Tag : Loyola IPS

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.

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.

Bill Huebsch Joins IPS to Teach Vatican II

Loyola IPS is pleased to welcome Bill Huebsch for the 2016 spring semester. He will be teaching “Vatican II” and students can sign up now to take his course!

IPS Director Brian Schmisek said, “Huebsch is a popular lecturer across North America and in parts of Europe. We’re fortunate to have him teach ‘Vatican II’ this spring.”

You can view a video presentation from Huebsch to learn more about him and the course he will be teaching.


Regarding his life outside of academia, Huebsch said, “I lived on a small farm for nearly 20 years, an hour north of St Paul, MN. We raised our own food, tended a respectable flock of chickens, and spent our days roaming around the valleys and forests on the farm. It was a marvelous place to write, reflect, and live.”

Huebsch continued, “As for IPS, I’m very much a fan of this program and am delighted to be part of it. Brian has brought fresh and clear leadership to the department. I want to help prepare the next generation of leaders for parishes, at whatever age they start to study!”

Huebsch holds an undergrad degree in Philosophy and a Masters in Theological Studies from the Catholic Theological Union of Chicago. He served as a diocesan administrator for many years in Minnesota and later as DRE in a suburban Minneapolis parish. He also directed the work of the Upper Midwest Conservation Labs at the Minneapolis Institute of Art for 5 years.

He now serves as Director of the online Pastoral & Continuing Education Center at Twenty-Third Publications. He has served on the adjunct faculties of Loyola University New Orleans: Institute for Pastoral Studies, and the University of Dallas: School of Ministry.

In 1990, he established The Vatican II Project, which contributes to the effort being made within the Church to keep alive the spirit and energy of Vatican II.

A decade later, he helped establish the Whole Community Catechesis project, aimed at helping parishes and dioceses around the world implement the General Directory for Catechesis.

He has also published nearly twenty books in recent years, along with numerous booklets, articles and screenplays. One of his books, A New Look at Grace, was named in US CATHOLIC among the top seven most influential books on spirituality for today’s world.

His most recent books include:
– Jesus: the Master Catechist
– The Group Reading Guide for the Care of our Common Home
– Be Merciful: Reflections on the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy

One of his important projects has been The Growing Faith Project, which is a component, adult education resource for parish or personal use, based entirely on the Catechism.

He was the creator and author behind the first set of curriculum resources designed specifically to coach parents to be the first teachers of their own children. This work is called Growing Up Catholic: Sacramental Formation That Lasts a Lifetime.


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

Parish Health & Wellness Ministry Certificate Week

IPS’s Parish Leadership and Management Programs, in conjunction with Catholic Extension, recently held the first of four “Parish Health and Wellness Ministry Certificate” weeks.

The program focuses on the under-resourced mission dioceses of Catholic Extension who can benefit the most from this intensive training week. Catholic Extension polled all their mission dioceses, asking what their needs were. The top response was the need to assist people who work in parishes where questions regarding mental and physical health are constantly occurring. This ranged from addictions, to pregnancies, to violence, to depression, to long term care for the elderly, and more.

In response to this need, Catholic Extension partnered with Loyola IPS to create a week-long training in parish heath and wellness ministry, grounded in the belief that parishes should be a place of health and wellness of the mind, body and spirit.

LUREC group photo

IPS’s Coordinator of Parish Leadership Management Programs Mark Bersano said the goal of this initiative is to reach out and serve parishes in innovative ways by providing the kinds of courses and trainings that are outside of the typical degree programs currently offered at IPS.

The week long event began on a Sunday evening with a mass and reception dinner. The following four days of programming consisted of prayer services, workshops, speakers, skills development and more. The week concluded on Friday morning with a sending ceremony where the participants received a certificate from IPS.
LUREC certificate

This is a 4 year program that began with the first cohort in October 2015. The following cohorts will consist of different people each year, occurring in October 2016, 2017 and 2018. By the time the program is finished, Mark said that they could have up to 200 participants, with 40-50 participants each year.

“The grant funding currently allows 4 years, but we are hoping that it will turn into something that is sort of a movement in the church. There’s hope that we will be able to work with the local Chicago parishes and partner with them to build this concept that the parish is a place of health and wellness of mind, body and spirit.”

Participants consisted of people from dioceses across the United States including: Rapid City, SD; Boise, ID; Helena, MT; Las Cruces, NV; Beaumont, TX; Charlotte, NC; Brownsville, TX; Gaylord, MI; Marquette, MI; Jefferson City, MO; Belleville, IL; and more.

Mark said, “The people who were there were all pastoral ministers in one capacity or another at either the parish or diocesan level. Many of them already had something to do with healthcare and some of them were thinking about starting new ministries or expanding ministries they already had.”

Some of the highlights from the week were Kevin O’Connor’s session “Active Listening and Issue Diagnosis,” Timone Davis’s “Theology of Baptismal Vocation & Missionary Discipleship,” Dan Rhodes’s “Theology of Service” and Anna Mayer’s “Walking with the Dear Neighbor: A Model of Accompaniment.”

LUREC class
Posted with permission from Catholic Extension. Copyright 2015 www.catholicextension.org

“Again, the real theme was the parish as a place of health and wellness of mind, body and spirit and also that by getting involved in these things, parishoners and people in parishes could raise up their own baptismal vocations and become missionary diciples helping others,” stressed Mark.

He gave the example of someone starting their own domestic violence ministry. Or on a very basic level, someone getting involved with elderly people in the parish who might not always remember to take their medication. Something as simple as making phone calls to remind them can make a difference.

IPS Administrative Assistant Mirta Garcia was also in attendance and helped organize and run the event. She said the week went extremely well.

“All the presenters and facilitators did a great job with their individual subjects, and with weaving each topic into the next for a seamless participant experience. It was fascinating to see how the participants became more engaged with each successive day.  Seeing them make new connections and bonding with people who have similar interest and ministries was truly amazing. It was an honor to be part of this week-long intensive certification program. My favorite part was making new friends and connections with people who are passionate about their faith and ministry. I am looking forward to hearing how the participants will take everything they learned and make it blossom in their communities.”

Mark agreed, saying “people had a really good experience. They bonded extremely well. At the end of the week, they were all saying they missed their families and wanted to get home, but at the same time they didn’t want to leave. One participant even suggested having a reunion. They were there for a week and already felt that.”


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

Loyola’s First Martyrs Award Goes to an IPS Alumna’s Organization

Loyola’s new Martrys Award was created to honor the Salvadoran Martyrs. This year marks the 26th anniversary of their assassination.

In a recent letter to the Loyola community, Interim President John Pelissero wrote, “Loyola honors the Salvadoran martyrs each year because in their lives and deaths, they exemplify the Jesuit and Catholic ideals and values that we seek to emulate, such as solidarity with the poor, working for social justice, and courageously witnessing to the truth.”

Each year, the award will be presented to a faith-based organization or individual who, among other things, strives to fight social injustice, educates others, and creates awareness of issues affecting the oppressed. In addition, there is a $25,000 grant that comes with the award. This money is intended to promote the legacy of the Martyrs in El Salvador and support Loyola’s commitment to social justice.

The first recipient of this annual award is The Interfaith Committee for Detained Immigrants (ICDI). ICDI’s Executive Director Sr. JoAnn Persch will be accepting the award on behalf of the organization. Persch gradated from IPS in 1971 with a degree in Religious Education.

Another IPS graduate, Chris Murphy, is Loyola’s current Director of Staff Mission Formation and Faculty Staff Chaplain. He said that the ICDI is “currently responding to migrants and refuges from El Salvador and Latin America. The suffering of these people is rooted in many of the same structural injustices to which the martyrs responded. The work of the Interfaith Committee reminds us of the way to which we are the direct heirs to, and responsible for, the ongoing mission of the martyrs. For the Interfaith Committee’s dedication to addressing injustice they will receive the Martyrs Award from Loyola University Chicago.”

When given the news of being the recipient of the Martyrs Award, Persch said, “As an alum of Loyola and as Director of ICDI it made me very proud. We are an ever growing program and this award will encourage our growth to be able to serve more people. To be selected as seeing our ministry in tune with the strong faith and courage of the martyrs is very touching.”

Sr. JoAnn Persch, RSM, a Loyola alumna, photographed at Sisters of Mercy in Chicago, on October 28, 2015. Sr. JoAnn is the recipient of the Martyr's Award for the Interfaith Committee for Detained Immigrants.  (photo by Natalie Battaglia)
Sr. JoAnn Persch, RSM, a Loyola alumna, photographed at Sisters of Mercy in Chicago, on October 28, 2015. Sr. JoAnn is the recipient of the Martyr’s Award for the Interfaith Committee for Detained Immigrants.
(photo by Natalie Battaglia)


Persch began her long and successful career at IPS where she said she was given the foundation needed to carry out programs ranging from child and adult education to parish ministry.

She recalls that at the time, the IPS Religious Education program was only offered during the summer.

“We had outstanding professors who would come from all over to teach in the program for the summer,” Persch said. “I really enjoyed the Scripture classes and also then Father John Gorman (now Bishop Gorman) who taught religious psychology. I have used what I learned many times.”

As the co-founder of ICDI, Persch has been able to see the growth of ICDI in the nine years of its existence.

“I see the hand of God working in every way. We have such a wonderful committed staff and amazing volunteers who really see our responsibility to our immigrant sisters and brothers. The fact that in nine years we are able to assist through all of our programs has to be the work of God.” Persch added, “We all receive so much more than we give through our relationships with our immigrant sisters and brothers.”

Though Persch is living in the present and fighting social injustice day by day, she is also preparing of the future.

“I want to share leadership so that when I can no longer serve in this capacity others are prepared and imbued with the vision and mission of ICDI… I would hope that we could continue raising funds that will not only keep us solvent, but keep having the ability to grow to meet the needs as they arise.”

This award is not only a great honor and opportunity for Persch and her organization, it is also somewhat of a homecoming for her.

“IPS has always held a very special place in my heart and I am so happy to be connecting again.”


**The award ceremony is taking place on November 16 at 3:30 pm in Damen Student Center Multipurpose Room South. There will also be a Memorial Mass at 5:15 pm in Madonna Della Strada, followed by a reception in McCormick Lounge.


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

IPS Student Alicia Crosby Awarded President’s Medallion

The President’s Medallion has three words etched onto it: leadership, scholarship and service. The award annually recognizes Loyola students who exemplify these words in their everyday lives, both inside and outside of the classroom.

This year, Alicia Crosby was selected as the recipient of the award for IPS. Read our Q&A with Alicia below to find out just a few reasons why she is so deserving of this honor.

How does it feel to be honored with this award?
It’s definitely a privilege, but is also a little surreal. In getting this degree, I’ve been committed to working hard and using my research to press into things that matter to me. It’s an incredible honor when the people who dedicate themselves to helping guide you along in this journey acknowledge that hard work and your passions through nominating you for something like the President’s Medallion. There are so many amazing students in our department who are doing great work so I really do consider it an honor to be chosen to receive this award.

What is your degree program and why did you choose this path?
In May I’ll receive my MA in Social Justice and Certificate in Non-Profit Management and Philanthropy. I’ve chosen this path because after years of praying and seeking, I came to understand that I feel most alive when I give voice to who people are meant to be then work to remove barriers that could potentially stop them. My work in sacred, social service, and educational contexts let me know that I needed to find an institution that could equip me to do the sort of interdisciplinary work that advocacy and activism require while also getting theologically grounded. In seeing IPS program materials some years ago speaking about things like moving people towards God’s “prophetic intent” for them, I knew this was where I was called to be.

Tell us about the work you are doing in your community.
I’m the co-founder of Center for Inclusivity (CFI), an organization that fosters healing community for people at the intersection of faith, gender, and sexuality. We work to provide services like clinical counseling, pastoral care, educational initiatives, and community gatherings to promote healthy exploration, growth, and healing for individuals affected by the perceived divisions surrounding issues of spirituality, sexual orientation and gender identity. Our heart is to connect the individuals behind “issues” and create safe space where people can bring the fullness of who they are to a community that will celebrate and care for them.

What is your motivation behind this work?
In my last few years of work as an educational advocate, I had a number of students come out to me and share they identified as LGBTQ+. I’d worked with many of them for years and in asking why they took so long to tell me, they noted that they understood me to be a person of faith and needed to trust that I wouldn’t sever our relationship because of them sharing their orientation.

That broke my heart. Those youth learned from the theology of others that their sexuality and gender identity makes them undesirable and unworthy of love. Faith is something that should be used to heal and help you lean into who you are, not cause you to hide for fear of abandonment (or worse). The work I do with CFI is about making the world a safer place for them by helping to create space where they can, in youth or in adulthood, express the fullness of who they are and know that they are accepted and have community.

What classes and/or professors have been instrumental to your success? And how?
Anyone who knows me can tell you the answer to this question is Dr. Peter Jones. Peter is absolutely amazing and his presence in my life has been such a blessing. He has pushed me in my thinking about so many things from theology to ethics and justice. Then he allowed me the space to process my thoughts both in and out of the classroom. I know that if I’m struggling with anything, I can count on him to be my ever patient, sagacious mentor who will help me unpack my thoughts and affirm me. I’m so grateful for his guidance and friendship.

What are your future goals?
I’ll continue my work removing barriers where I see them so that people are able to explore the fullness of what God has for them. For the foreseeable future this will be reflected through my work with Center for Inclusivity, but I don’t want to put limits on what I do or what God will do through me. Wherever I find myself, I just want to use my talents and gifts to clear the way for others to walk into who they are called to be.

If you want more information on Center for Inclusivity, please feel free to visithttp://www.centerforinclusivity.org/

Those wanting to see Alicia’s personal musings can check out her bloghttp://chasingthepromise.net/


The award ceremony is taking place on Friday, November 6th. After the ceremony, you can celebrate the accomplishments of all the President’s Medallion recipients at the President’s Ball.


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

Alpha Sigma Nu Recognizes Oustanding IPS Students

alpha sigma nu

This past Sunday, Alpha Sigma Nu held its annual Induction Ceremony to welcome its new members.

“Alpha Sigma Nu is the international honor society of Jesuit institutions of higher education. The society was founded in 1915 to honor a select number of students each year on the basis of scholarship, loyalty, and service.”

We would like to say a big congratulations to this year’s inductees from IPS:

  • Devona Alleyne
  • Carleen Czajka
  • Elaine Lindia
  • Alicja Lukaszewicz-Southall
  • Brian Melton

Loyola IPS is proud to have students who continue to pursue scholarly goals and strive to better their community on a daily basis! Keep up the extraordinary work and it will take you even farther than you imagine.


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

IPS Alumnus Authors “The Self Aware Lover”


Stephen Dynako graduated from Loyola IPS with a M.A. in Pastoral Counseling. Dynako has diverse experiences that range from being a hospital and lay chaplain to holding various management positions in media, technology and finance industries. In addition, Dynako most recently authored a book, The Self Aware Lover.

The book is about moving beyond the distractions of daily life and discovering the true nature of love. It explores how your relationship with yourself, others and the community can benefit from putting love first.

“The Self Aware Lover grew out of journaling about my meditations on love. I had desired for quite some time to write a book on the topic of love, though I wasn’t sure what direction it would take,” said Dynako.

Dynako began writing without a strict plan of action and through this liberal and unguarded process, he was able to think freely and even found the title for the book.

“All I really planned for certain was to follow my inspiration. I didn’t commit to an outline of the content. Rather, I practiced a free association method of writing down what came to me whenever it came to me. In the Shalom Heartland community in which I participate, we would say simply to ‘trust the process.'”

Dynako continued, “During the course of my journaling, I noticed that I began referring frequently to the idea of a ‘self aware lover’ as someone who works to become in touch with one’s own and others’ loving nature. That’s how the title came to be.”

51KTGBl26DLThere have been many books written about the various aspects of love: what it means, how it affects us, et cetera. For readers of The Self Aware Lover, Dynako hopes that a particular message about loving perfectly resonates with them:

“One of the key ideas in the book is the paradox that loving perfectly is not about being a perfectionist. Self awareness in our loving frees us from the anxiety of thinking that we or others must be perfect. My experience of trying to be impossibly perfect for so many years finally brought me to a place where I realized my self love had been sabotaged. This happens to so many of us in today’s culture, so I hope to impart the message that love for all truly begins with a healthy and humble love for self.”

Continuing, Dynako reflects on his time at IPS and how his education through the pastoral counseling program contributed to his career journey and success as an author.

“I write in the book that I was grateful for my cohort and professors in IPS, because they co-created such a deeply nourishing and nurturing environment. Of course, this experience strengthened me as a pastoral counselor, but it was also foundational to my self awareness, which was a major inspiration for the book.”

Dynako said the entire IPS program was “excellent” and some of his favorite and most useful courses included: Human Relations Skills, Human Development, Multicultural Counseling, and Ethics for Pastoral Counselors.

He also added that his most memorable and moving moments at IPS were “times spent in conversation, reflection, or just relaxation with my classmates and teachers. Ours was a powerfully supportive and loving community. I learned just as much outside of class as I did in class.”

For current and future IPS students, Dynako shares some advice:

“Boldly be open to the process of your own unfolding during the course of your studies, but more importantly in your community making. Your experience in IPS will be all the richer for going beyond the academic – important as that is – to connect with your loving nature and the loving nature of your peers and teachers.”


Buy The Self Aware Lover in print and/or e-book format on Amazon. (If you purchase the print version from Amazon, you can acquire the Kindle version for free through Amazon’s MatchBook option.)


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

IPS Professor Speaks About Experience at White House and the Pope’s Address

IPS Professor Marian Diaz made a quick trip to Washington, D.C. with her husband Miguel Diaz who is the former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See and is currently The John Courtney Murray University Chair in Public Service at Loyola’s Hank Center.

“We were at the event where the Holy Father was received by the President at the White House. That was very exciting.”

Very exciting, but very early. “We had to be there bright and early Wednesday morning, but it was very well organized going through security and the weather was fantastic.”

IPS Professor Marian Diaz and her husband Miguel Diaz,  former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See
IPS Professor Marian Diaz and her husband Miguel Diaz

After waiting for a few hours for the Pope to arrive, the site of his vehicle driving up was something to see, recalls Marian. “I was aware that he was riding in a Fiat because of his arrival the day before at the air force base, but seeing that Fiat pull into the drive way of the White House was just stunning. The enormous black security cars around it just dwarfed it.”

The ceremony itself was very formal. There was not a big processional, but there were a number of bishops, cardinals, the current Ambassador to the Holy See, the Vice President and other VIPs in attendance. The anthems for the Holy See and the U.S. were played and all U.S. armed forces were represented.

President Obama spoke first followed by Pope Francis. Upon conclusion, they made their way to the balcony of the White House and waved to the throng of people.

“It was just exciting to hear the Holy father’s remarks and the President’s remarks and have them be so well aligned in terms of issues they were addressing. Having worked at the nexus of the U.S. administration and the administration of the Holy See for so long, I’m just really happy to see them working together in a more constructive way on concerns we have in common.”

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Marian has done a lot of work on Laudato Si’, the encyclical on the environment, so she was pleased with what she heard about uniting the environment and social issues. Rather than keeping labor, private property, the basic rights of humanity, etc. separated, Pope Francis is “now showcasing all these issues and economic issues in a package which also considers our environment,” noted Marian. “He’s calling us to respond to the cries of suffering creation around us and to really respond to that, but not in a way that the issues remain isolated. He wants these to all be seen as human issues in developing what he calls an integral ecology. There’s a great urgency that I think he brings to these questions, along with our president and I just hope we will have some constructive actions moving forward.”

Years ago, Marian had a realization that environmental issues had to be addressed now and the sooner, the better.

“I really agree with the line ‘we can’t leave it until the next generation.’ I had this moment when my kids were younger and I was driving them to school, listening to another news program about the environment and I said to them, ‘kids this is the issue for your generation.’ Then I realized, no that’s wrong. This has to be the issue for my generation. It has to be addressed now. We just can’t wait.”

Moving forward, “I’ve seen a change in our government’s approach in dealing with these issues and also in terms of the Holy See, in the way that they see the need to partner with other religious entities, with secular society and with other governments in coming to a solutions for these problems. So I see them more open to collaborating and partnering and that’s really encouraging.”

Pope Francis and President Obama on the front lawn of the White House
Pope Francis and President Obama on the front lawn of the White House

Marian went on to discuss the excitement and anticipation that follows the Pope wherever he goes.

“At the White House itself, the crowds were controlled and everything was structured, but you could tell that people really wanted to be there. You could definitely feel the energy and the excitement.”

Pope Francis is frequently called the people’s Pope and is loved by many people even those outside of the Catholic faith. Marian sheds some light on why she thinks that is.

“His first Apostolic Exhortation is called Evangelic Gaudium, The Joy of the Gospel. He’s happy! He exudes joy and he encounters people gladly and happily,” Marian exclaimed. “And you have the sense that when he encounters people one on one, he wants to be present to them.”

People appreciate when they feel seen, heard and acknowledged and Pope Francis knows how to engage with people.

“It doesn’t mean everybody is going to agree with him on everything, but when someone’s there that you feel you could relate to and that you are heard, it makes a big difference,” said Marian.

While in D.C., Marian also noticed an uplift in the hopes and spirits of those who fight for social justice.

“For people who work on justice issues, he’s really reinvigorating them by giving them new hope and new energy. People who have worked on issues year in and year out… and, given the tone in Washington and the lack of progress, I can just imagine how easy it would be to give up. His presence, his message, his authority and his openness I think, hopefully, will energize Washington and people to really start making progress.”


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

Revel in the Revolution with 8th Day

The 8th Day Center for Justice held its annual Revel in the Revolution event this past weekend. This year’s theme, “give light and people will find the way,” came from civil rights activist Ella Baker.

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The keynote speaker was Reverend Doctor Otis Moss III, the current Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ. He is also an accomplished author, speaker and activist. His speech for the event was truly enlightening and motivating. He told stories of those who came before us that helped pave the way for us, such as Vernon Johns and Martin Luther King, Jr. “There’s always somebody making a track to the river’s edge. We didn’t show up brand new like nobody’s ever done justice work before.” Among the other themes in his words, he said ministry needs to be about prophets and not profits. His powerful witness and engaging voice led to a standing ovation.

Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III

During this annual event, 8th Day Center for Justice also honors worthy recipients with the Mary Elsbernd, OSF Award. The award recognizes those who embody passion for inclusive love and justice, build relationships of nonviolence and cooperation, and use imagination to create new ways to bring systemic change.

In connection with IPS, Mary Elsbernd, OSF was the visionary behind the Master of Arts in Social Justice that began at IPS nearly 10 years ago.

This year The People’s Law Office (PLO) was the recipient of the 5th Annual Mary Elsbernd, OSF Award. The PLO has been fighting for civil rights for over 40 years, representing groups like the Black panthers, political prisoners, LGBTQ activists, members of the Palestinian community and many more. Most recently, the PLO won a Reparations Ordinance in Chicago for victims of police torture. The PLO also brought the audience to its feet, applauding the great work it does.

The People’s Law Office

One of the coordinators for the event, Scott Donovan, is an IPS alumnus. He received his MA in Social Justice and Community Development (SJCD) in 2013. Originally from New Jersey, he decided to stay in Chicago after graduation since he was able to find work that aligned with his knowledge, interests and passions. “It felt like a natural extension of my career arc, both professionally and personally to stay here,” said Scott.

Scott began his role as the Development Coordinator for 8th Day this past January. He leads fundraising, grant writing and resource initiatives at the center.

“I had known about 8th day since Chris Eagan (another IPS alumnus) did his Magis internship program at 8th day… Then when I saw they had posted the development position, I thought that those specific skills were something I wanted to develop within myself, so I went for it and here I am.”

Scott Donovan, 8th Day Development Coordinator
Scott Donovan, 8th Day Development Coordinator

It seems that Scott has found a job that is never boring and allows him fulfill his passions and career goals.

Each day is very different,” noted Scott. “I like the consensus model we operate on. Structurally we are a flat model, so we have no hierarchy, no supervisor or boss. We make decisions as a group which affords each of us a lot of independence and flexibility to pursue our passions and interests and see how those specific interests can support the center.”

The skills he learned at IPS have helped him succeed in his career by building a strong foundation to build upon.

“There were a few classes that I took at IPS that certainly guided me towards this specific development position. I took fundraising and grant writing, which I very much enjoyed and learned a lot there. The classes and professors that stood out most to me were the ones that got us on the street level,” Scott added. “[They] took the theory or the literature that we were reading and demonstrated to us those ideas in the real world.”

Scott went on to mention community organizing and development classes and former IPS professor Susan Rans “who was very instrumental in bringing forth the true mission of SJCD to [him], and from there [he] was able to find like values between 8th day and the values [students] learned at IPS.”

Looking back on his time at IPS, Scott recalls attending a research conference in San Diego where he and his classmates presented their research project that they had been working on all semester long.

“That was an incredible experience and a great opportunity to travel there,” commented Scott. “When I think of studying at IPS, I think of the times when I got out of the classroom and was able to visit different community centers and meet different folks out in the neighborhoods.”

Scott emphasized that he appreciated and took advantage of any and all opportunities to leave the classroom and learn from the city itself.

Scott definitely uses the various skills he learned at IPS at his new job, especially grant writing, but he also learned something else that is quite valuable:

“I think the overall mindset of open-mindedness, patience and trying to connect with another person as deeply as possible and glean from them what their true desires are for themselves, for their neighborhood, for their country… I try to keep that with me each day, both professionally and personally.”

Scott concluded with giving some advice for current and future IPS students:

“Just apply yourself. Make the most of your time there. Make the most of your colleagues and classmates,” said Scott. “Another high point of my time was being able to meet my classmates and hearing about the work they’re doing and be able to connect to that work through them. So I would say for folks at IPS now, just to call upon your classmates.”

From everyone at IPS, thank you 8th Day for all the work you do for social justice!

Loyola IPS faculty, graduate assistant and students at 8th Days’s Revel in the Revolution

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