Tag : Loyola Chicago

IPS Students Uniting Against Lead Epidemic

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

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families with children in federally assisted housing across America are at risk of exposure to lead hazards because outdated federal policies, in place since the 1990’s, fail to protect them.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

Credit: Dylan Petrohilos
Photo credit: Dylan Petrohilos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Student Feature: Meet Sr. Rose

Sr. Rose Namawejje is pursuing her Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling at IPS.

“First and foremost,” Sr. Rose would like to say that she is “grateful to Almighty God for the constant sustaining and good health. And for all He has done for [her] all [her] life.”

She continues, “I wish to extend my sincere gratitude to Lorraine. It was through her effort I was connected to Loyola Mission grant and Loyola regents who have contributed toward my studies at IPS, and to all members in those mentioned organizations, thank you. To the Cenacle sisters at Fullerton Parkway for hospitality given to me since I arrived in United States of America till to date. My further gratitude continues to go to the instructors who have been inspirational to me, especially Professor Steve Martz and Dr. William ‘Bill’ Schmidt.”

Sr. Rose

Sr. Rose’s nickname is Michael the Archangel, a name which means “who is like God?” She is from Kampala city in Uganda and Matooke is her local language.

Her favorite things include:

  • Hobby – singing and listening to music
  • Food – cooked bananas and fresh beans
  • Book – Holy Bible
  • Sports team – Chicago Bulls
  • Color – dark brown
  • Singer – Don William
  • Motto – My God and my all
  • Bible quotes –  “What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me?” Psalm 116:12 and “Love one another” John 15:12

Sr. Rose has had extensive education, studying topics like public health, strategic management, psychodynamic counseling and more. She has studied at schools in both Uganda and the United Kingdom. Currently, she is a volunteer at St. Joseph Hospital.

Before joining Loyola IPS, Sr. Rose was the Project Development Coordinator for the Institution of the Little Sisters of St Francis.

“I offered free counseling services at Home Care Department in St Francis Hospital for the HIV/AIDS patients and those who went to the hospital to be screened to know their status of life. Also I taught primary Healthcare to expecting mothers in an antenatal clinic,” said Sr. Rose.

She said her decision to make a change and come to IPS was motivated by her desire to reduce pain in people’s lives.

“With poverty and disease so rampart in my country, I have seen a lot of pain in the lives of many people,” commented Sr. Rose.

Her goal is to extend medical solutions and create more options for health care to those who need them, especially for people living with HIV/AIDS.

“In my ministry, I continually encourage people to invest in viable developmental projects as a way of fighting poverty. By increasing family incomes, I believe people can take care of themselves and their children better.”

Sr. Rose went on to share thought provoking advice from a lesson she learned:

“One of the life’s lessons I have picked up through the years is that while many of our contributions may seem small, their impact in the lives of people can be huge. They may not always be correctly estimated. It is imperative, therefore, to always do the best we can in the moment we have and not to procrastinate, because we are never sure whether we will actually have the future moment we keep waiting for.”

Sr. Rose is getting her MAPC from IPS because she believes it would be good for her to further develop her counseling skills so she can draw more qualified people back to Uganda and continue rendering services to the people there. In fact, a future goal of hers is to start an IPS in one of the Catholic Universities in Uganda, so that Ugandans who wish to study such courses will not have to travel abroad. Though she is enjoying her time and studies here.

“Joining Loyola IPS has opened my eyes, seeing that all people can study pastoral studies not only priests and religious people as it is known in Uganda,” noted Sr. Rose. “Each class is different with different challenges, but important. I look forward to taking two electives from Dr. Peter Jones because I have had so many students speaking about him as a very good instructor.”

Here time here has not been without its challenges though. Sr. Rose is trying to adapt to American culture and is also learning English so she can write her papers and assignments. She said she has overcome these obstacles with the help of colleagues and nuns she has met.

Sr. Rose said she with “go forth to change the world” by transferring the knowledge she is acquiring at IPS to the people of Uganda.

“My major dream is to establish IPS in one of the Catholic Universities in Uganda in image of Loyola IPS and students who will go forth in the programs will help me to change the world too. This school will not be limited to few people, but open to all Ugandans without discriminating in tribe, race, religion, et cetera. Even though studying abroad is fun, especially in developed countries, not all Ugandans can afford to study abroad. Not only that, in Uganda there is no university with faculty of IPS if you want to study pastoral studies you either go to Kenya, UK, USA, et cetera. The best way I will make change is to establish IPS in one of the Catholic Universities in Uganda.”

To conclude, Sr. Rose was nice enough to share a fun story from her childhood:

“The Catholic Church has a day known as Holy Thursday. On this day, the church and Catholics ponder Jesus Christ’s institution of the Eucharist, and how he invited the twelve apostles to celebrate it always in his memory. During the evening of this day, all Catholic Christians, Religious men and women, and the priests watch Jesus in the church throughout the night, pondering about this mystery. On one of these celebrations when we were in the church, watching and praying with Jesus, a schedule for the day was put out. The laity were to keep watch first, the religious sisters were next, and the priests were to remain in the church till the following morning while the other Christians return to their homes for the night. That night I hid myself behind the door so that I could remain in the church with the priest and sisters. I did not want to go home. I soon heard the catechist announce that there was a little girl who was missing and the parents were looking for her. My name was announced then I came out from behind the door very shy, sad and unhappy because my mission was not fulfilled. I had wanted to remain in the church with the religious sisters and priests. Of course my parents and siblings kept asking me why I did that and some were upset with me. But my parents were just calm. So we went home. From that day, I nurtured in my heart, the desire to be a religious sister or nun, so that I may stay in the church and watch Jesus with the priests till morning. And the Lord was so good to me that He answered my prayer and I became a religious sister. This made me very happy and now I am able to spend time with Jesus and watch with him till dawn during the Holy Thursdays.”

Connect with Sr. Rose:
Twitter: @rosemikemawejje
Skype: rose.michael73 or rosie192069


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

Pastoral Counseling between Psychology and Religion

On March 15, IPS announced its new Master of Arts in Counseling for Ministry with the help of Dr. Robert Kugelmann. As the author of Psychology and Catholicism: Contested Boundaries, Dr. Kugelmann spoke about the new IPS degree and its relationship with Catholicism and Psychology.


His talk that evening began…

“The title of this talk, ‘Pastoral Counseling between Psychology and Religion’ is a bit misleading, and if I can think of a better one in thirty minutes, I’ll let you know. It’s misleading because it can suggest that ‘psychology’ is one thing and that the word ‘religion’ always means the same thing. Psychology does not have unity, being a collective term for a great variety of disparate fields. As for religion, there is even more diversity than in psychology.

There is some merit with the title, however, because historically, pastoral counseling developed in the context of a complex intersection of a number of fields, including psychology (psychotherapy in particular) and the pastoral care that churches provide.

Let me introduce what I’ll say this evening. First, I’ll give an overview of the complex relationships between psychology and Catholicism since the beginnings of modern psychology. (as I haven’t studied much the relationships psychology has with other Christian religions, nor with other religions.) Then, I’ll present the rise of pastoral counseling in what has called a ‘trading zone.’ After that comes a brief history of the early work in pastoral counseling among Catholics. Finally, I will offer some reflections on recent developments.”

Continue reading


The Institute of Pastoral Studies at Loyola University Chicago has been offering degrees in ministry since 1964. Born in the spirit of Vatican II, and advancing the mission of Loyola University Chicago, IPS responds to “the signs of the times” in providing transformative education for ministry, spiritual leadership, and faith-based social engagement, delivering high-quality professional education characterized by innovation, excellence, leadership, ethics, and service.

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

Two New Student Workers Join IPS

IPS is happy to welcome Starr Young and José Brito to the team! As IPS continues to grow, the more hands we need helping out around the office. Fortunately, IPS was able to hire Starr as a Graduate Student Worker and José as an Undergraduate Student Worker.


Meet Starr. She is from Chicago and this is her first year attending Loyola. She is earning her MAPC/MDiv dual degree from IPS. Get to know more about Starr in the Q&A below.

What are you looking forward to learning while working at IPS? 
I am very excited to be a part of the IPS team! I am looking forward to the opportunity to be more immersed in the community while working at IPS.

What is something special you are bringing to the IPS team?
I want to offer my time and talent to give back to IPS as the program has already given so much to me in the short amount of time that I have been a student.

What are your goals while in school and after?
Upon graduation from IPS, my professional goal is to combine my education and faith into a career as a counselor. I hope to one day open a community center where I can offer services to contribute to the healing of the mind, body and spirit of each client. My personal and more immediate goal is to help provide a place in the Catholic Churches of Chicago where Young Adults can feel accepted and inspired by their faith through a ministry entitled ReCiL (Reclaiming Christ in Life).

What do you like to do in your spare time outside of school and work?
I love to travel, spend time with my family and attend hockey games. Go Blackhawks!

What is a fun fact or story about yourself?
A fun fact about me is that I love science! My undergraduate degree is in Human Biology.



Meet José. He is also from Chicago and is a freshman at Arrupe College of Loyola. He is currently studying Social and Behavioral Sciences and will later study Criminal Justice. Get to know more about José in the Q&A below.

What are you looking forward to learning while working at IPS? 
I would like to learn more about the work environment in an office setting.

What is something special you are bringing to the IPS team?
Something special I bring to the IPS team is that I am bilingual. I speak fluent English and Spanish.

What are your goals while in school and/or after?
After school when I have graduated from Arrupe College, I plan to attend Saint Xavier University where I will study Criminal Justice, so that one day I will be able to work for a state or federal law enforcement.

What do you like to do in your spare time outside of school and work? 
In my spare time, I enjoy playing video games or boxing with my coach. Sometimes I go out with friends or family to play soccer, depending on the weather.

What is a fun fact or story about yourself?
A fun fact about myself is that I enjoy eating all kinds of food. I tend to over eat most of the time. I am always hungry. My mom told me that when I was only four months old I had began to drink the eighteen ounce bottles of baby formula and that I would drink four or five of those a day. Eventually making me a fat baby.


If you see Starr or José around the office, don’t forget to say hello and welcome!


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

IPS Student Engagement Committee

The Student Engagement Committee (SEC) is an IPS organization that meets every other week to plan upcoming events and discuss ways to continue to make IPS even better than what it is currently. The group is made up of students from various degree programs, faculty and staff. This includes:

  • Dr. Peter Jones (Chair)
  • Dr. Michael Canaris
  • Dr. Timone Davis
  • Koonal Patel
  • Rebekah Turnbaugh (Student Chair)
  • Suhair Jasevicius
  • Patrice Nerone
  • Laura Forbes
  • Alicja Lukaszewicz-Southall
  • Elizabeth Palmer
  • Catherine Conley

The SEC was initially formed because it was something IPS students wanted.

“It was a student initiative in order to find ways to connect with students in other programs and as a way to improve communication across all levels,” said Dr. Jones.

Dr. Jones went on to say that the initial impulse of the SEC was to improve communication between IPS administrators and students, but that it has grown into so much more.

“Enhancing communication is a component, but it’s really about building relationships where those communications occur by providing people opportunities to develop relationships with people they might not otherwise meet. One of its goals is to foster that sense of community,” added Dr. Jones.

The SEC is only a couple years old, but has already contributed a lot to the IPS community. The SEC plans all the student parties and is currently planning this year’s graduation celebration. The SEC also reviews applications for the Alpha Sigma Nu honor society and applications for IPS student travel grants. Furthermore, the new “Lunch ‘N Learn” event was a recent development from the SEC and a previous initiative includes the IPS newsletter that is sent out regularly.

There are several students that make up the SEC and each joined to help enhance IPS during their time here.

“I primarily joined because I wanted to be part of the planning for the commissioning because I’m graduating in May,” said Rebekah Turnbaugh (SJ). “I really do want students to be involved in everything. I want there to be more of a student voice in the Institute of Pastoral Studies. That was my motivation, but I don’t know if that’s the case for everybody.”

Patrice Nerone (PC & MDiv) said her motivation for joining the SEC was “the idea that [she] would have an opportunity to have [her] voice be part of IPS and have an active role in helping improve IPS.”

However, the way IPS is set up has led to some difficulties when it comes to fostering this kind of environment, but the SEC is up to the challenge.

“We have to be very intentional about creating community for a few reasons: we are a professional school with a diverse student body, we’ve got people online and on site, and we don’t really have a common gathering space,” commented Dr. Jones. “We need everybody’s mind in the game. [SEC is] a pretty diverse group with people in different degree plans, so if we can come up with something that would interest us, maybe that would translate into more people in the community being interested. We want people to have a real sense of belonging and to do more that just their required degree work.”

The SEC has a few goals including: building community, enhancing communication and increasing student involvement.

Rebekah said she believes the goal is “getting people to be more connected between programs and have them be more integrated into the lifeblood of IPS.”

Dr. Jones added that it is also “to make it easy for faculty administrators to include the student voice in what’s going on and decisions that are being made.”

SEC Vision Statement

The Student Engagement Committee (SEC) seeks to cooperate in and contribute to a vibrant and constructive environment where students are integrated into the very form and function of the Institute of Pastoral Studies (IPS), where theory and praxis meet, and where students, staff, and faculty work alongside one another for the care and formation of those in relationship with IPS and in the pursuit of peace and justice in the world around us.

SEC Mission Statement

The missions of the SEC is to create a space where students, faculty, and staff can collaborate with one another in furthering the mission of the IPS, nurture the development of pastoral, discernment, and leadership skills, and foster relationships among students, alumni, and the community.

If you would like more information or are interested in joining the Student Engagement Committee, please contact Dr. Peter Jones at pjones5@luc.edu or any of your fellow students who are already members! 

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

Student Feature: Amanda Thompson

Our latest student feature is about Amanda Thompson, a returning IPS student who has a lot to share about her unique journey and some good advice for those just beginning theirs. See what she has to say below.

Amanda Thompson, Director of Catholic Campus Ministry, Student Affairs, DePaul University, is pictured in a studio portrait Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015. (DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)
Amanda Thompson, Director of Catholic Campus Ministry, Student Affairs, DePaul University. (DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)

I am very excited to be back at IPS! Twenty-two years ago I began my Masters of Pastoral Studies through the internship program at Loyola’s University Ministry. I graduated in 1996, got a full-time job as a campus minister and residence hall chaplain at the Lakeshore Campus and began my Masters of Divinity. I met my husband, Chuck at Loyola and we decided in 1999 to leave and start a family on the Northwest Side of the Chicago in Jefferson Park. I left not knowing if I would ever return to complete my degree.

In the meantime, Chuck and I had 3 beautiful children, Maggie (15), Hannah (14), and Leo (11). After 11 years of running a licensed daycare in my home and working in our parish, I got a job with the Archdiocese. I continued to pray that God would help me find a way to return to school. Then I applied for a scholarship and got it! My dream of finishing the Divinity degree was coming true…God was blessing me with this opportunity. So I began classes in the summer of 2014.

I am so thrilled to be back in the classroom that every class I have taken is a joy! I took my first three classes online and loved the Sakai platform. The classes were surprisingly interactive with the professors and my other classmates. Now I am in the classroom this semester and am enjoying the face to face interaction.

I was hired this August as the Director of Catholic Campus Ministry at DePaul University and I am enjoying working with the students and staff at DePaul. The students have such a passion for life and faith that gives my hope for the future of the Church. I am also the part-time youth minister at my parish, St. Mary of the Woods. Working with the teens is pure delight as well.

My favorite Bible verse has always been 2 Cor. 12:10, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” Always reminding me to trust that God is working through my weaknesses. I can only be my true self when I am being vulnerable in my relationship with God and those around me.

My favorite book that I just read over the Christmas is “The Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman. It is a beautiful story of a cranky old man who is loved back into the world by the most unlikely characters around him. It made me laugh out loud and cry real tears. I highly recommend it.

My recommendation to future students is to develop a friendship with Jesus and through that relationship don’t be afraid to put yourself into situations that you don’t feel qualified for. Trust that with time and openness, God will bring into your life people who will mentor you along the way. What might seem crazy in the beginning, usually turns out to be an amazing journey, if you stay open and pay attention!


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

Senator Dick Durbin Spoke on Undocumented Students

This past December, Senator Dick Durbin came to Loyola to speak about undocumented students, the challenges and opportunities they face, and how his own work for comprehensive immigration reform has been informed by his Catholic faith and his experience as a first-generation American.

Senator Dick Durbin addressing the Loyola community
Senator Dick Durbin addressing the Loyola community

IPS Professor Dr. Michael Canaris was one of many IPS community members in attendance and he had this reflection to share about the event and the Senator’s speech:

“The Scriptures and Christian teaching are unambiguous in their call to stand in solidarity with the marginalized, the disadvantaged, and the exile, and to respect the dignity of every human person. Senator Durbin’s work on behalf of migrants and refugees throughout his career has echoed this mandate and, when traced through sponsorship of the DREAM Act for instance, helped in many ways to inspire a re-appreciation of Loyola’s commitment to this underserved population across disciplines. It’s an issue that reflects our values as a university rooted in Catholic and Jesuit traditions, and has historical antecedents going back to the school’s founding and in fact to the original Company of Ignatius.”

Senator Durbin’s talk hit home for many Loyola students who were in the audience who are immigrants and/or a part of the Senator’s DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act. These students, affectionately called Dreamers, continue to grow in number and attend colleges across the country, with the largest population right here at Loyola Chicago.

The event titled, “Undocumented Students: Perspectives from a US Senator informed by the tradition of Catholic Social Teaching and his own family’s story,” was live tweeted through the Loyola IPS Twitter account and spurred conversation using the hashtags: #SenDurbinSpeaks and #SenDurbinVisitsIPS. You can see some of the conversation below.

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

IPS Student Ventured the Camino de Santiago

IPS graduate student Sarah Layli Sahrapour recently completed the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage also know as “The Way of St. James” that has many routes across Europe.

“The Camino is a pilgrimage, which must be done on foot, to the city of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. For my pilgrimage, I started in the city of Porto on the coast of Portugal and walked 250 km to Santiago in 2 1/2 weeks,” said Layli.

Layli is in the Pastoral Counseling program and is expected to graduate in May 2017. Eventually, she would like to be a therapist in a group practice. Read our Q&A with her below to learn more about her adventure and the lessons she learned.

What brought you to Portugal and Spain?
Well, of course I wanted to end up in Santiago, in order to complete the pilgrimage. But when you do the Camino you have many choices in terms of where you start from and what route you take to get there. I chose Portugal first of all because of the time of year. I was going to be walking from mid-November to December, and so crossing the Pyrenees as they do in the more common French route didn’t seem wise. In order to walk in warmer, safer weather, I chose Portugal, which is to the South of Santiago rather than to the East or North. As it turned out, the weather was even better than I could have hoped for, with an average temperature of 65 degrees. It was also gorgeous because I spent the first week and a half walking on the coast right next to the Atlantic Ocean.

What was your motivation for doing this?
Ever since I first heard about it, the Camino has been in the back of my mind. So I was planning on doing it at some point. I think the thing that made the difference was that I felt ready for it, ready for the experience of being on the Camino and ready to make the most of it spiritually.

What was your favorite part of the journey?
I really liked the community I found along the way. November is off-season, so there wasn’t as many people walking as there is in the summer, but there was about ten of us traveling the same route from Portugal. Most people walk at a similar average pace, so you end up meeting up with the same people each day when you make the next town even if you don’t all walk together. Four of us became friends early on—me and two Spanish guys and a woman from Portugal—and we spent every evening exploring the towns together. It was really fun to have others to share the experience with, and it was a great way of meeting interesting new people. Each of us had our own reasons for walking. One of them was the same age as me and had recently recovered from cancer. The whole experience of illness had make him think differently about life, and the Camino was his way to make sense of that experience. Another person I met had already done the Camino five times and did it again whenever he got the chance.

My other favorite part was finally reaching the Cathedral in Santiago, the endpoint of the journey. It was more emotional for me than I expected. I had been walking for over two weeks at that point. It was towards the end of a bright blue day, the weather had gotten cooler, and there was a Fall crispness to the air. The city of Santiago was much bigger than I thought, and it seemed like forever until we finally reached the main square where there was the Cathedral. When we finally reached it, though, it was magical. It was so beautiful, bright, and open. So large. There were groups of pilgrims clustered here and there, and I recognized several other pilgrims I had passed on the road but had not got a chance to talk to. Someone was playing traditional Galician music nearby, and the sweet cheerful tones just added to this atmosphere of celebration and homecoming. It felt great to finally take off my pack and celebrate with my friends the amazing accomplishment we had just completed.

Were there any unpleasant experiences during the pilgrimage or a particularly challenging part?
Yes, I had to do a lot of soul searching about halfway through the trip. I developed blisters and a terrible pain in my foot that made each step just tortuous. It was like this for two days, and then on the third day I physically couldn’t go on. I had to rest in a hotel room for a few days to rest. I didn’t know if my foot would get well enough to keep going, so I had to contemplate the real possibility that I would not be able to finish my pilgrimage. That kind of thought forced me to reevaluate what it was that I was hoping to gain out of the experience, and whether I would be okay not having that. Luckily, my foot did heal (a pair of new insoles helped a lot!) and I was able to finish the Camino with minimum pain, but it was a difficult period for me.

What did you learn about yourself or about life in general during the pilgrimage?
The thing that I really loved about the Camino was the incredible freedom I felt. You get up in the morning, pick up your pack, and walk out into the unknown with nothing holding you back. It does take a lot of trust. I had no map with me, and I relied pretty much only on the handpainted arrows that you would see on various surfaces of the towns and roads you passed that pointed you in the right direction. So, I can see how someone might feel anxious or vulnerable in such a situation, but what I learned was that however complicated we might make our task with worries and plans and expectations the only thing that is needed, in the Camino as in life, is to have trust, have faith, and keep going, watching out as well as one can for the signposts along the way. And once I stopped worrying about things like going fast or taking good pictures, things seemed much easier and freer. I could go as fast or as slow as I wanted. I could stop in that church or that café if I felt like it. It was my experience. I’m not there to accomplish anything or impress anyone. I can’t tell you how freeing that is.

Would you recommend others to do a pilgrimage? 
If you have the time and the ability to do the Camino, I say go for it. And if you’ve already gone on the Camino—go again! (at least I’m planning to 🙂 Every Camino is unique. The time of year, the people you meet, the route you take, all of these things play a role in making a Camino. But most of all, it’s you, the pilgrim, who shape your own experience. Based on my time there, and talking to people who have gone on the pilgrimage many times, the Camino is always different, and gives you what you need. Although it may not be for everyone, I think that if you have the desire to go, you should explore doing it.


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

Peter Gilmour Publishes “Educating the Educators…”

Loyola Professor Emeritus Peter Gilmour was the 2014 Aggiormento Award winner for the Institute of Pastoral Studies. Gilmour has been involved with IPS since the program began in 1964 and received the award during IPS’s 50th anniversary celebration last year.

This year, Gilmour finished his article that draws on his 50 years of history with IPS and examines how religious education has changed over the course of time. Gilmour’s article, titled “Educating the Educators: A Fifty-Year Retrospective of Religious Education in the Catholic Context,” was recently published in the Religious Education Association’s journal.

“This article is a retrospective that talks about how we got to the point that we are in today. What I would like to see the readers think about after they’ve read the article is, ‘what happens to a professional discipline when people stop having that as their focus of their graduate studies and other aspects of theology become their focus?’ It has to change the discipline somehow and it has to change the practice of what’s going on and I think that’s a very important thing for people to really consider,” said Gilmour.

Peter Gilmour
The Abstract reads:

The progressive spirit of the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965) spawned a myriad of graduate departments of religious education in American Catholic colleges and universities. These departments evolved to include other master degrees (e.g., pastoral studies, pastoral counseling, divinity, spirituality, and social justice). As the numbers of students in religious education degree programs significantly diminished, the degree designation in religious education was often terminated. Today, an ever increasing number of religious education practitioners in the Catholic context do not have graduate degrees in religious education. This ongoing reality significantly alters the field of religious education and its practice in the Catholic context.

Full text.

Gilmour received his Master’s of Religious Education degree from IPS. “The Master’s of Religious Education was the first degree and only degree offered by the Institute for the first 10 years or so,” noted Gilmour.

Eventually, he taught religious education courses and has been a part of various professional organizations that allowed him to make connections with other religious educators from around the world. During his many years of teaching, he also wrote textbooks and teachers’ manuals. Gilmour said that religious education has “been a professional and life long interest.”

“Since I’ve been associated with IPS… I have always been very interested in not only what I did here, but, now, the history of what I did.”

During IPS’s 50th year, Director Brian Schmisek asked Gilmour to consider composing a history of IPS. Gilmour ended up creating the history and he said his current article “grew out” of that project.

“Since this was one of my areas of expertise, I could go into much more detail, I knew much more detail that was not appropriate for the general history, but was appropriate for the article.”

Gilmour explained that religious education, as a professional discipline, has changed greatly over the past 50 years.

“I thought it would be really interesting to explore the whys and the wherefores behind all these changes, starting with the excitement of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s and progressing right up to the present day.”

He went on to explain that graduate programs that focused on religious education blossomed during and shortly after Vatican II, but as years passed by less and less students were enrolling in such programs. In addition, people with a religious education degree were becoming more interested in parish ministry, rather than teaching in formal Catholic schools. Today, the profession of religious education is populated with people holding a master’s degree in theological studies, but not specifically religious education.

For his research article, Gilmour chose Loyola IPS as the subject for his case study for obvious reasons. Moreover, after he spoke with colleagues and professors from different universities and associations, he learned that IPS was a fair representative of similar programs offered elsewhere.

Since conducting his case study, Gilmour discovered some interesting things.

“Many ministerial programs, like IPS, have closed around the country that, at one time, had degrees in religious education. They never went on and developed other degrees, and they never necessarily changed as much as IPS has. It really struck me how one of the reasons that IPS is here today, and one of the reasons that IPS is successful today, is that IPS has always been willing to change. IPS has always had its fingers on the pulse of what’s going on in church and ministry and has responded to that in very decisive and very creative ways. Looking at the bigger picture of ministerial studies at IPS, I realize just how important change has been in our 50 year history.”

Gilmour said he wrote this article because it was about a topic he knew intimately and now, he challenges other professors to do the same in the areas of their expertise.

“I would actually like to see other people at IPS, meaning faculty, take the other degrees and write a similar history because I think it’s really important that we preserve the kind of history that has gone on here for more than 50 years. I’d love to see someone do that with the Master of Divinity degree, I’d love to see someone do that with a Pastoral Counseling degree because those degrees now are more than 25 years old now. A Pastoral Studies degree would be another one interesting to have a historical retrospective on. With some of these newer degrees there might not have been yet enough time to write such an article, but off in the future I would love to see somebody take those on because I think that preserving the history and telling the history is important. But I’m going to leave that to other people.”


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

Meet our new Enrollment Advisor: Kristin Butnik

We are so pleased to welcome Kristin Butnik to our team as the new IPS Enrollment Advisor!

Kristin recently joined us on December 1st during a very busy week for us and she did not hesitate to jump into her new role with passion and excitement.

She is looking forward to talking to both current and prospective students, so feel free to reach out to her at kbutnik@luc.edu.

Now, enjoy learning a little more about Kristin in our Q&A with her below!

Kristin (right) pictured with IPS Executive Administrative Assistant Gina Lopez
Kristin (right) pictured with IPS Executive Administrative Assistant Gina Lopez

: Glendale Heights, IL

What do you like to do in your time outside the office?
I love to spend much of my time with my fiancé Vatsal and my dog Oscar. We are often planning trips together. I also enjoy partaking in group fitness classes when possible.

What are some fun facts you can tell us about yourself?
My favorite color is purple. I love history particularly the American Revolution, Antebellum period, and the Civil War. I also love local and geographical history in helping me understand a sense of place. I look forward to and love reading travel information in Midwest Magazine and the Chicago Sunday Tribune.

Favorite quote: “Smile every day”

I attended Augustana College in Rock Island, IL for my undergraduate education. I studied History and Secondary Education. After graduating I took a few years off to work in secondary and higher education and returned to school as a part-time student studying Higher Education at Loyola’s School of Education Higher Education program. I graduated in May 2015.

What were you doing in the recent past before you joined the IPS team?
For the past five years I worked at Elmhurst College in adult and graduate admissions as well as financial aid. I worked a lot with gift aid programs including scholarships, Illinois State programs, and the Pell Grant.

How did it feel to get the job as Enrollment Advisor at IPS?
I could not be happier to return to Loyola and serve the mission of Loyola and IPS! I really believe in the mission of the institution and the values students learn as a result of their education here. It is my goal welcome prospective students to our IPS programs and share with them the values and traditions that make Loyola a stand out educational component to not only their professional development but also their personal development as well.

What are you looking forward to the most about your position here?
Acquiring many different skills and the ability to wear different hats that will contribute toward furthering my knowledge of different student service functional areas and making me a well-rounded professional.

What do you consider your biggest accomplishment, personally or professionally, so far?
Completing my Master’s Degree. As a first generation student, I couldn’t be more proud of my achievements.

Any additional information you would like to share?
I’m looking for an officiant for my wedding next September if anyone is interested or knows of individuals who might be interested! (Just kidding… But seriously.)


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