Tag : Loyola

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.

Student Feature: Meet Elizabeth

Elizabeth Schultz is earning her Masters in Pastoral Studies with a Health Care Chaplaincy concentration through IPS online courses. She has Masters in Engineering, flew a helicopter at 18 years old, loves long walks with her husband and has recently accepted a position as a hospital Staff Chaplain.

Check out our Q&A with Elizabeth below to read a little bit about her journey and her future goals.

Elizabeth with her husband Joe
Elizabeth with her husband Joe

Nickname: Betty Jean (my middle name is Jean, and Betty is a nickname for Elizabeth!)

Hometown: I was born and raised in NJ, went to college in Delaware and Syracuse, NY, and I’ve lived in Lititz, Pennsylvania for the last 23 years.

What do you enjoy doing outside of school? One of my favorite pastimes is going for a walk/run with my husband on a beautiful evening.

What is a fun fact or story about you?
I flew a helicopter when I was 18! Actually, I was in the co-pilot seat, but the pilot let me fly, hover, and land the Army helicopter. I was working at a military base in NJ during the summer between high school and college. One of the Army pilots gave me a flight suit to put on and took me (unofficially) on a flight along the ocean and up to NYC. We flew around my house, then up to the Statue of Liberty, and back to the base. Waving to the kids on the beach was almost as cool as actually getting to fly the helicopter by myself.

A quote, prayer, etc. that has significance to you?
What is a blessing but a rain of grace
falling generously into the lives
of those in need; and who among us
is without need?
May the divine Spirit
touch your spirit in the course of this day.
May your work this day be your love made visible.
May you breathe upon the wounds
of those with whom you work.
May you open yourself to God’s breathing.
May you honor the flame of love
that burns inside you.
May your voice this day
be a voice of encouragement.
May your life be an answer to someone’s prayer.
May you own a grateful heart.
May you have enough joy to give you hope,
enough pain to make you wise.
May there be no room in your heart for hatred.
May you be free from violent thoughts.
When you look into the window of your soul
may you see the face of God.
May the lamp of your life
shine upon all you meet this day.

Sr Macrina Wiederkehr

What is your previous education? I graduated from the University of Delaware with a Bachelors of Electrical Engineering in 1985 and from Syracuse University with a Masters in Engineering in 1988.

What were you doing before beginning your IPS journey? In August of 2011, I decided to take a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). That was a period of discernment which had begun over 6 years prior when I did a one year stint as a volunteer Eucharistic Minister in the hospital. After finishing my unit of CPE, I was hired part-time as a per diem chaplain. In August of 2012, I began a one-year CPE residency. THEN, I began at IPS. I did things a bit backwards!

What made you decide to come to Loyola IPS?
The maturity of the online curriculum. I looked at many online programs at Catholic universities and none seemed as rich and well-developed as Loyola’s.

What degree are you seeking?
I am in the final year of a Masters in Pastoral Studies with a Health Care Chaplaincy concentration. This curriculum will prepare me well for seeking board certification with the National Association of Catholic Chaplains.

Do you have a favorite class or one you look forward to taking?
Boy, that’s a hard question. What I’ve discovered as an adult learner is that I want to soak in as much as I can and all of my courses thus far met that desire. I loved IPS 417: Literature of Ancient Israel and IPS 404: Theology of Suffering. I’m looking forward to taking IPS599: Theology and Ethics at the End of Life this fall.

Do you see any challenges you will have to overcome during your time here? 
Probably my biggest challenge has been learning in the online environment. I tend to process information best by talking face to face with fellow students, colleagues, and instructors. So, conversing via posts in our message boards continues to be my biggest challenge. That being said, the synchronous classes are a blessing. The other MAPS programs I researched prior to applying to IPS did not offer nearly as many (if any) synchronous classes. Of course, professors and fellow students are only a phone call away for verbal discussion and learning.

Do you have any recommendations for future students?
Don’t hesitate to utilize all of the resources IPS offers. I’ve found the professors to be available and more than willing to help me reach my goals both academically and professionally.

Tell us about your new job. 
I have accepted a permanent position at Lancaster General Hospital as a Staff Chaplain. The position is contingent upon finishing my degree and being Board Certified within 2 years. The IPS curriculum has me right on track (thanks to the Integration Project specifically for Health Care Chaplaincy)! I am the lead chaplain for our critical care units which include medical ICU, surgical ICU, Intermediate ICU and trauma/neuro ICU. That’s about 60 beds. I am to provide a consistent presence and read-access for staff, families and patients on those units. I will also provide mentorship to our CPE students assigned to those units and coordinate the provision of spiritual care. Other parts of the position include: attending and facilitating debriefings, participating in follow-up meetings for organ donation cases, attending ethics committee meetings, providing staff education, and working on advanced care planning.

What goals do you have for this job?
My primary goal is to be available to provide for the spiritual and emotional needs of our staff, patients and families. One of the ways in which to achieve part of this goal is to help patients and their families work together with the interdisciplinary team to develop a plan of care which is consistent with their goals and values.

Feel free to reach out to Elizabeth at: betty.j.schultz.9@facebook.com


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

Staff Profile: Mirta Garcia

IPS welcomes new staff member, Mirta Garcia. Mirta is the Administrative Assistant for Parish Leadership and Management Programs. This is a new position created in response to the success of the Hispanic Ministry segment of these programs that are spearheaded by Coordinator Mark Bersano.

“Given her extensive administrative experience, religious education background and fluency in Spanish, we are very fortunate to have Mirta on our team to serve parish communities,” commented Mark.

Mirta has only been in the office for a short time, but she already feels like she is part of the IPS family; and we agree!

“I am very thankful and blessed to be part of such wonderful group of people. From the first day that I walked into IPS office, I felt at home. I am looking forward to a great start, supporting and helping kick-off the great program that Mark Bersano and Felipe Legarreta-Castillo are leading in the office of Parish Leadership and Management Programs,” said Mirta.

Read the Q&A with Mirta below to learn a little more about her and be sure to welcome her to the IPS community!

Mirta Garcia
Where are you from?
I was born in Melrose Park, IL, raised in Chicago, and my parents are from Durango, Mexico.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I enjoy taking a walk with my husband, Cesar. Together we enjoy watching our son, Andrew, play college football at Augustana College. For the past 4 years, we’ve enjoyed watching our daughter, Alexis, cheer on the High School football and basketball teams. My youngest daughter, Maya, kept us on our toes last year. She participated in volleyball, basketball, cheerleading and dance. Next month Maya will be entering Leyden HS where she will be part of the Marching Band. Is it football season yet?

What is a fun fact or story about you?
I am a Catechist and teach CCD at my parish, St. John Vianney, since 2011. I’ve helped students prepare to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion. This fall I will be teaching the teenage girls in their first year of Sacrament of Confirmation preparation.  

What do you consider your biggest accomplishment, personally or professionally, so far?
My biggest accomplishment was having the opportunity to coach my daughter, Maya, plus 25 other cheerleaders with Leyden Bears – United YFL. I share this experience with my daughter, Alexis, who was one of my teen coaches. This experience created a bigger bond between my daughters and I. Having the opportunity to shape, form and encourage these young ladies was priceless. Bringing home three times Regional and National Champs trophies was a big plus too.

How did you feel when you were offered the position at IPS?
Excited… I even did the happy dance.

What previous education or experience has best prepared you for this role?
I have an associates degree in Secretarial Science from Robert Morris University. I am skilled in Office Management in the areas of Administration, Quality Control, Event Coordination, and Human Resources. I have worked for a Fortune 500 company. One of my unique strengths is the ability to support multiple VP Level executives and multi-task effectively.

What are you looking forward to bringing to this new role at IPS?
I am looking forward to bringing my solid background experience in office administration, my enthusiasm, and my passion towards my Catholic faith.

Do you have a mentor or an experience in your life that helped shape who you are today?
My participation in Spiritual Exercises retreats have really shaped my spiritual life. It is in the silence of the retreat that I am able to enter and deepen my faith and reach other levels of my spiritual journey. Having Daire Ryan, a Consecrated Women of Regnum Christ, as my Spiritual Director has made a positive impact in my spiritual journey.

*Connect with Mirta on Facebook and LinkedIn!


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

Holy Week: Death and Resurrection – The Call to Transformation

Since we had such a positive response from her last guess post, which discussed active nonviolence, we would like to feature another essay by IPS student Charissa Qiu. She wrote a reflection on the Eucharist and the call to transformation. With the final week of Lent just beginning, let us reflect about why we made certain sacrifices during this season and what it means for us as we approach the celebration of Easter.


Holy Week: Death and Resurrection – The Call to Transformation

As we enter into Holy Week, we prepare to commemorate the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. During this period of Lent, we may have found various ways to prepare ourselves, through various practices of prayer, penance, almsgiving, and self-denial. Each year, we hear of many people who abstain from sweets, or from watching television, and the question we would like to put out to everyone is – what is the purpose of, and the intention behind your abstinence? How does that tie into the commemoration of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection? What does this period of Lent and the celebration of Easter mean to us, as partakers in the Eucharist?

Jesus loved to speak in parables, as parables had the ability to draw the listeners in by their relatability, and then flip the story on its head with a conclusion that was unexpected, to help the listeners to overcome their ‘blindness” and “deafness” – the hardness of heart, and misunderstanding of what the meaning of the Kingdom of God. In the same way, as we partake in the Eucharist, we are called to a similar transformation – into a conversion of heart and mind that is in line with the character and passion of God. Our celebration of the Eucharist is meant to be celebrated alongside our baptism into the participation of the mission of Christ, a celebration of transformation – an ongoing process of death and resurrection.

Transformation is never comfortable. The human ego prefers stability and comfort, where there is certainty and familiarity. Transformation calls us to the opposite – it calls us to embrace discomfort, challenge and uncertainty. This is what we say “Amen” to when we receive Holy Communion, and this is what we are called to especially during this period of Lent. We come to the Eucharistic table hungry – hungry for a new world that knows compassion and works for justice. Hunger reminds us of our human dependency on each other. Let us use our physical hunger as a point of reflection – when we are hungry, we may go to a restaurant, or to the grocery store to fill that hunger. Without the chefs, the workers in the store, the truck drivers, and the farmers, we would not be able to fill that hunger. This is a simplistic and tangible example of our human dependency – having the financial means to purchase the food is not enough to fill that hunger – we need each other. That same hunger and mutual dependency needs to be channeled into a hunger for justice in the world, not just for ourselves, but for everyone. Just as Jesus is our sustenance, we need to be sustenance for each other.

The bread and the wine that we consume as nourishment goes through the process of being crushed, destroyed, and is then transformed, a symbol of the death and resurrection we are called to partake in our consumption. To be in right relationship and full communion with each other and God, we need to go through a process of transformation in how we perceive and treat each other. For true transformation to happen, there needs to first be a breaking down, before there can be a building up. We have grown up in a world that segregates and oppresses, and we have undoubtedly been influenced by the values and perceptions of the world. We are called to die, slowly and surely, to these attitudes and beliefs that create disharmony and violence in our world, and rise to interactions and engagement with each other that promotes peace and unity. In our world of individualism where we are taught that wealth and status are determinants of success, we need to die to our ego’s need to control, and to be recognized and praised, and rise to humility, the embracing of mystery and grace, where we work for the collective, and recognize there is no such thing as “private sin,” because we are all interconnected. For true transformation to happen, we need to practice letting go and letting God, just as Jesus said in Luke 23:46, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”


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

RECongress Wrap-up

At IPS, it is about working hard and having meaningful conversation, all while enjoying the company you are with. During this year’s Religious Education Congress, a few of our team members showed exactly how that is done!

IPS was well represented this year by our Director Brian Schmisek, Enrollment Advisor Chrissy Sofranko, Coordinator of Parish Leadership and Management Programs Mark Bersano, and Coordinator of Student Services Koonal Patel.

For everyone, the main goal of the event was to get as many people as possible interested in IPS. The numerical goal was set at 80 new prospects, and by the end of the second day, they achieved that goal! Moreover, by the end of the third and final day, our IPS team had almost 100 new prospects!
photo 3

“We wanted to have really engaging interactions with people who came to our booth. We wanted them to leave remembering us more than any other university they interacted with,” commented Chrissy. “Being in the booth with Koonal, Mark and Brian is a lot of fun. We are all extraverted and energetic, so we created interactions that made us memorable to the participants.”

“Talking to the prospective students also gives us a chance to discern what they are looking for career wise and if IPS would be a good fit for them,” added Koonal.

Mark and Brian also made it a point to showcase the new programs at IPS and connect with alumni and friends who attended. It was also important for them to network with people that IPS could create potential partnerships with in the future.

The annual RECongress event is indeed very beneficial to IPS.

“It has been the most successful RECongress we have ever been to in terms of the number of people who stopped by our booth, the number of people who liked us on Facebook, the people who showed up at the alumni event, and the people interested in the new programs we have to offer,” noted Brian.

“We already have a lot of established relationships with speakers and constituents, so we want to foster those relationships,” added Chrissy. “We also want to reach out to students who are interested in our online programs. IPS offers three different Master degrees that can be pursued entirely online.”

Koonal made a good point when he said, “It is good to know what people want to do and what they are interested in, so at IPS, we can tailor our programs and classes to what is needed.”

With over 40,000 people at RECongress, the energy in the room is dynamic and palpable.

“Everybody is represented there. You can find Catholic publishers, rosary vendors, universities, seminaries, religious orders and more. This allows for great conversation for how to move things forward in the church with energy,” commented Mark.

“It was great just meeting so many people that have shared values and are interested in ministerial education,” added Brian.

This year was even more special because Brian was asked to lead two sessions during RECongress. During his talks, he discussed “Resurrection Faith” and “Pauline Spirituality for Lent.”

“It was a bonus to have those,” said Brian. “IPS attends each year and being asked to speak this year was an honor. It was great to connect with people who are interested in those topics.”


Everyone agreed that the IPS alumni and friends reception was their favorite part of the trip.

“It was a wonderful chance to talk to people and hear about their experiences at IPS. We were also able to brainstorm how we could work together in the future,” said Mark. “We even rounded up people at our booth to come to the event.”

“It was a great way to connect with our online students, who we do not always get to meet in person,” noted Koonal. “The reception is also more laid back, so we can have longer conversations with people and hear what they have been doing or are interested in doing.”

At the end of the IPS reception, guests were treated to a nice view of the Disneyland fireworks show. In fact, the Disney fireworks were so nice, that a few of our staff members even found their way to the park for some fun after the busy weekend.

Overall, they said it was a successful and fun event, and they look forward to next year! Not to mention how nice it was to be in California in March.

With over 40,000 people in attendance, RECongress is the largest annual gathering of its kind in the world. It hosts a variety of workshops, exhibitors and more.


The theme for this year was “See” or “Ver.” It was chosen from the blind man’s encounter in John 9: 1-41.

The Congress says, “Reflecting on this amazing scenario, our imaginations are stretched, we are drawn to see beneath the surface and discover the paradox: the blind man is the one who sees while the seeing ones are entombed in their own darkness… Spiritual blindness is at the center of the exchange and the challenge for all is to see at a deeper level… We are encouraged then to renew our vision, open up to the life-changing Light of Christ, and lead others to See anew.”



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

Faculty Profile: Michael Canaris

We are happy to announce that Dr. Michael Canaris has joined our faculty and will begin teaching classes this upcoming fall semester!

Canaris already has some great ideas and a lot of knowledge to offer our students. Moreover, he is eager to not only instruct them, but also to learn from them.

“I’m excited to teach not only the Church and Mission class, but related topics like hermeneutics, ecumenism, the theology of immigration, and the interpretation of Vatican II. I’ve also had wonderful experiences with a Theology of Hell class I designed (using Dante, Sartre, C.S. Lewis, Rahner/von Balthasar, etc.) and am currently trying to develop one on the Theology of Bergoglio/Francis, which will obviously include elements of his Ignatian spirituality. I’m hoping these may interest both administration and students at Loyola down the line. The pope’s recent call for theologians, and not just bishops, to have the ‘smell of their sheep’ has really resonated with me as I take up this position.”

Canaris is a valuable resource for IPS and we encourage students to reach out to him with any questions, help or just to say welcome to IPS.

Read his Q&A below to get to know more about Canaris and his different teachings, life lessons and some interesting facts you would not expect.


How did you feel when you were offered the position at IPS?
I spent fifteen years on Jesuit campuses, both as a student and teaching, and then the last few abroad in the UK and Rome, at universities which were not in that network. And while I love those international experiences and have developed some amazing friends, colleagues, and expanded horizons through them, my first instinct when I was offered the position was one of homecoming. That may sound strange, as I’m from the East Coast originally and have only visited Chicago without ever living there, but there was this overwhelming sense of returning to my roots and somehow being welcomed home by members of my Ignatian/AJCU family once again that went much deeper than just being back on American soil.

What are you looking forward to the most about teaching at IPS, and what are you looking forward to accomplishing while at IPS?
More than anything I’m excited about interacting with the students. Of course, the research facilities and institutional support for scholarship at a place like Loyola are unrivaled. But IPS offers such a unique environment for theologians and experts in various disciplines, where we as faculty members can help with formation of those who will be on the frontlines of the encounter between the church and the contemporary world. I honestly believe it’s a place where the faculty likely learn as much from the life experiences of our students as we can teach them. I’ve always been committed to viewing pedagogy as a sort of “co-traveling” toward wisdom and holistic learning. Loyola IPS seems a truly remarkable place for this type of exchange to take place.

What challenges do you foresee and how will you prepare for them? 
I have some experience teaching non-traditional students at various stops, both in America and at the Pontifical Beda College for second-career seminarians in Rome. I’m excited to broaden my perspectives teaching such a wide range of students as constitute the IPS, not only in terms of religious and denominational backgrounds, but especially those who for the most part differ markedly from 18-22 year-old traditional undergrads. There will undoubtedly be some challenges involved in planning successful classes and discussions in this new setting, but ones I feel confident, prepared and excited to find innovative techniques through which to foster transformational learning.

What can students expect when taking your classes, and what do you hope that they take away from your teachings?
Three themes from my own Jesuit education form the pillars of my approach to teaching: cura personalis, eloquentia perfecta, and seeking to become together “men and women for others.” Briefly for this setting: the first means my students will always be my main priority and I will always be accessible to them to help them grow holistically – whether it be intellectually, spiritually, socially, etc. The second demonstrates my conviction that it’s important not only to wrestle with the “big” questions in life about meaning, value, purpose, vocation, what it means to live a successful life, and the like, but also to develop skill sets for being able to articulate this beneficial wrestling clearly and convincingly to the church, academy and world. The last emphasizes the idea that neither theology/mission, nor any of the gifts we are given, are ultimately for our own advancement, but rather to serve our brothers and sisters in the human race, and the divine or transcendent however we come to name that reality in our lives.

Do you have a mentor or an experience in your life that helped shape who you are today? 
Whenever I stop to reflect on this, it honestly floors me how blessed I have been with almost mind-boggling mentors in the steps along my academic and spiritual journey. A question like this is difficult to answer without sounding like you are name-dropping! But, I’m also delighted to give credit where it is due. Brad Hinze, Paul Lakeland, Rick Ryscavage, and Beth Johnson have all been so supportive of my work and influential in my intellectual development. And Paul Murray at Durham University and I remain very close, in a friendship that transcends merely professional or academic interests at this point. However, my time spent studying under Francis A. Sullivan and then working for Avery Cardinal Dulles for five years, including not only assisting the latter with research and publishing, but also providing palliative care for him in his last days when he was suffering tremendously from post-polio syndrome, were probably the most formative experiences for me as a theologian.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time outside of the classroom?
I love all things Italian: culture, food, art, etc. I have been lucky to spend a lot of time there, as well as on the Spanish island of Mallorca, where I often visit in the summer months with friends who are at this point like family. I studied sports-journalism for a few years before theology, so I still love sports and am excited to adopt everything about life in Chicago – short of betraying my Eagles and Phillies.

Any fun facts about yourself or interesting story you wish to share?
My father was a federal agent who led the protection details for cabinet members and on many presidential trips across seven administrations. My mother was a teacher and substance abuse coordinator for a school district. My students always seem interested in that. I also have a very close friend who is a writer and producer for the TV show “Scandal.”


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

Faculty Profile: Timone Davis

Timone Davis began teaching at IPS in Fall 2014 as an adjunct professor. In the short amount of time she has been here, she has brought exceptional and transformative learning experiences to our students. With that said, join us in congratulating her on becoming a full time faculty member beginning Fall 2015.

Headshot timone

Timone has been very busy with several small projects and looks forward to being “less scattered” with her full time role at IPS. “I will be able to put more energy in one place and therefore, have a greater impact on the lives of ministers in training,” commented Timone.

She has been with the Augustus Tolton Pastoral Ministry Program at Catholic Theological Union since 1996. She began there as a student and then transitioned to being the Formation Director. Her role there will come to an end this May, but she owes a lot of her growth in spirituality to her time there. “I learned how to devote myself to helping other people come to an awareness of God in their own lives,” she said.

Timone wants to bring a similar experience to her students. In her classes (descriptions below) she said, “students can expect to dig deep for a level of honesty that is not always explored in classes. I will ask to make themselves vulnerable and be challenged not just by the material, but also in the call to witness to the gospel.”

For Timone, the most challenging part of being a teacher is being adequately prepared. “I always want to make sure I am giving my students enough information as possible in order for them to move ahead in whatever they are being called to do.”

Fortunately, she also finds her job very rewarding. Timone says she loves the “aha” moments when students “get it.” She strives for those moment where students are able to take what they are learning in the classroom and apply it outside the classroom. She understands the importance of students not just repeating back information, but rather being able to connect what they are learning to experiences in their own lives.

Outside of her professional life, Timone enjoys watching murder mysteries and cop shows. She also listens to audio books and reads books both electronically and in hard copy. Like most of us at IPS, she also loves good food.

You can connect with Timone on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. You can also hear her speak at The Racial Divide in the United States event on March 11.


Fall 2015 class descriptions:

Black Spirituality and Pastoral Care
This course will introduce students to Black Spirituality in the United States, from slavery to the present, in a Christian context. The course will be attentive to the culture of black life so as to get a better understanding of Black Spirituality’s rootedness in scripture, prayer, community and justice. Students will explore how Black Spirituality can be a lens through which they view pastoral care for persons on the margins while enhancing their own spirituality. This course will include scholarship on such themes as African-American ways of being, preaching, storytelling, dance, art, mentoring and self care.

Women in the Church: Bound Freedom
Often seen as the backbone of many churches, this course will explore how women are both free to explore and hold various roles/positions in the Christian Church while simultaneously beset with patriarchy and exclusion. Students will explore the rise of women in the Church and the constant struggle to be seen as an equal. This course will be attentive to Mujerista, Womanist, Asian and Feminist perspectives in the Protestant and Roman Catholic Church of the United States that continue to shape the landscape of women in ministry.


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

Guest Post: The Eucharistic Call to Active Nonviolence in a Wounded World

For this week’s post, we would like to feature an essay by IPS student Charissa Qiu. This past fall she wrote a reflection on the Eucharist and the call to justice and solidarity. In light of current world events, her words below help us remember what our pastoral response should be in times of trouble and controversy.

The Eucharistic Call to Active Nonviolence in a Wounded World

There is no denying that the historical Jesus was a controversial figure in his time – he ate at the same table with sinners; he touched lepers; he performed miracles on the Sabbath, and he challenged the status quo and the authority of those in power in his society. The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s Gospel, especially in Matthew 5: 38-42, illustrates Jesus’ creative nonviolence clearly – responding to violence and injustice not with retaliation, but rather, to bring the injustice to light by finding creative ways to reveal it and have it speak for itself.

The restorative and reconciliatory justice of God that we are called to through partaking in the Eucharist is very different from the retributory justice of the world. The Eucharist calls us to right relationship and unity, which calls us not to segregation and retaliation, but rather, to respond with truth and love. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” There has been a lot of attention in the media lately surrounding two cases of white police violence against black unarmed men, and the grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officers. That has brought up a lot of various emotional responses of the public, with various people supporting either side. There have been riots to express outrage, forums for people to express and discuss feelings and opinions – people have felt the need to express themselves, and rightfully so. In the middle of all this chaos and emotion, a 12-year-old boy by the name of Devonte Hart (image below) chose to stand out holding a sign that read “Free Hugs,” and that courage and expression of love brought a moment of peace – a tiny glimpse of the Kingdom of God. It is when we start to see the humanity within each other that we share that we begin to stand together in solidarity, in the celebration of the Eucharist, and live into the Kingdom of God.


We can acknowledge that we live in a world right now laden with violence and injustice, one that is filled with pain and woundedness. We are suspicious and afraid of “the other,” so we respond by distancing ourselves even more from what we are unfamiliar with, and continue to live in fear. The call of the Eucharist is to vulnerability, to openness, to transformation, and ultimately, to relationship. We cannot overcome our fear of the unknown through distancing ourselves – we need to overcome our fear by getting in touch with the unknown and “the other.” Jesus taught and lived out active nonviolence, and it is important to clarify here that nonviolence is not the same thing as passivity. To “turn the other cheek” does not mean to allow abuse to continue – in turning the other cheek, we are forcing the other person to slap us with their open hand (the left hand was only used for unclean purposes in Jesus’ time and so would not be used) which is a statement of equality – it is demanding to be treated fairly and equally; an act of active nonviolence.

As we accept the reality of our wounded world, we need to, at the same time, go beyond that reality and ground ourselves in hope, and with faith that love is stronger and more sustainable than hatred. That is the call of the Eucharist – into the darkness, but also into the light. Jesus hung on the cross between the tensions of the world and the Kingdom of God, and there was darkness, but after patiently sitting in the darkness and allowing it to transform us, there will be light.


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

Opening Remarks from Archbishop at Digital Concentration Launch Event

Opening Remarks
Archbishop Blase J. Cupich
Loyola University Chicago
Institute of Pastoral Studies Event
February 10, 2015

“Thank you Loyola University, Fr. Garanzini, Dr. Brian Schmisek and all those who were instrumental in developing a Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies with a concentration in Digital Communication. Thank you also for inviting me to give opening remarks before this distinguished panel, moderated by Don Wycliff, shares with you their expertise and insights on the Church’s use of social media.

This initiative which the Institute of Pastoral Studies is launching will provide participants with the communications tools, instructions and knowledge necessary to address a variety of current parish needs and to look and plan for future needs. Students will learn how to build not only the appropriate infrastructure but to develop the message, the delivery, and utilize the resulting interaction in parish life, all of which is exciting and necessary to the growth of our parishes and the spread of the Gospel.

It occurs to me that as you do so it is worth recalling something St. John Paul II writes in his 1990 encyclical, Redemptoris Missio. The means of mass communication, he noted, have become not only the chief means of information and education for many people today, but also the chief source for “guidance and inspiration in their behavior as individuals, families and within society at large.” For this reason, he went on to say: “It is not enough to use the media simply to spread the Christian message and the Church’s authentic teaching. It is also necessary to integrate that message into the ‘new culture’ created by modern communications. This is a complex issue, since the ‘new culture’ originates not just from whatever content is eventually expressed, but from the very fact that there exist new ways of communicating, with new languages, new techniques and a new psychology” (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, 37c, 1990).

This trenchant analysis is all the more remarkable when we consider that these words were written before the Internet became part of all our lives, yet they seem to describe its influence but also its challenges and opportunities for society and the Church so startlingly well. What the late saintly pope is saying here is that developments in communications technology going back well over a hundred years have not only benefited us but have also changed us. That is why the Church’s interest in and concern for contemporary communications technology is not merely a utilitarian concern – a form of “keeping up with the Jones” to make sure that the Church is not still using quill pens, as it were, when everyone else is text messaging. There are deeper issues that go beyond the surface attractions that claim our attention. These new communications technologies have created a new culture, and the Gospel message cannot be effectively communicated without the Church’s immersing herself in and understanding this culture.

The novelty of the Holy Father’s opening Twitter and Facebook accounts, and even engaging viewers with Google Hangouts may make headlines for a couple of days. Less likely to get serious consideration is what opening those accounts and hanging out on Google says about the nature of the culture which the Holy Father is trying to reach and even about the impact such communications have on the nature of the Church in using these means.

To put in perspective this point that contemporary communications technology has impacted us, changed our culture, changed us, just consider how other scientific and technological advances have also changed us, changed the way we think and behave. For instance, the invention of the microscope confirmed the existence of invisible organisms which explain the once mysterious phenomena of disease and epidemics. This was not only new knowledge but a new way of relating to our world. We now had a more accurate understanding of our environment. No longer were we at the mercy of superstitious explanations which could not free us from these diseases and epidemics. Instead of being crushed in spirit and body as our medieval ancestors were by the Black Death, we can fight against epidemics as we have had to do most recently against Ebola in West Africa.

Likewise, we have seen a change in us, our culture and our behaviors in a number of ways when it comes to the technological developments in mass media. Just to list a few:

  • Social networking sites provide connections between people with an ease unimaginablebefore;
  • The ordinary person has been empowered to be his or her own publisher, reporter, magazineeditor, or movie/TV director/producer whose products can reach multitudes and offer thepotential to gain the attention of the major conventional media and even transcend them;
  • An Internet sensation can soon become a public sensation;
  • The Internet even offers the potential to assume a wholly other persona in the world of the“’Net.” A New Yorker cartoon brings this point home well. One dog says to another, “On theInternet, nobody knows you’re a dog”;
  • Work space and play space interpenetrate as persons can work almost anywhere as if theywere at their desks and have with them on their smartphones video programming, music andwhatever else it is that entertains them.
  • We do our shopping and banking without ever leaving our homes;
  • Search engines take the place of traveling to libraries and archives.

This extraordinary democratization of media has certainly brought about a “new culture … with new languages, new techniques and a new psychology.” Even socio-economic and generational differences are marked by the challenges that come from these new technologies. The access to these means, which still demand a certain level of resources or the lack of access, has exacerbated social differences and inequality. The ease with which these new technologies are used by those who have grown up with them at their fingertips(or voice commands) make many in the older generation feel left out, especially when the conventional media they are used to refer them to the Internet for further information.So, the Church and Church leadership must give careful consideration to the enormous consequences new communications technology will have on them. It is not sufficient to join in the surprise with every new development nor simply try to keep up with the times by investing in whatever the marketplace rolls out. We have to begin thinking about the deeper issues, how these technologies are changing us, changing our culture and how we intersect with that culture in carrying out the mission of Christ.

My hope would be that today and the days going forward you will keep before you both the challenges and the opportunities this new technology presents for pastoral life. To get you started let me offer a couple of considerations.

It might be appealing at first blush to become enamored by the Internet’s ability to provide top- down communication, only to learn later that many of its users expect more. Interactivity is part of the Internet beast’s nature. Yet, this is more revolutionary for the Church than the simple statement of fact makes it sound. After all, the Catholic Church has a hierarchy with authority to teach, govern and sanctify. The most significant communications have been from the top down. Even the Second Vatican Council was a revolution from above, a fact often ignored. The Internet has the potential, or for some, the risk, of opening the decisions of all hierarchies to debate from below. How does an authoritative teaching office not only communicate but also make its decisions stick, as it were, in an Internet world that encourages discussion and debate of everything? What are the consequences for geographically-based authority, such as diocesan bishops, in a world where the media know no such boundaries or of having so many blogging bishops when speaking with one voice has been a hallmark of Catholicism? As a friend of mine says, Pope Francis’s openness to the media may have to result in a new category of papal pronouncement: the Apostolic Interview.

Also do these new media help or hinder the creation of genuine community? The experience so far is ambiguous. These technologies do facilitate a sense of community with a reach that can be truly “catholic,” at least with a small “c,” but they also make possible communities that are exclusive and not universal – communities which simply re-enforce one’s own world view to the exclusion of any other. They also can foster isolation, providing the individual with the capacity to avoid face-to-face contact with other human beings. This is hardly conducive to participating in a Church which calls its diverse members to contribute to the building up of one body, each in his or her own way. Nor can we ignore the persistence of inequality of access present in the so called “digital divide”, in which the poor, underserved communities lack the means to access the internet the way the rest of us do and take for granted. All of this cuts against the Church’s mission and goal of offering a Pentecost experience of the universal proclamation of the Gospel in a way all can understand.

And, finally to take a very down-to-earth, even mundane example of the ambiguities the new technology can present: There is no more utilitarian task than raising the money that permits the Church to carry on her pastoral ministries. The new communication technology makes possible on-line giving, but as one pastor I know recently asked me: “what kind of message we are sending by promoting a way of contributing which makes it possible to support the Church without ever going to church?”

The Church’s concern for the mass media for as long as she has been aware of their influence has involved not only their potential benefit (or risks) to the Church but also their effect on the entire human community. In discussing the negative consequences of new communications technology, sometimes they are treated as if they arose solely from the “newness” of the technology. But, this fails to recognize that, just as these new means are a response to the basic human need to communicate, so too their defects reflect defects of human nature. The capacity culpably to mislead and to permit oneself to be misled was apparent even when humanity’s means of communication were far more primitive.

Unquestionably technology can exacerbate the impact of humanity’s defects. The unmediated and easily manipulated form of media that is the Internet poses the problem of an exceptionally efficient, widespread and anonymous dispersal of lies and misinformation and of indecency and predatory activity. But a computer is not a magic box that makes people do evil. What it does do is increase our capacity to do good or evil as we choose. Unfortunately, like developments in weaponry, developments in the means of communications can outstrip the ability of humanity’s ethical sense to come up with the principles and ways to guide their use. The Church has the responsibility to promote the ethical use of all media, old and new.

Addressing these serious questions and deeper issues seems to me to be at the heart of the new effort Loyola University’s Institute of Pastoral Studies is launching today. This very comprehensive program will offer students technical communications tools and the infrastructure for message development, delivery and interaction all of which has the promise of enriching and enhancing the spread of the Gospel. But at the same time, my invitation to you is that you also attend to the deeper issues which are related to how this new technology is changing us, our behaviors and our culture; that you will explore ways for the Church to intersect that culture, but also integrate the Christian message into the ‘new culture’, as St. John Paul II urged a quarter century ago. The aim of your studies will be as it always has been: to bring people in our time to an encounter with Christ, making them not only disciples but companions who will accompany each other, not merely as Facebook pals, bloggers or tweeters, but as fellow pilgrims. Thank you.”


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 DeVona

Earning a dual degree at IPS, DeVona Alleyne has great advice for future students and shows that hard work pays off. Read below to find out some interesting and wonderful things about DeVona.

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Nickname: None, but DeVona often gets shortened to Dee for the sake of quick conversation.

Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.

A favorite of yours: My favorite color is red, but my favorite color to wear is black – the standard East Coast uniform.

A bible verse that has significance to you? 
“So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” – Romans 12:5 (NKJV)

Previous education:
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – B.A. in English and in Journalism in 1999
Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va. – started M.Div. in 2005

What were you doing before beginning your IPS journey?
I was a newspaper editor, most recently at the Chicago Tribune, who was laid off and considering where my passion existed outside of journalism. From my work as a hospice volunteer, I considered being a nurse and worked in a hospital for a year then went back to editing at a Christian publishing company. There, I met my mentor who steered me toward finding a program like mine at IPS.

What made you decide to come to Loyola IPS?
My manager at the Christian publishing company where I worked in 2012 would ask me about my interests from time to time that had less to do with my editing tasks. She took note of my practical theological perspectives and my care for understanding and positively shaping others’ motivations. In talking through it, she suggested I find a master’s program that combined spirituality and psychology. Thinking it was nearly impossible, I started Googling anyway and was pleasantly surprised, already living in Chicago, to find IPS’ pastoral counseling program right in my front yard!

What are your studies focused on/what degree plan are you in?
I’m in the dual degree program, pursuing the M.A. in pastoral counseling and the master of divinity. If all continues to go well, I’ll have both by May 2016 – three and a half years from when I started.

What are you most looking forward to accomplishing during your time here at Loyola IPS and how does that relate to your future goals?
I’ve learned so much in the two years I’ve been here that I couldn’t have predicted any of it. One of the things that broadened my understanding of pastoral counseling in this program is that my future career will be less about what I do and more about who I am.

That’s important for recognizing what God means to me and how, as a minister, I reflect that very practical understanding for someone else’s individual translation of their own spirituality. Through my divinity program, I hope to build upon that foundation for future chaplaincy work. Further, I look forward to being even more aware of myself in relationship to anyone I encounter — whether it’s a client in individual therapy, a group or couple – to provide the best therapeutic care leading people to their greatest capacities to love.

Do you have a favorite class or one you look forward to taking?
I thoroughly enjoyed my Social Context of Ministry course taught by Dan Rhodes, though it was perhaps the most depressing and challenging of any that I’d taken – even over Michael Bland’s psychopathology. (The latter is a close second for favorite and, ironically, depressing.) More than any other course, it framed the real world and all the intangible forces that determine public and private thought with not-so-great consequences. The challenge of the course was to rethink my worldview by deconstructing its origins and then step up to the world by considering ways to make a real difference for people.

Do you see any challenges you will have to overcome during your time here? If so, what is one of them?
The only challenge I see at IPS will be the race against time. I juggle a lot with school, church and family, and precision is necessary to get everything done. It’s gone well so far, despite a crazy schedule. I’ve taken 12 hours most semesters and just focused and prayed – prayed a lot, actually.

Do you have any recommendations for future students?
Take advantage of every experience IPS offers: Get to know and connect with classmates, have a meal on campus, talk with professors, attend events and spend time physically in the library. It’s easy to get caught up in such a studious mood that you miss out on the full experience of your studies. Debate ideas, put them into practice and question what’s happening around you. And as for the libraries, well, I’m a former journalist. There’s no reward like actually using a little shoe leather to find the information you need. All of that is a part of learning and will give you the full Loyola and IPS experience.

In what way will you go forth to “change the world?”
That’s simple: The world I encounter will change when and as I change myself and allow my experiences to change me for the better. With others, I will encourage positive transformation and expose the benefit of unexpected, undesirable or uncontrollable change.

Are you currently working on an interesting project that you wish to share?
It won’t happen until next year, but I’m tossing around a few ideas for my M.Div. project paper that will likely center on the intersection of Christianity and general understanding of human sexuality.

What is a fun fact or story about you?
I have an uncle whose name is King Solomon and an aunt whose name is Queen Esther, each on opposite sides of my family tree.

Any additional information you would like to share:
I’m a married mother of 2-year-old twins, who were 5 months old when I started attending IPS full-time. They show me every day that anything is possible.

You can connect with her via Twitter: @devonaara


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