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February 15, 2009

He makes sure ‘everybody knows your name’

By Dolores Madlener



Father Patrick Marshall, chaplain and director of the John Paul II Newman Center at University of Illinois at Chicago, joins students Feb. 4 on the Koinonia planning committee as they discuss an upcoming event.Catholic New World/Karen Callaway

He is: Father Patrick Marshall, ordained 1979, St. Mary of the Lake Seminary. Has been director and chaplain of the John Paul II Newman Center at University of Illinois at Chicago for 18 years.

Growing up: “I grew up with two brothers and a sister on the Northwest Side in St. Monica’s. It was all police and firemen. My dad was a Chicago policeman and a great athlete so he always encouraged us to participate in sports. We lived at the edge of the city with churches every mile or two. I never met a non-Catholic until I was about 14!”

Early start: “We lived a block from church and my mother had a thing that once we made our First Communion, she wanted us to go to 6:30 Mass every morning. That had a big impact on my spiritual life from second grade.”

Quigley: “The person who gave me the real impetus to become a priest was my own pastor, Father John Beyenka. He was a wonderful man and a happy, holy priest. I just wanted to be like him. One of the best memories I have of him was at Christmas time when he’d ask me to be the ‘carrying boy’ helping him bring bags of food to hundreds of needy people.”

Parish work: “I loved being a parish priest at St. Christopher in Midlothian and Queen of Martyrs in Evergreen Park. I never imagined going into campus ministry. I was at Notre Dame on a sabbatical. They offered me a job, but I came home to ask Cardinal Bernardin’s permission. He said he’d rather I work in the archdiocese and he had an opening at the U of I. I love what I do.”

‘Brother Joseph’: “Cardinal Bernardin asked me when I was ordained four or five years to be one of his masters of ceremonies. I got to know him very well and in many ways we became friends. He was my bishop from the time I was a young priest until after I got here. He was a very important figure in shaping my priesthood.”

Campus ministry: “We have 25,000 students here with 60 percent from Catholic families. I call it the largest youth parish in the Midwest. Obviously they don’t all participate. This age group often doesn’t feel a connection with their families. So we make a big deal of getting to know everybody’s name. It’s a lot of personal interaction. We go into the dormitories and get to know them personally, eat with them or have lunch at the student union with them. We have retreats. You really build a sense of community.”

Mission: “Our mission here is pastoral and educational. We deal with crisis counseling or spiritual direction, but we also have a Catholic studies program and the Integritas Institute for Ethics. In a typical year we get about 4,000 students who come to one or another program. At the Chicago campus we have the largest medical school in the United States. We’re also a Research 1 university, so the church needs a voice in that — in terms of embryonic stemcell research, human cloning, genetic altering. Cardinal George enjoys coming to the university for talks.” Twitter and Facebook? “I don’t have a personal Facebook but the Newman Center does. We do more with our redesigned Web site, Catholic Underground is a new program we have on first Thursdays that has even drawn young people from Ohio.”

Movies: “I just saw ‘Slumdog Millionaire.’ Movies are another point of interaction with students.”

Favorite vacation spot: “Italy. We have an exchange program with the Polytechnical University in Italy. Students come to church here and when they return to Italy, some invite me to go over to do their weddings.”

The future: “A couple years ago I started a discernment group with students interested in the possibility of becoming priests and sisters. Now we have 10 men and three women in the group, all Chicagoans. This past year we opened a house of discernment just down the street. Traditionally the Newman Center has been a source of vocations and I think that’s going to grow.”