Forward in Faith
embracing the urban and university setting of Hyde Park, Chicago, and driven by a collaborative and ecumenical spirit,
Catholic Theological Union opened its doors. CTU has now grown to be a premier school of theology and ministry,
sponsored by twenty-four religious communities and enjoying a global reputation for excellence.
Inspired by an address at Rockefeller Chapel of Cardinal Leo Josef Suenens, a leader of the Second Vatican Council, the Dean of the University of Chicago Divinity School urged that a Catholic school of theology be founded in Hyde Park
The CTU Board of Trustees appointed Rev. Paul Bechtold, CP, as the first president of CTU. A gracious man and expert educator, he was the glue that kept the new enterprise on track.
After a summer of political turbulence in Chicago, CTU launched a bold new collaborative initiative, beginning its classes in the educational center of Sinai Temple in September 1968.
Recognizing the growing importance of the Hispanic community in the United States Church, CTU launched a program in Hispanic studies, one of the first in the country.
At the direction of the newly elected Pope John Paul II, the Vatican initiated a visitation of all U.S. seminaries. With the support of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, CTU won full approval of its structure and mission.
As a true friend of CTU, the school awarded an honorary doctorate to Cardinal Bernardin on the 25th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. In his remarks, the Cardinal asked CTU to continue to support the pastoral mission of the Council.
Matching its innovative Augustus Tolton program, CTU, in collaboration with the Archdiocese of Chicago, initiated a scholarship and formation program for lay Hispanic ministers.
After serving 8 years as president, Rev. Senior returned to the faculty and the CTU Board elected as its fifth president, Rev. Norman Bevan, CSSP, a former formation director at CTU and provincial superior of his Spiritan community.
As part of its first major capital campaign “Bold and Faithful,” CTU established the Cardinal Bernardin Center to promote his legacy and signature issues. The Cardinal himself, shortly before his death, wrote the charter for the Center.
With the retirement of Rev. Bevan, the CTU board turned again to Rev. Donald Senior, CP, to resume the office of president. All told he would serve 23 years as CTU’s president.
Supported by the generosity of James and Catherine Denny, CTU inaugurated a unique program in Islamic studies to promote dialogue and mutual respect between Christians and Muslims. Dr. Scott Alexander was appointed its founding director.
CTU’s strong commitment to continuing education was enriched with the transfer of the internationally recognized program to prepare formation directors for religious orders and seminaries from Saint Louis University to CTU.
With a major grant from the Lilly Endowment, CTU’s Bernardin Center created a program for high school students, introducing them to rich social justice teaching and practice of Catholicism.
With the support of another major capital campaign “Making a Place for Faith,” CTU undertook a comprehensive renewal of its urban campus, with a new state-of-the art academic center and a thorough renovation of its original building.
In response to the need for priests, religious and lay ministers, the Bernardin Center established an intensive vocational program for young adults. Rev. Robin Ryan, C.P., a member of the CTU faculty was its founding director.
One of the programs closest to the heart of Cardinal Bernardin’s was the Catholic Common Ground initiative, designed to reduce polarity within the Catholic community. In 2007 this signature program found its home in CTU’s Bernardin Center.
CTU and DePaul University forged an educational alliance to share faculty, students, and programs, bringing together a major school of theology and the country’s largest Catholic University.
50th Anniversary Mass
50 Inspiring Alumni | Fifty at 50
Invest in the Future of the Church
and ordained ministers training to work together in service to the Church and the world.
Won’t you join us in investing in our CTU students now and into our next 50 years?
Explore CTU Permanent Art Collection
spend a little time with them. You are encouraged to first “read” and reflect on them, and only then
to read the accompanying description as an aid to yet further reflection.