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The questions and answers that appear only in this online edition of the University of Dayton Magazine are followed by those appearing in the print edition.
One of your gifts as a priest is that you are an excellent storyteller. Who are your favorite storytellers and why? —NICOLE TRAHAN, F.M.I., DAYTON
I do love stories and storytelling. My favorite storytellers are the deceased Irishman Hal Roach, Father William J. Bausch and John Shea. I like these storytellers because they know how to interest a person and a group and how to tell a story well, and they have some very good stories to share. In addition, Father Bausch gives a history and explanation of storytelling in several of his books.
Pope Francis has written and spoken a lot about joy and the fact that a follower of Jesus should be a person of joy. What in your life right now brings you the most joy? —NICOLE TRAHAN, F.M.I., DAYTON
I have been blessed with a happy disposition. What gives me most joy is anything directly involving people like ministering the sacraments, preaching, visiting the sick, working at the Marianist Mission. I do office work and I like that, too, because I also work with others in that context and spend my time writing letters to our donors.
You have been the pastor of a Marianist parish in the Baltimore area. What special gifts do Marianists bring to parish ministry with our focus on community and Mary? —DAN KLCO, S.M.’92, DAYTON
In my experience creating a sense of community in our large parish was a goal from the beginning, with the parish council, with the various committees and with the parish itself. In fact we called ourselves “St. Joseph’s Catholic Community.” Mary is at the center of the community as we celebrate her feasts, hold her up as a model of openness, faithfulness and service, and try to establish Marian ways of relating with people and events: openness, acceptance, hospitality.
You are such a master at developing relationships, what is your secret and/or way of making that happen? —STEVE MUELLER ’74, DAYTON
I don’t think I have any secret for developing relationships. I just really like people and relationships just seem to develop. I’m just blessed.
What or who inspired you to become a Marianist priest? Are you always so upbeat, personal and friendly? —THOMAS J. WESTENDORF ’78, DAYTON
I was inspired to become a Marianist by my older brother John at his first profession of vows at Beacon, N.Y., in 1949. I am blessed with a happy disposition; and so I am almost always upbeat, happy, personal and friendly.
What advice would you give to someone considering life as a Marianist brother, sister or priest? —NICOLE TRAHAN, F.M.I., DAYTON
To anyone considering joining Marianist religious life, which I have loved for 62 years, I would say be ready for close community and living with various kinds of personalities and for a richness of life and ministry experiences. May you have an open heart and spirit like Mary.
What does Mary have to teach us about living a faithful life today? —JOAN SCHIML ’90, DAYTON
I sense Mary as a companion, as one encouraging me to keep being faithful and open, to keep my eyes fixed on her.
What was your favorite part of being rector at UD? —JESSICA GONZALES ’96, DAYTON
I was rector of UD from 1993 to 1996, and I enjoyed especially interacting with all the offices and officers and departments of the university. I was able to attend many meetings, join in various celebrations, take part in various activities and share many gatherings in those years. Getting to know all at the University and becoming part of the University community was such a joy, and I was sorry to leave just as I was getting to know everyone.
As you think about your time as rector at the University of Dayton, where do you see the Marianist identity of the various high schools and universities heading? How can they keep that identity with fewer and fewer professed Marianists? What’s the role of the laity? —MARK DELISI ’91, LEESBURG, VA.
Because there are fewer or no professed Marianists in our various high schools, it is a huge challenge to keep and hold a Marianist presence in those schools; but many of those schools, through Marianist laity, ARE succeeding. There is a program of formation for high school teachers, run by the province, for teachers in such schools so they can keep the Marianist presence alive.
What is your favorite memory of teaching and living in Puerto Rico? How has Marianist education made an impact in those students and their families? —JESSICA GONZALES ’96, DAYTON
I have so many memories of my two years teaching and living in Puerto Rico it is difficult to pick a favorite, but Christmas and especially the days prior to Christmas I will always remember. That time of the year in Puerto Rico is so happy and full of celebrations. And Marianist education in Puerto Rico is very strong; and many former students are in positions of influence in Puerto Rico, and many have come to the mainland and have studied here and have succeeded very well.
What is your favorite scotch? —MYRON ACHBACH ’58, DAYTON
My usual scotch is Dewar’s. My favorite scotch is Glenmorangie.
Did you play any sports growing up? If not, what were your hobbies? Besides the Dayton Flyers, who is your favorite sports team? —THOMAS J. WESTENDORF ’78, DAYTON
Growing up I played sports but not organized sports, just those in the neighborhood. Of course I have been a Dayton Flyers’ fan and have followed a few other teams over the years, but my favorite football team is the Pittsburgh Steelers.
What historical figure would you like to meet? —THOMAS J. WESTENDORF ’78, DAYTON
My great historical interest has been John F. Kennedy. I admired him greatly. He stirred up such interest in politics for me and for the young people I was teaching at that time. I know we have since learned some things about him that have sullied his character, but he was a great leader and could stir a crowd and a generation and could instill ideals. That was a gift.
When have you been the most confident that you were following God’s will? —BETH HABEGGER SCHULZ ’07, DAYTON
I wonder if a person is ever really confident he or she is ever really doing God’s will, but one tries his or her best. I think when I accepted the assignment to be pastor of St. Joseph’s Catholic Community, when I did not really want to do this ministry at all, was when I had a sense I was doing God’s will.
What is your favorite part of being a Marianist? —JOAN SCHIML ’90, DAYTON
My favorite part of being a Marianist is knowing that others share this dream … of a faithful, open, compassionate, equal, life-giving, faith-filled community.
What is your best childhood memory? —THOMAS J. WESTENDORF ’78, DAYTON
One of my best childhood memories is going on vacation with the family to Rockaway Beach, to the Irish section, where we would rent a cabin. I would get up early with my dad, and we would go down the boardwalk and get things for breakfast for the family. I loved those early morning walks with my dad. In the evenings we all would go to McGinty’s for Irish singing and dancing.
You are known as a warm pastor and an incredible storyteller. When trying to speak to people’s hearts through a story, what are the most important things to keep in mind? —BRANDON PALUCH, S.M. ’06, BEAVERCREEK, OHIO
A story, as wonderful as it is, is only a means. What I try to keep in mind is what am I trying to communicate, what am I trying to touch in the hearts of my listeners? Have I myself sensed first what is going on with them? Does this story really fit?
Give us your impression of Pope Francis so far. —MARK DELISI ’91, LEESBURG, VA.
I admire him. I like the path he is taking. I agree that changes have been needed, and I agree with the things he has said and done, not that he needs my endorsement. I admire his style of leadership, his openness, his simplicity, his courage. I think he is a prophetic Pope.
What do you wish the UD community knew about the work of the Marianist Mission? —NICOLE TRAHAN, F.M.I., DAYTON
About 60 very devoted people work in the Marianist Mission; most of them have been there for many years. The work can be monotonous, but it is important because it supports our brothers, priests and sisters who are working directly with very poor children in unbelievably poor conditions and educating them in Africa, India and Mexico. These ministries are not self-supporting because they are with the destitute poor. Our appeals through the Marianist Mission mailings are essential.
At this point in your life as a Marianist priest, what “makes you go?” What drives you every day? —MYRON ACHBACH ’58, DAYTON
This question is a very interesting one because I don’t think of it very often. I just get up and go about my business. I do so because I promised to. I made my commitment and I am happy and healthy. I like what I do and I am making a contribution, small as it may be. What is important for me is that I am doing some sort of good. I admit it is harder to see that in desk work and letter writing, yet I know this ministry is important. When I was in parish ministry and teaching it was much more evident to see help being rendered. But in the long run, it’s always about doing God’s will.
What keeps you excited about the Marianist charism? —DAN EVANS ’86, DAYTON
It is so open — to young, middle-aged and old; to celibate, single and married — to bring Jesus to the world and to do so with others.
In your career as a Marianist, what aspects have been outstanding for you? —STEVE MUELLER ’74, DAYTON
One was being provincial of the New York Province of the Marianists; I was blessed at that time to be on the board of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men and met many exceptional leaders of religious orders, both men and women. Those contacts gave me great hope for the future of religious life in the United States.
What is one piece of advice you would give to the younger generations?
—BETH HABEGGER SCHULZ ’07, DAYTON
To rejoice in your many graces and blessings, be thankful for them and share them. Then understand where they have come from and what that entails in terms of responsibility.
Answering questions in this issue is Crystal Sullivan, director of campus ministry and a Marianist Educational Associate. Questions not appearing in the print edition are listed first.
What are your top three favorite movies? —ALYSSA WAGNER ’09, DAYTON
I am not a big movie-goer. But here are three all-time favorite books: To Kill a Mockingbird, Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre. I read them over and over.
Your current role has historically been served by ordained male religious; what attributes of women and lay leadership have you brought to the role? —CHRISTINE SCHRAMM, DAYTON
This question is perhaps better answered by others who experience me in this role. But I can say that my transition as the first lay director of campus ministry has been easy in many regards. First, I was mentored well by previous directors into the leadership I assumed. Second, the mutual respect shared between me and the Marianists and others on campus with whom I collaborate is phenomenal. I feel trusted and highly regarded as a partner and leader. This has been a grace for me personally and professionally, especially since it is not always the experience of women leaders in Church.
As a woman and a lay person, I do bring new perspectives. I have always participated in the Church as a lay person — and so my desire to uncover and empower the gifts of lay people in pastoral leadership is strong. And students are on the top of that list. I experience God as a wife and mother, and so my faith experiences are interpreted through these lenses. I have to believe this affects how I mentor and serve others and the voice I bring to administrative decisions. I have had very few female mentors in ministry, and so finding my public voice was a surprise I did not expect, but have enjoyed exploring it.
What do you most cherish about being a mother? —ALYSSA WAGNER ’09, DAYTON
I delight in seeing my children growing and thinking for themselves, taking ownership of ideas, and discovering and exploring things they love. I love being excited about the people they are becoming. I love to see all of this in students too!
If you were to write a book on lay ministry, what would you say in the first and last chapters? —KATIE DILLER ’10, EAST LANSING, MICH.
I’m not sure about chapters, but the most important message I’d share is this: Trust in the Spirit of God. There have been many times when I have asked the Holy Spirit to provide what is needed in a situation I do not feel prepared to handle. God always shows up. This has been the grace of ministry over time — it’s helped me believe that ministry does not happen because of me. It’s really all about God.
The following answers appeared in the print edition of the spring 2014 University of Dayton Magazine.
What is your greatest sense of joy in working in campus ministry at UD? —AUSTIN SCHAFER ’09, HILLIARD, OHIO
I find great joy in witnessing students develop an enthusiasm for God — like when I learn from the deep desire people have to hear and see God’s work in their lives. Sometimes it happens during an “aha” moment that a student has. Very often it happens in journeying with people through struggle. At these times, I am able to witness the faithfulness of a God who suffers with us — and who offers us hope.
How can we get a better understanding of different faiths on campus? —FATEMA ALBALOOSHI ’15, DAYTON
Relationships. Faith is encountered most authentically when it is explored in relationship with other people. It is just as important to grab a cup of tea with someone of a different faith perspective as it is to inquire about his or her beliefs and practices. Relationships help us understand one another and respect human dignity, which is innate to each of us because we are made in the image of God
How has the person of Mary shaped your life and ministry at UD? —FATHER MARTIN SOLMA, S.M. ’71, ST. LOUIS
My first attraction to the Marianists was their reverence for Mary as the first disciple — the one whose “YES” to following the will of God resulted in Christ being a part of our world. When preparing for the birth of my first child, I prayed about being a mother. I was overcome by the opportunity my husband and I had to raise children who can represent the presence of Christ with how they live. When I later made this connection to Mary’s mission, this experience became even more profound. I pray that my work with students inspires them to bear the presence of Christ. All of our “Yeses” bring opportunity to bear Christ — and build the Kingdom of God.
If you could instill one habit in every graduating senior, what would it be? —KATIE DILLER ’10, EAST LANSING, MICH.
Look for signs of God’s love and grace every day.
Can you share some of the ways that you have seen the document Commitment to Community make a difference at the University? —ED BRINK, S.M., ST. LOUIS
C2C has helped all students deepen their understanding of Marianist community and their personal responsibility to contribute to it. We see reminders of C2C on campus banners and electronic billboards; first-year students take the C2C pledge and discuss it extensively; students in special interest housing support C2C in their house missions; C2C is used in leadership development programs and as a teaching tool for students. If every student leaves UD understanding what it means to support the dignity of all and support the common good, we will have cause to rejoice!
What is the most important lesson from our Marianist charism that you think all students should have instilled in them before they graduate? —MOLLY WILSON ’08, CLAYTON, OHIO
Being in a community is about being a part of something bigger than ourselves — something that has the power to change the world. Being a part of a community helps us see ourselves in new ways. We see how we can inspire others. We see God in action.
Pope Francis has had a tremendous and powerful impact on the world discussion of organized religion. What do you see as Marianists’ contribution to that dialogue? —CHRISTINE SCHRAMM, DAYTON
Pope Francis is a Jesuit. But couldn’t he be Marianist? He welcomes all to the table, gets to the basics of what it means to love one another and live as Jesus modeled, and challenges the status quo for the sake of the gospel. These things resonate with Marianist values — discipleship of equals, inclusivity and hospitality, being formed by Mary to be true disciples of Jesus, transforming the world through justice, being a community in mission. We need to keep being authentically who we are and travel along with him on the journey.
For our next issue, ask your questions of Father Patrick Tonry, S.M. ’55, spiritual director of the Marianist Mission, whose career also includes two decades in provincial administration as well as teaching and pastoral work. EMAIL YOUR QUESTION TO MAGAZINE@UDAYTON.EDU.
Answering readers’ questions in this issue is Father Quentin Hakenewerth, S.M., former superior general of the Society of Mary, now living in Mexico. Questions not appearing in the print edition are listed first.
How can we graduates from Marianist institutions foster that same sense of community we experienced in college with our colleagues in our professional life? —ANDRES GREETS ’06, PHILADELPHIA
I believe at least two elements are necessary to build Marianist community: a common experience of God — truth and goodness — and a common project of helping others in Mary’s name. Share our faith in such a way that the presence of God and Mary is felt and express that goodness in doing good for others.
What role do you see for the Society of Mary in the struggle for the rights and dignity of women in society and in the church? —BROTHER BILL FARRELL, S.M., SANTA FAZ, CHINAULTLA GUATEMALA
We men in the Society of Mary have a special relationship with Mary, the Mother of Jesus. In our consecration we try to love her with the love of Jesus, and we hand over our life to her to help her in her mission. We consider her as much greater than ourselves, never as equal or less than we are. We treasure her purity and her faithfulness in the Holy Spirit. We Marianists should treat all women with this same attitude. As Marianists, what we do to any woman, we do to Mary.
In the U.S., Marianists refer to the three founders: Chaminade, Adele and Marie Therese. In other countries Marie Therese is not considered a founder. Do you consider Marie Therese one of the founders of the Marianist Family? If so, why; if not, why not? —PATI KRASENSKY, PHILADELPHIA
Mother Therese de Lamourous was a consecrated member of the Marian Sodality of Father Chaminade, who was her spiritual director. They had a great spiritual influence on each other. Marie Therese was sent by Father Chaminade to help form the first F.M.I. [Daughters of Mary Immaculate] community in Agen. She helped form the community but was never a member of it. Mother Therese was a foundress, but of a work and mission very different from that of the Sodality, the F.M.I. or the S.M. — all part of the Marianist Family. She founded the Misericorde, an independent work (freeing prostitutes from their former life) that eventually became a religious congregation with a spirituality of divine mercy, quite distinct from the Marianist spirituality. She did not want to found a province, only an independent house. When the bishop of Lavalle, France, asked her to found a community there, she sent four sisters for three years to found another independent community and then return to their community of origin. The same happened with Lavalle and Paris. From Paris a community was founded in Poland, which became a province and a new religious congregation — the Sisters of Divine Mercy. Saint Faustina Kowalska is a member of that congregation. The spirituality and mission of the Misericorde are clearly distinct from the spirit and mission of the Marianist Family. Perhaps we are spiritual cousins?
How would you suggest that the Marianist system of virtues be handed on to University faculty and associates? —TED CASSIDY ’60, CLEVELAND
I believe that the manner suggested by Father Chaminade is still valid. (1) First we need a clear idea of what the particular virtue is and what it does for us. We might learn this as much by group reflection as from the instruction of some expert. The Holy Spirit is at work in the group. (2) Once we have a clear idea of what we want, we need reflective prayer to motivate us. The virtues mean nothing if we are not motivated to change, to really want to grow in the virtue. (3) After beginning to practice the virtue we need frequent examination of our experience of living the virtue. This is especially effective when done in a group where we know each other. Father Chaminade named these three elements instruction, meditation and examen. In all three steps, count heavily on the action of the Holy Spirit.
With the Church’s current emphasis on evangelization, what would you advise as the best way for young people today to develop a personal and vibrant relationship with our Blessed Mother Mary to become in turn evangelizers in their families, with friends and colleagues, and through whatever ministry of profession they choose? —MELBA FISHER, SAN ANTONIO
Evangelization and the Mother of Jesus — what’s the connection? Well, evangelization means communicating the good news about Jesus. If we want to share the good news about Jesus, we have to know Jesus — not just the doctrine about him, but know his person, live his presence. Now imagine what it would be like to live with his Mother in order to get to know Jesus. We can do what the beloved disciple did when Jesus gave his Mother to him. He took her into his own life. If we take Mary into our home, into our heart and live with her, we come to know Jesus in a very personal way. That makes it easy to talk about him to others; just tell them about your experience.
Is there a particular moment in the lives of Jesus and Mary that inspires you most at this time in your life? —JUDY MCKLOSKEY ’67, EDEN PRAIRIE, MINN.
Two moments particularly inspire me. The first is when Jesus gives his own power and authority over evil to his disciples. What trust on the part of Jesus, and what love to share his very being in this way with his disciples! When I am able to see myself among those disciples, I am deeply moved. The second moment is when Jesus gives his own Mother to the beloved disciple on Calvary. When I can see myself as the beloved disciple, I am awed and highly motivated to live my life consecrated to Mary for others.
In your experience, what has been the Society of Mary’s response to “the fundamental option for the poor” in its apostolic commitments and its own modis operandi? —BROTHER BILL FARRELL, S.M., SANTA FAZ, CHINAULTLA, GUATEMALA
The Society of Mary has always had some works dedicated to the poor. It has always had a minority of members directly dedicated to the poor. The Society of Mary as a whole has never made the poor the determining point of all of its works or of the life style of all its members. We have always had some inspiring examples of members and individual works dedicated to the poor, but not a “Society of Mary” dedicated to the poor. I believe the same is true of the Church, something which Pope Francis would like to see change.
You have been quoted as saying that “We really need holy Marianists in this day and age.” How would you operationally define a “holy Marianist”? —BROTHER TOM FARNSWORTH, S.M., DAYTON
For me, a holy Marianist is a person imbued with the experience of being the beloved disciple at the foot of the cross, receiving Mary into his life and dedicating everything to her mission. This grace of the Holy Spirit (charism) shapes his/her personality and his/her life of service to others.
The following questions and answers appeared, in somewhat shorter form, in the print edition of the University of Dayton Magazine.
Pope Francis has been noted for his personal simplicity as well as his strong passion for the poor. How would you like to see the Marianist family live this out? —BROTHER BRANDON PALUCH, S.M. ’06, DAYTON
Our concern for the poor should change not only the life of the poor but our lives as well. The most effective means to bring about this change is to look into the eyes of a poor person. If we do that, much will change for us and consequently for the poor. When was the last time you looked a poor person in the eye?
What have you learned from living in the Mexican culture for 17 years? —FATHER THOMAS SCHROER, S.M. ’65, DAYTON
A number of convictions have formed in me during my years in Mexico. I don’t know if they are correct, but I will mention three: (1) The greatest cause of poverty that I have experienced is corruption — taking advantage of power or position to exploit others for one’s own good. A good example is education where money and job security reigns more than the good of the students and competency of the teachers. The Teachers’ Union aims to benefit the teachers, not the students. (2) Popular religion is strong [among] good people with strong emotional attachment to religious practices but often without much understanding or commitment to the person of God and neighbor. The great need is evangelization to bring Jesus and his message to people in a new form. Jesus said to Mother Teresa of Calcutta: “The poor don’t know me, and therefore don’t want me.” (3) One cause of illegal immigration is the disparity of wages between Mexico and the USA. The minimum wage in the U.S. is at least nine times that of Mexico. In five years an illegal immigrant can save enough money to put his kids through school and pay for a small house. I have had a lot of contact with illegal immigrants in Mexico. I celebrated three funerals of young men who died in the desert of New Mexico. I do not know how to bring about a parity of wages, but I am convinced it would greatly reduce the immigration problem.
From your experience in Rome, do you think Pope Francis will be able to make lasting changes in the Vatican bureaucracy? —JUDY MCKLOSKEY ’67, EDEN PRAIRIE, MINN.
What I understand as bureaucracy is a governing structure in which exercising and prolonging one’s authority for its own sake is a primary purpose. It seems to me that this depends on two elements: the structure of the authority and the morality of those who exercise authority. Concerning the first element, the cardinals in the consistory before the election of Pope Francis clearly gave to the future pope, whoever it would be, the task of restructuring the exercise of authority in the Vatican. For example, more dialogue between the Sacred Congregations in the Vatican, more direct access to the pope, more direct dialogue with bishops’ conferences. Pope Francis has already indicated that this is what he wants. Yes, I believe some changes will be made. The second element consists of the attitude and morality of the people named to exercise the authority in the Vatican. I have great confidence that Pope Francis will make good choices — although he has to work with what is available.
You wrote a wonderful book entitled A Manual of Marianist Spirituality. What would you share as the most salient or important point/insight in that book? —BROTHER TOM FARNSWORTH, S.M., DAYTON
Of course, I think all the points are important! However, the one that had a notable influence on me is “presence.” Presence is a conscious way of being with someone that makes a difference. Presence changes something in the person to whom we are present. If you are in a group and nothing changes in any of the group — awareness, emotions, ideas, desires — you really are not present to them. If someone enters the room where you are and nothing changes in you, that person is not present to you. Now apply this to God in your life, to Jesus or to Mary, and you will begin to notice the tremendous importance of presence. Perhaps that is why Jesus said to his Father concerning his disciples: I want them to be present with me where I am.
As you look over the many years you have been a Marianist, what stands out as the most significant/impactful events in our history? What concerns do you carry about the future of the Society and the Daughters of Mary? —VICTOR FORLANI, S.M. ’65, DAYTON
I think the most impactful change in the history of the Society of Mary (and of all religious congregations dedicated to apostolic works) has been the shift from administering and operating works (schools, hospitals, etc.) to animating them with our spirit and charism. In some ways this has been forced upon us by aging and the paucity of new members. But I believe it is much deeper than that. Our role as religious in the church is shifting. The requirement for administering or operating a school is a professional degree. The requirement for animating or sponsoring a school is sanctity — living and communicating an experience of God, of the Holy Spirit, of the Mother of God. My concern for the Society of Mary is that, in general, we still think and feel in terms of administering and operating works, and we are not yet focused as a Society on the experience and communication of our charism as our main purpose.
In today’s modern age, there are so many distractions. What practices do you find most helpful for your spirituality? —ANDREW GERBETZ ’06, PHILADELPHIA
Blessed Chaminade gave us a virtue called “recollection.” It might also be called “focus” because it focuses our attention and our energies on living the present moment. This allows us to do well what we are doing and to enjoy more fully what we are doing. Our energies are more efficient and we experience the harmony and peace of Jesus within us. Distractions are usually a question of trying to do too many things at the same time, or to live in the past or the future (which is not reality). Distractions give us a sensation of division or tension within and frustration of not completing well any of the several things we are experiencing.
For our next issue, ask your questions of Crystal Sullivan, director of UD’s campus ministry. EMAIL YOUR QUESTION TO MAGAZINE@UDAYTON.EDU.
Brother Brandon Paluch, S.M. ’06, is coordinator of community outreach for campus ministry at UD. [The first two questions and answers are in addition to those appearing in the print magazine.]
Since UD is a Marianist school, why are there so few Marianists on campus? —DON WIGAL ’55, NEW YORK
Though there are fewer Marianist brothers and priests on campus now than in years past, I’m not so sure there are fewer Marianists on campus. So many people here live the Marianist charism in a variety of ways: Marianist Educational Associates, Marianist student communities and students who make commitments as Marianist laypeople, just to name a few. Blessed Chaminade was blessed with an understanding of the critical role of lay leadership in the church. Every baptized Christian is charged with a mission extending far beyond occupying a pew on Sunday morning. The Marianist family invites everyone, “You have been given a gift. How are you sharing it?”
How do you feel the Marianist charism transfers to the work you do with students in the community? —LESLIE KING, DAYTON
Sometimes people talk about the Marianist charism as a bulleted list: Faith, Mary, Mission, Inclusivity, and Community. While this can help describe parts of the Marianist charism, the charism itself is something much deeper—it is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Someone once distinguished between a doctor and a charismatic healer: a doctor heals an illness or injury but a charismatic (one who shares a gift of the Holy Spirit) touches the very heart of the person. I hope and pray that we all can have that kind of presence and impact in our work.
What do you see as the most important contribution the Marianist mission has to make to North American society today? —FATHER CHRIS WITTMANN, S.M. ’83, BEAVERCREEK, OHIO
Our Marianist mission is to witness, form and transform. We’re called to bear witness to the love of Christ in community, to form faith-filled leaders and communities on fire for the Gospel, and to work to transform our society so it more fully resembles God’s kingdom of peace and kinship. If we — Marianist laypeople, brothers, sisters and priests — live this mission with passion, we can make a great contribution to our society.
What would be your advice to people who are exploring the possibility of a religious vocation? —BROTHER TOM WENDORF, S.M. ’86, ST. LOUIS
Pope Francis addressed a crowd of young people saying, “Ask Jesus what he wants of you and be brave! Be brave! Ask him!” It takes courage to listen, to let God chart the path. If you’re being invited to religious life, you will find joy there — in spite of difficulties and even if it seems to others like foolishness. Be brave! Ask him!
You are an optimist by all accounts. Why are you optimistic? —DICK FERGUSON ’73, BEAVERCREEK, OHIO
Someone once taught me the distinction between optimism and Christian hope: Optimism trusts in the power of people while hope is rooted in faith — it is the belief that God can and will transform our world. I’m much more hopeful than I am optimistic. The Holy Spirit wants to bring new life; we just need to cooperate a little more. Father Norbert Burns, S.M., started class with a quiet prayer, “Lord, help me get out of your way.” If we could all live that, we would see our lives, neighborhoods and nations change for the better.
What statement from [founder]Blessed Chaminade inspires you, gives you focus for your Marianist life? —BROTHER TOM PIEPER, S.M. ’67, DAYTON
I love Chaminade’s vision of the “spectacle of a people of saints.” The Marianist family should really leave people wondering, “What is this all about?” We’re called to be a community of ordinary people filled with extraordinary love who warmly welcome everybody — even enemies.
You have experience in urban Catholic schools. What are your hopes and dreams for them? —SUSAN M. FERGUSON ’76, BEAVERCREEK, OHIO
In my favorite Christmas song, “O Holy Night,” we hear, “Long lay the world in sin and error pining ’til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.” Jesus appeared in the manger, in that lowly place so people could know their worth. Many Catholics have disappeared from the inner city where so many of our brothers and sisters still struggle in poverty. I hope we can re-appear and commit ourselves to working with children and families in urban Catholic schools. In doing so, we might discover our own and each other’s great worth.
What does being part of the church mean to you? —CYNTHIA CURRELL ’80, DAYTON
Many people today identify as spiritual but not religious. The late, great Father Joe Lackner, S.M., used to joke, “I’m religious, but not spiritual.” I cherish being a member of the church because it is a living body, Christ’s body. I love the church because it brings me face to face and shoulder to shoulder with people seeking the same light. Yes, we sometimes have disagreements, scandals, lackluster liturgies and disappointments. But it is a family, not to be abandoned, even when things get rough. And most importantly, Jesus is there. We can only find him in and with each other.
What was the most important lesson you learned about working for justice during your year of internship in the Fitz Center? —BROTHER RAY FITZ, S.M. ’64, DAYTON
This summer in Mexico, I met a man working a traditional loom. The complexity of the mechanism was astounding — thousands of intricate parts working together. He told me it would take about two weeks of full workdays to weave one blanket. Working for justice is something like that. It is a complex and demanding art. To do this in a Marianist way means taking things one step at a time, gradually, as a mother raises a child. Eventually, the child reaches maturity and the blanket is brought to completion, but not without patience, perseverance and sacrifice.
Brother Bernie Ploeger, S.M. ’71, president of Chaminade University in Honolulu, answers questions on the spiritual, the mathematical and the Hawaiian.
You, especially, and so many of the Marianists I’ve known have gentle, kind and lively senses of humor. Are they a reflection of the Marianist spirit? — John Geiger, Green Valley, Ariz.
Growing up in the middle of a family of four boys, our version of “talking trash” was only more gentle when viewed from today. This question brought back one of my earliest experiences of teaching. I had made a teasing remark about how dumb a student’s answer was. Then I realized I had shamed him and he could no longer pay attention to the math. Luckily, it was in an individual conversation and not in front of the whole class. Whatever I might have done with my brothers is a big failure in the classroom. An attentive teacher learns this quickly.
I suggest this is a source of this shared trait. Having said that, while I love Garrison Keillor, my candidate for the master of gentle humor, I really enjoy The Daily Show.
What is Marianist about your leadership style? — Mary Harvan Gorgette ’91, L’Hay-les-Roses, France
I’m cautious about believing if I know one’s parents or siblings, I know this person. Yet, when “everyone” says I look like my brothers — it’s true. So, that’s how I’ve come to think of shared characteristics of Marianists. Some talk of being a child of Mary. I try to be a disciple in the way Mary was. I find Mary at Cana and Mary in the upper room at Pentecost to be particularly important. I would like to believe that my leadership builds community — it is inclusive, consultative and empowering.
Do you think the Marianists are perceived any differently in Hawaii than in Dayton? —Suzette Pico, Centerville, Ohio
Although I believe there are many more things that are the same, I offer the following three as different. Because we came as missionaries (1883) and the director of the community and other brothers were personal friends of the king, leading them to oppose the overthrow of the monarch and annexation, there is an identification with the aspirations of Hawaiians that is noticeable. Related to this, from the beginning, many of the students at the schools we directed were from non-Christian families, which has led to a certain naturalness of diversity and interreligious dialogue. Finally, our small size and relative isolation (of course, this has attenuated considerably with jet travel) has meant we work more closely with other religious communities and the diocese than was my experience in Dayton.
How has the combining of the four former provinces into the Marianist Province of the U.S. had an impact on Marianist presence and mission? — Peter Vlahutin ’94, Saint Ann, Mo.
Although numerically we have continued to decline, the formation of the new province in a very helpful way “shook things up.” When you have to explain to someone else why you’ve always done something this way — the experience of each of the four provinces — your presuppositions are challenged. So, there has been a certain “creative destruction” that I believe has been freeing. For Chaminade the mobility of personnel had led to a significant renewal and expansion in Marianist presence.
For all our institutional commitments, the unification has given even greater focus to our role as sponsors and the formation of collaborators. While we have had to consolidate the number of our communities, at the same time new initiatives have been made, most recently in Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
Has your undergrad experience in math at UD impacted your life? — Jan Tonnis Trick ’71, Dayton
I believe what I learned that has been most central is what constitutes a theorem and its proof. Harry Mushenheim’s senior year advanced calculus courses were the time where I felt I came to understand mathematics as reasoning from axioms — always asking whether every condition of a theorem is needed, how to look for counter-examples, how to identify all the logical possibilities. He gave me an aesthetic appreciation of mathematics.
What’s your favorite way to relax? Working crossword puzzles? — Kurt Ostdiek ’91, Dayton
Kurt, I know I got you hooked on crossword puzzles, but I’ve abandoned them for KenKen. What can I say? I am a mathematician.
Father Paul Vieson, S.M. ’62, director of the Marianist Archives, brings to his answers the learning of a centuries-old heritage and the experience of half a century as a Marianist.
Why did you choose to become a Marianist? —Teri Dickison, Pleasant Hill, Ohio
Before I discovered girls, I found the Dominicans to be an interesting religious order; I liked their habits. Then, I went to Purcell Marian High School in Cincinnati and met the Marianists, who took a personal interest in the skinny kid with the big glasses who was hopeless in gym class but liked the library. My Marianist teachers were dynamic classroom presences, cultured and devoted. The Dominicans never had a chance after that.
Over the years, what moments have you encountered that confirmed your calling? —Susan Terbay, Dayton
When we are at peace with what we are and do, even if it is not spectacular, we know we are in the right place and engaged in the right life. I think that growing sense of peace confirmed me again and again over the years even when I had some second thoughts. There were few special graced moments and certainly no apparitions that said, “This is it!”
Who first introduced you to libraries and how? —Jane Dunwoodie, Dayton
My father took me to the public library in Cincinnati where I grew up. Dad allowed me to select books from the “grown-up” section where I usually chose histories and biographies. My family encouraged me to read. “Give Paul a book and that’s the last you will hear of him all day,” was a favorite family saying.
What instruction from the Marianist founders do you think is especially relevant for lay people today? —Fran Rice ’76, West Milton, Ohio
The necessity of building Catholic community that embraces many vocations: marriage; single state; consecrated religious; priests — each vocation bound to the others in a common Marian consecration as “a union without confusion” and an example to the church as a whole. When the Marianist family does that, we will, by God’s good grace, convert the world.
Is there a particular writer that you would recommend that others read for spiritual formation? —Carole Wiltsee, Kettering, Ohio
The late Father Emil Neubert, S.M., writings on Mary; any of the publications of the North American Center for Marianist Studies are good introductions to Marianist spirituality and heritage and always enriching.
UD is welcoming to persons of all faiths. What Marianist traditions most resonate with non-Catholics? —Elizabeth Moore Jacobs, Tipp City, Ohio
The most impressive Marianist and UD characteristic I hear repeated over and over is how welcoming we are. Parents have observed that the campus is so very friendly. Alumni remember the close friendships and community they developed during their UD career and that still endure. Hospitality is a very Marian virtue; and Marianist communities, both religious and lay, cultivate that virtue.
Did you ever think about leaving the Society of Mary? —Terri Lauer, Clayton, Ohio
Commitment is made stronger when it is challenged. I have been challenged several times in 53 years as a Marianist: by occasional difficult community assignments; attractions to the joys of marriage; and even the moment of doubt that it was all worth it. But, fraternal support and prayer and a determination to be faithful, to persevere and not walk away from a challenge, brought me through. If I had to do it all over again, I would.
How has your devotion to Mary impacted your ministry both as a priest and an archivist? What is your favorite prayer? —Susan Terbay, Dayton
Many Marian virtues have helped to shape my life as a Marianist religious and a Marianist priest. Faith, prayer, openness to others may well be stronger in my life because of my consecration to Mary — not my doing but the work of grace. Mary’s son and His mother do surprise us with what they can make of poor material. Apart from the Lord’s Prayer and the Hail Mary, I have a fondness for this one, especially when I am anxious:
Mary, dearest Mother,
You can’t say you can’t.
You won’t say you won’t.
So, you will, won’t you,
For our next issue, ask your question of Brother Bernard Ploeger, S.M. ’71, president of Chaminade University. Email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Readers had more questions for Carol Ramey ’68, director of the North American Center for Marianist Studies, than we had space in the Big Questions section of the Autumn 2012 issue of University of Dayton Magazine. Here are additional questions with her answers:
What do you understand by your commitment as a member of a Marianist lay community? What difference does it make in your life? Is there anything special about your way of being Catholic as a lay Marianist? —David Fleming, S.M., Dayton, Ohio
My Catholic faith is the foundation of my Marianist commitment, and my Marianist commitment deepens my Catholic faith. Parish life is one component of my quest for God and meaning. Marianist spirituality fulfills a longing in me for an experience where the Word of God is broken open through conversation among peers; where prayer is creative and varied; where trust for deep faith sharing builds among members; where we read the Scripture and the newspaper together, where we ponder and plan activity against the injustices of the world and the church.
The Marianist style of community is prophetic, I think, to the larger church — offering the Marian dimensions of church as complement to the Petrine and the Pauline traditions. Had I not met the Marianists, I wouldn’t have the hope I have for the church because I’ve wouldn’t have witnessed what it could be.
How/when did the Marianist charism capture your imagination? What aspect of Marianist charism do you feel is most needed in the world today and why? What have been the benefits and challenges of lay people being more integral in Marianist leadership around the world? —Crystal Sullivan, Kettering, Ohio
I was drawn to the Marianists at UD in the early ‘60s. I was captivated by the congruence between the Marianist lay community on campus and the documents coming out of Vatican II. The opportunity to change the church and world was electricity for we who were on the threshold of being in the world as contributing adults. I was intrigued by how Marianists spoke of Mary — she was admired as much for her courage and risk taking as she was for her humility and receptivity.
For me, the elements of the charism are a package deal. Each of the five pillars — faith, community, inclusivity, Mary, and mission — is critical for our times. But, community is probably at the center right now — both church and culture struggle with bringing people to a sense of deep purpose and belonging, handling complexities and limits, and living in peace and justice within local and global diversity. Community is both a destination from which to draw strength for the mission and a vehicle by which contemporary approaches to ministry and concepts for social structures for equality can be created.
Lay leadership is at the roots of Marianist life. Blessed Chaminade trusted the capacities of lay to promote zeal, education and practical resources for the early communities, which operated quite well for 16 years before the Marianist religious were founded. The purpose of the orders was to support the growth of the communities, not lead them.
Today, frankly, the most evident benefit is that most of the ministries are continuing despite the fewer numbers of professed Marianists available for leading the apostolic works — dedicated and professionally prepared lay individuals are insuring this for the future.
The challenges are around integrating Marianist spirit into all aspects of institutions’ operations — for example, most Marianist board by-laws require the participation of vowed religious on the boards — this taxes leadership right now. Ongoing educational and formational efforts to support leaders in mission integration need funding and qualified resource people.
How has your position at NACMS evolved over the years? What is the most important function that NACMS serves? —Celine O’Neill, Kettering, Ohio
The reason we exist has stayed the same — we continue to see our core mission as education in Marianist history, spirituality and apostolic approaches.
What have changed are the methods of delivery and our audience. Staff and I have had some steep learning curves — virtual learning, electronic publications, new technologies and avenues for networking, how to meet the interest in information and enrichment among an increasing diverse audience, providing scholarship in Marianist studies and current interpretations of the founders’ thoughts, and staying up-to-date on the Marianists around the world. Our audiences now are a mix of lay and religious, young and old, Catholic and those from other faith traditions.
Doing all this in a cost-containing manner has become more challenging. Serving a growing number of people is gratifying. And we know we need staff members who grew up with or have learned about the newest, latest, electronic devices and the “cloud.”
You have committed a great deal of your life to becoming an expert in Marianist history, traditions, and values. How has Marianist culture influenced your own life as a lay person. —Marge Cavanaugh ’67, Arlington, Va.
The learning and habits go back and forth between my life and work. The culture of the workplace reinforces how I pray, how I apply my talents, how I try to foster good relationships with friends and family and how I strive to put “first things first.” The experiences of lay community, family life and sense of mission and ministry as a lay person help me talk and write about the charism and its manifestations in terms that most people can understand and live out.
In many ways my work has enhanced my personal life choice to be a lay person. In short, my Marianist background assures me that doing ordinary things during ordinary days can be holy.
The people and resources to which I have access through my work help me understand and follow through on the responsibilities that accompany saying “yes” to the universal call to holiness. The Marianist silences and virtues really help keep me on track.
I often try to bring the joys and struggles of my lay life experiences to how I interpret things Marianist in my work. Being a woman, wife, mother and grandmother often provides me with stories and images that I use to relate Marianist history, traditions and values.
How did your time at UD lead you to your present role at the North American Center for Marianist Studies? Do you have interaction with present UD students that are as involved with the Marianist family as you were when you were a student? How is their involvement similar to yours when you were a student? How is it different? —Ed Brink ’82, S.M., St. Louis
My Marianist education at the UD took place in and outside the classroom. My history and political science majors prepared me in the timeframe of the Marianist founders and with an understanding of how change happens in a society. Theology and philosophy exposed me to the traditions of the church as well as the vast changes on the horizon. My extracurricular activities were primarily situated within the Sodality. Several SMs accompanied us and taught us about things Marianist. I left UD primed for the work ahead. I left UD committed to forming Sodality-like communities wherever life took me. I continued to learn from mentors. With SMs, I co-presented yearly seminars for S.M. and F.M.I. novices on Marianist lay life. In 1988, a Marianist brother asked me to consider working at NACMS as an editor. I said “yes!” Six years later, I became director.
I have some contact with involved students through programs for them on campus. I see great similarities between current UD students and my cohort. My formation was structured a bit differently than the present programs for students — in a large group, we heard talks and held discussions in a small building called “The Shack.” Small groupings around specific ministries met to plan good works, but we had the young Brother Ray Fitz nearby who was challenging us around systemic change to society!
The Marianist student communities are reminiscent of off-campus houses that many of us chose to live in together to support the faith journey. The cadre of faculty and staff who work with the students now in both formational and mission includes more lay folks, as most of our mentors where S.M. on the faculty and the F.M.I. who worked in the women’s dorm.
And like my experience of leaving UD behind, most graduates today must create communities in which to continue their Marianist interests. Of course, we didn’t have Skype; we had to make do with newsletters!
The following are the questions and answers — some in a longer form — that appeared in the Autumn 2012 issue of University of Dayton Magazine.
I’ve heard it said that the Marianist charism is a gift for both the church and the world. Can you explain what that means? —Tony Garascia, South Bend, Ind.
Scripture tells us “The gift you have received, give as gift.” (Mt 10: 8-19) Blessed Chaminade did just that — he shared the elements of the charism by providing a complex of methods designed to bring ordinary people together to sustain them in a deep faith life, to instill in them a hopeful disposition toward the world, and to inspire in them a determination to work with zeal for whatever would address the needs of the times.
As the church is for the world and operates within the world, the benefits of this gift extend into the culture.
The Marianist approach for transformation of church and culture continues to blend living within a faith-based community with a mission to serve the world, pursuing virtue in ways that equip us to interact with the world as catalysts for positive change, and a style of organization that brings diverse voices to important conversations. And, the gift gives us a woman, Mary, who prods the church and the world to scatter the proud, to give the hungry good things, and to raise up the lowly.
As in Chaminade’s situation, we need both laity and religious to bring his vision to life. Chaminade taught that through our common baptism, lay and religious have equal rights to and responsibilities around giving the gift we have been given.
Would you briefly compare and contrast the Marianist and Jesuit orders and what they offer to students and to the world? —Doug Davidoff, Arlington, Mass.
My study over the years has been focused almost exclusively on Marianist spirit and education. My knowledge of the Jesuit approach to life and education is very limited. However, the fact that both spring from Catholic tradition creates a common foundation from which the Holy Spirit offers the gifts of the Jesuit and Marianist charisms.
Both work to build the Reign of God through fidelity to the Word and responsiveness to those in need. The Gospel is proclaimed and strong faith is developed in ways central to all their ministerial works. Sodalities — what we call “lay communities” were part of both. The two orders sponsor educational institutions which integrate academic programs with living life as a whole person — one who is supported and challenged in the physical, intellectual, moral, social and creative aspects of life in a global reality. Students in Catholic schools usually thrive because all elements of the human experience are incorporated in a faith based environment. Each charism, though, offers the opportunity to learn about the Gospel and life by stressing particular elements of the Jesus’ teachings.
Marianists emphasize formation in faith and family spirit (community and equality within diversity). Additionally, they provide a culture in which one finds quality, integral learning; education for service, justice, and peace; and a facility to adapt and change as needed. All five characteristics — inspired by the Spirit — give witness through a focus and intensity throughout the school that will brings everyone more deeply into the Christ life. Marianists call all this “Mary’s Mission” — as she bore Christ into the world and taught him, she teaches us how to form Christ within ourselves and others and bear Christ into all times, places, and circumstances.
Do you think Chaminade was a good delegator of authority and, if so, what might we learn from him? —Joseph Stefanelli ’43, S.M., Cupertino, Calif.
Yes, I do. His design and implementation of the Three Offices from the first days of the Bordeaux Sodality and his inclusion of this method of organization into the Constitutions of the FMI and SM gives clear indication that he was a great delegator. As I understand delegation, it is meant to distribute the workload, to prepare people for more responsibility and leadership and to draw out the various gifts of all those involved in an enterprise. It allows for distinct perspectives to be honored and discussed. Through the deliberation, the best of the practical ideas and spiritual wisdom can surface and be weighed in light of a common good. Chaminade’s Offices do all of that and more.
He had confidence in persons who, like Adèle and many members of the sodalities, were much younger than he. He relied as persons such as Marie Thérèse, to whom he entrusted important work, even though she did not have the background he did. Chaminade was aware of most of what was going on, but he did not seem to micro manage the situations.
What can we learn? I hope that leaders learn that delegation is part and parcel of leading, but in ways that serve both the community or organization and the individual. Chaminade really tried to avoid throwing people into the deep end of the lake. From him, we can learn that mentoring and developmental experiences, good spiritual guidance, formation in virtue and provision of practical skills must always be available. And most importantly, we have to learn how to foster a common sense of the mission. Chaminade always reminded those to whom he delegated responsibilities that their work was the work of Mary.
The Marianist finds special inspiration in the actions of a frightened, young woman who chooses to say, “Yes.” Today’s young women and men are bombarded with a multitude of choices — career, personal, social, political and technological. How do Mary and the tradition of the Marianist speak to these young men and women today? How can the Marianist charism serve as a guiding source in the lives of all people, young and old? —Kevin Wisniewski ’94, Centerville, Ohio
I believe the guiding source for today’s young people in the midst of frightening uncertainty can still be found in inspirations from Mary. The story of the Annunciation deserves serious meditation and reflection. Here are a few principles I’ve been taught by Marianists.
First, get used to living with ambiguity. I don’t mean to sound flip — life just will often present multiple options and unexpected changes. I reflect on the very ambiguous situation Mary was in with the Angel’s visit, and I see her peacefulness at the conclusion of the encounter. So, I will myself not to panic. I will myself to avoid the option that offers immediate relief from the anxiety. It was hard when I was young; it is still hard
Secondly, learn the art of pondering. I would often fall into the routine of weighing risks and benefits, which gives good information, but pondering is more about listening for the voice of the Spirit. I say the phrase, “Mary pondered these things in her heart.” Her heart — not her mind. As Chaminade counseled, I try to listen “to the attitudes of the heart.”
Trust in God is the third aspect of letting Mary influence us. Mary, after asking a simple question — “How can this be?” and after listening to a pretty unbelievable answer from the Angel, says “Let it be done according to Thy Word.” At the start of the visit from the Angel she is troubled. At the end of the visit, her destiny is defined, without knowing what that really means. She just states an act of faith.
Mary’s trust in God had to be challenged by many episodes in her Son’s life, especially as she stood at the foot of the cross. Did the ambiguity go away? We don’t know except that the frequent reference to pondering infers it was still a factor in her faith life. Accepting ambiguity and learning to ponder as Mary did, I think, will bring us to the kind of trust she had.
In your best imagination, what do you see as the future of the Marianist Family and its strong growth over the last few years? —Michael O’Grady ’69, S.M., San Antonio
My vision of the future is sometimes grandiose — I imagine the church and its hierarchy taking charism more seriously and drawing upon the gifts of each to renew and refresh what some say is an institution in trouble. Imagine lay people, well steeped in theology and living in the light of the Gospel, working alongside clergy and religious from parishes up to the Vatican offices. Imagine if the church developed a network of small communities dedicated to strong internal dynamics where faith, hope and compassion radiated out as a light on the mountain top. Imagine the same communities with robust activity for the improvement of quality of life from local neighborhoods to the scope of the planet. Imagine people flocking to these communities to see how God has worked such miracles! Now that would be the “spectacle” that Chaminade often spoke about.
I do keep a smaller version of that vision in my heart. My imagination and my vision for the future are fueled by hope — the virtue that helps us trust in movement from what is “not yet” to “ what can be.” My hope stays alive from the experience of being with young adults who are on fire” with Marianist spirit and who are engaging in service projects for social change. My hope comes from the commitment of long-time members in lay communities, from the spirit alive and well in Marianist schools, retreat centers, and parishes, from the faithfulness of communities and affiliate groups whose members have lived to an old age and who are going to stop meeting only because of increasing health issues and transportation problems.
How can the imagined scenario become real? Well, as you mentioned there is a spike in the growth of communities of young people. Young adults throughout the world are engaged in Marianist formation programs and starting to create new communities in our tradition.
I’ll admit to some gloom and doom moments. Too many of my fellow travelers in life have left the church over the scandals, rigidity of what is defined as moral truth, and its lack of inclusion of lay people in all the ministries of the church. My vision on some days includes all these folks coming home.
A final part of the my vision is related to vocations to religious life and the priesthood. I envision men and women who pursue this type of vocation because the world desperately needs their witness of unconditional love, simplicity in all things, and listening above all the chatter for the voice of God.
For our next issue, ask your question of Father Paul Vieson, S.M., ’62 director of the Marianist Archives. Email your question to email@example.com.
Readers had more questions for Father Marty Solma, S.M. ’71, provincial of the Marianist Province of the United States, than we had space in the Big Questions section of the Summer 2012 issue of University of Dayton Magazine. Here are additional questions with answers from Father Solma:
How do you see your role in ensuring that Marianist college faculty convey respect for human life and the teaching authority of the Church in ethics and philosophy classes and in other situations, even where teachers and students may not be Catholic? —Marcia Schiele, Solon, Ohio, parent of four UD students
The question you ask is an especially important one for us these days. The University of Dayton, by virtue of its Catholic character and Marianist educational tradition, must endorse and publicly support the Catholic doctrinal and ethical teaching of the magisterium. The office of the vice president for mission and rector is more formally charged with overseeing compliance, along with the ultimate responsibility vested in the president and the board of trustees, of which I am a member. The board itself has two supervisory committees, one dealing with the mission and identity of the university and the other with the ethics involved with university research. We stay in close contact with the archbishop of Cincinnati to ensure his support and endorsement. When issues arise, we address them from our Catholic and Marianist commitment. This is of particular importance around the many life issues, including abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty, and respect for human life from conception until natural death.
When you are dark, when you are weary, when hope seems silly and greed and violence the coin of the realm, where do you go to be restored, resurrected, refreshed? What brings you back up to joy and defiant courage? —Brian Doyle, Editor, Portland Magazine
I rarely feel dark and weary. Frustrated, sad, discouraged — yes, at times. But that is part and parcel of doing anything worthwhile. I like people and, as Anne Frank said in her diary, “Despite everything, I still believe that people are basically good.” That doesn’t discount weakness, stupidity or sinfulness; but a deep respect for each person is what sustains a lot of my day-to-day activity. On a deeper level, if we take the resurrection seriously, the redemption has already happened and the Spirit has been given. The theological task today is to become what we already are through the mystery of Jesus’ death and resurrection. That’s Karl Rahner, by the way. That’s the core of my life, something that doesn’t easily give way to “dark and weary.”
The greatest female Catholic writer in American history: Flannery O’Connor or Annie Dillard? —Brian Doyle, Editor, Portland Magazine
I’m less familiar with the work of Annie Dillard although I’ve liked what I’ve read of her. I really like Flannery O’Connor: an honest, gutsy, determined believer and Christian.
What do you consider to be the most challenging and rewarding aspect of your present position? —Father Norbert Burns, S.M. ’45, Dayton
The Society of Mary in the United States is clearly getting older and more lean. At the same time, we have a number of very fine young men joining our mission and committing themselves by vow to the charism of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade. But, we have to be smart and have to make choices that promote both our religious life and our mission for the future. We cannot do things the way we did them even 40 years ago. But, this is the time and place in which the Lord has called us to fidelity and to faithful service.
As a member of the board of trustees, what gives you the most hope in terms of UD’s Catholic and Marianist mission and identity? What are the challenges from your perspective? —Joan Wagner, Dayton
At one time, professed members of the Society of Mary were numerous on the campus of UD, serving in administrative post and teaching in classrooms. The Catholic and Marianist identity was embodied in these men. The situation today is much different. Professed Marianists are fewer and older. But, this is not something to be discouraged about. When Father Chaminade returned to France from his exile in Saragossa, Spain, after the initial years of the French Revolution, he found a Church and society that was devastated. He set about rebuilding the Christian faith and the Church by forming communities of lay people who progressively grew in their faith and commitment. These “sodalities” were the fertile ground out of which grew the Marianist Sisters in 1816 and the Society of Mary in 1817. Father Chaminade was hailed as the “Apostle of the Laity” when he was beatified in 2000 by Blessed John Paul II. We continue his tradition of partnering with lay members of the Marianist Family and with other lay collaborators. Together, we have been entrusted with the Marianist charism and this partnering will continue to keep alive the Marianist spirit at the University of Dayton. Of special note is the presence of the Marianist Educational Associates (MEA) who have taken on a focused and committed role in promoting and sustaining the Marianist spirit at UD. The same is true at the two other Marianist-sponsored universities. We see this as a harkening back to our original foundation and to the original initiative of Blessed Chaminade. We do this together as a Marianist Family. This is a change of perspective for us, but one consistent with our charism and tradition.
Our Marianist charism is said to be both a gift and a task. What are the life-giving gift and the responsibility of the charism for you? —Maureen O’Rourke ’05, Dayton
For Blessed Chaminade, the place of Mary in the history of redemption was of primary importance. She was the channel through which the Word of God entered human history. As presented by St. John in his Gospel, she is the woman who stands at the foot of the cross and becomes the Mother of all the disciples of Jesus, his brothers and sisters, sharing the same mother. Pondering Mary’s mission was central to the life and ministry of Chaminade. As sharers in this charism, we need to do the same: like the Beloved Disciples, to take Mary into our lives and, with her, to foster the Christ-life in others. Understanding this, living it, sharing it is what Marianists do, whether religious or lay.
Please give us an update on the school in Kenya. —Maureen McGrail ’67, East Lansing, Mich.
Our Lady of Nazareth Primary School in the Mukuru slums of Nairobi just celebrated its 20th anniversary at the end of February. Begun by the Sisters of Mercy in 1992 to offer some basic math and language skills to slum children, the school has been administered by the Society of Mary since 1997. This year, it has an enrollment of 2,000 students and placed No. 5 in the district in the recent national exams. Not bad for a slum school! Through the kindness of donors in the UK and in Dayton, every child in the school now gets a hot breakfast of “uji” every morning, a porridge made from high-nutrient flour. Providing a good breakfast (and lunch) every day to 2,000 children in the middle of the slums is no small achievement. The Kenyan Marianists, under the leadership of Brother Chola Mulenga and Brother Joseph Maricky Okoth, continue providing a quality Marianist education to these children.
The following are the questions and answers — some in a longer form — that appeared in the Summer 2012 issue of University of Dayton Magazine.
A provincial seems like an admirable but often rather thankless task; so much of your work must not provide much instant gratification, and to even see results must often be the measurement of years. What are the subtle gentle rewards and kicks of being provincial? And I don’t mean the Jaguar and the superb wines. —Brian Doyle, Editor, Portland Magazine
Right, try a Ford Taurus and Crane Lake wine! Reinhold Niebuhr said that nothing of lasting value can be accomplished in a single lifetime, so we live with faith and hope. Of course, parents also know this in raising their children, and teachers in educating them. It’s the same with this responsibility: walking with people, leading, trying to make wise decisions for the future, relying on the help and insight of others. There are so many glimmers of grace in this job: Brothers who witness extraordinary generosity and self-sacrifice; experiences of forgiveness; goals reached and differences made; working with some incredibly good people on my Council and on the boards of the three Marianist-sponsored universities; walking with Brothers during their final journey to God. I have been deeply touched by the confidence that Brothers have placed in me and by their expressions of gratitude and support. Much better, to my mind, than a Jaguar or superb wines.
What message do you wish to give to the thousands of UD alumni? —Father Norbert Burns, S.M. ’45, Dayton
I had decided to attend UD even before I joined the Society of Mary in 1966. What a marvelous place! Under the really fine leadership of Brother Ray Fitz, now of Dr. Dan Curran, the school has grown to national prominence, increasing its offerings and strengthening its academic program. But, it’s the “feel” of the campus that is most enduring. Our founder, Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, spoke about “family spirit” and that is very much in evidence on the campus and in the interactions of students, faculty, staff and administrators. This is much more than a “feel good” environment. It is rooted in our Catholic faith, in the Marianist charism and the Marianist characteristics of education, and in the person of Mary who stands at the very center of our Marianist life. She is the woman who formed Jesus, and she is the woman who continues to form us in His likeness. UD is a special place. I am also highly impressed that the very same sense is evidenced at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio and at Chaminade University in Honolulu, both sister schools to UD and sponsored by the Society of Mary.
There has been a lot of talk in the political news about Social Justice lately. What is the definition of Social Justice to a Marianist and how does it fit into the Marianist mission? —Jerry Walsh ’87, Alexandria, Va.
Rooted in Catholic Social Teaching is the notion that justice is not just an individual concern but a social one as well. We are not simply focused on the good of the individual but on the common good: What makes for human flourishing and development for every human person? Our vision must include both fair wages and humane working conditions for the men and women who care for the grounds at UD but also the promotion of respect for and among students and faculty, part and parcel of the “Call to Community” initiative. As well, it means that we are committed to respect for the environment and challenging students to live in such a way that this becomes a lived value for them. It means providing opportunities for students to serve in Appalachia with University of Dayton Summer Appalachia Program, as engineers in the ETHOS [Engineers in Technical Humanitarian Opportunities of Service-learning] program, as interns with the Fitz Center. It means keeping a wide perspective on the world, on issues of peace and justice and on the policies and laws that either promote or hinder a world that is more peaceful and just. These are the issues that must form a big part of the Common Academic Program, imbuing students with a deep sense of their Catholic tradition and their responsibility for the world with which God has entrusted us. Marianist education is holistic.
Do the Marianists, and does the University, have a responsibility to share with the Church, bishops, clergy, religious and lay people, their honest assessment of how to make Christ present to all people in this time and this place? Or is our responsibility simply to communicate to lay Catholics and the public what the pope and the bishops present as essential Catholic teaching? In short do we or do we not share responsibility for the current life and future prospects of the Church in the United States? — David O’Brien, O’Brien recently completed a three-year term as University Professor of Faith and Culture.
Grounded in the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium and its “Universal Call to Holiness,” we are all called to a vibrant living of the Christian life and to a sharing in the building up of the Body of Christ. That is our pledge and our responsibility by baptism. But, as St. Paul says, each part of the body must contribute what it can. There are roles of teaching and leading, but there are also prophets, preachers, healers, those who care of the needy, and many other roles of service. In the best Marianist tradition, we build a sense of community where all are invited to share their gifts for the benefit of the whole. The university community has a special place in all of this. It is the arena where faith and culture meet, where science and theology together seek for truth, where the Catholic faith forms the bedrock for the education of the whole person and touches every part of the university culture. Magisterial teaching is important and has its place, obviously. But that teaching needs to be understood, explored and appropriated in a human and deeply religious manner. The university is a place where the deepest human questions can be met by the wisdom that comes from the Catholic tradition.
Will the Society of Mary continue sponsorship of high schools in the future and, if so, how will the order keep the Marianist charism alive with no or very few vowed Marianists staffing the schools? —Myron Achbach ’58, Dayton
The province is in the process of developing a sponsorship model for all of these schools. Rather than simply withdrawing from them or closing them, is there a way to maintain a Marianist spirit and ethos in the high schools and middle schools? We think so. A sponsorship relationship would entail certain benefits and obligations on the part of these institutions in the Marianist educational tradition. On our side, we need to determine what is required in order to put the name “Marianist” on a school: in spirit, in governance, in commitment. It will require the Marianist Province of the USA to devote considerable time and resources to the process of “formation,” sharing with lay partners the meaning and dynamism of the Marianist charism. We have recently initiated an Office of Formation for Mission that will serve these Province needs. This, along with whatever Office of Sponsorship we eventually establish, will hopefully ensure the continuance of the Marianist spirit in schools for a long time to come. Far from a diminishment, this new way of our doing ministry can extend the Marianist influence far beyond what we alone can do today.
For our autumn issue, ask CAROL RAMEY ’68, director of the North American Center for Marianist Studies, about what the Marianist founders offer today’s world, about Mary as inspiration and role model, about community, about what Marianists bring to the table today.
EMAIL YOUR QUESTION TO MAGAZINE@UDAYTON.EDU.
A Marianist Educational Associate since 2011, Peg Mount has been assisting the students, faculty and staff of engineering technology for more than 20 years. That includes, since 2006, cohorts of students and faculty from Shanghai Normal University in China.
What was your impression when you saw the first cohort of Chinese students from Shanghai Normal University?
—Paul Xu ’07, Shanghai, China
I admired the students for taking a risk in coming to UD to take classes. I know it was difficult for them to be 7,000 miles away from home and their families and to take courses not taught in Chinese.
In the past couple years, you have helped a lot of Shanghai Normal students. Have you ever thought about visiting Shanghai? —Yvonne Zhou ’07, Cincinnati
I would love to go to Shanghai. There are so many students who are there, faculty who are there who I want to see. I enjoyed getting to know them and learning about their culture, and they gave me new insights by seeing Dayton through their eyes.
How do you make use of the Marianist charism in your daily dealings with students, particularly those who might be a bit challenging to deal with? —Margaret Pinnell ’88, UD assistant dean
There was a student who did not want to hear “no,” and “no” was the only answer I had for him. So I’m standing, and he’s getting pushy and coming into my space. I thought, he’s a freshman, and I’m going to have him for the next four years. And I was thinking about the Marianist charisms of Mary and inclusivity. I decided that I could make his life miserable every time he came in this office or I could think of him as a child of God and someone who deserves my respect. The irony is that he became one of my student workers, and we became good friends. But it could have gone the other way. Every day, admin assistants hear “I need, I want, I gotta have” from students, faculty and technicians. Everybody has to make a conscious decision every day about what we do.
How has your MEA experience impacted your life professionally and personally? —Randy Groesbeck, UD administrator
I have met wonderful people not only from UD but also from San Antonio and Hawaii. I believe in the Marianists and their mission. They see the world is not black and white — there are so many gray areas, and they have compassion and have shown me how to be nonjudgmental. I’m always open to listening. We all have burdens to bear, but when you share, you begin to heal.
What is the happiest thing for you? —Roro Chen ’08, Shanghai, China
My granddaughters. I went through a bad divorce, and I never thought I’d love like that again. But it was instantaneous, pure joy when my son first handed me Lauren. Lauren is now 5, Jocelyn, just over 1 year. I just light up when I see them. It’s the next generation, and we see hope when we look in their faces, that they can make it a better world.
What is the Lebanon Outreach Program headed by engineering school dean Tony Saliba? —Brother John Samaha, S.M. ’52, Cupertino, Calif.
When Tony and Joseph Saliba came to the University of Dayton, they found not only a refuge from the civil war in their native homeland (1975-1990) but also a community where they and many other Lebanese could prosper socially, economically and culturally. Years later, when President Dan Curran and Provost Joe Saliba visited Lebanon, they were told by both the president of the country and the head of the Maronite Catholic Church that UD’s Lebanese students should be encouraged to return and rebuild the country. Tony and Joe have started the Lebanon Outreach Program that supports, through donated money, students from Lebanon to come to the University of Dayton and then return home to be strong leaders providing innovation, commitment and service. I think this program is one of the many examples of how the Marianist spirit continues to flow from one generation to the next.
What do you enjoy most about being at UD? —Becky Blust ’87, UD professor
I work with a very special group of people in technology. The current faculty, I’ve watched their kids grow up from babies. I know who likes jelly beans and who likes Snickers. We have an end-of-
semester pizza party that brings all of our full-time and part-time faculty and retirees together. When I first started, the retirees made me part of their group. I have played laser tag with them, and we just had our third annual Robert Burns night, where engineers, mathematicians and their spouses share poems. My 60th birthday is coming up, and I’m learning from the best how to celebrate birthdays and
For our next issue ask Father Marty Solma, S.M. ’71, provincial for the Marianist Province of the United States and a Cleveland native. He previously served in eastern Africa for 25 years. EMAIL YOUR QUESTION TO MAGAZINE@UDAYTON.EDU.
Father Jim Fitz, S.M. ’68 is vice president for mission and University rector. “I have been encouraged by the breadth of the interest across campus in Blessed William Joseph Chaminade,” says Fitz, whose office is coordinating UD’s Chaminade Year celebration, which runs through January. Celebration details are at www.udayton.edu/rector/chaminade250.
It was very sad recently to read that the Marianists had left San Francisco after 125 years. At which school in the U.S. is found the oldest Marianist presence? —Ernest Avellar ’49, Hayward, Calif.
University of Dayton is the oldest. The school opened in 1850 and it evolved into UD; UD had a high school section that moved to Chaminade High School, which is now Chaminade Julienne. We still sponsor Archbishop Riordan High School in San Francisco; there are no longer any Marianist religious, but we still promote the Marianist charism there. We withdrew because we have fewer religious and we just cannot be present in all the places we were before. Also, we respond and adapt to change, so we have moved into new ministries based on the gifts of our members, such as Brother Bob Donovan, a medical doctor working with the homeless in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.
Why isn’t Good Friday a holy day of obligation? —Kathy Waldron ’80, Canal Fulton, Ohio
A holy day of obligation is a required day to attend the celebration of the Eucharist, and Good Friday is the one day during the liturgical year when the church does not celebrate the Eucharist.
Does UD still have a retreat program called the CARE Weekend? —Mary Puleo Kuenzig ’80, Mason, Ohio
There’s not a CARE retreat anymore. Adaptation and change are characteristics of Marianist education, so the retreat program has changed. There is still a very strong retreat program, but the forms have evolved based on the interests of students, for example the More 2 Life retreat and the Metanoia retreat. To get in touch with former participants, you can look up their names through the online alumni network at www.udayton.edu/alumni.
When I have missed our sons — three have attended UD — I know Mother Mary is there to watch over them. Who created the wonderful icon, which is on several buildings? —Lisa Brackmann, Cincinnati
Brother Gary Marcinowski created the original design, and Brother Brian Zampier later turned it into a greeting card. The illuminated image of Mary and child can be seen on Miriam Hall and College Park Center.
What advice do you give to alumni and students for staying in touch with our beloved Marianist family after they have left UD? —Emily Klein McFadden ’09, Cleveland
It depends on where a person lives. At www.marianist.com is a directory of Marianist lay communities and religious communities (the Society of Mary and the Marianist sisters). You can also connect to FamilyOnline and see the Marianist lay communities map (www.marianist.com/?page_id=1198). Of course, you can always contact our office at 937-229-2899 to connect with UD Marianists.
I have a hard time explaining what it means to be a Marianist. Can you give me an “elevator speech”? —Clare Roccaforte ’02, Chicago
A Marianist is a disciple of Jesus Christ, the son of God become the son of Mary for the salvation of all. Mary, for us, is a model disciple because she heard the word of God and she said yes to it. Her yes allowed the word of God to be incarnated in the world. So we as Marianist religious imitate her yes to the word of God and incarnate it in the world through community and mission. In community, we try to live the Gospel values so people can see them. Mission is outreach to build the kingdom of God in the world based on what the needs of the time are. That’s an elevator speech depending on how many floors — we could go longer.
How do you reconcile good fortune and God’s many blessings with the pain and suffering of so many innocent people? —George Kooluris ’66, Bronxville, N.Y.
That’s one of the theological questions for the times. Terry Tilley, who was our former religious studies chair, wrote a whole book on it: The Evils of Theodicy. Some of the suffering in our world can be attributed to the choices people make. God loves us but God leaves us free, so people make choices that are not the choices that even God would want us to make. But I do not have a good answer for every illness or natural catastrophe, except to do what Mary did and stand with people who are suffering. Like Mary, I can be compassionate and caring and do what I can to alleviate suffering.
For our spring issue ask Peg Mount, a Marianist Educational Associate, parent of two UD alumni and longtime administrative assistant in the department of engineering technology; she has worked at UD 21 years. Email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org.