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Nov 16, 2012

Hmmm….my week to write the blog. Thanksgiving approaches. I know – I’ll write about gratitude!

An obvious choice, a worthy topic. But as I think about all that I’m grateful for in life, which includes my life at CTU, my thanks cannot be spoken in a breezy, “ain’t life perfect” kind of way. It’s more complex than that. Can you relate?

My gratitude, for example, ranges from simple appreciation for such things as reasonable traffic on Lake Shore Drive to a deeper and more seasoned thanks for the health and well-being of my loved ones, for adversity weathered, for the giving and receiving of love.  That gratitude comes with a capital “G.”

Shortly after I started my new job at CTU seven months ago, two valued employees in Marketing and Communications needed to pursue new callings. Talk about a learning curve that I didn’t expect!  I was overwhelmed and a little scared, but thank God, I received such care and understanding from the CTU community and my colleagues in Enrollment Management. Today, I have the good fortune to have two new colleagues, Karla Meier and Ronit Bezalel, who are enormously creative and talented. I am so grateful and excited about what we’ll accomplish together.

Learning that President Donald Senior would be retiring in June set me thinking again about the nature of gratitude.  One of the reasons that I came to CTU was because of my great admiration for Fr. Senior.  Soon, Fr. Don won’t inhabit the office down the hall, or walk by each morning with a warm “Hi Nancy!” on his way to responsibilities more numerous than I can imagine.

And yet, what I have learned from him by example is that to face new challenges is to embrace new life, new excitement, and the possibility of new gratitude born of victories and, yes, even losses, great and small. To feel gratitude is to engage life in all its phases.  We at CTU have so much to be grateful for, so much to give, and so much to look forward to as the future unfolds.

I think Fr. Don will forgive me if I “lift” the ending of his recent Scripture reflection: “Some well-intentioned Christians spend time trying to calculate the end of the world; others think it is best to ignore a world that is doomed for destruction and prefer to live in anxiety and fear of the doom to come... Instead, we should continue to be fully alive and alert, ready for the moments of grace that may come our way unexpectedly. “

I have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. May you enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving, too, filled with life and cherished moments of grace!

Nancy Nickel, Director of Marketing and Communications,

Nov 13, 2012

This weekend, I had the privilege to represent CTU at the National Call to Action Conference in Louisville, KY.  Each year, this conference gathers some 1500 participants from across the country committed to promoting justice in the church and beyond.  In many ways, the demographic of conference attendees resembles that of CTU with its mix of multi-generations, religious and lay persons, professional ministers, volunteers, and seekers.  I thought, What an ideal place to “spread the word” about CTU!

After a short time on the exhibit floor, I soon learned that CTU was already at work among many of the conference attendees—and for them, needed no introduction.  Countless times, I was greeted like an old friend by alumni I had never met.  I had to begin to use my notebook to record the messages I promised to deliver from old friends to members of the CTU community.  Harrietta Halloway, our receptionist (and listening ear), was mentioned with reverence on more than one occasion.  There were also students who studied elsewhere but had been inspired by visiting faculty, such as Fr. Don Senior.   One gentleman had returned from our Holy Land trip last month and was still glowing.   Several expressed gratitude for the ministry CTU members perform in their “free time,” such as Mark Schramm and Steve Bevans, who preside at the St. Giles Family Mass.    An author in the booth across from me spoke admirably about his long time written correspondence with the late Barbara Bowe, treasured to this day. 

I entered into the weekend prepared to do outreach and educate others on the opportunities of a CTU education. I was humbled each time someone approached me and gave witness to the impact of CTU on his or her life and ministry because I was not prepared to likewise receive.  “Thank you for being here,” people said to me, again and again.  My “No, thank you,” felt insignificant in return.

But I say it again.

Thank you.  Thank you for enriching CTU by your presence.  And thank you for carrying CTU with you as you enrich our church—and the world.

Angela Paviglianiti, Director of Admissions | | 773.371.5445

Oct 26, 2012

CTU is a unique learning community. While some places boast of being a big university with thousands of students, CTU takes pride not in size or numbers, but how we serve - together

At the heart of this community is lay and religious learning together. Should-to-shoulder. Heart-to-heart. Issue-by-issue. Mission and vision. Theology and ministry. While individual charisms, callings, and vocations vary, the building up of God's reign in the here-and-now is a constant goal.

It's more than this, too. At CTU it is not only that lay and religious are learning side-by-side, but that they are crafting, dialogically and collaboratively, future church - together.

The issues, values, dreams and hopes of the laity are put in dialog with, inform, speak to those preparing for ordination. Similarly, those living in a religious community bring their perspective, wisdom and experience to the conversation. All gifts are brought forth and treasured.

As a community, as diverse church, we wrestle with making meaning of it all - together.

It gets real at times, too. Making meaning of God's grace and our limitedness - the big questions of life and faith - is not easy, to be sure. Creative tensions, stern conversations, spirited dialog, respectful disagreements happen. If we weren't taking seriously the charge to live the Gospel daily there would be no need for investment.

The product of our yearning - together - makes this community, our faith, and church that much stronger.

  • Lay and Religious
  • Full and Part-time Students
  • Ministers and Scholars
  • Campus and Online Learners
  • Young Adults and Career Changers
  • Domestic and International Students

There's more diversity at CTU than this, too; I'm sure of it. We're all in this together.


Ryan Hoffmann, Senior Director of Enrollment Management | | 773.371.5523

Oct 22, 2012

The Israel Study and Travel group just returned to CTU this week.   For our students, it was a time of study and exploration of biblical and historical sites in Greece, Turkey, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Jordan.

Seven years ago, I had the opportunity to go on a CTU trip to Israel and Jordan.  There is nothing quite like being in the land, walking the paths, hearing the sounds, smelling the scents of flowers and spices, feeling the intense heat of the sun, or relaxing in the cool of the evening.  One night we were doing just that, relaxing at the Mount of the Beatitudes overlooking the Sea of Galilee.  Typical of new-found friends, we were laughing and joking when one of us remarked, “I wonder if this was what it was like for Jesus and his friends?”  Immediately, the group fell silent, and the silence continued for 30 minutes or so.  The reverie was broken by the coo of a dove.  Then one of us wondered what it would take for peace to prevail on this planet instead of the chaos we often face.  We began to reflect on deeper questions.  The trip was life-changing for me as it was for many others. 

We didn’t have to be history buffs as the professors on the trip laid out the history of the places we visited. They read Bible passages and other writings as we journeyed through the land.  It was remarkable how similar the land looked as compared to the Biblical descriptions.   We were given special tours of archaeological digs and plenty of time for prayer and reflection. 

Having had a taste of the land that is home to many religions, where people passionately live their beliefs, I must admit, I long to return.   

At CTU, we have a unique opportunity in the January Term.  The course, Abraham’s Children, is being offered as a graduate, theological traveling seminar which is designed to introduce some of the basic elements of the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faith traditions through the lens and dynamic of interreligious relations and understanding.  It is open to participants from any faith or philosophical background.  The course will feature visits to some of the holiest sites of the three traditions and provides an experiential setting which highlights the relevance of history and theology to important contemporary global realities; participants are afforded the opportunity to build interreligious relationships with faculty and colleagues of all three faiths.  The course is being co-taught by Prof. Rabbi David Sandmel, Prof. Scott C. Alexander, Prof. Inamul Haq, and Prof. John Pawlikowski, O.S.M. 

You may have questions about this trip or other travel opportunities at CTU, or you may want to begin to dream about what it would be like to go on such a trip.  If you want to learn a bit more about this opportunity and check out the itinerary, please go to  You can also contact me for more information on any of our travel programs.


Kathy Van Duser, Director of Recruitment | | 773.371.5450

Oct 06, 2012

Welcome to “To the Point!” On behalf of all those in marketing, recruitment and admissions at CTU I’m thrilled you’ve found our blog online.

Let me get To the Point. CTU is located in the Hyde Park neighborhood, literally feet from magnificent Lake Michigan on Chicago’s south shore. One area in particular – The Point – is known by locals for its breathtaking and serene views of Chicago across the blue waters of Lake Michigan. It’s a place for gathering with friends, taking a contemplative walk, meeting others in the community, sitting outside and having lunch. For CTU students it’s a place to pray and reflect, alone or in community. The Point is, in essence, a place for sharing, exploring, dialoguing, and more. We welcome you to the virtual Point.    

To the Point will serve as a hub for CTU news, reflections, announcements,  and stories of what we’re about. Faculty, staff, and students will take turns sharing with our wider audience the vision of this place, the ways in which we serve, the ministries and charisms that embody this community, and the rest of the myriad ways we invite you, those “out there,” to join us as partners in mission. It may involve tips on how to get started as a student and what degree program to pursue, ways to volunteer with one of our programs and make a difference, opportunities to attend a lecture or liturgy, and much more. So please, bookmark To the Point and check back often.

From the Point, thank you for visiting. If there is anything we can do for you please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Ryan Hoffmann, Senior Director of Enrollment Management | | 773-371-5523

Oct 05, 2012


I have a two-part confession:

1.      I can’t get away from school for very long.  My friends and family branded me as a “professional student” a loooonnnng time ago.

2.     One of the joys of returning to CTU as a member of the staff is to reap the benefits of “being in school” without the pressure of being an “official student.”

It’s true—this week alone, I have considered Steve Bevan’s reflection on “A Day without Vatican II,” at our Alumni/ae Reunion lecture, contemplated the spirituality of Thérèse of Lisieux with Mary Frohlich at our quarterly Sundays at CTU presentation and Mass, and received new insights into “full, conscious, and active participation” with Ed Foley at our Rediscovering Vatican II Lecture Series.  Freed from the task of an upcoming assignment (and even note-taking!) I can revel in the fact that the transformation brought by learning is life-long. 

Of all my CTU learning moments this week, perhaps the most memorable happened outside the lecture hall.  As an auditor in the course component of the Rediscovering Vatican II series, I experience the joy each week of crowding into a classroom post-lecture with nearly 40 students and simply listening to the way the week’s material has moved us.  We span at least five decades of life; we have crossed most portions of the nation and globe; we are religious and lay persons, parents and priests, seasoned and emerging ministers.  And we struggle—intellectually, in the parish pews, and in our communities--to articulate how the Spirit present at the Second Vatican works among us today.  We simultaneously express gratitude and trepidation about where we have come and where we will go as a Church.  Toward the end of our time together this week, our Nigerian classmate Sr. Rita asserted that first of all, education on the teachings of this Council for all the faithful is key.  And second of all, she continued emphatically, pausing to sweep her gaze around the room,

“We are the Church!  So let’s do it!”  

Sr. Rita reminded us that we are sent forth to be Church.  Her reminder holds true for all of God’s people.  We are each called and sent.  “So let’s do it!”

How will you?

Sep 26, 2012

Kathy Van Duser

Blog:  Sept. 26, 2012

One of my friends challenged me to live this Rumi quote during the year, “The door is round and open. Don’t go back to sleep.”  The quote set off a number of thoughts and feelings in me.  I began to ask myself some questions, “What opportunities am I being invited into?” “What is life-giving for me?” “How do I live life fully?  “Is the way I conduct my life, life-giving to others?”  “What am I passionate about?”  “What would I like to do?” “How is God calling me?” “When do I tend to go back to sleep?” 

In my work as Director of Recruitment, I meet with people on a regular basis, listening to their stories, hopes, and dreams, and then helping them to discern their particular call.  Some know deep down what they’ve been invited to step into next, but delay out of fear and the ever popular, “have to do first list.” We’re adept at finding ways to avoid, and we sometimes just go back to sleep.  Others aren’t sure what in particular they’re being called to but know it has to do with theology and ministry.  Still others know what they’re being called to do and charge boldly forward.

What about you?  If you’ve been thinking about exploring the possibility of education for theology and ministry, what if you don’t go back to sleep, but this time sign up for a CTU Open House event?

There are a number of benefits in registering for a CTU Open House:  you’ll learn about career opportunities in ministry, have an opportunity to meet faculty and students, you’ll understand how easy it is to access and complete the admission process, you’ll learn about scholarship and other financial aid opportunities that are available, you’ll participate in a tour of the school and you’ll get your questions answered.   

To register for an Open House event click, .    My challenge to you will be the one my friend made to me…  “The door is round and open, don’t go back to sleep.”

Aug 23, 2012

Hello from the admissions and recruitment office!

It's a busy time for Angela, Kathy and myself in our office, I am sure that it is busy for those of you who are still in the process of completing your applications for admissions to CTU. In my role as the assistant to the department, I am here along with Angela and Kathy to help you in the process of completing your application.

I hope that process is going well for you and please know that you can always contact us with questions or concerns. 

With our open enrollment you still have time to start the fall semester with us, so please take advantage of it.


Valerie -  - Assistant to the Admissions and Rectuitment Team

Aug 22, 2012

Hello Seekers! I’m Angela and I began my role as Director of Admissions this past February. I first visited CTU in 2006 as an “older young adult” participant in the first Catholics on Call Conference. I enrolled in the Master of Divinity program the following fall, leaving a social worker position I’d held the past few years because I felt called to something more.

At CTU, I am here to accompany those who have discerned that this “something more” includes further theological study and ministerial preparation. I’ll help you to navigate the applications process and, once you are admitted, continue to walk with you until you walk through our doors, assisting you in the transition to student life at CTU. (Remember, I was in your shoes just a few short years ago!) You can also reach out to me for assistance in the Federal Student Loan application process, which I facilitate in collaboration with the Business Office.

Both my ministerial and social work perspective inform my work, and I continue to be interested in the intersection between spirituality and emotional well-being. This background also inspires my life outside the office with St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Evanston, IL and the Ignatian Spirituality Project.

My current favorite quote is from St. Irenaeus:  “The glory of God is human being fully alive,” which you’ll learn in Steve Bevans’ Trinity and Mission course. It is one of my great joys to witness students become more “fully alive” as they immerse themselves in learning. I look forward to discussing the possibility of making this happen for at CTU!

Aug 22, 2012


I’m Kathy and I arrived at Catholic Theological Union a number of years ago when a friend shared that she would be taking a Summer Institute class. I hadn’t heard of the school before, but the course she was taking sounded intriguing. I decided to sign up for it, too. The course was food for my soul, and I immediately decided I wanted to enroll in more classes as it had always been a dream of mine to work in church ministry. Between balancing family and working out finances, it took me a year to begin studies. 

So if you’re wondering about how to make your dream of serving in some aspect of ministry come to fruition, maybe I can help. As Director of Recruitment at CTU, I assist prospective students in discerning what degree, certificate or continuing education program would fit their ministerial or theological pursuits. I enjoy listening to prospective students as they share their stories, and then I help them create a way to make theological education possible by putting them in contact with scholarship opportunities, matching grants and other financial aid. I oversee the scholarship programs at CTU.

I’m a graduate of CTU in the Master of Arts Pastoral Studies degree program and have worked in parish ministry in the area of religious education for both children and adults. When I came to CTU I didn’t speak the theological language. My background was in education (taught high school) and in business (worked for local and international companies). I enjoy sharing with others the strategies I used to become adept at understanding theology.  

Our students and graduates are changing the world in powerfully, positive ways. It gives me joy to assist people on their journey.

Kathy Van Duser, Director of Recruiment | | 773-371-5450