Creighton Continues to Grow in its Ignatian Mission; More Planned

Eileen Burke-Sullivan, STD, vice provost for Mission and Ministry, opened her update on the Living Our Mission strategic planning theme by referencing the four new “Universal Apostolic Preferences” announced by Jesuit Superior General the Rev. Arturo Sosa, SJ, in February, and shared in a campus message by Creighton President the Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, on March 26.

The four “preferences,” or themes, are meant to guide the mission of the Society of Jesus for the next 10 years.

As a Jesuit, Catholic university, Burke-Sullivan said during the Living Our Mission strategic plan forum on Thursday, Creighton has an important role in advancing these four preferences – both on campus and in the broader society.

“We are an engine for facilitating ways to discover how to implement this,” Burke-Sullivan said. “This is what a Jesuit university does: It creates an environment to make it possible to accomplish these great tasks.”

The four preferences focus on these themes: discernment and the Spiritual Exercises, walking with the excluded, caring for our common home, and journeying with youth.

“One of the things that really strikes me is how deeply attuned our Creighton mission is to these set of priorities,” Burke-Sullivan said. “We are deeply aligned with those priorities.”

For example, she said, the journeying with youth theme is in Creighton’s “wheelhouse” – with the University’s commitment to its undergraduate population.

“It’s journeying with youth into a future of their hope,” she said. “This is really important: a future of hope.”

Burke-Sullivan and fellow goal steward Molly O’Gorman Billings, senior director of Human Resources, provided updates on the Living Our Mission strategic planning theme at Thursday’s forum. The theme specifically covers three major strategies: formation and culture; a place-based initiative; and sustainability, based on an appreciation of the 2015 papal encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’.

Formation and Culture

The formation and culture strategy focuses on the formation of all faculty, administrators and staff in the meaning and experience of foundational elements of Jesuit, Catholic values and in basic issues of Catholic Social Teaching.

This includes the establishment of curriculum and programs to foster that formation. Faculty and staff, for instance, had an opportunity to participate in eight lunchtime sessions focused on an introduction to Catholic Social Teaching. Also, the inaugural class has been selected for Imagination and Immersion: Forming Creighton Faculty in Catholic Social Thought, a year-long seminar in which participants will engage in academic research related to one of the tenants of Catholic Social Teaching. Participation in mission-related events throughout this academic year has been strong.

“Nearly 20 percent, this year, of faculty and staff have been through at least one mission project experience,” Burke-Sullivan said.

Two cohorts of faculty and staff, totaling 26 participants, have participated in the new Certificate in the Ignatian Tradition, which features two graduate courses in the Spiritual Exercises and a pilgrimage to Ignatian sites in Northern Spain, Rome and Paris.

A Connect to the Creighton Mission brochure has been created, and is available both online and in print – as a resource that lists mission-based programs and activities at Creighton. In addition, as announced by Fr. Hendrickson in his Convocation address in February, Creighton will host Mission Week, Sept. 9-13. The week’s events will include a keynote address by the Rev. Greg Boyle, SJ, founder and director of Homeboy Industries, and an All Things Ignatian poster event.

Place-Based Initiative

A workgroup is busy laying the groundwork for Creighton’s place-based initiative strategy. Creighton became a member of the Place-Based Justice Network, which has a stated goal to “transform higher education and our communities by deconstructing systems of oppression through place-based community engagement.” The organization currently consists of 20 members from the United States and Canada.

Several members of the workgroup attended the State of African-Americans and State of North Omaha Summit in December to align Creighton’s efforts with the Transformation 2025/North Omaha 2025 plan. Two members of the workgroup also attended the Leadership Retreat for the Place-Based Justice Network in December at Saint Mary’s College of California, and a reading group was formed around the book Place-Based Community Engagement in Higher Education. Finally, Fr. Hendrickson appointed a working group on North Omaha community engagement.


Notable accomplishments under the sustainability strategy include the fact that Creighton’s new-employee orientation now includes a presentation by sustainability coordinator Belyna Bentlage. Creighton and the Catholic Climate Covenant will be hosting a Laudato Si’ and U.S. Catholic Church conference June 27-29 in Omaha. Creighton received a bronze-star rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), and a campus-wide sustainability engagement survey is planned for this fall.