Celebrating Fifty Years

1968 - 2018

Forward in Faith

Fifty years ago, a bold and unique model of Catholic theological education was born. In September 1968,
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.
Join us as we celebrate our inaugural spirit and turn to a new future!
  • THE SPARK

    THE SPARK

    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

  • FINDING A HOME

    FINDING A HOME

    In 1967 CTU purchased the former Aragon Hotel in Hyde Park as its urban “campus” and contracted to have its classes in the neighboring Sinai Temple school building.

  • FOUNDING PRESIDENT PAUL BECHTOLD, CP

    FOUNDING PRESIDENT PAUL BECHTOLD, CP

    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.

  • OPENING THE DOORS

    OPENING THE DOORS

    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.

  • BEGINNING A CATHOLIC-JEWISH STUDIES PROGRAM

    BEGINNING A CATHOLIC-JEWISH STUDIES PROGRAM

    with Rabbi Hayim Perelmuter as charter faculty member joining Rev. John Pawlikowski, OSM as co-founders of the program.

  • FIRST ACCREDITATION

    FIRST ACCREDITATION

    With the assistance of DePaul University, CTU received full accreditation from the Association of Theological Schools of the United States and Canada.

  • THE WOMEN ARRIVE…

    THE WOMEN ARRIVE…

    Alacia Lakey, a graduate of Yale University, was the first lay woman student at CTU. She would be the first of a growing stream of lay women and religious to join CTU.

  • REV. ALCUIN COYLE, OFM

    REV. ALCUIN COYLE, OFM

    Upon the retirement of Rev. Bechtold, Rev. Alcuin Coyle, OFM, a Franciscan educator and theologian from New York, was appointed CTU’s second president.

  • CTU IN THE HOLYLAND

    CTU IN THE HOLYLAND

    Two of its outstanding biblical professors, Rev. Carroll Stuhmueller, C.P. and Rabbi Hayim Perelmuter, created a semester long program for CTU students in the Holy Land.

  • REV. JOHN LINNAN, CSV

    REV. JOHN LINNAN, CSV

    For the third president of CTU, the Board of Trustees turned to Rev. Jack Linnan,CSV, a highly respected member of the Faculty.

  • HISPANIC THEOLOGY & MINISTRY PROGRAM

    HISPANIC THEOLOGY & MINISTRY PROGRAM

    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.

  • REV. DONALD SENIOR, CP

    REV. DONALD SENIOR, CP

    With the retirement of Rev. Linnan, the Board of Trustees appointed Donald Senior, CP, a member of the CTU Bible faculty, as its fourth president.

  • THE VATICAN VISITS!

    THE VATICAN VISITS!

    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.

  • EXTENDING THE SCHOOL WEEK

    EXTENDING THE SCHOOL WEEK

    To become more accessible, especially for lay students, CTU began offering courses in the evenings and on weekends and inaugurated a Summer Institute.

  • THE AUGUSTUS TOLTON PROGRAM

    THE AUGUSTUS TOLTON PROGRAM

    In collaboration with the Archdiocese of Chicago, CTU began a scholarship and formation program for African-American lay ministers serving in Chicago.

  • CTU HONORS CARDINAL JOSEPH BERNARDIN

    CTU HONORS CARDINAL JOSEPH BERNARDIN

    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.

  • BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS!

    BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS!

    On the occasion of its 25th anniversary, CTU began an annual major fund raising event that honored peacemakers from all walks of life.

  • THE OSCAR ROMERO PROGRAM

    THE OSCAR ROMERO PROGRAM

    Matching its innovative Augustus Tolton program, CTU, in collaboration with the Archdiocese of Chicago, initiated a scholarship and formation program for lay Hispanic ministers.

  • REV. NORMAN BEVAN, CSSP

    REV. NORMAN BEVAN, CSSP

    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.

  • THE BERNARDIN CENTER

    THE BERNARDIN CENTER

    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.

  • REV. DONALD SENIOR, CP (again…)

    REV. DONALD SENIOR, CP (again…)

    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.

  • REV. TED HESBURGH AT CTU!

    REV. TED HESBURGH AT CTU!

    With the blessing and encouragement of the famed president of the University of Notre Dame, the popular sabbatical program he began moved from South Bend to CTU and Chicago.

  • CATHOLIC-MUSLIM STUDIES PROGRAM

    CATHOLIC-MUSLIM STUDIES PROGRAM

    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.

  • INSTITUTE OF RELIGIOUS FORMATION

    INSTITUTE OF RELIGIOUS FORMATION

    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.

  • PEACEBUILDERS INITIATIVE

    PEACEBUILDERS INITIATIVE

    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.

  • MAKING A PLACE FOR FAITH

    MAKING A PLACE FOR FAITH

    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.

  • CATHOLICS ON CALL

    CATHOLICS ON CALL

    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.

  • FINDING COMMON GROUND

    FINDING COMMON GROUND

    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.

  • ALLIANCE WITH DEPAUL UNIVERSITY

    ALLIANCE WITH DEPAUL UNIVERSITY

    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.

  • CENTER FOR STUDY OF CONSECRATED LIFE

    CENTER FOR STUDY OF CONSECRATED LIFE

    Building on its history of collaboration among religious communities, CTU inaugurated a Center devoted to the study and advancement of religious life.

  • REV. MARK FRANCIS, CSV

    REV. MARK FRANCIS, CSV

    With the retirement of Rev. Donald Senior, CP, Rev. Mark Francis, CSV, former CTU faculty member and Superior General of the Viatorians, was elected CTU’s fifth president.

  • FORWARD IN FAITH

    FORWARD IN FAITH

    To mark its 50th anniversary, CTU launched the “Forward in Faith” capital campaign to strengthen its educational program for the future.

The CTU Story

How CTU Began

How Vatican II Shaped the CTU Ethos

Blessings for CTU: Then, Now and Into the Future

The Founding of CTU

On October 28, 2019 hundreds of CTU community members gathered in Hyde Park to experience a multimedia celebration recalling the year of CTU’s founding, the school’s defining spirit and the initiatives and events that shaped the core values of this remarkable place.
Carol Marin, dear friend of CTU and award-winning journalist and television commentator, expertly and lovingly narrated the walk through CTU’s founding years through to the present day. The panel was animated by stories from key members of CTU’s history, Rev. Gilbert Ostdiek, OFM, Rev. John Pawlikowski, OSM — both members of the founding faculty — and Rev. Donald Senior, CP, long-serving president.

50th Anniversary Mass

On Sunday, May 5, CTU hundreds gathered to commemorate our 50th Anniversary with a Mass celebrated at our neighboring parish, St. Thomas the Apostle in Hyde Park. Cardinal Blase J. Cupich presided with CTU president Rev. Mark R. Francis, chancellor, Rev. Donald Senior, CP and board chair, Rev. Kurt Hartich, OFM, concelebrating.

50 Inspiring Alumni | Fifty at 50

There are countless alumni embodying CTU’s vision to be a transformative force in the Church and world. On the occasion of our 50th Anniversary, we are delighted to share a sampling of our outstanding alumni in the first of a two-part series of 50 Inspiring profiles here and later in Summer 2019.

Joe Boland,
MA '07

Vide President for Mission,
Catholic Extension

Susan Abraham,
MA '95

Vice President of Academic
Affairs, Pacific School of Religion

Graham Golden, OPraem,
MDiv '15

Vocations Director for Santa
Maria de la Vid Abbey

Invest in the Future of the Church

As we celebrate our past in gratitude, we also sing praises to God for CTU’s current lay
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

This guide invites you to visit some of the artwork on display throughout CTU, to stop and
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.