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Responsibility, justice and glimmers of grace … Ask a Marianist

9:25 AM  Jun 15th, 2012
by Thomas M. Columbus

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.

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Far-traveled students and pure joy nearby … Ask a Marianist

2:39 PM  Apr 11th, 2012
by Michelle Tedford

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
celebrate life.

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.

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Holy days, Mother Mary and many blessings … Ask a Marianist

3:57 PM  Jan 3rd, 2012
by Michelle Tedford

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 magazine@udayton.edu.

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Stuart Hall, UDSAP and saying the ‘Hail Mary’ … Ask a Marianist

1:46 PM  Aug 30th, 2011
by Brother Tom Pieper ’67

How busy can a brother be? Right now, Brother Tom Pieper, S.M. ’67, is filling in as resident campus minister at Marycrest while still ministering to the needs of Stuart Hall, where he has worked for 15 years. He coordinates the nine-week UD Summer Appalachia Program in Salyersville, Ky. And he’s taking suggestions for the UDSAP 50th anniversary reunion, less than three years away. Email him ideas at Tom.Pieper@notes.udayton.edu.

What is your favorite part of ministering to first-year students in Stuart Hall? —Daniel Zidek ’13, UD student

When students first come here, they have left everything. I believe the Marianist spirit and charism really offers them a place of welcome. For the first month that’s my main goal — get to know as many names as possible. I try to be proactive, inviting students to deepen and share their faith by being leaders on retreats, leaders of faith-sharing communities, leaders of community-building activities in my residence hall. I love this ministry. It uses lots of my natural gifts and gives me an opportunity to help them grow in their faith and in the person they want to become. And, since I live in the student neighborhood, I can continue to be present to these students as they move on in their four years at UD.

How has the renovation of the Chapel of St. Joseph the Worker enhanced the campus ministry in Stuart Hall? And are you also still playing sand volleyball? —Nick Pohlman ’00 Geneva, Ill.

Our chapel moved from the back of Meyer Hall to the front where the dryers and washers were located. The chapel used to be a rectangle with burnt orange carpeting. Now, when you walk in, it’s a beautiful sacred space to have liturgy and pray — stained glass, sacred furnishings and wooden liturgical pieces made by Brother Gary Marcinowski. And because of its location, many more students have come to celebrate. It’s a great sign of our Marianist and Catholic presence. As for volleyball, I watch, maybe take a few swipes at the ball.

Why did you initially begin moderating UDSAP? What has kept you coming back every summer? —Nichole Davis ’06, Indianapolis

Kentucky is my home state. Going back and being present to my state is valuable to me. When I first went down to fill in for Sister Nancy Bramlage, I just fell in love with the place and what they’re doing. It’s a unique service experience in that the 14 students are involved with the lives of the people — through a day camp, teen center, nursing home visits and family visits — and that has changed me a lot. We really do learn that Appalachia is not just a place where poor people live. We know the faces and the names. Knowing the people, we can be advocates for them. And we live simply — we have a great outhouse.

I feel like the poor have such terrible needs in our current economy, and many political leaders seem to be the worst enemies of their most desperate constituents. What can be done? —Marilyn Stauffer Kaple ’69, Summerville, S.C.

Do research and listen to the volunteer organizations in your community that can instruct you on how to help financially and how to be involved because we are all just part of this great community. At UD, we challenge students to have experiences of being with and living with the poor. Later in life, students who have had these experiences change the way they live, vote and look at the needs of others.

When was “Holy Mary, Mother of God …” added to the “Hail Mary”? —Robert Corgan, Madeira, Ohio

The first parts are scripture from the Gospel of St. Luke — Gabriel at the Annunciation and Mary and Elizabeth at the Visitation. They were said by monks before the 10th and 11th centuries. In 1196, the bishop of Paris ordered all the clergy to teach these Marian verses to all the people. Why not add an intercession for all of us? No one knows who wrote it but, by the 1500s, this intercession was already the tradition.

Is there a difference between Marianists who are brothers and those who are priests? —Bill Lorenz ’84, Nairobi, Kenya

We all call one another “brother,” and that’s an important thing because the Marianists have an equality between brothers and priests. Some brothers have a desire to perform the sacred liturgies and preach the word of God. We as a whole group of brothers work to discern where the spirit is moving in their lives and how to carry out Mary’s mission of bringing Christ into the world. We all have gifts and we discern how to use those gifts for the community.

For our next issue ask Father Jim Fitz ’68, vice president for mission and rector and former assistant provincial of the Marianist Province of the U.S. His office is coordinating UD’s celebration of Chaminade Year, running through January 2012. Email your question to magazine@udayton.edu.

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Hospitality, community and graciousness … Ask a Marianist

9:48 AM  Jun 23rd, 2011
by Amy Lopez-Matthews ’86

Amy Lopez-Matthews ’86 answered the call in 2005 to become a Marianist Educational Associate, part of a lay community who steward Marianist and Catholic values on campus and integrate the charism into their professions. As director of student life and Kennedy Union, she employs 80 students annually and works with many more in UD’s 200 student organizations.

You have varied experiences of Marianist education — student at Chaminade Julienne High School, working summer conferences, classroom teaching, leading all of KU’s ministries at the heart of the campus. What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned about being a Marianist educator? —Sister Laura Leming, F.M.I. ’87, UD professor

The Marianists talk about a community of equals. While I understand the unique role the faculty play in the classroom, we have staff members and people outside of campus who are completely dedicated to the mission of the Marianists and of the University. We can all have a part to play in educating students. Lots of people educate for values, but do they educate for formation in faith and combine that with the discipleship of equals? Do they combine that with our sense of hospitality? These come together at UD in a distinct way, and that’s what we’re all part of.

In a culture of change, how does the Mother of God give us a role model? —Robert Corgan, Maderia, Ohio

She lived in a culture of change. She didn’t question it, didn’t begrudge it, didn’t wish it away but accepted it and grew stronger through it — being there and saying “yes” and being so strong. I love the passage of the visitation where they talk about Mary’s confusion because I think we all have confusion and we think we shouldn’t. Many of us want clear-cut, even easy, answers. Think about it — what’s easy that we truly value?

What is one thing you appreciate that has endured throughout your time as a student and employee? —Leigh Hartley ’97, Chicago

It’s the sense of community that people feel here. When it comes down to it, they might describe it in ways that are different, but lots of people feel like it’s a place where they can be part of something bigger.

You have worked with students, staff and faculty on committees and initiatives at UD. What makes a group effective? —Kathy Watters, UD professor

If people are around the table because they value the work and if they have a commitment to it, it’s going to be effective. Students have been some of the most amazing contributors in that process. For the committee to recognize what the student experience can bring can be extremely helpful.

How are you able to provide your student workers with guidance and instruction while still allowing them the flexibility and independence to get the job done as they see fit? —BRIAN KOWALSKI ’99, Columbus, Ohio

We want and we need students to develop critical-thinking skills. If we prescribe every aspect of their job, they don’t learn as much as if we empower them to learn the job, make decisions, make mistakes. And jobs are dynamic. Students in the positions change, jobs themselves change, but that need to help students learn how to figure something out on their own is so important.

You have been an advocate for many students and for important justice issues. What motivates you? —Crystal Caruana Sullivan, UD campus ministry director

Have you ever seen The Book of Birthdays? [Opens book and reads Nov. 15, her birthday] “Ready to stand up for themselves and are champions for those who need protection … waiting for the right moment to act … make an issue of honorable behavior.” I just feel like it’s something I’m called to do. And we have examples of students all around us who feel compelled to act. They found organizations, they go lobby the statehouse. They are great motivators.

How do you continue to be gracious and kind, even when you have a lot of things going on? —Father Jerry Chinchar, S.M. ’66, UD campus minister

I try to keep my ungracious and unkind self behind a door because we all have moments. The work we are doing is pretty public work for the institution, and I feel like we have a responsibility to do that work with the models of graciousness and kindness we see in the Marianists, whether those are people we’ve read about or people whom we’ve observed or worked with on campus. I have a lot of models in my 23 years whom I’ve observed who are gracious and kind and still strong and do what they have to do in their jobs. And a sense of humor from Father Jerry doesn’t hurt either.

For our next issue ask Brother Tom Pieper, S.M. ’67, UD campus minister for Stuart Hall and its first-year students. He also moderates the UD Summer Appalachia Program, where 14 students live in community and serve children, teens and the elderly in Salyersville, Ky. He is planning the program’s 50th anniversary celebration for 2013.  Email your question to: magazine@udayton.edu.

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Missions, martyrs and American culture … Ask a Marianist

1:03 PM  Mar 8th, 2011
by Brother Erik Otiende, S.M. ’10

Brother Erik Otiende, S.M. ’10 recently returned to Nairobi, Kenya, after more than two years at UD in the educational leadership master’s program. He previously taught secondary school in Zambia. In Nairobi, he is working in the formation house, where brothers who have made their first vows live while attending college. It is the same house where Otiende spent his early years as a Marianist.

What do you think is the most important ministry the Marianists in Nairobi do, and can you tell us a little about the makeup of the Marianist family in Nairobi? —Sister Laura Leming, F.M.I., UD Professor

All the ministries in Nairobi and the Region of Eastern Africa are very important because all of our ministries are options for the poor. We have schools that provide good education to the poor, the Maria House for single mothers, a kindergarten for their vulnerable kids and technical schools that empower youth who cannot afford to go to universities. All these ministries allow the poor to gain their voices and positions in the society; thus all these ministries are important. In Nairobi we have both religious Marianists and the lay Marianists; so far, we haven’t been blessed by the presence of Marianist sisters, so somehow the family is not complete, so to speak.

How can we, as UD students, be involved in supporting your mission? —Daniela R. Abreo, UD fifth-year senior

Some UD students have been generous with their time and have come to do voluntary work here with our projects and in our schools. I also know some who save money and send it for sponsorship of kids here. I think that is how you and other UD students can be involved.

Is there any memory of Brother Roman Wishinski’s service and murder in Africa? Why isn’t he considered a martyr? —C. W. Grennan ’57, Orange, Calif.

The Region of Eastern Africa still remembers and appreciates the seed that was sown by Brother Roman Wishinski and other Marianists who first came to Africa, but the issue of martyrdom and sainthood is considered in the church only when the cause of death is a matter of faith and not just a civil war in the country. Brother Roman was killed in Nigeria’s Biafra War. This war and the perpetrators of this war did not target him because of what he believed in.

What change have you noticed in yourself since the first time you served people in need? —Rafael Carbonell, UD first-year student

In serving people in need, we share our talents and resources with them. Thus, we uplift them. For me, serving in any way gives me joy and peace of heart, especially when the people I am serving are in great need. Once I did voluntary work in the hospital, and since then I have appreciated my health more than ever before.

What disappoints you most about the American culture? —Steve Shiparski ’88, Findlay, Ohio

I wouldn’t say that something disappoints me. Each culture is valuable to the people practicing it. However, a few things here and there were shocking to see and hear. I was shocked by the idea of suing. People have become so money-minded so as you cannot help each other for fear of being sued. There is also too much wastage in the U.S. because some people don’t care much about how they use what they have.

What countries have missions staffed by Marianists from the American province? Do other provinces also have missionaries? —Ernest Avellar ’49, Hayward, Calif.

The Marianists of the United States had lots of missions: District of India, Region of Eastern Africa, Region of Korea, Mexico, Ireland, Japan and the Philippines. Notice I generalized “United States” because, when the brothers began the missions, there were five U.S. provinces: St. Louis, Cincinnati, Pacific, New York and Meribah. Now there are only two, the United States and Meribah. The U.S. province still has missions in the Philippines, India, Mexico and Ireland. The regions of Korea and Eastern Africa have both become independent. Other provinces have missions. For example, the province of France has missions in Ivory Coast and both Congos. Currently, we have Marianists working in countries that are not their homeland; I guess they can be called missionaries in that sense. As Marianists, we are all missionaries according to our founder Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, but that will be a topic for another time.

Did your experience in Dayton give you any new ways of looking at things? —Father Dave Fleming, S.M., UD professor

I think if we are open to growth and God’s graces around us, any experience in life gives us new ways of looking at things. UD being an international university allowed me not only to mingle with people from all walks of life but also to share my culture with them and to experience theirs. My stay in Dayton connected me to a bigger world and not just the United States of America.

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Tennis, sharp dressers and a tale of two families … Ask a Marianist

3:34 PM  Dec 30th, 2010
by Brother Al Kuntemeier, S.M. ’51

Brother Al Kuntemeier, S.M. ’51 knows what he teaches. Brother Al earned first place in the Texas State Fair Classic tennis tournament, where the lack of competitors in his 80-year-old age bracket required him to win against opponents in their early 70s; last year, he coached Nolan Catholic High School to a boys doubles state title.

Tennis is a very cerebral sport. What life lessons learned in tennis carry over to daily life? —Eric Mahone, UD tennis coach

Yes, a lot of it is in the mind. I have the mindset that I’m going to play my best, and if my best is better than my opponent’s, I’ll win. If I don’t win, it’s not because I didn’t play my best; it’s because my opponent played better. I ask my players after a match, “Did you lose, or did you get beat?” If they played their best, they didn’t lose, no matter what the outcome. My attitude is that I can and will win when I play my best. And that’s what life is all about.

How do you continue to be so good at golf after 63 years of being a Marianist? —Father Bert Buby, S.M. ’45, Dayton

God, and my mom and dad, gave me good genes. I take care of my body, and then it’s practice, practice, practice. Actually, my game is more tennis. Golf takes too much time and it’s too
expensive.

How do you relate your athletic coaching to your life as a Marianist? —Brother Phil Aaron, S.M. ’54, Dayton

Student athletes have a gift, a talent and a corresponding responsibility to do their best. I say, “Play your best, and if you do, I’m satisfied and I’m proud of you.” I want to teach a Christian message. I ask them to accept the gifts God gives them and to use them well. St. Julian of Norwich said, “The greatest honor we can give Almighty God is to live joyfully in the knowledge of His love for us.” I try to live that. I hope that whatever I do — teach accounting, counsel, coach — reflects my dedication, my living my Marianist vocation.

The Marianists were founded by Father Chaminade in Bordeaux, France, in 1817. The Marist order, also the “Society of Mary,” operates Marist High School in Atlanta and other schools throughout the world. They too were founded in France about the same time. How did this happen? It is extremely confusing. —Charles Werling ’58, Suwanee, Ga.

My favorite is when someone asks, “Are you a Marist brother?” The answer: “No, I’m a Marianist — we’re longer than they are.” Father Champagnat, a Marist father, founded the Brothers of Mary in France in 1817. The Marists are also known as the Society of Mary. The religious vows — poverty, chastity and obedience — are essentially the same. Maybe it’s like having two Jones families — name’s the same, but oh so different. We Marianists have our own history, charism, culture, spirit. We are known for community, for family spirit, our special devotion to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. We take our vow of stability, which is a marian dedication to the mission and person of Mary. We live together, brothers and priests, in equality.

Why don’t Marianist brothers wear habits anymore? —Ernest Avellar ’49, Hayward, Calif.

Actually, we never did wear a “habit.” Chaminade ordered that the Marianist dress should differ little from that of seculars. At the time, they wore a chestnut brown Prince Albert coat, then a black Prince Albert coat. That lasted until 1947, when we switched to a short coat, double-breasted black suit, white shirt, black tie. My profession group, 1948, was the first to wear the short coat. People would see a group of us and wonder if we were going to an undertakers’ convention. Very few of us wear the black suit any more. We dress like the professionals of today. One of my claims to fame is that I do dress coordinated. Some of my colleagues call me “GQ.”

What is the key to the kingdom of God? —Francisco Alvarez ’88, San Juan, Puerto Rico

You get into the kingdom of God when you know Him, love Him and serve Him. Sound like the Baltimore Catechism? If you want the kingdom of God, follow the Commandments. And following the Commandments is broader than just “don’t kill” or “don’t miss Mass.” Love God, and show that love by the life you live. Do that and you have the key to the kingdom of God, the key to heaven. I don’t know where heaven is, but I believe in it, and I want to get there.

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Apocrypha, Chinese Catholicism and running shoes … Ask a Marianist

3:39 PM  Sep 22nd, 2010
by Father Bert Buby, S.M. ’45

Father Bert Buby, S.M. ’45 professor emeritus of religious studies, is recording a CD series on apocryphal Gospels this fall. It will be released by Now You Know Media in time for Christmas.

How did the four Gospels come to be considered canonical and the others lacking in authority or authenticity (apocryphal)? —Ed Smith, Kettering, Ohio

Predominant leadership in early Christianity really separated itself from anything that seemed to be a threat to what they received from the apostles. Canonical Gospels, in general, are founded on earlier traditions. The apocryphal Gospels — literature ranging from 90 A.D. to 700 A.D. — show us the diversity in some of the outlying communities of Christianity and how they looked at leadership from a different perspective. Soon I will be working on the Gospels of Judas and Mary Magdalene, which are very interesting.

What is the difference between a Marianist and a Jesuit? —Evan Ruggiero ’13, Palantine, Ill.

The main difference is the Marianists emphasize a strong discipleship based on the mother of Jesus. They differ in that brothers and priests are on an equal level of respect, with the priests tending to the sacramental life and the brothers tending especially to the education part of our mission, with both working together for the poor and on social justice issues. Jesuits focus on obedience to the pope and are more individual in their expression of community life.

Why did God require himself (Christ) to die for our sins? —Joseph Bonanno ’72, Manchester Township, N.J.

“God so loved the world that he gave his only son” [John 3:16]. The fact that Jesus became human through his mother, Mary, shows us that someone who was human had to be part of the reconciliation necessary to unite the human and the divine, and Jesus was the one to show us the way. What has not been assumed — our human nature — cannot be redeemed.

What do you think is the future of Catholicism in China and South (even North) Korea? —Robin Smith, Dayton

From listening to the Chinese Catholics here in the United States, it will be a difficult and long journey before Catholics will be able to have the same freedom of expression that they have in Taiwan or southern Korea. Communist authorities control the Catholic expression of faith in public.

When there are significant differences between various English translations of Scriptures, do you encourage students and alumni to select the wording that they like most? —Don Wigal ’55, New York City

As a teacher, I show them what it says from the original language — the Greek, Hebrew — and then have them see which of the new translations seems to capture what was in that original text. There’s a commentary given in four English versions that’s very helpful for students —the Complete Parallel Bible. What they like would be the personal application —Scripture is supposed to have an effect on you.

In a contemporary setting, especially in a place where religion is fading into the background, what role do the church and Mary have to play in society? —William P. Anderson, Lac du Flambeau, Wis.

Dignity of human work, dignity of owning property, dignity of the individual — this is really an area in need because of globalization. The church could really help the whole of society by promoting the compendium on social justice and peace statements in a simpler and clearer format, maybe by making them available at a lower price so more people would read them. And how does Mary fit in? I have a graduate student, Laura Morrison, working on that. She’s looking at Mary as a model of the Catholic social mission through the documents and scriptural passages and applying Catholic social teachings to the life and work of Mary.

My senior year at UD, I had the best possible job — student receptionist at Alumni Hall. One of the sweetest memories I have is when you bought a new pair of running shoes and were so excited that you showed them to me. Father Buby, are you still running? —Anne Muth Orlando ’85, Pittsburgh

I started running in 1970 and was still moving at a slow jog until a few years ago. I am not running because of a hip replacement; however, I do try to run from my superiors.

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