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Ongoing Experience of CTU Inspires Couple to Make Lasting Commitment

February 2012

For JoAnne and Mark Mullen-Muhr, deciding to leave Catholic Theological Union in their will was an obvious choice.

Both JoAnne and Mark were inspired by the scholarship and community found at CTU.  As a seminarian studying at St. Paul’s in Minnesota, Mark and a classmate were sent to participate in CTU’s Biblical Study Program in Israel.  During that experience, Mark came to know CTU professors Rev. Leslie Hoppe, O.F.M., and Rev. Donald Senior, C.P.  While Mark did not ultimately pursue ordained ministry, he continued his ministry as a Jesuit Volunteer in Omak, Washington.  During that time he met JoAnne, who was also serving in the program.  The two have been married for 25 years.

During her two years in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC), JoAnne was inspired to pursue graduate theological education. JoAnne is from the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, but had never heard of CTU. It was Mark who, having participated in the Biblical Study and Travel Program, encouraged her to apply to CTU.  “I remember the first day stepping in there. There is something intangible about CTU; it just sets my heart on fire. There are people of such integrity, passion, and unbelievable commitment—you cannot not be touched,” recalls JoAnne. “There is something about the conglomeration of people that gather there—where they are coming from, what they are going out to do. I don’t think you find that in many places. CTU is unique. And when you walk in the front door you feel like you are walking in the front door of your home.”

The Mullen-Muhrs had their first daughter, Kristin, while JoAnne was earning her Masters of Theological Studies. The couple’s son, Dave, and daughter, Anna, were born shortly thereafter.  While raising their children, Mark and JoAnne have remained involved in the life of their parish, St. James in Arlington Heights, Ill., where they both serve as adult education and confirmation leaders and JoAnne facilitates a Bible Study for kids. JoAnne also serves on the advisory board for the Peacebuilders Initiative, a program for high school students sponsored by CTU’s Bernardin Center for Theology and Ministry.

“CTU is constantly morphing—it is not a stagnant institution. Peacebuilders, Catholics on Call, the Bernardin Center, the Augustus Tolton and Oscar Romero Scholarship Programs—these are a testament that CTU listens and responds and is not just resting on its laurels. There is always something fresh,” said JoAnne.

When reflecting on which institutions to name as beneficiaries of their estate they considered those organizations that provide them hope for the Church. “It is nice to be confident knowing that our money will be managed well and used wisely.” JoAnne concluded, “Thank you to all the people at CTU for making this opportunity possible. It impacted us and our children and we are just so grateful for what we have been given.”

To learn more about remembering CTU in your estate plans, please contact Anne Marie Tirpak, Director of Development, at 773.371.5417 or