Category Archives: Faculty

The Synod – Conclusion

Written by Rick Squier, UCAP student

     Our visit to the Synod was a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness how the church is attempting to reunite culture and doctrine. Reading the interviews of Cardinals and Bishops online, and then actually meeting some of them, and talking to them about their words was surreal. In addition to the prelates of the synod, Father and I were also introduced to authors, reporters, and theologians who are significant leaders in Catholic circles. All of the people we met, whether their position is to report for the church, or elect the successor of Peter, they were very gracious with their time and words.


     As we heard varying points of view on how the church will recognize different relationships, it gives hope that there is an openness to those the various situations. Some bishops called for minimal change, while others were suggesting a significant shift from the way we recognize familial situations. Even though there isn’t consistency amongst all bishops, the fact that this Synod was formed to address issues of inclusion, shows that there is a genuine attempt to grow the church. This process gives hope for the future of the church and how it recognizes the message of Christ.

     Our Synod experience was only possible because of Bishop Murry’s invitation to spend time with him in the second week of the Synod. From unfettered access to areas of the St. Peter’s Basilica, and Vatican, to introductions to high-level decision makers of the church, this experience was only possible because of the bisjop of Youngstown . The entire experience was humbling as this Director of Faith Formation from a parish in Ohio, had the opportunity to meet leaders of the Catholic Church from around the world. Who knows what God has in store for us?

Synod on the Family, Part 2

By Rick Squier

Bishop Murry said that the Pope has been at all of the general sessions of the Synod, and was surprised in how approachable he is. He said the Pope attends the mid-session coffee breaks the same as everybody else. Bishop Murry said that several times he would be having coffee, look up, and there was the Pope wandering through the room. The image is one that the Bishop happily shared with us.

Bishop Murray and Pope Francis

Wednesday was certainly memorable. Father and I met Bishop Murry in the morning and got a private tour of St. Peter’s Basilica. It is an incredible place to wander through when it’s empty. We then celebrated Mass in the Clementine Chapel in the Necropolis, below the Basilica. The Clementine Chapel is the closest chapel to the burial chamber of St. Peter. The holiness of the space gave the prayers for our parish families a deeper emotional effect for me.

The Clementine Chapel

During a break at the Synod, Bishop Murry gave Father and I a tour of the North American Pontifical College. From the roof of the facility, we saw what must be the best view of Rome.
I can’t imagine having a better tour guide of any of the locations we visited.

Please pray for the Synod Fathers, and the direction they take the church

An Ursuline Student at the Synod of the Family

Rick Squier, a student in UCAP, is on a fabulous adventure to the Vatican this week as a guest of Father Ferraro, an attendee to the Synod of the Family. Follow along here as we get more information about his daily adventures. Here’s the first installment, from Monday, October 12:

After an uneventful, but very long flight to Rome, Father Ferraro and I found that our luggage ended up in Germany instead of Rome. Moments like this make you realize that the toothbrush and underwear in your luggage may have been a better choice for your carryon than the four bike magazines, and textbooks that you lugged through three airports. But, we are in Rome, and wearing the same clothes for more than two days means little in comparison to IMG_3658witnessing the potential that presents itself to the church with the Synod on the Family.

Monday was a spectacularly beautifully sunny day in Rome.  We saw Bishops from all over the world wandering around the Vatican area as we made our first pass through St. Peter Square. We met Bishop Murry, and in talking to him it is quite apparent why he was asked to be a Synod Father. He has such a wonderfully pastoral sense, and understanding about what it means to be a family, and the blessings and challenges that come with it. Bishop Murry addressed the synod on Saturday, in what they refer to as an intervention. The three minute intervention offers each of the 268 bishops of the Synod, an opportunity to present their view on the blessing and challenges for today’s families. Bishop Murry said that the text of his intervention will be posted on the diocesan website in the next couple days, when it is we will copy it onto our site (St. Joan of Arc Church, Streetsboro, OH) as well.


About the Synod on the Family: This meeting, formally called the Fourteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, is taking place in the Vatican from October 4, 2015 through October 25, 2015. This year, the Synod is focused on the vocation and mission of the family in both the Church and the world.


Education Classes at Ursuline – Teaching Life Skills and Leadership

Our major of the month for August is Education. To learn more about the Education Unit at Ursuline College, we interviewed the co-directors of the Education Unit, Dr. Mary Jo Cherry and Dr. Jim Connell. Cherry and Connell both shared valuable information about why being an education major at Ursuline is so special.

What are some things that you learn in an education class that help you for the rest of your life?

Jim Connell: I guess I would start by saying that you really do get in touch with who you are and who you are going to be. We emphasize that quite a bit – it is important, if you’re going to be an effective leader, to really know yourself. That’s just essential. You deepen the understanding of yourself so that you can be an effective leader.

Mary Jo Cherry: And I would say that’s probably similar in teacher education.

If you were talking to people that had a negative image of people in education or education majors in general, what would you want those people to know about education majors?

Mary Jo Cherry: I would say, speaking for undergrad, they are very dedicated and they want to work with kids. They are very hard working. A lot of our undergrad education majors are athletes, and a lot of them work full-time or part-time. You can’t be in this major and not be dedicated. They don’t get many electives, if any at all. It’s not for the faint of heart. These students, in addition to their coursework on campus, they’re out in the schools from their very first semester. As an example, the special education majors, before they even get to student teaching, have clocked a minimum of 365 additional hours. They’re really dedicated and they’re committed to doing what’s best for kids.

Jim Connell: I would go in a couple directions there also. Mary Jo ended with discussing hours. In both of our field courses, we exceed the minimum you see at some other institutions. If someone has a negative image, I’m not so sure that I can change that. But, what I can tell them is that the people who are in education operate out of a high sense of commitment and a strong sense of personal satisfaction from what they do. They really do enjoy it.

Mary Jo Cherry: The other thing I can mention is that our graduates see themselves in a profession, and they see themselves giving back as part of their professional responsibility. Our undergraduate advisory board has some of our undergrad graduates, but we also have educational administration graduates, who just happen to end up on our board because someone nominated them. They are absolutely wonderful. Educators are by and large a very committed group. They see themselves not only as working in the profession but also giving back. There’s a wonderful sense of community.

Any tips for current education students, future education majors, or recent graduates of Ursuline’s programs?

Mary Jo Cherry: I always say get as much experience around the children you want to teach as you can, so age level, developmental level. So for my students, I usually say it doesn’t matter what you do with them, just be sure you want to do this. Get as much experience as you can. The other thing I say is be willing to move where the jobs are. If you’re in a position to move, there are teaching jobs all over the country. I suggest that they be open to charter schools, private schools, parochial schools, and public schools, because you need to get your foot in the door and you need experience. If you’re always doing what you truly believe is the best for children, you won’t be hurting anybody.

Jim Connell: I think I would go a different way. I simply say to people that you want to look around and pick a program that has success and a network. We work to make sure people are in a place that they can get jobs, and we help them network at all times. Look for not just the beginning of the program, but the end.

Mary Jo Cherry: We really do work as much as possible with individuals, as opposed to a group of people in a class. The whole institution, not just our unit, not just our programs, walks the talk. We are really here for you, and you are not a number. There are at least three students who are currently in the educational administration graduate program that went through our teacher education undergraduate program.

I want the students to know a little bit more about you. What is your favorite part of teaching education classes?

Mary Jo Cherry: It’s the students I teach. That’s it. I love being with the students, and it’s energizing, it’s fun, and I just enjoy it.

Jim Connell: Mary Jo was talking about enthusiasm. I always present the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” I can be excited about teaching curriculum development, but it’s making the students enthusiastic about it that’s the key. It’s getting the students excited about what they’re learning.

Mary Jo Cherry: We do our administrative duties, but we only do it because we can still teach. I bring stickers, and pencils for every occasion. And I love sharing stories. I warn them that anything they say in class, I’ll have a story about it.


Ursuline College’s Eastern Bluebird Trail

Written by Sarah Preston, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Summertime is a quiet time here on campus with many of the students and faculty away for summer break, but it’s also a time bursting with new life, bird life. June and July have produced many Mallard ducklings dabbling in Lake Elissa and a family of KilPhoto 1ldeer chicks running around on their too-long legs. Multiple broods of Tree Swallows and Eastern Bluebirds have hatched and fledged from the nest boxes placed all over campus last year by the Ornithology class.

It all began when my chemistry colleague, Mary Kay Deley, and I decided to take Glenn Hanniford’s Ornithology course for fun in spring 2014. Mary Kay has her own bluebird nest boxes in her yard and has been a volunteer bluebird trail monitor for the Holden Arboretum. She recognized Ursuline’s campus, with its expanses of short grass bordered by wooded areas, as perfect Eastern Bluebird habitat and suggested that we create our own bluebird trail.

The project became a collaboration between the biology department, chemistry department, and facilities and maintenance. One of the lab periods was used to build the nest boxes. Wally Bursic, from maintenance, cut the wood, provided the power tools, and assisted with assembly. Each of the 18 students in the course had the opportunity to build her own bluebird nest box and we proudly put our names on them.

We placed 14 nest boxes in pairs around the campus and eagerly waited to see who would move into them. After the students leave for the summer, the boxes are monitored by Ursuline faculty and staff volunteers who remove the nests of the non-native, invasive House Sparrows to keep their population in check and record species, number of eggs and young, and approximate age of the young for each nest box.

DSC_0206It’s exciting to monitor the nest boxes because you never know what you’re going to find when you open the box. Sometimes it’s empty. Occasionally a messy House Sparrow nest needs to be removed. Often it contains the Tree Swallow eggs or young and the parents will protect the nest, swooping down on the monitor causing her to don the ridiculous umbrella hat. A few nest boxes contain the stick nests of House Wrens, which for some reason include hairy, black spiders, which have been known to make a monitor (who shall remain nameless) scream. Every now and then we open a box and find what we’ve been hoping for, the pale blue eggs of the Eastern Bluebird in a neat nest of pine needles, and we rejoice.

Although most of our nest boxes have been occupied by other beneficial species, we have had moderate success attracting Eastern Bluebirds to our boxes. Last year one nest box, #9, successfully produced 4 Eastern Bluebird fledglings. This summer that same box had another brood of four, most likely produced by the same pair of bluebirds since they are known to return year after year to the same nesting site. With the donation of additional boxes this year, we placed six more boxes in three new locations. It was one of these new boxes that housed a second bluebird family this year; they fledged three chicks within the past two weeks and just laid two more eggs, which, if they successfully hatch and fledge, will bring our Eastern Bluebird fledgling total up to nine for 2015.

Counseling and Art Therapy students go to South Dakota on service learning trip

Written by Katherine Jackson, assistant professor, Counseling and Art Therapy department

photo 8From June 21 – 27, 2015, graduate students, alumnae, one undergraduate student, a few community members and three faculty members journeyed to Eagle Butte, South Dakota, to work with Lakota Sioux youth at the Cheyenne River Youth Project (CRYP) which is located on the Cheyenne River Native American Reservation.

Graduate students in the Counseling and Art Therapy program had suggested about a year ago that we do a service learning trip with impoverished and at risk populations in our own country, and we discovered a wonderful opportunity at Cheyenne River Youth Project. CRYP was founded in the 1980s to help give youth and teens a place to congregate where they could enjoy healthy snacks, activities and socialize. CRYP was a big success from the start, and soon after opening they were able to secure grants and funding to build a new center that could accommodate almost all of the youth in and around the Eagle Butte area. At present, CRYP serves hundreds of children, providing sports, art, tutoring, a youth run coffee shop, a sustainable organic garden, a graffiti art park and a healthy eating program which offers whole food meals every evening for any child in the community.

The Coordinator of Volunteer Service, Tammy Eagle Hunter, explained the philosophy at CRYP, which is “Don’t feel sorry for us and try to help, but rather join with us and together we will make things better.” This statement, although simple, sums up the attitude at CRYP. Everyone is encouraged to help side-by-side with the Lakota Sioux to maintain the community, work with the kids and pitch in wherever needed.

While we were there, we workphoto 4ed on cleaning, landscaping, gardening and organizing the center in the morning. In the afternoons, 30-40 youth arrived to participate in art therapy, nature activities, games, yoga and loving care from the Ursuline group. We provided support, care and lots of fun. Not only did the kids get to do art therapy and create many beautiful art creations, but they got their first taste of yoga. Yoga was a hit with many of the kids because it was so different than anything they had ever experienced.

While we were at the center, we learned first hand how alcoholism, drug abuse, child abuse, domestic violence, low socioeconomic status and poor dietary habits affect this vulnerable population. Many of the children got their only meal of the day at the CRYP center and endured parental neglect and abuse at home. Despite these hardships, the resiliency of these Lakota Sioux children is remarkable. The children embraced us with open arms and hearts, and we found a welcome home away from home at the center and in the reservation.

photo 13

We were fortunate enough to have a Lakota artisan, a bead worker, and a native storyteller and dancer work with us for an afternoon. We learned that the Lakota language is an oral language and thus is almost extinct. The Lakota people are attempting to put the language in written form to help preserve it and also to maintain important Lakota traditions. For example, in Lakota there is no word that means war, and this peaceful tradition is built right into rituals and community gatherings. Most quarrels are handled by compromise, with harmony being a prized value in the population.

One week did not seem like enough time to fully visit and get to know the people at the CRYP center and on the Cheyenne River Reservation. We are hopeful that we can return next year and make it an annual service learning trip to help the Lakota Sioux youth and continue to forge and build relationships with both the CRYP and the Cheyenne River Reservation.


Health Policy Intensive course focuses on homelessness

The Breen School of Nursing offered a new course for undergraduate students this year – titled the Health Policy Intensive (HPI). The course was available for Junior level nursing students. Unlike regular courses, this intensive began just after finals ended, and included adventures around Cleveland and in Washington, D.C.

Comprised of eight students and two faculty members, the group learned what homelessness is like here in Cleveland. The group specifically worked with Bellefaire JCB to discover what homeless youths experience. In addition, the pre-trip portion of the intensive also included learning about life at the Lakeside Men’s Shelter.

The class traveled to Washington, D.C. for a four-day whirlwind trip that covered a wide range of informational activities and meetings. On the first day, the group began the trip with a discussion on public policy and how it relates to homelessness. The group was also able to meet with two legislative aids to discuss some of the public policy issues relating to homelessness. One of the students on the trip, Rachel Jalowiec, said, “I was shocked at how people paid such little attention to homelessness. When we were talking to the congressmen, they were throwing out these ideas, and from what we’d learned, we knew that they would never work.”

The second day of the trip was a tour of Catholic Charities USA in Alexandria, VA, where the class met with a public policy analyst and a lobbyist from Catholic Charities over a lunch meeting. The third day of the trip got more hands-on, with the class taking a tour of the National Institute of Health. There, they met with representatives from the nursing department as well as toured various wards. This gave the students the opportunity to see the nursing end of healthcare for those in difficult situations. In addition, the group met with Brian Carome, one of the leaders of an organization called Street Sense, which puts out a bi-weekly newspaper written by and for homeless people. This organization also helps to give the homeless marketable skills and employment by helping them contract for graphic art and other similar projects.

The HPI group at Christ House in Washington, D.C.

The HPI group at Christ House in Washington, D.C.

The final day of the trip was the one that hit the hardest. The group of students went to Christ House, which according to Mary Lind Crowe, one of the faculty members on the trip, is “a men’s only facility that accepts and provides care for homeless people that have chronic and/or debilitating illness once they are discharged from the hospital.”

About the trip to Christ House, Jalowiec said, “That was my favorite part, because it was more emotional than I thought it was going to be. The people were so kind, and they’ve lived hard lives.”

When asked about why it is important for students that are looking to go into healthcare, and especially nursing, to learn about homelessness, Crowe said, “The concept of homelessness is very relevant for nursing – we could encounter these people every day in our job and not realize it unless we pay attention to details, like if the address they give is a homeless shelter. It’s also key to remember that medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy, and that being in our care means that they and/or their families see what their going through as a financial burden.”

Jalowiec said that the HPI experience really changed her perspective on homelessness and healthcare. She stated that she learned that “whether it be mental illness or drug addiction, it’s important for the homeless to get healthcare without being judged. One of the reasons that they end up waiting so long to get healthcare, besides not being able to afford it, is that they are afraid of being judged.” She added that, “there are so many stereotypes with the homeless, and hearing about their pasts really helped us learn not to judge them.”

The HPI trip definitely made a lasting impact on all of those involved. Jalowiec stated that although she’d always wanted to make a difference in the world, “this trip has gotten [me] to look into things more. On our way to Christ House, I was discussing everything with my professors, and we wondered if there were any similar programs in Cleveland. This trip made me want to get my degree and look into working for a program like Christ House after I graduate. This class made me want to make more of a difference.”

George Masa: A Biography of a Preservationist

May is National Historic Preservation Month!  Thank you to Freshman Historic Preservation major Aly Nahra for sharing this biography she recently wrote on George Masa who inspires her with his commitment to preservation.

George Masa

George Masa

George Masa was an influential person in the creation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Little is known about him before he came to the United States except that he came from Japan in the early 1900s. When he first came to America, he was going to school. Later, he moved to North Carolina and worked a few different jobs there until he opened his own photography studio. He spent much of his time there exploring the Smoky Mountains, which were the subject of many of his photographs. After this, he began promoting the preservation of the Smoky Mountains by selling photographs from his studio. He spent the rest of his life working to preserve the Great Smoky Mountains through his photography, hoping that his pictures would move others the ways the mountains did him.

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For Women's History month, celebrate Ohioan Frances Payne Bolton, historic preservation and environmental conservation advocate.

For Women’s History month, celebrate Ohioan Frances Payne Bolton, historic preservation and environmental conservation advocate.

Meghan O’Connor of the National Trust for Historic Preservation recently reported “only 8% of sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places embody underrepresented communities, including women.”[i]

Women, however, are approximately half the nation’s population. Further, they have historically been integral in promoting preservation of historic sites at the national level as well as state and local levels.

American women have historically asked questions about their role, their “place,” in American society as well as American history. We would do well to also ask with increasing vigor about women’s “place” in preservation and at historic sites. These are the most noticeable, nonverbal cues about our cultural values and legacy that we can offer to our population.

And so, in the spirit of introducing one woman’s “place” in preservation, I ask: What do former Ohio Congresswoman Frances Payne Bolton and our first President George Washington have in common besides public service in national politics?

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Reflection of Blessing Ceremony


2015-02-05 21.13.18

“May this oil of gladness strengthen and bless you as you begin your ministry of nursing.”

These positive words were said to us, the sophomore nursing class, right before our hands were blessed. I felt that the blessing ceremony was powerful because it confirmed the calling God placed upon my life. It made me feel special because I was chosen to care for those in need. In addition, the service was moving because our hands were blessed with God’s loving gifts. It joined us all together and was nice to see the faculty members come and support us on our big day. Each clinical instructor blessed us with words of strength and encouragement, inspirational videos were shown, and touching songs were played. It was truly an honor to be part of Ursuline’s blessing ceremony.         Read More