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March 2013

Mar 25, 2013

Celebrating My First Palm Sunday!

As I sat in the pew of St. Thomas Catholic Church in Hyde Park and anticipated all the glory of the celebration of Jesus Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, I was excited! This Sunday before Easter marks the beginning of Holy Week. We started off as a community at the front of the church and blessed the palms and then entered the sanctuary to begin our Journey with Jesus Christ. There are other factors that make this first Palm Sunday for me special, not only has the church had a major change by electing a new Pope, Pope Francis but I am also in the middle of a new beginning. I have been going through the process of becoming Catholic since November of last year and my big exciting day is in the horizon, I will take my sacraments and become Catholic Easter eve at the Easter Vigil. To say that I am excited is an understatement but to say I am ready to live the life of a Christian and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ would be accurate. In the reading of the Passion on Palm Sunday we sat intensely and as one and heard of Christ triumph entrance into Jerusalem, in which his supporters greeted him as the coming messiah, the last supper with his disciples and hours after when he was betrayed by Judas and arrested on Holy Thursday, the crucifixion of Christ came on Good Friday and the resurrection on Easter Sunday. After the reading the pastor gave his homely and he asked that we reflect on Jesus and his death on the cross. I decided to take the symbolic approach to this reading for myself. I look at Jesus on the cross and his suffering for the life that he gave all of us.  The cross represents the call to absolute surrender, in my journey that I am on, I have surrendered my heart and soul to Jesus Christ. My heart is full at this time of excitement and the feeling of being part of a community and sharing this wonderful event in my life with loving and supportive friends from my CTU community and my personal life. Words cannot describe the joy and peacefulness that I am feeling, I have encountered some people here at CTU that are defiantly god’s children and their light shines so brightly that I have opened up my heart to receive their offerings, their light, Jesus light.


Valerie D. Holloway |  Enrollment Management- Assistant to the Director/ Enrollment Management Department-Administrative Assistant |   Catholic Theological Union  |  5416 S. Cornell Ave.  |  Chicago, IL 60615  |  USA

Office 773-371-5451 |  Fax 773-371-5452  |


Mar 14, 2013

This week on campus has been incredibly eventful, and highlights for me what is so compelling about CTU and its mission.

Tuesday night, CTU showed the film “A Band of Sisters,” a moving documentary about Catholic sisters and their work for social justice after Vatican II. It reminded me again of the invaluable “boots on the ground” service that women in the Church have given for centuries, and the contributions of sisters today here at CTU. At the film’s conclusion, I overheard a young nun remark that she regretted that the movie showed very few younger sisters. “Are we invisible?” she said.

Let’s hope not. CTU is truly fortunate to count several young religious women among its students. These women will go on, no doubt, to do great work as their fellow sisters have done before them.

Then on Wednesday at lunchtime, a large group gathered in our Atrium, which was resplendent with textiles and fabrics from around the globe, to celebrate International Women’s Day. We prayed together for the women around our world who face unspeakable struggles, including violence. And we celebrated women’s gifts and contributions. The service was led by Academic Dean and Vice President Barbara Reid, O.P., a formidable scholar, and included prayers led by several CTU students in their native languages. It was beautiful and powerful.

Our gathering ended just as the puffs of white smoke emerged from the Vatican chimney! Quickly we commandeered an empty classroom and projected the press coverage onto the screen from a laptop. One by one, then in groups, CTU students, faculty, and staff crowded into the classroom. Cheers and applause erupted as the new Pope’s name was announced and he emerged to voice his first words as Pope.

When we finally disbursed, a sense of hope and enthusiasm flowed palpably throughout the building. A colleague stopped me in the hall and said, “That was so great! Here they were talking on TV about the global Church of today, and I looked around the room and there we were, the global Church of today!”

That is what I treasure about CTU – people of faith and good will from across the globe coming together to build a more just, peaceful, and loving world. And so, for Francis I and for us, too, the work continues of building a healthy and vibrant Church for the good of God’s people.

Nancy Nickel  |  Director of Marketing and Communications  |  773.371.5415  |

Mar 08, 2013


My favorite moments in life are those that remind me I don’t have to have all the answers; that life is a process.

On March 2, I was honored and humbled to attend CTU’s annual Harambee! fundraiser, supporting the Augustus Tolton Pastoral Ministry Program, which trains Black Catholics for leadership in the Church. Honored because it was a celebration of life (Harambee means “all pull together” in Swahili), and humbled because the people celebrating had conquered excruciating circumstances beyond my comprehension.

One Tolton Scholar spoke about his belief in not just a “good” God, but an awesome God. This awesome God helped him cope with the loss of several close relatives, including his own infant child, in the span of a few years. He also needed an awesome God when doctors told him both of his kidneys were failing. His challenges were fierce, but his conviction to live, and live victoriously, was fiercer.

Another Tolton Scholar spoke about being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 20 years ago, and how medical professionals warned her about the limitations it would place on her life. She is now happily married with three sons and has earned not one, not two, but three master’s degrees. It hasn’t been a walk in the park, she said, but her faith has sustained her through all the obstacles.

Listening to their stories made me appreciate my relatively small difficulties. But more than that, it reminded me that although life can be bewildering and even agonizing at times, our struggles are our strength. They give us purpose, and bolster our compassion for others.

Everyone’s challenge is unique, but we are all works in progress. Shane Koyczan, an accomplished poet and writer, recently gave a TED Talk about his struggle: being bullied. The pain became his putty. And he has made a masterpiece. That’s the opportunity obstacles give us. So we can harambee and celebrate life to the fullest!

See Shane's TED Talk.

Karla Dawn Meier | Marketing and Communications Assistant | 773.371.5416 |

Mar 04, 2013

The February 2013 Sundays at CTU Lecture featured Rev. Stephen Bevans, SVD, Louis J. Luzbetak, SVD, Professor of Mission and Culture speaking on 'A Day Without the Second Vatican Council: Why the Council Still Matters After 50 Years.'

About the lecture - What if we woke up one morning and discovered that the Second Vatican Council had never happened? We would discover that a place like CTU would not exist, that there would be little or no lay ministry in the Church, that we would have no liturgy in our own language; that there would be little or no reading of the Bible, that most people would still believe that there is no salvation outside the Church. In his talk, Fr. Bevans will offer his reflections as a kind of thought experiment.


Mar 01, 2013

Pope Benedict, as the first pope in 600 years to voluntarily leave office, stepped down this week. The Church now waits “in joyful hope” and anticipation in an interim period called, “Sede Vacante.”

So here we are in a transition time, and what a time it is!  “Odds Makers” in Las Vegas are encouraging people to place bets on who the next leader of the Roman Catholic Church will be. There are sites soliciting people to provide the top characteristic they would want in the next pope. The Cardinals are gathering in Rome.

Questions swirl and dance, tempt and tease.  Will this leader help us face the major challenges of our times?  Will he be a person of courage and spirit - one who will help the Church and the world face the controversial issues that try to divide and destroy us as human beings? Will a leader be called forth who will turn worldwide systems of covering up cases of abuse into new systems that value transparency and promote healing?  How will trust be mended?  Can it be regained?  It will take a healer-leader who exhibits fearless compassion to mend and unite.

Will the spirit of the Second Vatican Council be the guide for ongoing renewal of the whole Catholic Church including the Vatican?  Will the reforms needed in the Church be discussed and promoted? 

We will have opportunities for life-giving reconciliation with our Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim sisters and brothers.  Will we step into them?

Will we make peace with modern science and be a more vocal participant at the discussion table when issues of morality are pitted against issues of progress.  Will we place not only human needs but the needs of a fragile planet forward in the discussion of health and wholeness?

The issues of our day seem too much for one person alone to bear…will collegiality be modeled by the pope and the bishops?  Will the understanding of true community deepen into a new way of being together?  Will Catholics be encouraged to speak up, to speak out for justice in this world as well as for justice within the Church?  Will the new pope encourage the faithful to speak truth to power? Everyone has the ability do something toward the renewal of the Church and the renewal of the world within their own life.  Will the new pope lead by example as the heart and hands of the body of Christ alive in this world?

So many questions to live into, so many hopes, so many dreams for the promise of a new day ... let us pray that the hearts of those choosing the new pope will be inspired to choose a person of great love, compassion, and courage - one who unites, one who includes, one who invites, and one who helps us face our challenges head-on together. 

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