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April 2013

Apr 24, 2013

Beacons of Light

In recent days, we’ve been called to pray together at special services and liturgies for those who were victims of the bombings at the Boston Marathon and for the victims of the fertilizer plant explosion in Texas.  In coming together and sharing grief, we’ve been reminded that love prevails when confronted with unexpected loss and in spite of the fear and the hatred that terror tries to instill.  We are each invited to be beacons of light.  We are called to seek stronger and deeper relationships.   

Last week, we had a number of events at CTU that were inspiring that served to provide hope and light.   Fr. Mark Francis was named to succeed Fr. Donald Senior as the seventh president of CTU.  (Fr. Donald Senior, the current President, recently announced his retirement.  Fr. Don has been a remarkable leader and visionary – someone who has led the school with wisdom and grace.  Fortunately for CTU, he plans to continue as a professor at the school.)

Fr. Mark Francis, a Viatorian priest, comes to CTU with enthusiasm, with vision, and with a global perspective.  He served as Superior General of the Viatorians and has written extensively.  He was ordained a priest in 1982 and earned a masters of divinity and a masters of arts degree in theology from CTU.  In 1988, he earned a doctorate in sacred liturgy in Rome and then returned to CTU as a professor of liturgy for 12 years.  Fr. Mark inspires hope, and a bold and faithful response to the needs of the world.  We will be formally welcoming him to his new position soon. To access an interview with Fr. Mark, please go to  and YouTube -

CTU also welcomed Mary McAleese, the eighth president of Ireland, who was the recipient of the 2013 “Blessed are the Peacemakers Award” given at the Catholic Theological Union Trustee Dinner.  Mary presented at a CTU community forum and at the Trustee dinner.  Her talk was life-giving as she told story after story about the peacemaking and reconciliation work that was initiated in Ireland and continues today.  Her courage and faith were evident as she told of her commitment to justice through the lens of seeing all people as “children of God.”  She spoke about the challenges and healing that needed to take place when she took office, about reaching out to those who had once considered each other enemies, about eating together, and about building friendships and trust.  (If you are interested in listening to her talk, you can go to the talk will be posted after May 1.)

The welcoming of Mary McAleese and Fr. Mark Francis to CTU somehow fit as the stories of so many at CTU are inspiring.  As Director of Recruitment and previously Director of Admissions, I’ve heard the stories of students and graduates - the next generation of leaders who will and are already immersing themselves in transforming the world through relationships.   Many are working in parishes, non-profits, schools, or businesses.  Some work in government.  They bring to these ministries a sensitivity, respect, and voice for those who are often voiceless.  They minister and serve.  Often students and graduates are called upon to build bridges between people of different faith traditions.  At CTU we have an remarkable student body and an extensive alumni/ae community that brings the global voice to issues.  We also have an extraordinary faculty who not only write, teach, and lecture, but who are also involved in building a more just and peaceful world.  CTU is a place where professors and students of many faith traditions hold the value of respect toward others as a guiding principle.   

We are all invited to bring about change and transformation by committing to accompany those in need and by protecting the human dignity of the vulnerable.

Let us be beacons of hope to a complex and sometimes violent world by sharing the vision of how we can do relationship, of how we can build bridges of peace and reconciliation between faith traditions, and by gaining a deeper understanding what it means to live in a multifaith world.  As Mary McAleese recently reminded us, “Let us remember who we are - we are all children of God.”

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

Apr 12, 2013

  Holocaust Remembrance Day occurred this week.  In Israel the entire country comes to a halt at 10am as a 60 second siren wails across the land.  People stop what they're doing and stand in memoriam. Traffic ceases, drivers emerge from their vehicles and stand like statues. Even dogs sense the day and pause.

This collective ritual reinforces the power of pausing to reflect on the atrocities in the world. It is fitting that this week, CTU presented two screenings of the award-winning documentary film Beneath the Blindfold.  Filmmakers Ines Sommer and Kathy Berger spent six years creating this poignant work that looks at the lives of four torture survivors. Far from a pity piece, the film celebrates the survivors' strength and resiliency.  Beneath the Blindfold offers us an opportunity to reflect about injustice and witness the journeys of four survivors on their path to becoming whole. 

I had the opportunity to interview Ines and Kathy about their film.  We covered a range of topics from activism to how faith based communities can interact with the film.  I invite you to listen to the podcast. It's a chance to pause, witness and reflect. 

You can also find out more about Beneath the Blindfold and see a trailer at

Apr 08, 2013

This year, Easter Vigil shone with even greater brilliance as our friend and colleague Valerie was initiated into the Church at St. Thomas the Apostle, parish home to many members of the CTU community.   In the last few days, people have visited Valarie to ask her about the experience, to talk about their own Easters with family and faith community and, to dip into the bowl of jelly beans on her desk—a sweet reminder of our celebrations.   As the visitors have added up, the candy has diminished somewhat.  By late Friday afternoon, I had begun to feel that Easter was draining away…and I sat somewhat uninspired to write this blog entry…

…Until Professor Maria Cimperman, RSCJ, stopped by my office.  For the end of the week, she still seemed pretty energized—and clearly still carried Easter with her.  She shared a question she had posed to her students this week: “We all had our Lenten practices, but what will be our Easter practices?”  

A new Alleluia struck me.  That’s right.  Easter does not end with Easter Sunday, or Easter Week, or whenever the jelly beans run out.   We have FIFTY days of Easter.   We may find Lent to stretch a bit long at times, but Easter Season is actually longer!   

We adopted our Lenten fasting practices to make room in our minds, hearts, and bodies for the transforming Love that is God.  Now is the time to relish, and even revel a bit in the joy that Love brings us—in our renewed ways of being with ourselves, with those we encounter, with the world.

Each year, our “Taste of CTU” event provides an opportunity for our global community to share stories, song, and dance—those from our homeland, and those closest to our hearts.  This year’s “Taste of CTU,” which happened the day we returned from our Easter Recess, modeled some good Easter practices for all of us. It was an intentional time to set aside for joy, even when confronted by fear (stage fright) or obstacles (getting the right music to play).  And by the end of the evening, we were all out of our seats (even this double-left foot gal) dancing together.

We have kept the fast.  Now the dance floor is open.  How will we keep the feast?

Angela Paviglianiti | Director of Admissions |