IN ANTICIPATION of Catholic Theological Union’s 50th anniversary in 2017, and following the successful completion of the campaign that enabled the construction of the James and Catherine Denny Center at 5416 S. Cornell Avenue, a group of dedicated CTU supporters formed a steering committee to establish the Forward in Faith campaign. The campaign launched with three primary goals in mind: improving technology, supporting scholarships, and bolstering faculty development. The committee set an ambitious goal of raising $16 million.

In April 2022, the Forward in Faith campaign surpassed this goal, raising more than $16.2 million in commitments from CTU Corporation member orders, board members, life trustees, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends. Contributions were notably split almost precisely in half, with fifty percent coming from religious orders and fifty percent coming from lay supporters — a true testament to the innovative collaboration that has been a part of CTU’s ethos from the beginning.

Through the Forward in Faith campaign, CTU established seven new scholarship funds, and greatly enhanced our ability to attract and retain the very best students locally, nationally and internationally. The proceeds of the campaign provided increased professional development and research funds, completed the endowment of faculty chairs, and funded ongoing faculty compensation – all to allow academic leadership to flourish, and to ensure the development of the next generation of inspirational and mission-driven faculty. CTU continues to leverage new technologies, thanks to the campaign, to enhance classroom and online engagement and expand the reach of our offerings. We could not have anticipated how important innovation and technology investments would become to sustain our academic mission in the pandemic and into our “new normal.”

The success of this campaign comes down to the importance of access: Thanks to supporters, CTU is accessible to a wider audience through online learning, CTU continues to give students access to world-renowned faculty, and graduate theological education is more financially accessible than ever before. 

On January 22, 2023 community members celebrated this success at a special Forward in Faith Sunday@CTU program. Attendees heard about the significant impact of the campaign from students, faculty members, scholarship recipients, and contributors to the fund themselves. A donor wall was unveiled in CTU’s public gathering space on the second floor, acknowledging the generosity of more than 200 supporters to the campaign in a permanent way for all visitors to campus to see.

At the closing celebration, CTU honored the life and memory of Fr. Donald Senior, CP who co-chaired the Forward in Faith committee before his death in November 2022. Tom Brown, chair of the Board of Trustees, offered a personal tribute.

Dan Murray, co-chair with Fr. Don, humbly attributed the success of the campaign to Don: “…In all truthfulness, between Don and me, he was responsible for 99% of this success and I was maybe, at best, 1%.” He went on to share a story of Fr. Don holding a committee meeting for the original campaign, which supported the construction of the 5416 building, on one of the coldest days of the year in an old building that had no functioning heat, to “make the case” for the importance of a new building. Fr. Don knew how to motivate supporters!

The highlight of the event was an announcement made by Jim and Cate Denny that the CTU building on Cornell, currently named for them, will be renamed for Fr. Donald Senior. The Dennys have a decades-long association with CTU; they co-chair the school’s signature annual Blessed are the Peacemakers Trustee Dinner on various occasions, and Jim served as a longtime Trustee. 

Though unable to attend in person, Jim Denny, who served as Honorary Chair of the Forward in Faith campaign, shared through a special video message his and Cate’s desire for the building to be renamed in honor of Fr. Don:

We accepted the honor knowing it really belonged to Fr. Don, but that it was his wish that the honor would not be bestowed on him while he was still involved. That wish has been fulfilled. The question now is what is best for CTU. It seems clear to us that now is the time to change the name to give credit where credit is due. By naming the building after Fr. Don, the preservation of the example he created would be enhanced, a daily reminder so-to-speak, not only for the benefit of CTU but also for future generations who will want to learn more about the institution whose charismatic leader and Biblical scholar was so revered.

Like everyone who has had the good fortune to know Fr. Don, he was for them, as well for Cate and me, a beacon beaming a message of faith, hope, and compassion for our fellow brothers and sisters with whom we share the earth and which will continue to perpetually resonate in our hearts and minds. Cate and I are very grateful for having had the honor to be his placeholder. Knowing Fr. Don will certainly be a highpoint in all our lives.

We look forward to installing the new building sign in the coming warmer months. 

With the completion of the Forward in Faith Campaign, CTU is looking ahead to further opportunities to improve our use of hybrid technologies – from an update to our events audio and video systems to a brand new website – and we are increasing advertising of scholarships, to highlight the impressive collection of opportunities made possible by the campaign.