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Institute for Pastoral Initiatives

Our Director
Sr. Angela Ann Zukowski, MHSH, D.Min is the Director of the Institute for Pastoral Initiatives (1978- present) and Professor in the Department of Religious Studies of the University of Dayton (a Catholic / Marianist University). The Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation (1995 – present) is a project of The Institute for Pastoral Initiatives. She is an adjunct professor in the School of Education’s online graduate program on Catholic Educational Leadership. She is a Marianist Education Associate (MEA) and has been teaching at the University of Dayton for over 35 years.

Zukowski is a member of the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart (Towson, MD) celebrating her 50th Jubilee September 8, 2014.

She has served as visiting professor at Crec Avex (Lyon, France) for 13 years (1989 – 2002). She is vice-principal of the Caribbean School for Catholic Communications (Archdiocese of Port of Spain, Trinidad / Tobago, West Indies) along with the CSCC Principal - Bishop Jason Gordon (Bridgetown, Barbados) 1994 to present.

She served as the UNDA USA President (1987-1993), UNDA North American President (1990-1994) and the UNDA World President (International Catholic Association for Radio and Television) from 1994-2002. (UNDA – is now known as SIGNIS the official Catholic Communications Association recognized by the Vatican). She served as Chairperson for the UNDA/OCIC Planning Committee for the World Congresses in Prague, Czech Republic (1994), Montreal, Canada (1998) and Rome, Italy (2001). She was a member of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications (Vatican) 1994-2002. She serves as an international consultant for the Journal of the Asian Research Center for Religion and Social Communications (Bangkok, Thailand).

Zukowski serves on the Board of Governors of CREDI (Catholic Religious Education Development Initiative) – Archdiocese of Port of Spain, Trinidad and is associated with the Center for Catholic Education (UD). She is the Chairperson for the Catholic Schools of Tomorrow Award: Innovation in Education sponsored by Peter Li, Inc. and associated publishers. Twelve Catholic schools are awarded the honor at a special Gala during the NCEA National Convention.

She received the 1993 Lackner Award given by the University of Dayton for Catholic Identity and Marianist Values. In 1997, she was recognized as one of the influential Catholic Educators in the 20th century (during NCEA Convention) to influence new initiatives in teaching and learning through the media. In the same year, Zukowski received the President's Medallion for Lifetime Achievement in Communications awarded in 1997 by the National Catholic Association of Communicators. In 2001, she received the NCCL Technology Award for her contribution toward the advancement technology and catechesis.

In 2001 she received Pro Ecclesia ET Pontific Medal from Pope John Paul II in Rome during the UNDA (SIGNIS) World Congress. In 2004, she received the Distinguished Communicators Award for 2004 from the Salesian Guild. In 2005, she received the Honorary Prize of Julian Kulenty presented during the National Catholic Film Association Conference held in Warsaw, Poland. In 2009 she received the NCEA National Catholic Schools Board Award for her contribution for working with Catholic School Boards in the US. During the 2010 NCEA Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota (4/10) Zukowski received the Emmaus Award from the NPCD Association for her international and national work with Catholic education, faith formation and innovative online learning. On May 9, 2012, the NCCL (National Conference of Catechetical Leaders) presented Zukowski with their highest honor of the NCCL Life Time Achievement Award for excellence in adult faith formation via distance learning. November 9, 2012, she received the National Catholic Lay Leadership Award in Philadelphia.

Zukowski has been involved with distance education for over 40 years. She began with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s Cable TV initiative in 1971 and continued to advance into radio, satellite communication, multimedia, computer technologies and now the Internet and digital technologies. The beginning of the Catholic Telecommunications of America (CTNA) she was invited to produce and co-host video conferences in collaboration with the NCEA on Catholic Education and Catechesis, as well as, co-anchoring several USCCB annual fall meetings via CTNA (1980’s).

A major focus of her professional life and ministry is the Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation (VLCFF) online courses in English and Spanish (exploring Arabic and French in collaboration with the Vicariate of Southern Arabia and the Canadian Catholic Dioceses).

The VLCFF was initiated in 1997 with one diocese (Archdiocese of Cincinnati) and two courses. Today there are over 55 + VLCFF Diocesan Partners – but going into 182 dioceses - and in 35+ countries (globally). Over 126 e-courses and 7online certificate programs are available in seven cycles with approximately 9,000 e-students per year (2014). She has also spearheaded the UD’s Virtual Conference Center with expanding interactive innovations underway.

Her most recent book publication (2007) is Communication Socialis: The Challenge of Theology and Ministry in the Church published by Kassel University (Germany). Other publications include: Medias, chance pour l’ evangeile written with Pierre Babin published in Paris (2000) and translated/published into English by Loyola Press entitled The Gospel and The Internet (2002). Her book Voices of Courage: An International Profile of Women in Catholic Communications (2001) has been translated into Slovakian, Portuguese, Spanish and other languages (2003).Currently Zukowski is writing Volume II. She writes a regular column called “Communicating Faith” in MOMENTUM Journal (NCEA Publication). She is the former Executive Editor of the UD Catechist Formation Series in the CATECHIST magazine which ran for twenty years (1994-2014).

She gives workshops, seminars and lectures around the world. She serves as an international consultant on the application of new digital media resources for ministry and leadership. Her workshops range from designing new digital methodologies for learning, the relationship of the digital milieu and faith formation, transformational leadership, nurturing dialogue skills and spiritual formation in a digital era. In September 2012 she addressed the Asian Bishops in Communications and Seminary Rectors in Bangkok. In January (2013) she addressed the Clergy Symposium and a Catechetical Conference in Dubai (Arabia) and in April 2013 gave one of the Keynote Addresses at the National Catholic Educational Associations Convention in Houston, Texas. In October she will be participating in the Diocese of St. Petersburg Clergy Formation Days. Since January 2014 she has been invited to offer workshops in various dioceses regarding Catholic Education in a digital world. Her most recent focus is on “The Seven Habits for Navigating through the Cyber Sea” for preparing our Catholic school and parish catechetical students for cultivating depth moral and ethical presences/footprints in cyberspace.

Within the Department of Religious Studies Zukowski teachers MA courses in Pastoral Planning, Leadership and Parish Ministry and Models and Theories of Adult Faith Formation. On the undergraduate level she coordinates the FORUM for Young Catechetical Leaders a two year catechetical formation program for UD students, as well as, courses in Religion and Film and the Vocation and Arts Chaminade Honors Scholars Arts Honors Program course. She is an adjunct professor in the School of Education (UD) associated with their online Master’s Degree in Catholic Educational Leadership.

Zukowski’s current research is in designing prototypes for interactive e- learning for Catholic education, adult faith, lay ecclesial leadership and catechist formation through the VLCFF and the University of Dayton’s online graduate programs. She is an international speaker and consultant with Catholic education for addressing the impact of the digital milieu for faith formation. She is particularly interested in the influence, or impact that the digital culture is having on new ways of being human in the 21st century. A special research interest is building on the work of Fr. Pierre Babin, OMI (with whom she was associated for twelve years in Lyon, France) for re-imagining his methodology called the Symbolic Way in the light of the digital culture.

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Institute for Pastoral Initiatives

Daniel J. Curran Place
1700 S. Patterson Blvd.
Dayton, Ohio 45409