A bold and daring experiment in collaboration.

Cardinal Blase Cupich celebrates the 50th anniversary Mass, with Fr. Mark Francis, right, con-celebrating (Photos by Ron Brown).

That’s how officials with Catholic Theological Union in Chicago describe their founding, back in 1968, when several religious communities combined to create a school of theology in an urban, academic setting.

Viatorians would join them within four years as one of the sponsoring communities and they haven’t looked back.

“CTU’s roots reflect the changes brought about by Vatican II, when the church came into dialogue with the modern world,” says Fr. Mark Francis, CSV, the school’s seventh president and second Viatorian. Fr. John Linnan, CSV, led CTU as president from 1981-87.

Fr. Mark Francis is the 7th president of CTU.

“It was believed that seminarians should study alongside of lay men and women, and women religious,” Fr. Francis adds, “in a setting that valued ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue.”

That bold, inclusive vision drove the 50th anniversary Mass celebrated May 5 at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Hyde Park. Cardinal Blase Cupich was the main celebrant, with Fr. Francis con-celebrating.

Fr. Mark Francis and James Denny dedicate the Denny Center at CTU.

“We have been sending Viatorian seminarians to CTU since 1972,” Fr. Francis says. “We joined because we had that same vision of church, of professed working together with lay men and women.”

Viatorians have served on the faculty, on the board of sponsoring religious communities and on its board of trustees. Currently, Fr. Daniel Hall, CSV, Provincial, serves on the corporate board while Fr. Daniel Lydon, CSV, serves on its board of trustees.