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Institute for Pastoral Initiatives News

And the Award Goes to...

Sister Angela Ann Zukowski, SAAZ as she's often referred to, probably won't be needing her signature fluorescent green glasses for her upcoming trip.

Next week the feisty, energetic 73-year old visionary will receive the award for outstanding contributions to Catholic Intellectual Life from the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU) in Washington, D.C. 

"I never anticipated my life and ministry would take the turn it did," she quipped as she reflects back on her time here at the University of Dayton.

The sister of the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart, an apostolic missionary community, prepared for seven years to engage in ministry in Latin America during her formation in 1971. Then the Mission assignment list was posted on the Community bulletin board, and she thought it was a mistake. 

"Imagine my surprise to read Dayton, Ohio," she laughed. "I was told I'd be here for a year offering catechetical adult faith formation in parishes and Catholic schools in the rural areas of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati."

"Did you notice 40 years later I'm still here!  Yet, with all my international travels and outreach it does not seem I have simply been in one place."

Sister has been there, done that, visiting 39 countries at last count.  She's had conversations with Pope John Paul II, receiving the Pro Ecclesia Pontifice Award from him. She's served on the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the World President for UNDA (Catholic Association for Radio and Television).  She was a visiting professor at the well-known CREC-AVEX Center in Lyon, France.  The Caribbean School for Catholic Communications, which she co-directs,  will celebrate its 25th anniversary this August.  She's chairperson for the Catholic Schools of Tomorrow award. She teaches UD students on Saturdays preparing them to become outstanding faith formators in Catholic Schools and parishes.  She mentors and instructs UD's Chaminade scholars, travels from Assisi to Rome on the annual pilgrimage, plus teaches a graduate class and her favorite Religion & Film undergrad class each semester. 

Her accomplishments too long to list for this blog.

"I don't think she ever sleeps," said President Eric Spina. " Sister Angela Ann is a force of nature, creative, innovative, hard-driving.  She's really focused on how to make the Catholic church stronger."

"Sister's four decades of work and imaginative leadership demonstrate a commitment to the future of Catholic higher education," wrote ACCU President Michael Galligan-Stierle in his notification letter.

The cornerstone of her work, online courses in a variety of adult faith, catechetical and lay leadership ministry formation topics, is called the Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation. ( From Bible Basics, to Social Justice, to Marianist Studies.  There are courses for teachers, catechists and those who just want to become more informed about their faith.  There's even a new course this cycle (a cycle is similar to a semester) entitled, Ministering in Times of Scandal and Divisions.   

What started out as one online course and one diocese in 1994, has now ballooned to more than 80 dioceses, in 24 countries and more than 100 courses in English and Spanish, in 3-week or 5-week sessions. 

Enrollment hit an all-time high this year, with more than 1,200 adult learners online this Cycle 1 for the beginning of 2019.  E-participants include alumni and University Faculty and Staff.

"Online classes?"  Sister remembered the first conversation.  "Nobody thought that online teaching would have value or impact for faith formation in the Catholic Church," she said.  "They definitely didn't think or believe that we could pull off delivering a robust growing online assortment of courses for the U.S. Catholic Church, let alone the global Church."

Sister always sees things through rose colored glasses, or should I say, fluorescent green.  

The Monica Hellwig award for Outstanding Contributions to Catholic Intellectual Life will be presented on Feb. 2 in Washington, D.C.   A contingent of UD supporters will attend. Alumni and Fac/Staff can visit to register for courses. The next cycle begins March 10.



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