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My Experience at IPS

By: Krysten McOsker

My experience at IPS was beyond anything I could have ever imagined.
By the time I arrived at Loyola, I chased nearly every worldly desire, but my heart and soul were still restless. I had everything the world told me I should have, yet I kept feeling a nudge, a yearning for something more but I was afraid to let go of my worldly values.
I was also afraid of some religious people that I thought I would be waiting to shame me. I was certain I would not fit in because God school was such a far leap from where I was at in life so all I could say was that I would explore IPS. I would start Loyola by exploring. All I could commit to was attending the first day of school, the first class, and go from there.
When I arrived for my first class at IPS I felt content for the first time in my life. I felt alive. I felt energized. I felt passionate. I found a place with people who wrestle with their faith like I do. I met people who call bull&*$@ when they see it. I met people who are not afraid to be bold. Who are not afraid to speak truth. Who are not afraid to get uncomfortable. To wrestle, learn and question. To keep questioning. I met people who questioned like me. Who wrestled like me. Professors and classmates encouraged me to keep questioning and keep wrestling.
I met a God I had never encountered elsewhere. A God who is revolutionary. A God who flips the Empire & power structure on its head. I fell in love with a God who liberates and heals. A God who disturbs the status quo. A God who disturbs the comfortable. A God whose call is so great, that I can’t not go out into the streets to care for our friends who live on the street. I am so in love with this God of revolutionary love that everything, everything in my life has changed. Through IPS, I have been uprooted from worldly values and have been rooted in the values and love of Christ.
IPS was the most transformative experience of my life. It was a gift far greater than I could have ever imagined.

Thoughts from a graduate

Last day of class with Dr. Nat Samuel. Fall/19


It is graduation week and things are a lot different than I expected them to be. We took our last classes from home, we have been emotional and afraid, our minds went somewhere else at a time we should be thinking about next steps and looking back at what we learned at IPS.

I had to postpone my integration project! I did not do it because I had no time to finish, I did it because I want to learn everything I can from writing this project and with Covid-19 in mind that was not possible. A degree from IPS for me has always had a different meaning, it was never about the diploma I get to hang on the wall, it was about the learning experience, it was about the knowledge, it was about developing the drive to help others. I moved to Chicago from Brazil to study Social Justice at IPS. I chose Loyola and IPS because I wanted to attend a Jesuit school, I wanted to embrace St. Ignatius of Loyola’s teachings and principles and apply them in my life and the world. I already have a master’s degree, I just wanted to learn, I wanted to give more meaning and purpose to whatever I choose to do next.

The pandemic is making the social injustices in the world a lot more evident; my degree feels even more important and relevant. The work to be done seems overwhelming but being in classrooms filled with people already doing amazing work advocating for social justice gives me hope. My classmates were young, passionate, and dedicated, they have been doing work with vulnerable populations for a long time and they are great role models for me to follow.

In my time at IPS I found God in ways I had not found Him before; I was able to see Him in the faces of my classmates and that experience has been extremely inspiring. As much as I have learned from the classes and the professors, the exchange with my classmates and learning about their journeys in their missions has been one of the most valuable lessons from the entire program.

As my program comes to an end, all I can do is say thank you. Thank you to everyone at IPS for their help and support from my application to my online graduation toast; thank you to the professors for being so dedicated to the students and sharing their knowledge, thank you to my wonderful and amazing classmates for going through this journey with me. Every one of you made it worth going through two Chicago winters and being away from my family and friends.


El Cireneo, Hogar de Esperanza

Ana Lopez with some of El Cireneo’s Patients and staff

Ana, tell us a little bit about yourself. You just graduated from IPS and I hear you are planning on continuing your studies. What is next? How has your time at IPS helped you in your ministry?

I am from Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the capital city of Chiapas, Mexico, and I am 30 years old. I have a Bachelor’s in Financial Management with a concentration in Financial Analysis and Investment Management from a prestigious university in Mexico, the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM), where I graduated with honors. I have experience as a Portfolio Manager with the Mexican Stock Exchange. I have also worked as a Purchasing Manager in Libertad Creativa S.A. de C.V., and as the General Manager of Win Land. Hence, my focus was on business and money.

However, in 2012, everything began to change when I initiated my catechesis for the sacrament of Confirmation in the Catholic Church. Without any doubt, this sacrament was the one that changed my life and personal goals. Soon after, I started to participate in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement, where I began to know God. With the desire to know Him more, I enrolled myself in the Bachelor’s in Theology with Pastoral emphasis at one of the Catholic universities in my hometown. I studied this degree for three years, but I could not finish it for several reasons, one of them was my mother’s death.

My mother passed away in May 2015 due to suicide. It was the most challenging experience I have had. Nevertheless, it led me to the best of my life, my ministry, and my renewed relationship with God.

After my mother died, I had tremendous painful experiences, one after another. I felt like Job in the Bible, losing everything I owned and believed. As a result, I was suffering from depression. I did not think I could make it, but God never left me. He was with me during the darkest period of my life. Deep inside, I had one tiny sparkle, a light of hope, the desire to continue studying. I wanted a master’s degree in something related to God. Thus, by searching for it on the Internet, I found (curiously the first link) Loyola University Chicago. By reading the academic offer, I decided to apply to the Master’s in Christian Spirituality, Spiritual Direction concentration.

The day after I applied, I received an email from the Institute of Pastoral Studies (IPS) welcoming me to the program! You cannot imagine the joy and hope I felt! This news changed my darkness into light. It was not only the news but the entire experience of moving to Chicago and studying for my master’s program in the United States. The IPS faculty, my classmates, the Contextual Education program, the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, my spiritual director… everything and everyone contributed to the healing of my heart and soul. It was a process of purification. It was not easy, but it was worth the effort. On the day of my graduation, I recapitulated my time at IPS with verse 6 of Psalm 126: “Those who go forth weeping, carrying sacks of seed, will return with cries of joy, carrying their bundled sheaves” (NABRE). When I arrived at IPS, I was heartbroken. When I left, I cried with joy! Furthermore, I proclaimed with Job: “By hearsay, I had heard of you, but now my eye has seen you” (Job 42:5, NABRE).

By becoming a spiritual director, I encountered myself and God. Before my master’s degree, I had lost sight of who I was and most importantly, who I was in God’s sight and love. However, through the program and the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises, I gained a new sight of myself and God. This experience of God’s love is the one that I try to hand down to my directees now that I am back in my hometown.

The Integration Project of my master’s degree became real when I opened the retreat house called El Cireneo, Hogar de Esperanza (The Cyrenian, House of Hope) in my hometown. Thanks to the personal and academic growth from my mother’s death, my own recovery process from depression, and my education, I was able to intertwine them, and the result was the healing program of the retreat house for patients suffering from depression. With the valuable help of my then Academic Advisor and Faculty Reader Jean-Pierre Fortin, Ph.D., I discerned that the goal of the retreat house and its holistic program (physical health, emotional well-being, and spiritual renewal) is to lower the rate of suicide, by enabling individuals suffering from depression to process their suffering.

I finished my Integration Project on June 23rd and one month later, I was opening the retreat house in the same place where my mother committed suicide. This house is now a place where people find healing, peace, hope, and life! I know this is only the beginning. There are more things I need to learn and do. For these reasons, I want to continue my studies. I have been in touch with the dean of the Doctor of Ministry (DMin) program at the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas. I hope to apply for the doctorate program this year. As an online program, I will only have to travel there twice a year. Hence, it will not overlap with my time at the retreat house. I hope this degree helps me to gain a deeper understanding of ministry to enhance my role at the retreat house and develop more programs to stand in solidarity with those vulnerable in my state and country. And why not? Maybe worldwide. So, please, pray for me!

Any word of advice for current and future IPS students on surviving grad school and/or finding their path after grad school?

 I remember during our welcoming session, the dean told us: “Be aware that all the structures you bring to IPS are going to be changed. You are not going to leave IPS being the same person.” This statement was completely true for my classmates and I. Thus, be open to allow the fresh air to blow in your life and ministry. Let yourself be surprised by God’s love and wisdom that you will gain through the courses and IPS faculty. If you do not know the path, He will guide you through every reading and experience within the classrooms. He is with you and will never abandon you!

El Cireneo, Hogar de Esperanza

What is the story behind El Cireneo?

When my mother passed away, I inherited the house where she committed suicide. It was hard for me to be around the house in the beginning. I thought I would never be able to emotionally heal and return. Thus, almost one and a half years later, I decided to lease the house, even though the process of emptying it and removing her belongings was extremely painful. The house had been occupied for almost two years when I had realized what God wanted for my life. No longer leasing it out, I remodeled it to what it is now, the retreat house.

It was last Holy Thursday when God told me to renew the house into a place where people could find Him. I went to the Last Supper celebration at the Madonna della Strada Chapel, at the Lake Shore Campus, where I then participated in the tradition of Seven Churches Visit, organized by Loyola University Campus Ministry. We were at the second church praying before the Blessed Sacrament when I listened to God’s voice telling me to transform my mother’s home into a retreat house. Soon after, I heard God revealing the name for it: “El Cireneo, Hogar de Esperanza” (The Cyrenian, House of Hope). I was amazed and said to Him: “What? Wait a minute! I just came here to pray, not to talk about the retreat house.” I have to admit I did not have any intentions to talk about the house. Nonetheless, for God, it was the proper time. He knew I was ready to move forward.

Hence, I asked Him: “¿por qué El Cireneo?” (why The Cyrenian?). Then, I remembered the Scripture passage about Simon of Cyrene (cf. Matthew 27:32). God allowed me to discern that I was going to become Simon of Cyrene, helping the suffering Christ (manifested in my directees) to carry the cross. In other words, God allowed me to understand that I was going to help my directees to carry their cross, depression. But this cross has a promise: a resurrected life. I learned from my mother’s death and my own experience of recovering from depression that there is no cross without resurrection.

It was during that same evening, on Holy Thursday, when God reminded me: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10, NABRE). For this reason, when patients arrive at the retreat house, the first sight they can appreciate is the name of the house and this Biblical passage, John 10:10.

Jesus came so each of my directees/patients can have life and have it more abundantly. The staff and I try to bring them relief, reassurance, and consolation by being their Simon of Cyrene in their journey to a resurrected life in Christ.

Tell us a little about treatment at El Cireneo, Hogar de Esperanza.

As I mentioned before, thanks to the personal and academic growth from my mother’s death, my own recovery process from depression, and my education, I was able to intertwine them, and the result was the healing program of the retreat house for patients suffering from depression. In fact, the healing program reflects my own recovery process from depression in a holistic manner: physical health, emotional well-being, and spiritual renewal.

a) Physical health: when a patient arrives asking for help, he/she is interviewed by the psychologist. He is the one who gives the preliminary diagnosis. If the patient is diagnosed with depression, we ask them to undergo testing at a laboratory by the request of the neurologist to rule out physical diseases causing depression (e.g. hypothyroidism). The neurologist determines if the patient needs to be medicated and/or referred to psychiatry. Additionally, there is a nutritionist helping patients improve their diet with the purpose to increase their physical energy.

b) Emotional well-being: the patient meets with the psychologist every week to process his/ her suffering and acquire tools to manage his/her emotions.

c) Spiritual renewal: through the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. The directee meets with me (the spiritual director) weekly to talk about his/her process throughout the retreat. We listen and discern God’s voice in his/her life. I help him/her to contemplate his/her life through God’s love, mercy, beauty, and wisdom. It is important to mention that we have monthly therapeutic and spiritual direction meetings with all the patients, so they can create a sense of community. They realize that they are not walking alone trying to overcome depression. They help each other by sharing their stories.

Because poverty is the main cause of depression in Chiapas, the program is free of charge. We only require patients to commit themselves to their recovery process.


If you would like to know more about Ana’s ministry check out the Facebook page:

You can also contact Ana via email

If you want to help El Cireneo, Hogar de Esperanza you can make a donation via PayPal – PayPal.Me/analopu14 or email Ana for her bank information.

A Courage for Today: A Psychoanalytic and Spiritual Contribution

Image by Sasin Tipchai

William S. Schmidt, Ph.D.[1]

December 16, 2019

Hard times pose particular challenges for persons and communities. Times of crisis can threaten to erode the cohesion of selfhood, even as they force communities and persons to confront heretofore unforeseen threats and challenges. Although such times can have the effect of disorienting the self and its communal base, it can also have the effect of crystallizing self and community into a new concentration of strength, resourcefulness and transcendence. The word often used to describe this latter outcome is “courage”, a word we need in times of upheaval and uncertainty.

            At first glance it would be easy to ascribe the label “courage” to any bold action of confronting a danger or even death, but this would miss the internal complexity of such an activity. If courage is a supreme virtue, its true nature and operations cannot simply be equated with an instinct, however bold or fearless it seems to be. True courage is not automatic in the sense of an unconscious or inevitable action that flies in the face of danger. It is rather, a highly self-reflective activity in which the true nature of a self or community reveals itself.

A Psychoanalytic Exploration

            A formidable explorer of the nature of courage can be found in the person of Heinz Kohut, a Viennese Jew who escaped the Nazi takeover of Austria and eventually settled in Chicago.  Kohut ultimately became the Director of the Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute, and in 1964-1965 even became the head of the American Psychoanalytic Association. As his biographer Charles Strozier notes, Kohut became particularly interested in the topic of courage, perhaps in the aftermath of his own battles with the psychoanalytic establishment, in which he took on the ideological edifice of his day and profoundly transformed it. [2]

            Kohut’ s particular interest in courage was shaped by his taste of totalitarian oppression as a young man, and his attempt to understand how some persons did not only survive that juggernaut, but courageously engaged and challenged it. [3]   As he engaged the task of understanding this phenomenon called courage, Kohut selected the stories of three Austrian and German war resisters who each paid with their lives for their resistance.  The three were Franz Jagerstatter, an Austrian Catholic peasant, and Hans and Sophie Scholl, the Munich medical students who wrote and distributed underground newspapers calling their fellow citizens toward non-violent resistance, until they were caught and executed.  Franz Jagerstatter was especially selected by Kohut as exemplary of the conflicts, struggles, and resolutions that occur as courage is born.  His story has been given new and welcome visibility in the feature film “A Hidden Life.” (December 13, 2019)[4]

            Kohut concluded that Jagerstatter was not the only devout Catholic in his community, and certainly not the only one who realized that his religious values were in conflict with the total loyalty demanded of the Nazis. However, most persons ignored or set aside their reservations about the regime and joined the majority. Their psychological and spiritual equipment was not adequate to allow them to set their core self against the overwhelming presence of Nazi ideology and power. The quality that Kohut surmised was present in Jagerstatter and the Scholls’, but absent in most of his contemporaries, was the capacity not to withdraw from an inner conflict of intense and extreme proportions.

            This internal conflict contains several interrelated tasks revealing three specific and discernable features: 1) one must identify with one’s core self (ideals), 2) one must resist the tendency to disown one’s core self, and 3) one must resolve to shape one’s attitudes and actions in accord with one’s core self despite inner doubts and external threats and seductions.

            What Kohut’s conclusion reveals is that such courage is not simply easily arrived at, nor is it simply given. It is not like being on automatic pilot without inner struggle.  It involves an often agonizing self-scrutiny, and out of such soul-searching the full meaning and implications of one’s core commitments emerges.

            In examining the lives of these quiet heroes, Kohut concluded that they all manifested three features that gave their courage the quality of groundedness and non-psychosis, but also allowed them to transcend the entrapment of the status quo.  These three features were not necessarily equally present in these different individuals but they all seemed to manifest them in obvious measure so that it was clearly discernable by others.  These three features are: 1) a sense of humor, 2) the ability to respond to others with empathy, and 3) a deep sense of peace.  This latter attribute was especially noteworthy in spite of the intense inner struggle underway in them as they faced their choices and its agonizing consequences. Their personalities seemed filled with a profound sense of serenity, perhaps close to what we would call wisdom.  These three elements, especially the sense of peace or serenity, always seemed evident to observers, even to their torturers, persecutors and executioners.

            Although Kohut does not pursue these features directly, it behooves us to understand their place in the emergence of courage. First, the presence of humor reveals the capacity to have perspective, and to recognize the absurdities and ironies of one’s life and situation. Humor indicates that one doesn’t take oneself too seriously even in the face of grand and noble pursuits. Humor is a mode of transcendence and it restores a sense of proportionality. It is an antidote to grandiosity.

            Secondly, the presence of empathy names the factor of heart as central to the emergence of courage. Indeed, the word courage comes from the French word “coeur”, meaning heart.[5]  This heart or empathic factor suggests that one is connected to one’s own humanity and the full humanity of one’s neighbor, and, that one is prepared to act radically upon this knowledge.

            Thirdly, the feature of peace and serenity emerges because the commitment to the truest center of the self, including one’s core ideals, generates a profound balance, equilibrium and harmony within the person, and the whole personality becomes aligned with this center. There is sense of peace and even joy released in us when our ideals and our personality and our actions have become one.

            It is for these reasons that Kohut concludes that courage has to do with not only staying true to one’s core values, but to one’s core self. This core self is akin to an amalgam of one’s deepest ideals, most authentic goals, purposes, and life themes; in short, an expression of one’s deepest sense of self. The courage emerging from this core self is defined by Kohut as “the ability to brave even death…rather than to betray the nucleus of one’s psychological being, that is, one’s ideals.” [6]

The Contemporary Challenge

            Kohut’s hero models are certainly exemplars of courage, and inspire us to deepen our commitment to cultivating our core self, including our deepest values and ideals. But our call to courage is not a call to resist totalitarian regimes, nor are we likely to be faced with the prospect of running back into burning buildings to rescue others, or face perpetrators of mass shootings in our churches, synagogues, mosques, or public spaces. 

            I would propose that courage regularly needs re-framing given the new and multiple challenges which confront every age. In fact, courage may be understood as the capacity to confront the unique and perhaps unfamiliar challenges of new eras.  Our era faces the crisis of dystopia, of massively unstable ground under our feet.  We are bombarded with the cultural realities of polarization, radicalization, and weaponization of our social fabric.  Xenophobia, nationalism, racism, public and private dishonesty, etc., all produce a cynicism and a new form of paralysis in the form of exhaustion.  It seems every era needs to redefine and reaffirm courage in relation to the particular challenges of the day.

             I would therefore define courage as follows: “Courage is the freedom to fully engage the reality of one’s life situation while remaining radically committed to overcoming the Spirit and life-denying aspects of one’s experience.”

            There are two specific challenges which confront our contemporary environment and warrant the cultivating of courage.  The first challenge facing contemporary life is to cultivate that very center of self or center of values that would constitute one’s core. As many clinicians, counselors and pastoral persons know, many persons in our world are threatened with an eroding center. Kohut’s protagonist, Franz Jagerstatter, had a center out of which he could make choices. What if there is an eroded center, or if it is fragmented?  Strengthening our own and one another’s cultivation of our center of purpose and meaning is the key to courage-enhancement.

            The second challenge facing our current world is to find courage in the face of exhaustion and its twin, cynicism. To succumb to cynicism is to grant ultimacy to our human potential for despair, and to lock oneself into a world of withdrawal and self-paralysis.

Three dimensions of courage

            To resist these decentering and paralysis-generating forces of our lives requires cultivating three aspects of courage. The first courage needed in times of trial and tribulation is the courage to face reality in all its starkness.  Reality is hard yet it leads us to truth.  Resisting one’s own temptation for denial takes courage and staying power.  None of us can hold in our heads and hearts the multiplicity of all personal and social ills.  But what we can do is to find focus.  There where your heart is most burdened, you will find your path and your necessary mobilization.

            If the ecological crisis is where your inner fire burns most brightly, be there, and your focus will ground and inspire you.  If your fire burns there where refugees are violated, and children are separated from their parents, be there, and you will find the animation it demands.  If your fire burns there where racism, sexism, classism abound, be there, and your focus will bring clarity and discernment in the face of the risk of a scattered and frenetic flailing about.   One needs courage to face the reality of one’s situation, including one’s corresponding grief, sorrow, anger, and the despair we may carry.

            As we engage reality in the contemporary arena we will face two major questions.  These are the (1) “Why now”? and (2) “Now what”? questions.  To face the “why now” question takes courage because it forces us to look at the contextual reality of our situation beyond the simplistic good vs. evil, black vs. white ideologies of the day.  If we only respond to personal communal alienation by demonizing our adversaries, how is our world to find redemption?  To ask the “why now” questions means we must be prepared to face the raw alienation visible in our reality.  We must find the courage to examine our place in the world and the courage to hear what the world is saying to us.  It takes great courage to listen.

            The courage to face reality also includes being able to ask the “now what” question.  In confusing and polarized times one is tempted to demonize “the other” even as we ourselves may feel victimized or “othered.” Ideological, political, religious, or a moral self-righteousness reinforces reactivity and deepens alienation.  We may be tempted by the false belief that vanquishing the reactive forces of our world through force and power can resolve our dilemmas or restore our world to wholeness.

            We must find the courage to affirm justice and assure its centrality in what we seek.  In seeking justice for the causes we hold dear, we must become advocates of justice for all peoples of our world.  It is not sufficient to serve justice when it serves us, but we must have the courage to pursue justice when it is not necessarily popular to do so, and this requires an awareness of the dynamics of privilege or power, a necessary humility that recognizes that we all contain our own blind spots.

            The second dimension of courage required of us is the courage to face darkness in ourselves and in our world.  Darkness is a force, an energy field that threatens to draw everything into itself, a black hole of the Spirit.  The darkness that confronted Kohut’s protagonists was the darkness of totalitarianism.  His examples of courage questioned the high priests of power of their day and Kohut’s hero’s challenged these power systems through non-violent resistance.

            Our world confronts a somewhat different darkness.  Our darkness is not so much a darkness of total power, but a darkness of violence, annihilation, and radical polarization.  It is the darkness of an alienation that runs away with itself and consumes its world.  In Kohut’s day, the enemy was obvious, visible, and strutting.  Our so-called enemy is invisible and non-substantial; it is not fixed in time and place. When indiscriminate violence and oozing hatred threatens our lives, it unleashes inner dangers every bit as threatening as outer dangers. 

            These dangers include the darkness of fear and demonization, which can settle in our soul as a spiritual cancer, the form of paranoia, where ultimately the world itself becomes our enemy.  Such fear itself becomes an enemy of Spirit.  The effect of this darkness of fear is that we project it outward onto others who have no connection to the source of our fear.  We then run the risk of succumbing to scapegoating persons or communities, or of hiding from the world in fear.  These dual dangers of indiscriminant blame and withdrawal and isolation, are two of the dangers of the darkness we face.

            But perhaps the deepest darkness one faces in an alienation-driven environment is the inner darkness of despair.  Despair is the product of the loss of perspective, the product of allowing darkness to define our world. Courage is a commitment toward transcending the darkness one encounters in one’s world.  Persons of faith have always known that darkness never has the final word.  Darkness can only snuff out the light if one succumbs to it.  A single candle can banish darkness into the furthest corners of any room.  Courage is the name we give to any effort to kindle one’s Spirit as light-bearer.

            The third dimension of courage needed today is the courage to permit our Spirit-Center to lead us where we would rather not go.  Courage, as our commitment to overcoming the life and spirit-denying aspects of our reality, comes with a direction, a path.  Courage goes somewhere, takes persons somewhere, toward a habitation of Spirit that is not yet their own.  To be of good courage is to be on the move.  But this movement is not necessarily one in step with prevailing cultural or political attitudes, beliefs, or goals.  The norms of the day may not coincide with one’s truest inner center, and this center calls us first and foremost into integrity with ourselves.  When we embrace this deep inner “felt rightness” it compels us to act accordingly.  Sometimes that path means joining in solidarity with others who are on a parallel journey of seeking truth, justice, or goodness.  Sometimes this path is a solitary path, where we are called by our inner Spirit to be a voice crying in the wilderness of reactionary forces.

            It takes courage to face darkness, both the darkness that others may impose upon us, as well as the darkness that resides in our own hearts. The courage our world needs is the courage to be faithful to a larger vision of wholeness than the merchants of hatred and violence would have us believe. There is a larger unity that seeks to be born in our world, and it takes courage to be champions of that unity.

1 Extensive revision with permission. William Schmidt, first published: “

Vol. 4, No.8, 2001.

[2] Charles Strozier, The Making of a Psychoanalyst.  New York:  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001.

[3] Heinz Kohut, Self Psychology and the Humanities.  New York: W.W. Norton &Company, 1985, page 5 to 50.

[4] Erna Putz, Franz Jagerstatter: Letters and Papers from Prison.  Orbis Books.  2009.

[5] Peter Gilmour.  Growing in Courage.  Winona Minnesota: Saint Mary’s Press.  1998.

[6] Kohut, op.cit., p.6.

Rome 2020 – June 17-27

Did you know you can take an elective or core class towards your degree in Rome?

Study in Rome group 2019

The IPS Summer Rome program provides a unique opportunity to experience firsthand the historical, cultural, and spiritual benefits of the Eternal City and the Vatican. Led by faculty members with longstanding personal relationships with local academic and ecclesial leaders there, the program is designed for students of the IPS but is open to others. Often the richly diverse classes include non-degree seeking students and alumni interested in personal enrichment or those earning graduate degrees at other institutions as well. International study scholarships for IPS students, discounts for Alumni, and prorated payment plans make the cost feasible. Participants are responsible for paying tuition, room and board (under $2,000 for double occupancy!), and airfare.

The program is open to any adult who has an interest in any of the topics and is willing to audit the course. There is homework for those taking the classes for credit, but it won’t be done during the trip so you can enjoy your time in Rome.

Students are allowed to bring a spouse, partner, friend or family member, they can choose to audit the class or just join us for the tours.

Participants visit some of Rome’s most famous landmarks and attractions, including the Colosseum, the tombs of Peter and Paul, the catacombs, world-famous art museums, historic churches, and much more. The lectures occur in situ, and so you won’t be spending hours in an Italian classroom, but rather engaging the material in physical contact with the rich historical heritage of the city itself. Your fees include a number of “group meals” designed to be a true experience of Roman cuisine and part of the educational experience, recommended by (and reliably tested each year by dutiful faculty alongside) our friends and colleagues on the ground there.
As usual, the immersive experience will include meetings with a number of institutional and academic “dialogue partners” around Rome. This year that will likely include representatives from the Sant’Egidio Community, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Gregorian and Angelicum Universities, Jesuit Refugee Services, the Vatican Astronomical Observatory, the Tempio Maggiore synagogue in Rome and a number of established women working in and advising the Vatican.
In 2020 Mike Canaris and Deb Watson will be teaching in the program. Both of their classes (you must choose one or the other) will run as an eight-week online course, with ten immersive days in Rome from June 17-27.

Classes offered this year are:
IPS 599: Human Sexuality, Gender, and Feminist Voices across Cultures taught by Dr. Deborah Watson

IPS 532: Social Context of Ministry: Global Ecclesiology and Exclusion (a required class for Social Justice and MDiv. students) taught by Dr. Michael Canaris

IPS student Art Blumberg, who has been to Rome on 2 different occasions, was kind enough to share his thoughts with us: “Rome is a feast in so many ways. Exit a train station and see the Coliseum directly in front of you. Witness the grandeur of St. Peter’s Basilica. Explore the catacombs where early Christians prayed. Enjoy meals, both simple and magnificent. If you can go to Rome, go!”

Registration for the Rome 2020 program is now open. Space is limited. Priority is always given to current and graduated IPS students. First Deposit Deadline: December 15.
International Study Scholarship Deadline: January 15. If you have questions, contact Dr. Canaris (

Students attended a workshop on spirituality in clinical practice

IPS students and Professor Deb Watson during the workshop

IPS students gathered on November 15th at the Chicago Center for Family Health to attend a workshop titled Integrating Spirituality in Clinical Practice with Presenter Dr. Froma Walsh. Her approach addresses developmental, systemic, cultural, and spiritual influences in suffering, healing, and resilience.

Here is what Kathie Smith (pastoral counseling student) said about it:
“Attending DR. Froma Walsh’s workshop on Integrating the Spiritual Dimension in clinical Practice: Suffering, Healing, and Resilience nurtured my learning cognitively, emotionally and spiritually. For my intended work in Pastoral Counseling, it is critical that I learn how to approach spirituality for wholeness in a client. Dr. Walsh’s content was deep and relevant. Her technique for sitting with clients to learn, ask and explore rather than assume will stay with me as I go on to practice. Because I believe in the pastoralness of practice, it doesn’t mean that a client will. I will need to be gentle, to seek and connect with where a client is in unfolding what they believe. Of note was her comment on understanding that a client could have a fear of going to a pastoral counselor because they may feel shame or guilt for not “practicing” and yet, to their surprise it can be revealed that their prayers in time of crisis are key to their connection and healing. Finally, I was introduced to new concepts of trauma and of creating resilience. To work through the key concepts of recovery from crisis, navigate disruptive life transitions, cope with multiple stresses and overcome the barriers to thrive with a client with respect and unfolding were insightful and supportive structures to build upon for my work. I would highly recommend reading, listening and attending further workshops with Dr. Walsh. There is so much more to discover and learn.”

Breakfast With The Bishops

Mariana Miller, Mike Canaris and Peter Jones

Last week, Assistant Dean for Continuing Education Mariana Miller, Interim Dean Peter Jones, and Assistant Professor Mike Canaris hosted the IPS annual “Breakfast With The Bishops” during their national meetings at the USCCB November General Assembly. As in past years, the breakfast was a chance to have an extended and intimate conversation about current and future IPS priorities, and where our mission of forming professional ministers, social justice advocates, and persons for others can best align with needs and challenges on the ground. To do this effectively, both institutes of academic formation and credentialing, and institutional representatives of ecclesial leadership need open and frank conversations. This is one small element in remaining committed to exactly this exchange. It also allows IPS community members to meet with former colleagues and graduates serving in various capacities around the country. Emily Kane, the current assistant director for social justice at Loyola University Maryland joined our faculty and staff this year to share her experiences and values with the participating bishops. She told us the experience was valuable and enjoyable.

“I appreciated having the space within the USCCB conference to engage with bishops about the intersection of their work and the work of IPS. Particularly as a woman within the Catholic Church, it felt significant to be able to share my experience directly with those who are a part of making formative decisions about the direction of the Church. It was also fascinating to see the perceived needs of the Church from both a clergy and lay perspective, and to brainstorm collaboratively about how IPS can play a role in formation both locally in Chicago, as well as globally.”

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: