There has rightly been a lot of attention given recently to the centenary of the birth of Pope John Paul II, who was born in 1920, and changed the face of global Catholicism over the course of his long and consequential pontificate. One of my favorite of his writings is Centesimus Annus (“The 100th Year”) which like Quadragesimo Anno (40 years), Mater et Magister (70 years), Octogesima Adveniens (80 years), and Laborem Exercens (90 years), all marked anniversaries of Pope Leo XIII’s groundbreaking 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum. Official Vatican texts often draw their titles from creative readings of their opening words– e.g. Humanae Vitae (“Of Human Life”), Ex Corde Ecclesiae (“From the Heart of the Church”), Spe Salvi (“In Hope We Were Saved”). So the allusion in many of these “anniversary” texts is explicit.
Rerum Novarum, whose opening words are tellingly either translated as “Of New Things” or “Of Revolutionary Change,” explores the church’s commitment to justice in a world experiencing the aftereffects of the industrial revolution and contemporary urbanization, and is widely considered the foundational text of the modern Catholic Social Teaching movement.
In my current summer course (which was originally supposed to have been taught in Rome but has been moved online), I recently provided a list of optional themes for one of the assignments and told my graduate students to select one. One read:
“Serve as an unofficial ghostwriter and draft the first five pages for Pope Francis of a new social encyclical which could be titled Post Centum Triginta (“After 130 Years”) marking next year’s anniversary of Rerum Novarum. It should deal with one or multiple pressing issues of our day and how the mission of Christian witness and commitment to justice should inform our response in a globalized world.”
I have no idea whether the Holy Father is in fact planning to promulgate such a document. But if he is, he should without question reach out to my lay graduate students studying for degrees in pastoral theology, spirituality, counseling for ministry, and social justice. Because, as usual, their diagnoses and prescriptions for the church, academy, and world in our times taught me more than I present in my sometimes rambling lectures to them.
Concerns about racism, human trafficking, and immigration issues appeared often, as did the ecological crisis and economic systems of commodification. Secularism and partisan division in politics and church life are seen as metastasizing throughout our contemporary world. For many, wintry seasons where evangelization, ecumenism, and dialogue have suffered from chilling effects after the springtime of new hopes in the 1960’s and 1970’s marked our era, as did a general lament for the lack of bold witness to the wider culture on things like child protection, wealth inequality, and honest historical appraisals of the church’s many missteps. The need for interdisciplinary conversations especially around the natural and social sciences, healthcare advances, and theological ethics was mentioned repeatedly. And of course, the consequences of COVID and social distancing were probably more at the front of students’ minds than they will (hopefully) be if I revisit this assignment in future semesters.
One reality that was proffered consistently was the ongoing thirst for solidarity and subsidiarity, as people are parched to connect with one another and to have their voices heard – whether in an increasingly divided society or a still-too-clerical church. Of course, some exclusion is necessary in life, there are evils that the church can never endorse and still claim to be authentic to itself and its Lord, though even these need to be studied assiduously. But the realities of our day continue to call for a more inclusive and dialogical church, demanded precisely through the voices of mostly lay men and women who are studying these disciplines with me and so many others like me, often at a significant sacrifice of time outside of other responsibilities, limited precious energy that could easily be spent elsewhere, and – undoubtedly – serious personal financial cost. I can only wish that Pope Francis could be personally as inspired by these students as I unfailingly am. If he and future church leaders were to listen to their insights, as I am blessed to do day in and day out, I am convinced that the next 130 years of Christian life would undoubtedly be better than the previous ones have been.
By Dr. Peter Jones, IPS Interim Dean, Clinical Associate Professor
On Pentecost Sunday, protests throughout the country and around the world continued. The murder of George Floyd, captured on video and seen around the world, devastates the conscience. His public lynching has catalyzed the release of frustration and anger, the result of centuries abuse, oppression, and all manner of injustices. A collective voice is crying out for justice and yet our institutions of justice continue to fail. Any talk of peace and resolution is premature because we are still unable to hear the truth. Without truth there can be no justice, no peace, no reconciliation, and certainly no growth in love.
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
In the 9th century BCE, the Assyrians were in power across the region (in what are now portions of Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Iran) and they were barbarically cruel. When Assyrian rulers perished and leadership transitioned, revolutions came and went and some areas secured a measure of control and relative peace in their lands, but not for long. The Assyrian’s seemed always to return and establish control.
In the first half of the 8th century BCE, having gained control over portions of Israel, the people there experienced new levels peace and prosperity, levels not known since King Solomon some 200 years earlier. While it appears to have lasted only a few decades that renewed power in local hands led to new corruptions, injustices, and oppressions, as seems too often the case. Amos saw this and God called him prophesy, to call out this injustice and warn the people that these oppressions violate the will of God. Amos offered strong words, chastising those where were once struggling for their independence from Assyrian tyranny as they now embody their own tyranny, becoming the oppressors. Amos speaks to directly to these, bringing truth to the new powers-that-be, who were his own people.
There are those who turn justice into bitterness and cast righteousness to the ground. […] There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court and detest the one who tells the truth. […] There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes and deprive the poor of justice […] Therefore this is what the Lord, the Lord God Almighty, says: “There will be wailing in all the streets and cries of anguish in every public square. The farmers will be summoned to weep and the mourners to wail. There will be wailing in all the vineyards, for I will pass through your midst,” says the Lord. […] “Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”
Amos 5:7, 10, 16-17, 24 (NIV)
“For I will pass through your midst…”
God’s righteous anger “passes through.” Amos doesn’t bother with the question that so bothers many moderns, “Can God get angry?” Amos knows God’s anger and warns that it will bring turmoil and violence to the oppressors and upset their enabling institutions. The only way to prevent it is to hear and accept the truth and pursue justice openly. For this, Amos cried out.
He was not heard. His warnings were not heeded. Will we listen, today, to the voices crying out for justice? Are we willing to hear and accept the truths those voices bear? Or will our defensiveness get the better of us, yet again? As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote while incarcerated in Birmingham, Alabama, reflecting on the profound challenge presented to the civil rights struggle by white moderates, will we again seek law and “order” instead of true reconciliation, accept “the absence of tension” rather than the pursue “the presence of justice,” and “paternalistically” believe that we know better how “they” ought to protest and to set the timetable for “their” freedom?
There is a Holy Rage passing through our midst. The Spirit has descended again like tongues of fire and empowers voices of truth, enlivens movements for justice, and demands that we accept the prophet’s challenge to let go of our desires to pursue God’s desire.
Justice is an expression of love. Individually, we act justly when we view and treat each other according to what we are: beloved children of God. Collectively, our groups and our society are socially just when the institutions we set up and control function to treat us all according to what we are: beloved children of God. And this extends beyond ourselves: we and the institutions we create must function to treat all of God’s creation accordingly. Every tree, animal, and ecosystem is a beloved creation of God and must be treated as such. “God saw all that God had made, and it was very good.” (Gen 1:31).
In the face of this divine intervention, these tongues of fire, this passing through of Holy Rage … what shall we each do? What shall the Institute of Pastoral Studies do? What shall Loyola University Chicago do?
I recommit myself to the personal task of pursuing the truth: to study, to understand, to meet, to listen, and to meditate. This requires an intentional battle against my own racist unconscious, the fears deep within me, infused in me by the society and culture in which my self-understanding has emerged and developed. This requires humility and an openness that is not simple or easy to maintain. How many of us regularly win the battle against our ego’s own defenses? However difficult this work may be, we cannot do otherwise. Pray for fortitude and courage.
I’m sure I’ll fail in many respects but I won’t stop. Even further, our failures cannot prevent us from participating in the collective soul-searching required of our community. If you wait to “get it right” for yourself before you join in then you’ll never join in and our advancing struggle will be paralyzed. We can instead choose compassion and offer each other grace as we come together to work on our shared lives. The Institute of Pastoral Studies is not mine. It does not belong to the faculty, staff, or students. It is ours. It is as it is because of us. Let us take renewed ownership at each level, assess its policies and its functioning, assess our contributions and ways of proceeding, and consider the ways we interact through it.
How can we, the Institute of Pastoral Studies, come to terms with the fact that we are an HWI, a Historically White Institution? What do we do with that fact and with what we will undoubtedly learn about the IPS? How will we integrate the voices and the truths emanating from those of us whose skin color remains the focus of hatred and violence? What values and priorities will we seek to embody and upon which we will call to help us make decisions when things are not clear?
These questions are not easy to ask and even harder to answer honestly. Will you participate with us? Will you commit yourself to the personal, interior work necessary to be anti-racist? Will you participate with us in a collective process of reflection and action?
Opportunities for this are under development, beginning with a moment of prayer. A group of IPS students, staff, and faculty will offer that moment to the entire Loyola University Community this Thursday, June 4, 2020 at noon. This will be an opportunity to center ourselves, to gather our resolve, and begin our work together.
Will this moment also be the beginning of your journey … or the end? It is up to each of us.
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.
5-08-2020|Comments Off on Thoughts from a graduate
I was born and raised in New York City. I grew up on the border of Spanish Harlem and Harlem and then in the Bronx. At that time, those neighborhoods were primarily made up of low-income people of color, so my working-class white family stuck out a bit. Seeing the different way our family was treated, and even the different opportunities available to me through “gifted” (meaning wealthier and whiter) education is what got me thinking about social justice in the first place.
You are an IPS alumnus, what was your major and when did you graduate?
I majored in Social Justice and Community Development and graduated in 2010. I was a part-time student since I was already organizing full time at that point, but I really enjoyed the time in class as a way to step back from the day to day grind of organizing and reflect on the big picture.
What made you choose that path?
After witnessing so much injustice firsthand, from educational disparity to police harassment of my friends, to the rampant homelessness of the late Reagan and early Bush I administrations, I knew I wanted to make a change. But I also knew that I didn’t want to make that change from a position of an elite – a lawyer or “expert” of some kind. Most of the people I had learned the most from and respected the most didn’t occupy fancy offices and places of authority. That’s what led me to organizing, I wanted to work with people to build mutual power and create change together.
You have a book out what is it about?
Yes, I do! It’s entitled Seeds of Justice: Organizing Your Church to Transform the World. I think of it as a guidebook for people of faith who want to make change, and really want their church to be an effective agent of change, but don’t know how to do it or where to start. I believe that the church should be the most vital force for justice in our world, but, sadly, most of our congregations have either forgotten, or chosen to ignore the social Gospel, or they are really ineffective at impacting the powers and principalities. Over the course of my career, I think I’ve learned a lot about how churches can transform themselves, and become healthier congregations in the process, so I wanted to share those lessons.
What inspired you to write it?
Actually, I was pushed into doing it. A number of different community leaders have told me that I should write a book over the years. I knew that churches needed these tools – I saw it all the time – but I didn’t think I was the messenger and I didn’t think of myself as a writer. But finally, after leading a training at a church, I got a call from one of the attendees who actually worked for a publisher and they asked me to sit down and talk about writing a book. That was the push I needed to finally start writing.
How is the knowledge you gained during your time at IPS helping you in your career?
For me, IPS helped in two ways. First, my coursework there really helped me refine my theological understanding of my work as well as some of the theoretical frameworks to think about justice issues. Secondly, some of the hands-on courses offered me some hands-on skills that I ended up using in one way or the other. I’m thinking here specifically about the Leadership in Social Justice Organizations course and a course in Restorative Justice that were really helpful.
Any word of advice for current and future IPS students on surviving grad school and/or getting a job doing great work?
That’s a tough one. I think I would say that the most important
thing is building relationships with the folx who are doing the work you want
to do and to use the time at IPS to really challenge yourself to grow, see new
perspectives, and be uncomfortable.
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
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
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?
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!
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
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
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.
Emotional well-being: the patient meets with the psychologist every week to
process his/ her suffering and acquire tools to manage his/her emotions.
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.
Five Representatives from the Institute of Pastoral Studies traveled to Arizona in early February, Drs. timone davis, Nat Samuel, Mike Canaris, and Peter Jones, joined later by Mariana Miller, to attend two conferences and visit the U.S./Mexico border in Nogales.
Dr. Samuel served as the President of the Association of Graduate Programs in Ministry and presided over his final annual AGPIM conference at the Redemptorist Retreat Center in Tuscon, Arizona on February 6 through 8, at that meeting handing over leadership to incoming president Ted Whapham from the Neuhoff School of Ministry, University of Dallas. The AGPIM meeting was well attended and very productive. This is the 15th anniversary of a landmark pastoral letter from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: Co-Workers in the Vineyard. That document builds on the Second Vatican Council and attempts to formalize the development of lay leaders in the U.S. Catholic Church. The AGPIM group was joined by representatives of the USCCB and they discussed the rise of private lay-run groups (like “Evangelical Catholic”), the inconsistent way that Co-Workers has been received and acted upon across the U.S., and the need to rewrite and reissue the document based on what has been learned in the last 15 years and in light of the changing context of ministry in the United States. There are plans for the group to develop a volume addressing these and other issues, with our own Nat Samuel and Mike Canaris serving as co-editors along with Jakob Karl Rinderknecht, director of The Pastoral Institute at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio..
Among the groups comprising the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) is a group of schools offering Pastoral, Theological and Ministerial Education. The IPS Assistant Dean of Continuing Education, Mariana Miller, is the past-chair of this group and joined the team in Arizona. This AJCU group met at the same location on Feb 9 and representatives from IPS, Loyola New Orleans, Fordham, Loyola Marymount, Gonzaga, Seattle University, and more were in attendance. Following a morning meeting, the group traveled to the U.S./Mexico border town of Nogales for an encounter with migrants, refugees, and others seeking asylum in the United States along with those who serve them. The Kino Border Initiative was formed by a partnership among several groups, including the Jesuits, Diocese of Tuscon, Jesuit Refugee Service, and others. Fr. Sean Carroll, SJ., the Executive Director, held a mass in the small building that serves as the first aid clinic, dining area, liturgical space, and a host of other things. Fr. Carroll wrote an op-ed on recent developments and it was published in the Arizona Republic the day of the visit: “Women are raped, children are traumatized because of Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy.”
AJCU group walked to the Mexican side of the border with Sr. Tracey Horan, who
works with the Kino Initiative. She led our tour of sections of the border
fence, introduced us to asylum seekers waiting at the fence, and described to
us their mission for visitors to the area: HAC = Humanize, Accompany,
Complicate. She was true to that mission. The group participated in mass,
toured a brand new building that will exponentially impact the services Kino
can offer, and talked with Fr. Sean about the work they’re doing and to learn
more about the border. The trip was an existentially challenging one for all.
Canaris wrote about the trip, including more historical notes that we’re sure
you’ll find very interesting, and this was published as his weekly column in
the Catholic Star Herald: The
Legacy Father Eusebio Francisco Kino.
2-19-2020|Comments Off on Professors Without Borders
1.) Samantha, tell us a
little bit about yourself (where you are from, undergrad, previous work).
I was technically born in southern California, outside of LA, but I grew up in the western suburbs of Philadelphia. There are pieces of my life and personality strewn across every part of this country it seems from moving so much. So, when asked, “Where are you from?” or “where is home?” I have no idea how to answer that question. Sometimes my heart skips a beat when I fly home to Philadelphia see the, “Welcome to Philadelphia. Home of the Philadelphia Eagles,” sign at Philadelphia International. When I lived on the East Coast or even in Chicago, I found myself craving the mountains, the intoxicating smell of the ancient Redwoods, and the chill of the Pacific Ocean.
I earned my bachelor’s at a small, liberal arts school in Pennsylvania. I studied English, theater, and art history. Passionate about the Arts, I was determined to be a writer and desired to work in theater that spoke to the injustices of the world. My career took me on a vastly different journey than what I originally conceived for myself as a twenty-something. I taught ESL in the Czech Republic, worked in an after-school program in Philadelphia, served the homeless population in Philadelphia, provided direct support to those in the disability community in San Francisco, and ran a literacy program for immigrant families in Chicago. While at IPS, I did CPE at Rush Memorial Hospital, Contextual Education at the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office for Human Dignity and Solidarity, and worked the American Library Association. In between all of that, I did freelance writing and even taught a few acting classes here and there.
2.) You just graduated from IPS
what was your major?
I earned a Masters of Divinity and Masters of Social Justice.
3.) What made you choose that
While in San Francisco, I was working with aging adults with developmental disabilities. Learning about gerontology and the aging process, particularly as it connected with the clientele I was serving, I became fascinated with how the brain works and decided to study psychology. I earned a Master’s of Science in psychology and was discerning doctorate programs in clinical psychology, when my spiritual director at St. Ignatius parish in San Francisco asked me, “Samantha, have you ever thought of an M.Div.?”
After that spiritual direction session, I went home and entered into Google, “M.Div. social justice. Jesuit” and Loyola’s dual program popped up. Reading about the program, it became very clear to me that this was the path that I had been craving my entire life.
4.) You are currently in
Seattle doing some amazing things. Where are you working and what is your job?
I currently work as the Justice Educator for Intercommunity Peace & Justice Center (IPJC) in Seattle, WA.
First, I facilitate our Justice Café program geared towards young adults in their 20s and 30s to build community, deepen spirituality, and act for justice. I create host kits that go out to the café “hosts” or leader of the group ( campus minister, young adult minister, volunteer in intentional community, etc.) to lead a gathering in café, pub, coffee shop to talk about social justice concerns. This fall, we covered Root Causes of Migration and the Feminization of poverty.
Second, I am also the editor of our quarterly publication called A Matter of Spirit which combines critical analysis, theological reflection, and action on justice issues. Our most recent issue tackles the complexities of childhood today under the backdrop of pervasive violence.
Third, I give presentations, talks, and webinars for parishes and schools on human trafficking.
Additionally, I support our organization through advocacy efforts and collaborate with members from partnering organizations and ministries on an array of social justice issues.
5.) How is the knowledge you gained
during your time at IPS helping you in your job?
Much of what I have learned at IPS has been very helpful in the work I do.
With collaborative efforts, having practical knowledge from some of my assignments has really paid off. For example, I took the Religious Education Class with timone davis and she had us create a nine-month plan for a ministry. I just sent that project off to the Director of Young Adult Ministries for the Archdiocese of Seattle to review for programming ideas for YA ministry. Other times, I need to write, lead, or create a prayer reflection and I have had to that for several past classes. Our use of technology and presentations at IPS developed a very necessary skill set for the work I do. I lead editorial board meetings in which some of our members are remote and having had the hybrid learning experience from IPS, I can easily navigate my way around the digital communication piece. Whenever I assemble host kits for our Justice Cafes, I am constantly recalling things I learned from the Catholic social ethics course with Peter Jones or Global Economics and Politics with Dan Rhodes.
Other little surprises that have popped up for me has been in networking. One day I might be writing an email and it could be to a former IPS graduate or someone from Catholic Worker, L ’Arche, JVC, etc. and I get the privilege of asking, “do you know x person, we studied together.” Also, Jesuits West is one of our sponsoring communities and I am never far away from those Jesuit roots!
1-22-2020|Comments Off on Meet Samantha, former IPS student who decided to “Go forth and set the world on fire (St. Ignatius).
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. 
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.  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
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
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. 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.” 
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Did you know you can take an elective or core class towards your degree in Rome?
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.
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 (email@example.com).
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.”
11-26-2019|Comments Off on Students attended a workshop on spirituality in clinical practice