What has been the Marianists’ reaction to Pope Francis’ encyclical?
We asked this question of Brother Ron Overman, S.M. ’68, assistant provincial for temporalities (finance) of the Marianist Province of the United States. His answer:
There was great anticipation about the encyclical. Many of my Marianist brothers speculated on the content. We have not been disappointed — especially with how Pope Francis connects respect for the environment with how the environmental issues relate to keeping the poor of the world poor.
Many of our communities have read and used the encyclical for community meetings to further understand how the environment not only impacts the poor of the world but also how it will affect future generations. (One helpful study guide was published by National Catholic Reporter, “A Readers’ Guide to Laudato Si,’ ” by Jesuit Father Thomas Reese.)
Soon after the Laudato Si’ was published, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) encouraged all religious orders of men to adopt a resolution called “Cherish All of Creation.”
The tenets of the resolution include these beginnings:
“We resolve to significantly change our lifestyle, including our consumption habits …
“We resolve to significantly increase our reliance on green energy in our ministries, buildings, and our investments …
“We resolve that we significantly decrease our use of fossil fuels … by purchasing carbon off-sets to increase environmental improvement.
“We resolve to consistently advocate for significant policy changes at the local, national and international spheres …”
Each tenet comes from the encyclical Laudato Si’ and brings us practical ways to make the encyclical part of our life.
Ninety-eight percent of the members of the Marianist Province of the United States endorsed the CMSM resolution.
Several of our communities have already sought ways to use green energy in their local houses. Several have used an alternative energy company (Arcadia) to supply green energy to the power grid, thus reducing fossil fuel use. Such use of green energy may be a small step, but it is the right step and respects the direction of Care for our Common Home.
On what ministries are the Marianists worldwide focusing?
We asked that question of Father Manuel Cortés, S.M., superior general of the Society of Mary. His answer:
In all countries where we are present, Marianists focus on our ministries of education, understood as the formation of the whole person, according to the perfect human model, Jesus. Since the days of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, we have considered this the service the Lord asked of us: to form human persons in the way that Mary formed Jesus as a human being. We call ourselves “Marianists” because we are called to continue the educational mission of Mary in our Church and in our world. Inspired and accompanied by Mary, our vocation is to form others to become brothers and sisters of Jesus, as well as brothers and sisters of each other.
As Marianists, we are open to any type of ministry that may serve to form persons. In addition to our educational institutions, we are committed to other ministries that exercise an important educational influence — such as parishes; programs promoting social justice; adult formation; faith communities; and attending to those excluded from educational systems owing to social, economic or other circumstances.
Chaminade, deeply touched by an era of great change, that of the French Revolution, understood people’s need to be educated, to receive the formation needed to avoid being swallowed up by the turmoil of great cultural change. We are living through a similar period, a time of perhaps even more profound change. Pope Benedict XVI characterized it as an “educational emergency,” and Pope
Francis has not ceased calling for the dedication of all possible resources to address this clear need in the area of education. In light of this, Marianists cannot but feel spurred on in our mission. We hope that the Lord will give us vocations to be able to continue to develop in this area.
The educational emergency of our age appears most acutely in the poorest societies and among those marginalized in the richer societies. The “good life” of those who live in opulence increasingly leaves behind victims condemned to poverty and hunger. We Christians cannot remain indifferent to the cry of the poor, as Pope Francis has repeated so often. Since the 1950s, the Marianists have responded to this call by founding communities and works in poor countries and marginalized areas. We are present in 33 countries. In 18 of these, we have been present only since the last half of the 20th century, with the great majority of these having a high level of poverty.
Our Marianist focus, therefore, remains faithful to our founder’s vision but also very much in conformity with the needs of today’s world. Our ministry remains deeply rooted in Marianist tradition and spirituality and very much alive in active mission.
Answering questions in this issue is Matt Dunn ’91, executive director of the Montgomery County (Ohio) Arts and Cultural District, whose volunteer work includes serving on the national leadership council for the Marianist laity. Questions not appearing in the print edition are listed first.
How has your experience as a Lay Marianist influenced both your career (not only the “what you do” but also the “how you do it”) and your involvement with the Marianists at the national level?
—AMY D. LOPEZ-MATTHEWS ’86, DAYTON
My professional life and volunteer commitments have always been geared toward service and making the world a better place. My commitment as a lay Marianist has guided, affirmed, and reinforced the choices I have made professionally and within the Marianist Family. As a Marianist lay person, I believe the way I live my life should be a model of the new evangelization, where the way I live my life is itself a mission. I also believe we all have gifts to share. I share mine through volunteerism and working to strengthen the Marianist Family in circles beyond my own local community. At the national and international levels we say we are a community of communities. So I always keep in mind that I’m part of something bigger. The idea of individual gifts is also present to me in everyday relationships. One aspect of the Marianists is mixed composition and discipleship of equals. We are a family of sisters, brothers, priests, and lay people. We are all equals and each have something to contribute in our own way. I take that into the workplace and other settings remembering that everyone has a voice, everyone has value, everyone has their own unique way of contributing to a combined effort.
What influence has family had on your aspiration and commitment to be part of the Marianist community?
—LINDA C. LOPEZ ’81, KETTERING, OHIO
The family spirit that so many experience at UD is a hallmark of the Marianist charism. What I have found in the Marianist Family, even beyond UD, is people who care for one another, challenge one another, support one another, pray together, share meals together, and celebrate with one another. The Marianist Family really is a family. Even when we don’t agree, we still love each other and realize we are all on this journey together. If anything, I think the Marianist sense of family and community has helped in my own relationships with family and friends!
What are the gifts that lay Marianists bring to the larger Church today?
—MARY HARVAN GORGETTE ’81, PARIS
The Marianist charism is a wonderful gift to the church. In some ways it’s what keeps me Catholic. The charism is manifested in our experience of Mary, community, faith, inclusiveness/hospitality, and mission. The Marianist family is a place of welcome where priests, brothers, sisters, and laity are equals, although each has their role. The church needs to be a place where all are welcome and valued. The idea of community reminds us that we are part of something larger than ourselves. Church is more than what we do on Sunday. As a faith community Marianists understand this. Pope Francis has said we need to be a more Marian church. We are blessed to model our lives after Mary, not as someone on a pedestal to be worshiped, but as a model of courage, strength, and willingness to say “yes” to God’s call in our lives. Because laity “live in the world” we have a unique opportunity to bear Christ to the world by how we live on a daily a basis. We evangelize by how we live our lives. I’ve often heard people say they feel more Marianist than Catholic. The reality is that by being Marianist, they are being Catholic. To me that’s the real gift to the Church.
Volunteering at the national level with the Marianists must take quite a bit of your personal time. What motivates you to continue at that level?
—AMY D. LOPEZ-MATTHEWS ’86, DAYTON
I volunteer with the Marianist Lay Network and other Marianist entities because I believe in what the Marianist Family has to offer the church and world. Our charism is a gift. I also believe in the notion that we are each part of something larger than ourselves. While I’m involved locally, I also feel an obligation to support our effort as a community of communities, across the country and around the world. I’m particularly motivated because my involvement allows me, as a lay person, to make a difference in the world at a time when religious vocations have decreased. It allows me to live my baptismal call and honors the fact that we are all called to share in the priesthood of Christ.
How can lay people live out the Marianist charism through their day to day lives as working professionals?
—STEPHEN MACKELL ’13, DAYTON
Many people can cite such elements of the Marianist charism as community, faith, mission, Mary, inclusivity, etc. We don’t often think of a Marianist spirituality. As a Marianist lay person, I believe the way we live our lives should be a model of the new evangelization, whereby the way we live our lives is a form of mission. As a lay person we may not use religious language in everyday life but we can live Father Chaminade’s “System of Virtues” in order to be more Christ-like. In many ways, these are realized when we take a step back from a situation, when we hold our tongues when we’d otherwise lash out or criticize, when we don’t make assumptions or let our imaginations get the best of us, etc. We replace bad habits with good habits. I also believe we all have gifts to share. It is important to recognize the gifts of others and encourage them to use their gifts. Believing in and participating in teamwork and collaboration and respecting the voice of others is another way to live the charism. Being open to the unexpected, as Mary was, is a way to grow and to pursue something we might not otherwise have considered. Organizationally, I believe Father Chaminade’s use of the three-office structure (education, spirituality, temporalities) can be applied in a workplace. Some people are good with ideas and vision. Some are good with implementation, numbers, and details. Others are good at connecting the dots, shaping conversations, and making sure everyone’s on the same page. Some have specific knowledge or skills to apply to a task or situation. Forming teams that encompass each can serve to maximize the team’s potential. So there are practical and spiritual ways we can live the charism on a daily basis.
What has been the greatest gift of the Marianist charism for your own journey of faith?
—BRIAN HALDERMAN ’99, SAN ANTONIO
The greatest gift of the Marianist charism for my own faith journey has been that of welcome/hospitality/inclusivity/family. I’ve had a very personal relationship with God, Jesus, and Mary since my childhood. I’ve been active in the Church and in parish life, including being employed by the Church. I considered the priesthood. More than once, however, I’ve thought about leaving the Church because I felt the Church didn’t want me. I’ve never experienced that within the Marianist Family. It is because of the Marianists that I remain Catholic today.
What does it take to become a Lay Marianist? Is it like being an Associate as some other orders like the Franciscans or Benedictines have? Does it take a long time? Do you have to say special prayers? Would I know one on the street? Does one have to be part of a local community? Where do I go to find out more?
—SUSAN VOGT ’69, COVINGTON, KENTUCKY
There are many points of entry into the Marianist Family. Yet most lay formation has been through programs administered by the Society of Mary, including those at the universities. Though the lay branch has seen a resurgence in the last couple decades — and in 2006 received canonical status from the Vatican — it has been slow to adopt internationally accepted standards for what it takes to become a lay Marianist or to live as a lay Marianist. However, as an association of the faithful, recognized by the Vatican, official status is dependent upon being listed in a country’s national lay directory, and subsequently the international directory. So, membership in MLNNA is critical for Marianist Lay Communities and those who identify as lay Marianists. MLNNA leadership, along with their counterparts around the world, are currently working to establish common guidelines and expectations for becoming and living as a lay Marianist. One can learn more about MLNNA at www.mlnna.org and can also learn about lay formation at www.marianist.com/mlfi.
Of the five elements of the Marianist charism (Faith, Community, Mission, Discipleship of Equals, Mary) which do you find most attractive? What attracted you to become a Lay Marianist?
—SUSAN VOGT ’69, COVINGTON, KENTUCKY
Discipleship of Equals, translated to hospitality, diversity, and inclusion is that sense of family and welcome that most of us feel when we first come into contact with Marianists. I know it’s what drew me. It is a strong element of the charism that makes the Marianists unique in many Church circles. Not every religious organization is built on the idea that priests, brothers, sisters, and laity can be equals in the life of the Church. That element continues to play a role for me today although I think I’ve grown in my understanding and appreciation of community, faith, mission and Mary. I’ve always had a relationship with Mary, but she has played a much larger role in my adult life as I discern and accept the plans that God has for me. We are blessed to have her as a model and we are blessed to have community so that we are not on our journey alone.
Do you have to live around a Marianist university to be a Lay Marianist? (e.g., Dayton, Honolulu, San Antonio)
—MARGE CAVANAUGH ’67, ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA
The three Marianist universities are certainly hubs of Marianist activity. This is largely due to the numbers of vowed religious who have worked at the schools, employees who have become lay Marianists and students who have become lay Marianists. However, lay Marianists exist all over the world. There are many Marianist Lay Communities in cities where there isn’t a vowed Marianist presence. There are even more lay Marianists who are out on their own because we are such a mobile society. Being a mobile and international organization, one of our challenges is to stay connected. Some people contact MLNNA seeking Marianist lay communities in certain parts of the country. Others stay connected by participating in virtual or cyber communities where members share prayers via email, visit one another via video conferencing, and periodically come together for a retreat/reunion. Some people belong to more than one community. They stay connected to one community virtually but they also belong to one whose face to face interaction is more consistent. Lay Marianists are also encouraged to start communities so that we can grow our presence in the world.
The following questions and answers appeared in the University of Dayton Magazine, Summer 2015, vol. 7, no. 4.
Are lay Marianists a branch of the Marianist brothers and priests?
—JIM VOGT ’68, COVINGTON, KY.
Laity are not a branch of the religious. Unlike other religious orders who established associate organizations for lay people, Father Chaminade founded the Marianists by first forming small Christian communities known as sodalities. Religious vocations grew out of the sodalities. The branches of the Marianist Family collaborate but remain autonomous.
Has the lay branch of the Marianist family always been as active as it is today?
—STEPHEN MACKELL ’13, DAYTON
The involvement of laity in the Marianist Family has ebbed and flowed. In the last couple decades, however, a vocation among Marianist laity has grown. In 2006, Marianist Lay Communities, collectively as an international entity, were officially recognized by the Vatican as a private association of faithful, giving the lay branch canonical status in the church. Marianist laity work in their chosen career fields; some work in Marianist institutions. Some have started ministries, such as the Mission of Mary Farm in Dayton.
The Marianists are known for creating inclusive and hospitable communities of faith. How do you help bring this to life as a lay Marianist?
—BRIAN HALDERMAN ’99, SAN ANTONIO
I’d like to think I am inclusive in all aspects of my life — my friends, workplace relationships, volunteer commitments. Within the Marianist Family, I have worked to make communities more welcoming of LGBT people by participating on the LGBT issue team of the Marianist Social Justice Collaborative (MSJC). Additionally, through MSJC and through my involvement in national leadership, I have participated in efforts to bridge intergenerational gaps. Within my Marianist Lay Community, we are diverse in composition. Some of us are single, some are married, some have kids, etc.
What do you do as part of the national leadership council for Marianist laity?
—AMY D. LOPEZ-MATTHEWS ’86, DAYTON
The lay branch is led by the volunteer leadership team of the Marianist Lay Network of North America (MLNNA). MLNNA maintains a directory/database of lay Marianists and Marianist Lay Communities in North America. We hold assemblies that bring people together from across the country. We have a monthly newsletter and use other social media. We help fund ministries such as the Marianist Social Justice Collaborative and the Marianist Lay Formation Initiative. One of my current responsibilities is to lead MLNNA through the process of clarifying how someone becomes a lay Marianist. I also serve on the Marianist Family Council of North America, which consists of representation by all three branches.
Tell us about your experience at the International Marianist Meeting in Peru last summer?
—LAURA LEMING ’87, DAYTON
An international Marianist meeting is like family reunion and like the experience of the Apostles at Pentecost. To be in a place where people don’t speak the same language yet everyone has a common vocabulary is exhilarating and inspiring. The more we are able to gather and share ideas, the more we learn better ways to evangelize, strengthen our small Christian communities and bring Christ to the world.
What’s new from the Marianist Social Justice Collaborative?
—MARY HARVAN GORGETTE ’81, PARIS
Some recent MSJC efforts have been to engage young adults in service projects and immersion experiences in the context of the Marianist charism. MSJC and the Marianist Environmental Education Center will also have materials and suggested actions for individuals and communities to consider when Pope Francis releases his encyclical on the environment. MSJC also recently published a document, Addressing LGBT Issues with Youth, to help Marianist educators create a pastoral, safe and inclusive environment for LGBT students.
What would you like to see develop among Marianist laity?
—JOAN SCHIML ’90, DAYTON
A greater institutional capacity to serve the Marianist Family, church and world. Without sacrificing diversity and flexibility, we could benefit from a more formalized identity. Additionally, with the decreasing numbers of vowed religious, it will take committed lay people to continue Marianist ministries as well as respond to the signs of the times by starting new ones. It is time for lay people to be bold in their aspirations and to begin initiatives without relying on others to tell us how to do it.
For more about the Marianist Lay Network of North America, see www.mlnna.org.
Brother Raymond L. Fitz, S.M. ’64, former president and current Ferree Professor of Social Justice, answers questions from college presidents (Pestello of Saint Louis, Ploeger of Chaminade and Curran of Dayton), fellow Marianists (one being his brother) and a grad (Keneally) whose career includes being UD student government vice president 1989-90 as well as the 42nd premier of New South Wales, Australia.
Questions and answers not appearing in the magazine are listed first.
Statistics show that global inequality is worsening with 85 people holding more wealth than half the population. What is your view on how to address this and achieve greater equality?
—ANN HUDOCK ’90, WASHINGTON, D.C.
I have a partial answer that has comes from my efforts to address the injustice of poverty. I strongly believe everyone has the right to basics of life – health, education, opportunities to work, etc. In advancing justice it is important to appreciate that all of us have contributed, directly or indirectly, to the injustice and at the same time appreciate that we all have gifts that can contribute to advancing justice. One part of the solution, for me, is educating our community so that all can participate in conversations of public deliberation that advance justice. Without a partnership of solidarity based on love of neighbor that brings together all impacted by poverty there can be no justice.
Is there a connection between your education as an engineer and your work for social justice?
—FATHER CHRIS WITTMANN, S.M. ’83, DAYTON
Father William Ferree, S.M., who wrote The Act of Social Justice, greatly influenced my early formation as a Marianist. To state Ferree’s insight in an overly simple way – “Injustice occurs because the institutions are poorly designed and organized for the common good, i.e., for the flourishing of all people and groups. Advancing justice requires mobilizing people to design and implement a new configuration of institutions so that there is a better realization of the common good.” As engineers we are taught the skills of design; we are not always taught skills of engaging people in the conversations necessary to advance justice.
How did your sense of mission guide you during your tenure as president of UD?
—FATHER MARTY SOLMA, S.M. ’71, ST. LOUIS
I was attracted to the Marianists by their mission of educating leaders. In conversations over the years we developed the phrase “learn, lead and serve,” as shorthand for our mission. I sought to get our UD community excited about educating servant-leaders who integrate knowledge to
advance justice in our society.
How has your work with the Fitz Center influenced your thought on what makes a “complete” professional?
—BROTHER BERNARD J. PLOEGER, S.M. ’71, HONOLULU
I have used the phrase “complete professional” to describe a person with competence in a discipline or professional field, a deep understanding of what it means to be human, and the ability to engage in positive change in society. In recent years we talked about this as “educating for practical wisdom.” I have come to believe that a complete professional must learn to see injustice and work to advance justice, especially in collaboration with those at the margins of society.
What has been the most challenging aspect of leadership for you?
—FRED PESTELLO, ST. LOUIS
It has been to engage people in constructive conversations that moved us toward greater realization of our mission as Catholic
and Marianist. That requires creating opportunities for all to appreciate how our mission was meaningful to our tasks of learning and scholarship. It also requires the skills of listening, of formulating our ideas so others could understand them, and of having the courage to engage different, even conflicting, perspectives to forge a constructive consensus. That was the most challenging — and most fulfilling — aspect of leadership.
What’s it like to be a former president?
—DAN CURRAN, DAYTON
That will be the second-best job you will ever have. As president, I was blessed with an ability to develop consensus around important issues. I used this ability to engage some faculty in exploring the important role of Catholic social teaching in our curriculum and in challenging our community to be concerned about
the youth and our families in our high-poverty neighborhoods. Also, when asked, lend your wisdom to the new president. Expect to work about as hard as you are now; you will just have fewer issues to keep you up at night.
Many students vote in an election for the first time when they are at the University. What advice would you give them?
—KRISTINA KERSCHER KENEALLY ’91, SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
In working with students, I have been guided by the statement of the American Bishops and Vatican Council’s document Church in the Modern World. As citizens, we have a responsibility to participate thoughtfully in elections and in public life. In the Catholic tradition this participation must be guided by a well-informed and critical conscience. In my own experience and in conversations with students, the options we have in voting are never clear-cut. Each candidate has some strengths and some deficits in promoting the common good. Politics is the art of the possible. I ask students to examine the candidate’s positions on a variety of critical life issues, abortion, poverty reduction, war and peace, etc. and then make a prudential judgment of which candidate has the greater possibility of promoting the common good.
What did you learn from your family that has helped you in your ministry?
—FATHER JAMES FITZ, S.M. ’68, DAYTON
From Dad, I learned “to keep promises and to be resilient.” From Mom, I learned “to see with my heart.” Both of them have shaped my work of advancing justice. There is a picture of Mom and Dad on the wall in front of my desk reminding me to keep faithful to their lessons.
For our next issue, ask your questions of Matt Dunn ’91, who professionally serves as executive director of the Montgomery County (Ohio) Arts and Cultural District and whose volunteer work includes serving on the national leadership council for Marianist laity in the United States. Email your questions to email@example.com.
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.
What does Father Burns do for entertainment? —ANITA AND JAMES BROTHERS, DAYTON
Anita, James, As you know my beloved sister has moved to Dayton. We take frequent rides, enjoy Hills and Dales and Cox Arboretum. I have cultivated a hobby in reading and research on Dayton history — especially Deeds (No. 1 in my book), Kettering and Patterson. I have read everything I can find on Wilbur and Orville along with visiting their monuments, museums and home in Indiana.
You were always passionate in the classroom. To what do you ascribe that passion? —BILL ROBERTS, DAYTON
Bill, Passion is who I am, a gift from Mary.
Is there one fundamental piece of advice that you would give regarding developing and maintaining a successful relationship? —TERRI KAYLOR ’80, KETTERING, OHIO
Terri, Stay with the pursuit. Relationships, community is the Chaminade charism.
“In the Marianist Tradition” — four words that are integral to UD’s mission statement. Please remind us why that is so important. —DAN COVEY ’77, SPRINGBORO, OHIO
Dan, Because those four words are the best answer to a purposeful life.
What did you love the most about the classroom? —MICHELA BUCCINI ’08, NORWOOD, OHIO
Michela, The embrace of God’s, Mary’s children.
Pope Francis celebrated a public marriage with 20 couples, some previously married, some living together and one an unwed mother. Do you see this as a positive influence? —JIM McGARRY ’73, TROY, OHIO
Jim, Thank you! I believe the great Francis is finding answers that are much needed.
How do you know you have had a great day in God’s eyes? —ANITA AND JAMES BROTHERS, DAYTON
Anita, James, I don’t know. I trust — the heart of any relationship.
The following questions and answers appeared in the University of Dayton Magazine, Winter 2014-15, vol. 7, no. 2.
With the passing of such great Roman Catholic theologians as Yves Congar, Karl Rahner, Edward Schillebeeckx and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, to cite just a few from that same fertile period of the 1960s, who do you see replacing them today? —BILL ANDERSON, LAC DU FLAMBEAU, WISCONSIN
Bill, I have given considerable thought to your great question. Congar, Rahner, Schillebeeckx, de Chardin are still with us. Today I honor Elizabeth Johnson, Pope Francis, Dairmuid O’Murchu, Matt Malone.
In your five decades of teaching, did you observe any fundamental changes in students’ attitudes towards relationships and marriage? —TERRI KAYLOR ’80, KETTERING, OHIO
Terri, In the early years attitudes were much more fixed. Today finds a much greater openness and acceptance of challenging those fixed ideas.
What advice can you give to young adults about to enter the sacrament of marriage? —DAN COVEY ’77, SPRINGBORO, OHIO
Dan, I have been sharing reflections on Six Keys to a Healthy Relationship. They are: Vision/Sacramentality — Passion — Dynamism — Communing Ways — Openness — Accommodating.
Why is it that so-called good Christians are so judgmental of others? If you do not live life their way, they feel you will not go to heaven. God loves us all. He welcomes us all into his kingdom. —MARY ALICE LOGAN, VIA FACEBOOK
Mary Alice, We are all God’s, Mary’s! We may be different, but we are all brothers and sisters embracing each other. Openness to the embrace is our call, our test.
How many students would you estimate you’ve taught during your career at UD? —CHELSEY SOUDERS ’04, TWINSBURG, OHIO
Chelsey, They tell me over 27,000 students met me in the classroom, the largest number of any professor in UD’s history. What a gift I have been given.
How much, in your present retirement, do you miss teaching? —BILL ROBERTS, DAYTON
Bill, I became avowed Marianist to live my life for God through Mary. In my retirement I am concentrating on that goal. I also wanted to dedicate my life as you have to the service of the young. For me that meant the classroom. I do miss it.
What has been the most rewarding thing about being a community member at UD? —HEATHER POOLE HEWITT ’98, CINCINNATI
Heather, As a vowed Marianist I hoped to answer Chaminade’s vision by a belongingness, a relationship. The UD Community was the answer for me, Chaminade’s Sodality in action.
What has kept you passionate and dedicated through your life as a Marianist? —MICHELA BUCCINI ’08, NORWOOD, OHIO
Mary’s help! My whole life is in her honor and for her glory.
How does the present pope, Francis, compare to Pope John XXIII, who called the Second Vatican Council into session in the 1960s and revolutionized the church? He seems to do many wonderful things, but what about “substantive” theological issues? —BILL ANDERSON, LAC DU FLAMBEAU, WISCONSIN
Bill, I love Francis and have great hopes for a 1960s repeat. Answers must be found to theological thorns. Mary will lead him!
How would you advise a person who is having a crisis of faith, not because of the laws of God, but rather because of the rules of the local church? —MAUREEN WILLITS ’69, KETTERING, OHIO
Maureen, We are grateful for the guidance of our Church. We are cognizant of the humanity of those making and interpreting the laws and the importance of conscience.
Why do you have such a devotion to Mary? Who influenced you the most growing up? Why the Marianist and not a different Catholic order? What was your favorite subject in high school and college? What do you believe is your legacy at the University of Dayton? —ANITA AND JAMES BROTHERS, DAYTON
a. a gift from my saintly mother; b. without a doubt, my mother and with her weekly devotion to the Miraculous Medal Novena at St. Ignatius Church in Cleveland; c. Cathedral Latin High School, Cleveland; d. discerning the purpose of life; e. that the primary message of life, of Scripture is RELATIONSHIP.
For our next issue, ask your questions of Brother Raymond L. Fitz, S.M. ’64, former University president (1979-2002) and current Father Ferree Professor of Social Justice. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Answering questions in this issue is Susan Ferguson, director of UD’s Center for Catholic Education and a Marianist Educational Associate. Questions not appearing in the print edition are listed first.
As a Catholic educator, I have been challenged with the tension of being a Catholic school advocate and yet acknowledging the need for quality public schooling in order to promote social equity in our society. Have you also grappled with this tension? —AMY DEMATTEO ’04, SEATTLE
As educators in Catholic schools and advocates for Catholic schools, our professional nature and understanding of the demands for social justice call us to be supportive of education as it exists in the public, private and faith-based sectors. Every child has potential that can be unlocked through an educational environment attuned to the gifts a child has been given. It is important that parents and families of all socio-economic levels, cultures and faith traditions have a choice to enroll their children in schools where faith is the foundation, the culture is accepting and academic excellence is the goal, should parents/families deem that best. I view your sense of tension as a means to advocate for choice for all families.
As a Marianist Educational Associate, what role at UD do you play in caring, listening to and saving souls? —PAMELA CROSS YOUNG ’02, SPRINGFIELD, OHIO
Our campus community has become more intentional about the integration of the charism through academic programming via the Habits of Inquiry and the Common Academic Program and through the Commitment to Community document in student life. As an MEA, this intentionality provides the foundation for listening, caring and “saving souls.” When an MEA explains her caring actions or ability to listen lovingly as grounded in faith and part of Marianist culture, students and colleagues experience firsthand the charism in real time and with real purpose.
Callings, a Campus Ministry program for incoming first year students during the summer before their official school year arrival date, provides an opportunity to share hospitality, community building, and reflection about transition, service, and faith. As an MEA, I participated in some of the activities collaborating with experienced undergraduate student leaders. The interactions between student leaders, first year students, and faculty and staff become manifestations for learning and passing on the Marianist traditions. Igniting the Marianist charism early in students’ time at UD provides great promise of ensuring the tradition will continue. A student leader with whom I partnered during Callings over four summers became a Lalanne teacher and now a Lalanne graduate. It is in these relationships that we foster faith formation, integrated quality education, family spirit, service, justice, and peace, and adaptation and change to enrich the greater good.
What are the most important elements of the Marianist tradition of education? —BROTHER RAYMOND FITZ, S.M. ’64, DAYTON, OHIO
The most important elements of the Marianist tradition of education are family spirit and hospitality, faith formation, a community of equals and stability or staying at the table. A sense of belonging and being welcomed and cared for provides the foundation for lasting relationships and some would say the way to encounter God. When we see the good in others and others see the good in us, we encounter Jesus. I have witnessed many students grow in confidence to risk being authentic because of the support they receive from the campus community. I have also seen many students grow in faith and choose to become catechists thanks to this support as well.
The support of the community when all are valued for the gifts they bring to the community is another aspect of the Marianist tradition of education that has a lasting influence. When the administration, faculty, staff, students and community partners are understood as valuable to the operation of campus life, students see respect for all contributors. Stories have been told about food service personnel who know students by name and inquire about their well-being. When all employees of an institution are seen as contributors to Marianist education, students daily encounter a model of a community of equals where all are respected. Life lessons and academic lessons are integrated.
Finally, “staying at the table” seems to be elusive in our society. Vowed Marianists pledge to remain in dialogue when problems need to be solved. Keeping an open mind and an open heart when disagreements occur is a strong element of Marianist education that seems lost in current political, social and sometimes religious sectors. Marianist education may contribute most to our current state of affairs through practice of this element. A friend once said, “God gave us two ears and one mouth. Perhaps this was to indicate the importance of listening over speaking.”
You teach first-year students who aspire to be teachers. How do you see the Marianist charism as shaping teachers who graduate from UD? —KATIE KINNUCAN-WELSCH, DAYTON, OHIO
Our University teacher education candidates are encouraged to see the potential in each child. In light of respecting the whole child, our students are expected to develop a variety of methodologies to meet the variety of needs individual students bring to the classroom. Rapport with students is also important in the Marianist tradition of education. When teachers take extra time to know a student more fully as opposed to only caring about academic achievement, a student feels valued and often motivated to embrace education with enthusiasm and to persist when challenges arise. As more students encounter challenges in their families, in socio-economic status, in cultural shifts of individualism and less regard for spirituality, these important elements of the Marianist tradition of education will embolden graduates of Marianist institutions to live lives of service, justice, and peace as witness for the common good in their communities.
By way of example, a number of years ago a tornado caused great devastation in a community just south of Dayton. In the aftermath of the destruction, two recent UD Department of Teacher Education graduates were interviewed while assisting with the cleanup, and they noted that they were teachers giving back to their community because that was what they were inspired to do as a result of their UD education. As I saw the news story, a tear trickled down my face because it was clear that the Marianist charism continues in the lives of these UD alumni and likely many others.
If you could look down the road 10 years from now, what do you hope to see in our Catholic schools? —MARY-KATE GERAGHTY SABLESKI ’98, DAYTON, OHIO
I hope to see existing Catholic schools full and new schools being created as families see the spiritual gifts and academic excellence a Catholic education can provide. I hope Catholic schools will be places where families can meet each other and support each other through life in school, in faith and in society. Through a strong religious education program, children and their families will be able to practice contemplative prayer as a means to center their personal lives in God. I assume technology will be embedded and utilized but through means to build community rather than separate. I hope Catholic schools will be hubs of activity that reach out to the poor and marginalized and be places of welcome and hospitality. I hope Catholic schools offer hope to all who are touched by the members of these educational communities.
The following answers appeared in the print edition of the autumn 2014 University of Dayton Magazine.
In what is the Center for Catholic Education involved? —PAMELA YOUNG ’02, SPRINGFIELD, OHIO
We partner with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and provide professional development for teachers and administrators in Catholic schools. The Urban Child Development Resource Center, a group of mental health therapists and a social worker serving Catholic schools, assists students and families with social and emotional development. The teachers in the Lalanne Program serve in under-resourced Catholic schools in Dayton, Cleveland, Indianapolis and Lansing for two years while living in a faith community and earning a master’s degree. The National Catholic Educational Association has hosted conferences on UD’s campus in each of the last two years.
How successful is the Lalanne Program? —PATRICIA M. HART ’73, YELLOW SPRINGS, OHIO
More than 130 Lalanne teachers have completed the program. Ninety percent remain in education. Ninety percent of those remaining in education remain in Catholic education. Several graduates have earned doctorates.
How can catechists engage parents who may not understand the importance of religious education? —NANCY PHELAN HARRISON ’95, GAHANNA, OHIO
Inviting families to take part in lessons shared with their children is an obvious suggestion, but a variety of invitations may be necessary. Phone calls, home visits and family nights with food and child care for very young children may create relationships. Jesus met people where they were. Catechists need to do the same.
How do you live out Marianist spirituality as a lay person who is both a professional and mother? —BROTHER RAYMOND FITZ, S.M. ’64, DAYTON, OHIO
Marianist spirituality has provided a means to step back and examine choices. Trying to put myself in the place of my co-workers and my children has helped me choose my words carefully so as not to hurt or discourage someone. I have sometimes been accused of being overly optimistic, but that is a conscious choice. If Marianist spirituality calls me to serve and act justly, then optimism and enthusiasm seem to be a more likely path to bring these to fruition.
What are some emerging trends in Catholic schools? —KATIE KINNUCAN-WELSCH, DAYTON, OHIO
Overall, Catholic schools are beginning to see strategic planning as paramount for growth and sustainability. I have seen a surge in the interest in P-12 Catholic schools from many Catholic colleges and universities including our own institution. Many Catholic schools are visiting their mission statements to be certain they reflect the importance of faith formation and academic excellence. Means to better form the spirituality of lay teachers and leaders must be developed. Shifts in population, personnel and financial stability have resulted in efforts to bolster leadership and operational vitality. Catholic schools are reviewing curricular standards to insure the integration of Catholic identity across disciplines; the National Catholic Educational Association held the first STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) Symposium at the University of Dayton in June 2014. Immigrants may benefit from the service of a Catholic education. Providing mental health services and meeting needs of students in poverty in urban Catholic schools must emerge as an urgent need.
How did you come to be a part of the Marianist family? —JACK WELSH ’15, PORTSMOUTH, OHIO
Myron Achbach, then director of admissions, came to my high school, Byzantine Catholic, in Parma, Ohio, my senior year and convinced me that UD was my college. From 1972 until 1975, I grew to love UD and the Marianist spirit. We caught the Marianist spirit by osmosis. Father Joe McDonald, S.M., and Father Jim Russell, S.M. facilitated C.A.R.E. retreats and were the first Marianists I came to know as spiritual directors and mentors. My husband and I met during my senior year at UD. He has been employed at UD for 41 years, and I have come to know many more vowed members. In the late 1990’s Brother Raymond Fitz and other Marianists in his community invited members of the faculty and staff to faith sharing evenings. In these times of reflection and discussion, I better realized how the long time and lasting effects of the Marianist charism had shaped my faith, family, and professional life. For this I am eternally grateful.
For our next issue, ask your questions of Father Norbert Burns, S.M. ’45, who taught tens of thousands of our readers. 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.