CTU Interreligious Dialogues Draw Local, National Praise
CTU Students and Alums Featured in the Catholic Press
Love of Story, Family Fuels Imagination of Student Playwright
Fall 2017 Event Guide
A Life in Dialogue: An Interview with Rev. John Pawlikowski, OSM
What are some of the most memorable courses you have taught in your five decades at CTU?
How has your work with Catholic-Jewish relations influenced your own life of faith?
Most of my courses here have been in the fields of social ethics, which is what I was professionally trained in. There’s one exception, and that is the course I taught quite frequently on the Holocaust. It usually was ethics in the light of the Holocaust and genocide.
I remember when I was a senior in high school, we were told that, as Catholic students, we should not consider going either to University of Chicago or to the University of Illinois-Chicago located at Navy Pier. The reason given was because if we did, we’d lose our faith there as Catholics. I went to the University of Chicago at the doctoral level and I will certainly say I didn’t lose my faith. On the contrary, I think that not only that experience, but my experience in dialogue, in especially Christian-Jewish relations, but increasingly through my work with the Parliament of the World’s Religions in a wider multifaith dialogue has even strengthened my understanding and appreciation of Christianity. It has really fortified my self-identity as a Catholic Christian in a way that wouldn’t have happened had I not been exposed to this.
I remember one sister from Kenya who saw connections between the experience of the Holocaust and what was happening at the time in Kenya. Another student had been in Cambodia a short time after the end of the genocide, where the effects of the genocide were still quite apparent. Yet another student, a young Rwandan priest, survived the Rwandan genocide, even though part of his family was murdered.
“I think it’s important to really look at the Church as an institution during the Holocaust.” One of the requirements in that course was that students had to visit the Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie. Many said they initially thought, “Well, yeah, we’ll go and fulfill this requirement and we’ll stay there an hour or two.” But many more stayed three, four hours, or even did a return visit. In one case, one of the students decided to bring her son in high school for a return visit. That particular course had a significant impact. I always try to also bring in the experience of the Holocaust into my fundamental course on Catholic social teaching. I think it’s important to really look at the Church as an institution during that period. Why didn’t it respond more strongly, more forcefully, more publicly?
When the Second Vatican Council was convened, you were a seminarian with the Servites. What do you remember about Catholic-Jewish relationships at that time, both among your friends and classmates, as well as in the larger Catholic community? Perhaps the strongest influence was someone who was then a Servite priest, John Dominic Crossan. He was extremely interested not only in the council, but especially in the workings of the committee that eventually produced Nostra Aetate, chapter four of which is on the church’s relationship to the Jewish people. In fact, it was Crossan who—about two weeks after the approval of Nostra Aetate in the final session of the council in October of 1975—gave what I think is the very first academic analysis of the document in a speech at Loyola University. I was proud to be sitting there as one of his students. For me personally, it was Crossan who introduced me and also pushed me to some extent on this whole issue of Catholic, even wider, Christian-Jewish relations.
What are steps Catholics can look to take to continue to improve relationship with other religious traditions today? We have to recognize that human society, global society has really gone pluralistic. When we had the second Parliament of the World’s Religions in 1993 here in Chicago, commemorating the first one which took place at the 1893 World’s Fair, our theme was the religious world is not coming to Chicago. It already exists in Chicago. The social sphere, which is very important for religions to address and try to influence in some ways, is interreligious. There can’t be just the Catholic approach to solving violence in this city. There can’t be a Catholic approach to the whole question of nuclear weapons and so on. If there’s going to be a religious approach, it has to be done on an interreligious basis. I think that interreligious is something that has to become much more a part of Christian consciousness, and Christian theological identity. That’s one of the things that I think has deepened in me in terms of conviction over this half century of involvement. w THIS INTERVIEW HAS BEEN EDITED FOR LENGTH AND CLARITY.
Performing the Gospel of Mark: An Interview with Rev. Joseph Morris, MDiv ‘95
What in particular resonates with you about Mark’s Gospel?
How did your CTU education prepare you to do the work you’re doing now?
The portrait of Jesus in Mark’s Gospel is on the move to help others. Less talk, more action and deeds. There are 12 healings in a row before the Lord reaches Jerusalem, interrupted only by teachings, conflicts with authorities, and “signs” (to borrow from John): loaves and fishes (twice), walking on water, transfiguring, and an example (the widow’s mite) then returning at once to healing. Not that I’m all about action and not about long speeches (it takes two hours to recite Mark’s Gospel). It’s more about my Lord’s example of service— seeing a problem and being present, encountering a conflict and still thinking reasonably, “giving all she had to live on.” This is a Christ who is present and available, the model for those who desire to follow The Way.
My time at CTU was extraordinary. Often in class and on campus I thought I was dreaming, feeling so fortunate to be there. I was never in my life so happy to hear what the professors had to say about social justice, liturgy, theology, and the Bible. There I heard preaching that challenged and encouraged me to follow Jesus, not like anything I’d heard before.
“I didn’t realize just how much I preferred the Gospel of Mark until I took a class at CTU in 1993.” I didn’t realize just how much I preferred the Gospel of Mark until I took a class on it at CTU in 1993. That set the fascination in motion. Already I had the incentive to memorize Mark, but when would I ever have the four months to pull that off? And even if I did, what would I do with it? That took breaking my leg in 2001. Suddenly I had the gift of convalescence, the gift of time to memorize. My first public performance was in crutches.
Some days it was as if I could feel my brain expanding, my eyes and ears opening. While I enjoy my ministry at Kennesaw State University, I believe I learned how to enjoy it, how to serve, at CTU. Yes, some days nearly destroyed me (as vocation discernment will do) but I can only do my ministry with great indebtedness to my CTU formation.
Your coming to perform the Gospel of Mark is a story in itself. What are some key milestones and memories in your history of those now more than 500 performances? In 1996 I began memorizing chapter 13, the end-times monologue, while on a service trip to Haiti. It was late at night, and I couldn’t sleep in the heat. The power in the neighborhood was shut off. I climbed on the roof of the house and could see lights on the mountaintops, where the wealthier people live. There in the moonlight, I opened the Gospel of Mark and began to memorize. To this day when I recite chapter 13, I can still see the stars, moon, and distant lights of the Port-au-Prince skyline.
“When I recite chapter 13, I can still see the stars, moon, and distant lights of the Port-au-Prince skyline.” Over the years I have had a number of injuries and illnesses. When I broke my leg, I began to identify more profoundly with the crippled man who had to be lowered through the roof to meet Jesus. When my retinas detached three times, I began to identify on a visceral level with the two blind men in Mark’s account.
When I had a scare with prostate cancer, I began to feel something of what the woman bleeding for 12 years might have felt. Lately I’ve had a case of psoriasis, and now even more I can identify with the leper in Mark’s Gospel. Our personal experiences with mortality brings us all closer to the characters Jesus encounters. We can jump into the text and see ourselves and our loved ones there.
For many years CTU has put dialogue— especially interfaith and ecumenical dialogue—at the center of its work as a school. Can you speak to the ways your own work as a priest and performer facilitates dialogue in surprising or unexpected ways? CTU taught me to focus on the common ground within the wide variety of religious sensibilities, not on the appearance of differences. Even among Catholics there are different ways of seeing things. Right now I do ministry at two secular colleges. There’s no Catholic advantage here. We have to learn how to listen and understand other viewpoints. We share our space with other religious groups, and we’ve celebrated Sacraments in the spaces of other groups. Mark’s Gospel LIVE goes to any group who wants to hear it. I’ve performed it in all the mainstream churches, secular theatres, and a few times in the more off-beat religious venues. It is for everyone, and no one owns it or its message. In a few weeks I’m performing in an Assembly of God, and they have requested the so-called “long ending.” No problem! I can identify with the long ending. Metaphorically speaking, I’ve been bitten by snakes, drank poison, and probably had more than seven demons cast out, and still survived to tell the story. w
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Millies, Veldheer Join CTU as New Senior Administrators
(left to right) Anna Gethings, Sr. Kathleen Hughes, Archbishop Eamon Martin, Sr. Barbara Quinn, and Margaret Martin.
Rev. Stephen Isley, OSA, distributes communion at his first Mass as a priest.
CTU Unveils New MDiv Curriculum and New Academic Calendar