BY CHRIS KERR | March 20, 2015
OMAHA, NEBRASKA – Creighton University’s Center for Service and Justice (CSSJ) may soon bear the name of the John P. Schlegel, S.J., a cherished former Creighton president battling cancer.
During a campus Mass for Schlegel at St. John’s Church on March 3, it was announced that several anonymous donors are hoping to create an endowed fund in Schlegel’s honor to support the mission and programs of the CSSJ. Along with establishing the fund, the center would also be named in Schlegel’s honor. Schlegel, Creighton’s president from 2000 to 2011, announced that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer early this year.
“It is, indeed, a fitting tribute to Fr. Schlegel, who has been such a passionate supporter of Creighton’s Jesuit, Catholic mission, and its role in educating students who go forth and make a difference in this world,” said Creighton Provost Edward R. O’Connor, Ph.D. about the announcement. The CSSJ’s mission emphasizes the need to “awaken hearts and lives of solidarity to build a more just world.” The office has many notable programs, including the Service and Justice Trips program. Started in 1983, the program sends over 350 participants each year to serve and learn from community partners across the country.
The CSSJ has been an important partner throughout the ten-year history of the Ignatian Solidarity Network. Each year the CSSJ organizes a bus of 55 delegates who travel 24-hours overnight to attend the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice and advocate on Capitol Hill during Ignatian Family Advocacy Day. Staff of the Center regularly serve on ISN event planning committees and support ISN staff at events and with other projects. On the announcement of the potential endowment and new name ISN executive director Christopher Kerr expressed his excitement, saying, “I am so happy for the staff and all those connected with Creighton University’s Center for Service and Justice on the announcement of their new name and the energy expressed by donors to support their work. The Ignatian Solidarity Network’s work is greatly enhanced by the contributions of Creighton staff and students tied to the CSSJ.”
[SOURCE: Creighton University]
Chris joined the Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN) as executive director in 2011. He has over fifteen years of experience in social justice advocacy and leadership in Catholic education and ministry. Prior to ISN he served in multiple roles at John Carroll University, including coordinating international immersion experience and social justice education programming as an inaugural co-director of John Carroll’s Arrupe Scholars Program for Social Action. Prior to his time at John Carroll he served as a teacher and administrator at the elementary and secondary levels in Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. Chris speaks regularly at campuses and parishes about social justice education and advocacy, Jesuit mission, and a broad range of social justice issues. He currently serves on the board of directors for Christians for Peace in El Salvador (CRISPAZ). Chris earned a B.A. and M.A. from John Carroll University in University Heights, Ohio. He and his family reside in Shaker Heights, Ohio.