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May 2013

May 31, 2013

Meet John Angotti, Jean Rogers and Robert Cowlishaw. These folks, along with three of their peers, were the first class to obtain a Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (M.A.P.S.) degree through CTU’s distance learning program.

I had the opportunity to interview John, Jean, and Robert when they were in town for graduation. I admired their discipline, drive, and curiosity.  The group had a purpose in life greater than themselves. A common theme emerged as John, Jean and Robert discussed how CTU deepened their faith.

Robert hails from Salt Lake City, Utah where he works as a systems analyst and is planning to transition to a career in ministry. Robert described having a traditional, static view of God as “a guy with a beard on a throne.” CTU challenged these beliefs. “My first year I took a class at CTU’s Summer Institute – ‘God and the Modern World,’” he said. “I realized that God is beyond our conception. God is a mystery, and that mystery is a beautiful thing.”

Robert likened his awakening process to “letting go of Santa Claus…it was probably the most powerful and disruptive concept I learned at CTU.”

Musician John Angotti is a successful performer who uses music as a tool to bring a message of hope. He enrolled at CTU because he recognized that if he was going to continue writing for the Church, he needed to further his education and go deeper than his own personal experience.

“CTU has allowed me to recognize that everything around me is a gift,” he said. “I’ve opened up now to [see] that every relationship, every moment is an encounter with God.”

Jean serves both as associate campus minister of community building and as director of music and liturgy at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. “Studying at CTU has deepened my faith,” she said.  “There have been difficult times in my job; a new generation of students that do not see Catholicism or the Church or spirituality the way I was raised. Learning the things I’ve learned has reinvigorated my faith in humanity and the Church.”

I found all three students to be quite inspirational. I value their ability to be comfortable in the gray areas of life – the space where we ask questions but don’t necessarily receive answers.  I like this space too.  As a child, my Jewish faith taught me that there is one God.  As an adult, I still believe in a “higher power,” though not shaped, gendered or perceived in the traditional view. I am happy to be working at an institution where questions are just as important as answers.

To see John, Jean and Robert’s interviews, visit in a few days. And for more information on CTU’s distance learning program click here.

May 24, 2013

CTU celebrated the graduating class of 2013 at the 45th Commencement Ceremony on Thursday, May 16 at the K.A.M Isaiah Israel Congregation.  At the ceremony, CTU recognized the theological, ministerial, and civic contributions made by Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, Sister Anita Price Baird, DHM, and Martin J. Koldyke.

May 24, 2013


With the official school year behind us,  “journey” is a prime topic of conversation at CTU.

Our graduates now journey to new homes and new ministries.  Our current students and faculty, whether they journey to summer work or rest, welcome the opportunity to break outside of the typical routine.  And while our staff keeps the lights on at CTU in the summer months, talk of the upcoming event or vacation infuses us with some renewed energy. 

Although, admittedly, my next three weekends feel pretty exhausting, with trips to help my sister move into her first home, as well as to attend my little brother’s graduation, an ordination of a fellow CTU grad, and the wedding shower of a long-time friend.  Yes, that was four trips, and three weekends!!!

Like our graduates, each of these friends/ family members (the line blurs) embarks on his or her own journey.  For some, it will signal a physical relocation, taking them to places and situations altogether unfamiliar.  For others, it will mean a deepening of roots and commitment to an existing place or way of life.   For each, it is an invitation to further the journey within, to know oneself better, and in so doing, to better know the One who created us. 

So whether we have a grand road trip planned this summer, a “staycation” is more in order, or…we work harder this time of year than all others, know that there is still a road beckoning.

A friend recently shared this poem with me…I resonated quite a bit with it, as it addresses the sort of journey I had to make to get to CTU--the sort of journey, in one way or another, we will all eventually get asked to make.   Probably more than once.

Where are you headed this summer?


One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice --

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

"Mend my life!"

each voice cried.

But you didn't stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations,

though their melancholy

was terrible.

It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do --

determined to save

the only life you could save.


~ Mary Oliver ~


Angela Paviglianiti | Director of Admissions |

May 24, 2013

The end-of-year liturgy is an especially beautiful and poignant one, as we pray with and wish our graduating students well as they leave CTU and transition to new ministries and work.

May 03, 2013

I spent a few days last week in Boston. The plans to visit had been made months ago, and the city’s focus on capturing the alleged perpetrators of the Marathon bombing had ended. To be honest, I felt some apprehension making the trip. Was it safe? Would the atmosphere feel tense and oppressive?

I flew in on a glorious spring day that seemed to warm as each hour passed. Myriad cherry blossom trees were bursting with flowers in delicate or deep shades of pink. The hotel was near the Boston Common (founded 1634), and after stowing my suitcase I headed for the park. Hundreds of people were on the lawns, having picnics, throwing Frisbees, clowning around, stretching out in the sun.

Not what I expected.

I was struck by the sheer force of life; life going on.  Part of me wanted to shout, “Wait a minute, you’re not forgetting so quickly are you?”  I knew that couldn’t be the case. Another part of me wanted to say, “Thank you for embracing life; for taking back the day. Thank you for being here now.”

The trip included miles of walking, a ball game at Fenway, Paul Revere’s house, museums, churches, and chowder. My friend and I went to the memorial on Boylston Street to pay our respects. No, this wasn’t a city, a people, who were forgetting too quickly. Not by a long shot. They were grieving, and coping, and reflecting; leaving tender messages of solidarity for those who had been touched by the violence. They were also meeting with friends, going to the park, sunning themselves, laughing, and planning. They were, simply, living.

When I got home I learned that the mayor of Boston had encouraged people to repopulate the downtown area, to support the business owners, to carry on. I was newly touched that the citizens of Boston, with characteristic hardiness and civic pride, did so. Then, on the drive to work, I listened to the resilient comments of a woman who lost both legs to the bombing, and of her daughter who lost one leg. The mind reels, the heart aches in imagining their journey. How can we hurt each other this way?

We are kind and cruel; fragile and tough. We are vulnerable flesh and mighty spirit. My thoughts and prayers are with you, Boston, as you heal from your wounds.  Thank you for the warm welcome to your beautiful city even as you own a new page of your incredible history. I wish you great peace.

May 01, 2013

Catholic Theological Union was pleased to confer its 2013 Blessed are the Peacemakers Award on Mary McAleese, Eighth President of Ireland, for her efforts in promoting reconciliation in the North and South of Ireland.

On April 17, over 400 guests gathered at the Hilton Chicago for the annual Blessed are the Peacemakers dinner to celebrate the esteemed 2013 recipient.

CTU also inaugurated a special recognition award for outstanding local leaders who have given exemplary service to our community. Diakonia is the Greek word for service used in the New Testament. The first recipient of the Diakonia Award was James J. O'Connor for his extraordinary leadership of the Big Shoulders Fund, which provides support to the Catholic schools in the neediest areas of inner city Chicago.

Mary McAleese spoke to CTU students during a community forum.  Click here to view her remarks.