say, without a vision, the people might perish.    

Make no mistake, the Ignatian Legacy Fellows cohort is living the vision and making it happen.

You can follow them on Facebook and LinkedIn:

You can listen to the full interview at the Things Not Seen Radio website:


By David Dault

Honoring Bob Ludwig, IPS Director and Professor Emeritus

Kathy and Bob Ludwig

The Institute of Pastoral Studies, Loyola University Chicago, would like to honor Bob Ludwig, IPS Director (2004-2012), and thank him for all he has done for our institute. We thought the best way to do this was to hear from those who know him and his work.

Peter Gilmour, IPS Professor Emeritus, reminded us “that when Bob Ludwig came as Director of the Institute of Pastoral Studies, it was his second incarnation at IPS.  In the ‘70s and ‘80s when IPS had a large summer program, Bob taught courses for many summers and, for a few years, during the academic year as well.  Even then he was instrumental in shaping the curriculum and fostering a deep and abiding sense of community among all IPS participants, faculty, staff, and students. “

Peter and Bill Schmidt, IPS Professor, pointed out Bob’s help in the development of “two strong and vital new degrees, the M.A. in Social Justice, and the M.A. in Christian Spirituality.” As well as the fact that Bob “was a pioneer in developing online education at IPS.  At a time when many administrators and faculty looked askance at online courses and degrees, Bob read the future accurately and moved ahead bringing the IPS charism for pastoral education to many students who otherwise would not have had the opportunity to be students at IPS.” Both agree Bob and IPS were ahead of the curve.

There is a lot to be said about Bob Ludwig on a personal level. Robert O`Gorman, IPS Professor Emeritus, shared a few images he has of Bob:

  • Energizer Bunny: Bob and I are close in age. When the IPS director position opened up and Bob applied I was reluctant because I felt we needed new young leadership – – I know I felt tired. Immediately he brought energy to the position with a whole new look at what this 50-year-old Institute could do. The new programs and initiatives that took my breath away.
  •  Prophet: justice became the purpose of ministry under Bob at IPS. If a program did not engage Scripture and theology to establish a kingdom of justice and loving right relationship it needed correction to be part of Loyola’s IPS.
  • Late-night talk show host: at times when I was in the office before Bob in a morning – usually to meet some deadline that was looming – Bob would burst in and say “How about dem Bears last night!” and then whatever I was doing to meet the deadline would simply be laid aside and a running commentary would begin that would attract everybody to hilarious laughter. But it oriented the day for us – IPS was a friendly happy place to be. In addition to a kingdom of justice, Bob brought a vision of a kingdom of laughter.
  •  A teaching addict: “Hello, my name’s Bob Ludwig and I’m addicted to teaching.” Most of us, especially myself, would guard time for work by fending off any request beyond contract limits for extra teaching. Not Bob! As Director his teaching load technically was less than the ordinary professor – but Bob always taught more than most of us. If one of us would be out for some kind of an emergency Bob would take the class. Students were satiated by this teaching. Often times philosophers of education divide teaching into an emphasis in one of 3 realms – the content, the context (concern for society) or the development of the person. Bob had one focus for teaching – all 3 of these divisions!
  • Cigar chomping director: From its beginning in 1964 IPS had an on–the–fringe position in the constellation of Loyola University’s departments. It was named an Institute, not a department. In the years before Bob, directors generally spoke softly and didn’t carry a big stick in University meetings. Not so when Bob came on the scene. So totally committed to and confident in the mission of IPS and so personally competent as an educational leader, Bob (and IPS) assumed and was afforded a major leadership role in the University. Under Bob IPS and its faculty began to have a hand in shaping and developing the mission of the University.

 “Bob brought a relational style to IPS.  Bob’s natural friendliness, warmth, and humanity, made him a beloved teacher and colleague.  Between his ready-at-hand unlit cigar, and his ready humor, working with Bob was never tedious. ‘Never take yourself too seriously’ is a life stance I observed in Bob.  Yet in his own relaxed way, he got important things done. It was a privilege to work with Bob in his abiding commitment to embrace the breadth of the IPS vision.” – Schmidt

 “Looking back at Bob’s leadership some years later now, we see a person of faith who was ahead of the curve in so many ways!  He anticipated the future.  He moved IPS ahead through a grand vision of education and consensus-building among the faculty that continued what has come to be known as ‘the IPS tradition’.” – Gilmour

Brian Schmisek, IPS Dean and Professor (2012-2019), noted that “Bob Ludwig led IPS with tremendous creativity, starting new programs and implementing new ideas. As he retired he was honored with the ‘Called and Gifted’ award from AGPIM (Association of Graduate Programs in Ministry) in recognition of his contributions to ministry education over the years.”

Peter Jones, IPS Acting Dean, expressed: “Dr. Ludwig has been instrumental in advancing the fields of theology and pastoral studies and served as a beloved educator for more than 40 years. (…) In 1982 he took a position in the Institute for Ministry at Loyola University New Orleans and created there, well ahead of its time, a distance education program in ministry formation. The growth and importance of online education today, a distant and unforeseen possibility in 1982, reveals the prophetic nature of his vocation and commitment to serving students. (…) Dr. Ludwig joined the IPS in 2004 as a full-time faculty member and served as its director through 2012 and as faculty through 2014. In all these ways and more, Dr. Ludwig’s work and reputation as a scholar, teacher, and leader demonstrate his reputation in the field.” In recognition of all Bob Ludwig’s contributions, Loyola University Chicago granted him the status of Professor Emeritus!

Congratulations Bob!

Lunch with Auxiliary Bishop Ron Hicks

In an attempt to build stronger and healthier dialogical bridges between the academy and the episcopal hierarchy in the Catholic Church, the Catholic Theological Society of America has sponsored an initiative to provide grants for bishops and theologians to meet for social and intellectual exchange, usually in the context of discussing a shared text. 

IPS was awarded such a grant and met with Auxiliary Bishop Ron Hicks this week. IPS faculty and staff members Michael Canaris, David Dault, timone davis, Peter Jones, Heidi Russell, Bill Schmidt, Nathaniel Samuel,  Deborah Watson, and John Fontana along with Bishop Hicks discussed  Synodality in the life and mission of the Churcha study by the International Theological Commission, that serves in an advisory capacity to the Pope and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on current relevant topics.

Bishop Hicks, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Chicago, previously served as regional director at an orphanage in El Salvador between 2005 and 2009, and for that reason IPS chose to enjoy Salvadorian food (including the local staple — pupusas!) for this meeting.  The bishop was also at one time Dean of Formation for St. Joseph College Seminary in its earlier iteration as an academic unit at Loyola.

The conversation included an ongoing commitment to mutual active listening by those seeking to live in the community of the faith at all levels.  Both Bishop Hicks and the IPS professors commented on how modeling such behavior is an important antidote to the tribalism and silos of our day.  Oscar Romero was frequently invoked in the discussions.

The Catholic Theological Society of America is the principal association of Catholic theologians in North America. Founded in 1946 it has over 1300 members and is the largest professional society of theologians in the world. As stated in their guiding documents, the purpose of CTSA is to promote theological research in the Roman Catholic tradition that is attentive to contemporary problems faced by the Church and the world.  Obviously, this conversation and relationship-building initiative touched on ecumenical and social themes that extended far beyond the bounds of the visible Catholic Church.

As the convener of the session, Professor Canaris expressed his gratitude for the project.  “It came up in my colleagues’ comments that we are in an anomalous historical and political situation where an outside grant is sometimes necessary to spur dialogue in some places between Catholic higher education and local ordinaries.  We are thankfully in a much healthier context here in Chicago, where Bishop Hicks, Cardinal Cupich, and the wider archdiocesan apparatus are largely supportive of the work in which we are engaged in forming lay leaders and advocates for social justice here at Loyola in general, and in the IPS in particular.  However, I remain thankful for this CTSA initiative which enabled us to deepen these relationships and plan for future collaboration and mutual support.  We will be following up with our local leaders when we host some events at the USCCB meetings alongside them this November, as is our recent tradition here.”

More information about the grant initiative can be found here: