Catholic Theological Union at Chicago

Let all Who Are Hungry Come and Eat - "In Good Faith": Intentional Interreligious Encounter and the Spirit of Hospitality

Author
Chava Stacie Bahle D.Min.
Abstract
This thesis-project explores participant experiences in a long-term Jewish-Christian-Muslim dialogue program. Examined through the theological quests for truth, love and peace, participants reflected on their experiences, placing those experiences in conversation with sacred texts and images from their home traditions. T'shuvah, the Jewish theological act of turning toward the holy, is explored as a transtemporal, liberative and conciliatory gesture, through which the program might create change in the participants' sense of self and other. Reflective storytelling as a method is explored in depth.
The author theorizes that t’shuvah did in fact occur, according to participant interviews. T’shuvah in an interreligious dialogue setting may occur in part because of: the phenomenon of multiple “Us-es,” according to the neurobiology theories of Robert Sapolsky; contact theories through dialogue; and the structure of gatherings proposed by Priya Parker. Ethical considerations of intentional interreligious engagement, especially historical wounds and vulnerability, are also discussed.
The thesis-project used semi-structured, one on one interviews, and applied a novel, four step Jewish theological reflection method conceived by the author: p’shat, thick descriptions of “what happened”; d’rash, placing those experiences in dialogue with sacred texts and images; t’shuvah, how the experiences may have created individual and cosmic repair among the dialogue partners; and k’dushah, exploring whether and how participation in the program translated into action in the world outside the program. Framing the interviews through the lens of “participant as storyteller” is explored in detail as a potential contribution to sacralizing the lived experience of the program.
The rich imageries of shared ancestry, meeting at table, fellow travelers and learning in the presence of the other inform the conclusion that the intentional interreligious engagement of this program may create tikkunim (repairs) in both individual and group to group relationships among Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Toward the Spirituality of Oneness: A Remedy to the Attitude of 'We versus They,' A Case of the Turkana and Pokot Communities in Lodwar and Kitale Catholic Dioceses, Kenya

Author
Jane Frances Nabakaawa DM D.Min.
Abstract
Abstract

The purpose of this study is to identify, examine and address the factors contributing to attitude of “we versus them” amongst human societies. We use the Pokot and Turkana ethnic groups as a case study. Through social analysis and the theological reflection, that is, the dialogue of the problem with Magisterium of the church about the spirituality of oneness based on our Lord Jesus’ prayer, “Father that may be one…” (John 17:21), it discusses ways of how humanity can eradicate this divisive attitude by learning how to live as “one” with the aid of Christian (Catholic) spirituality. On the basis of this examination, a number of Pastoral recommendations are proposed on ways in which the catechists as lay ministers at the grassroots can be able to contribute to the rigorous efforts of combating the sin of division to the unity in diversity which we focus on and term as the spirituality of oneness. Thus adding a new dimension of how humanity is to live as one as it captures the daily dynamics, transformative quality of spirituality as a lived experience linked to our relationship to the Ultimate, with others and society and the cosmic world.

A Quest for Koinonia: Uncovering Spiritual Practices that Inspire and Promote Unity among Christians within a Contemporary Campus Setting

Author
Diane Reneé Schmit Dardón D.Min.
Abstract
The quest for koinonia among Christians on college and university campuses -- and specifically at DePaul University in Chicago -- is at the heart of this thesis-project. Like so many campus settings throughout the United States, the Christian community at DePaul is complicated, diverse, and marked distinctly by distrust, skepticism, and conflict between Christian students and between Christian groups on campus. This thesis-project posits that spiritual practices inherent in the Body of Christ might encourage and inspire Christian unity on campus. Spiritual practices that emerge through explorations of the experiences and hopes of college students, major global ecumenical movements, and early followers of Christ in Corinth will be considered as a means for developing a pastoral response to the issue of conflict and dissension among Christians on campus and beyond. A brief foray into faith developmental theory, Millennial and post-Millennial generational studies, and ethnocentricity also provide helpful insights. The Practical Theology method and model developed by Evelyn and James Whitehead guide this thesis-project as the work strives to shed light on ways in which koinonia might be realized among Christians within a contemporary higher education setting.

The Spirituality of Fatherhood: Developing a Faith Formation Program for the Archdiocese of Chicago

Author
Willie Robert Cobb Jr. D.Min.
Abstract
This thesis-project set out to explore the current faith formation programs offered in the Archdiocese of Chicago and the experience of fathers within this context, to support the spiritual growth of fathers and to explore how the church is called to support that growth through faith formation. The meta-method employed for this thesis-project involves the four “movements” of the “pastoral circle” developed by Joe Holland and Peter Henriot, with two additional steps—engagement with theory and correlation. The process included both a broad approach and a personal outreach to those working in the African American and queer communities. Direct outreach to various parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Chicago entailed making phone calls, sending emails, or stopping by a total of 32 parishes. In the end, three focus groups were conducted. The moderator completed all the necessary IRB paperwork and permissions prior to the session meetings. The moderator encouraged participation from each participant in order to elicit information from every single person in the group. To facilitate the discussion, questions were presented to allow the participants to reflect on and share their experiences. Genograms were used to help the participants consider the impact of their personal family history on themselves and their children for several generations back. The project presented and answered the following questions: Does the Archdiocese of Chicago play a role in helping fathers understand how to raise their children, how to fight stereotypes they face about their fatherhood, and how to share their spirituality with their children in a way that interrupts patterns of violence and confronts the social issues they encounter? A two-tiered program was developed to address the concerns that were presented through the course of the project to provide agency for fathers in developing their own spirituality.
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