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Apr 26, 2013

 

This past week and a half has reinforced my strong belief that education needs to make people globally minded – a sentiment that is, thankfully, put into practice every day at CTU.

The Boston marathon bombing was atrocious, no doubt. But the news coverage in its aftermath would have us believing it was the most atrocious thing to happen in the world in months. I’m sorry, but it probably wasn’t even the most atrocious thing to happen in the world that week!  

I don’t mean to be political. My point is that I worry that we, as a society, are becoming too quick to victimize ourselves, which creates a false barrier between the U.S. and the rest of the world.

CTU was fortunate to welcome eighth president of Ireland, Mary McAleese, to campus last week – a day after the Boston bombing. In 1997, Mrs. McAleese was elected to lead the independent Republic of Ireland, even though she had grown up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, amid much violence.

In her candid talk, she took the words right out of my mouth: “If you just think of the dreadful events yesterday in Boston; the sheer craven, awful, anguish that is in people’s hearts today – who set out yesterday healthfully running, and today face life without limbs, face life without a child, face life without a life’s partner – well, multiply that up, because for 40 years that was how Belfast, Northern Ireland – my home – was. Everyday that possibility of a Boston existed, and probably happened.”

Forty years. That, for me, put the events in Boston into a proper context. We are incredibly fortunate that something like Boston doesn’t happen every day in our country. But not every country is that fortunate. Leaders of every corner of society moving forward need to understand the global context in a meaningful way. The world is too small for us to continue to think that the things that make us different from one another are bigger or stronger than the things that make us alike.

I have great confidence that the international exposure CTU students have, both inside the classroom and out in the world, will go a tremendously long way to build a more peaceful global family.

Karla Dawn Meier | Marketing and Communications Assistant | 773.371.5416 | kmeier@ctu.edu

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 | kmeier@ctu.edu

Jan 09, 2013

I love and dread the New Year’s season in equal parts. Love, because it’s a time to reflect on my life and to plan for the future. Dread, because it’s a time to reflect on my life and to plan for the future! You all know what I’m talking about! 

2013 feels like a major turning point for me. I’ve officially retired my student status and am out in the working world for the long haul. I’m no longer the child my family needs to take care of, but instead an adult who is contemplating having children of her own.  And I’m thinking about what meaningful things I can do for others, instead of what others can do for me.

It’s daunting to think about making this shift. But at the beginning of the year, I ran across this quote, which will sustain me.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Howard Thurman (1899-1981), an American author, theologian, educator, and civil rights leader spoke these words, and they completely flipped my future script. It’s not about figuring out what I’m “supposed” to do, it’s about continually discovering what I love to do, and then working with passion toward it.

After graduating from Morehouse College, Thurman served as the Dean of the Chapel at Howard University, among other prestigious posts. But in 1944, he left Howard to establish the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples in San Francisco, Calif. It was the first racially integrated, intercultural church in the United States. He followed his passion, and made a lasting impact in the process.

In the same way, I feel very fortunate at the start of 2013 to be a part the CTU community, which is building interreligious and intercultural bridges — one of my biggest passions — every day. One of my goals this year is to expand my limited view of the possibilities in my life. To try new things, to courageously make mistakes, and hopefully discover what makes me come alive. I am confident CTU will be a launching pad for this year of discovery.

Karla Dawn Meier, Marketing and Communications Assistant. Reach me at kmeier@ctu.edu or 773.371.5416.

Oct 15, 2012

Full disclosure: I stumbled into the marketing and communications assistant role at Catholic Theological Union by accident. And I couldn’t be more thrilled about it.

After receiving a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern, yet realizing the last thing I wanted to become was a full-time reporter, I applied to a wide variety of jobs from office manager at a boutique investment firm to community engagement officer at Chicago Public Schools.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, a hiring manager forwarded my resume to CTU.

I’ll admit, I was hesitant at first to throw my hat into the ring at a Catholic institution, because I was born and raised a practicing Buddhist! Especially in the field of communications, I thought, maybe they want someone with more intimate… or, really, any knowledge of Catholicism!

Ryan Hoffman quickly put my doubts to rest during my first interview. “What really matters to us is to have a diverse community of people who share an interest in asking the big questions," he said. "What or who is God? What is our purpose in life? How can we live the most meaningful life?”

WOW! My life has always been based on the big questions, albeit not in a Catholic context, so the idea of gaining valuable professional experience within an interfaith setting was intriguing.

I reflected on a dialogue between Ricardo Díez-Hochleitner, a practicing Catholic and past president of the Club of Rome, and a Buddhist peace advocate, Daisaku Ikeda, about the need for interreligious understanding in the 21st century and beyond.

“For me, it has always been most important not only to be tolerant towards other beliefs and cultures, but also, and even more important, to respect everyone who acts honestly and consistently in line with their background and aims,” Díez-Hochleitner said. “I try to learn from others to enrich my spirit and intellect, while contributing somehow to their well-being, advancement and happiness.”

The aim to create a global society, respectful of differences, is what I experience every day at CTU. I am surrounded by people who share my desire for peace and understanding in the world, just through a different lens of faith. At CTU, I am daily learning from others to enrich my spirit and intellect, as Díez-Hochleitner said, and I truly hope to be contributing to CTU’s well-being, advancement, and happiness, as well.