All gifts to the CTU annual fund are important and have a tremendous impact on the academic and spiritual life of the school, regardless of their size. If you would like to make a gift, please contact Anne Marie Tirpak, Director of Development, at firstname.lastname@example.org, 773.371.5417 or access our secure, on-line giving option. Donations can also be sent to Catholic Theological Union at 5401 South Cornell, Chicago, IL 60615.
Please find Fr. Mark R. Francis's Easter Appeal below:
Easter is a natural time to reflect on transformation and new life. As you may imagine, transitioning into my role as President of Catholic Theological Union has brought many new opportunities, perspectives, and experiences. In particular, one recent experience with CTU’s online education courses comes to mind.
I have to admit that I began this year as a skeptic about online learning. Some of you may know that, prior to becoming President, I taught at CTU. During that time I developed a deeply held conviction about the importance of the “community of learning” within a classroom. Education, especially theological education, is not about simply transferring data from one brain to another. The experience of the classroom needs to be transformative: offering students new perspectives, deeper insights into the faith, and encouragement and challenges to their usual ways of thinking. How could online learning, by its nature disembodied and mediated through a computer, ever provide this kind of experience?
This past fall, however, Professor Eileen Crowley invited me to participate in one of her online courses, Foundations: Theology and Practices of Ministry. Throughout the semester, I would faithfully follow what was being presented and read the discussions generated by the course material. I was immediately impressed that each student was asked to do a video introduction of him/herself to the class, creating a connection among the participants from all around the United States. This sense of “long distance” community continued to grow through the open forums and various assignments for which students would post their writing and video messages to their professor and fellow students. They also had the opportunity to share what was going on in their lives, requests for prayer, and reflections that were not directly connected to the course.
At the end of the course, I was both moved and encouraged by the students’ evaluations. Peggy, a music director from Missouri, noted, “I was pleasantly surprised at all the interaction between people in my group … even though we come from so many different backgrounds, I felt we were very much united in our desires for the common good.” Sister Julia from Wisconsin similarly wrote, “I was nervous about taking an online class because I was uncertain whether the learning format would work for me. In the end, I am glad for … the self-reflection that this experience allowed.”
In light of what I observed in this course and the evaluations of the students, I am no longer a skeptic about online learning. In fact, I am convinced that online learning is a crucial part of CTU living its mission to prepare effective leaders for the Church and the world. Technology has enabled CTU to expand its offerings to areas in our country that lack Catholic institutions of higher learning. People can remain “on the job” yet benefit from excellent, life-changing courses that enhance their ability to serve God’s people.
CTU has embraced, and continues to embrace, this opportunity to make innovative and engaging education available to many students who cannot come to CTU’s campus in Chicago. As a school founded in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, CTU continues to read “the signs of the times,” ever growing and transforming to adapt to the needs of today’s Church. Though it will never replace the traditional classroom, our online education is one of the many dynamic ways CTU seeks to bring Christ’s good news of justice, love, and peace to the world.
As Easter approaches, I invite you to participate in this life-changing work. Here at CTU we seek to live out the Easter message with integrity and purpose. I give thanks for our students, both online and on campus, who time and again impress me with their response to God’s call and their commitment to proclaim the Gospel as priests, sisters, brothers, and lay ministers.
My appeal is simple: please help us prepare these extraordinary men and women to be channels of Easter hope. Your support is an investment in making the Church more vibrant and better able to communicate more effectively the Easter message of new life, reconciliation, and joy to the people of our world.
Christ is risen, indeed. Alleluia!
Rev. Mark R. Francis, CSV
Give now through CTU’s online giving form.
Leadership Giving Circles
$5,000 Bechtold Circle
This Circle is named in memory of Rev. Paul Bechtold, C.P., CTU’s first president.
$1,968 Founders’ Circle
This Circle recognizes donors who make an unrestricted annual fund donation in the amount of CTU’s founding year, 1968.
$1,000 President’s Circle
This Circle was established in 1999 to recognize friends of CTU who have made a contribution of $1,000 or more.
$500 Jerusalem Circle
Named in honor of the Jerusalem Cross, symbolic of spreading the Gospel to all four corners of the world, this cross and circle are representative of the nearly five hundred students and 3,500 alumnae/i representing sixty-five countries and ministering on six continents, sharing the Good News through their witness. Similarly, for more than thirty years, CTU faculty and staff have been leading students and benefactors on trips to the Holy Land to experience their faith in more profound ways.
$250 Phoebe’s Circle
Phoebe was a deaconess of Cenchreae and a leader of the early Church praised by Paul the Apostle (Romans 16:1). As a deaconess and Church leader, she opened her home and shared her resources with the community.
$100 Fr. Ezekiel Ramin Circle
Fr. Ezekiel Ramin was the first CTU graduate to die for the sake of the Gospel. An Italian by birth and a brilliant medical student, Lele, as he was known, joined the Comboni Missionaries and obtained his Master of Divinity degree from CTU in 1979. He was assigned as a missionary to Brazil where he was revered by the poor he served. Lele was shot to death while attempting to mediate a land dispute between landlords and local farmers.
$54.01 - 5401 Club
This giving club recognizes gifts made by current CTU students, faculty, staff, and alumnae/i in the amount of $54.01, the address of our initial home at 5401 S. Cornell in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. All 5401 Club members are recognized in the Annual Report for their unrestricted support of Catholic Theological Union.