Moments of dialogue

In my years teaching at Loras I have been struck by how the College’s Catholic identity sustains a culture that welcomes not only diverse persons but ideas as well. The Catholic intellectual tradition embraces both faith and reason, believing that the search for truth cannot fragment knowledge or ignore fundamental dimensions of existence. At some colleges or universities questions of faith, meaning, spirituality or morality can become marginalized, but the intellectual life of Loras embraces such questions as central. Ideas that may be overlooked elsewhere are welcomed here in an atmosphere of open, civil and challenging dialogue.” Dave Cochran, Ph.D., Professor of Politics.

The “canopy” of Catholicism extending over Loras campus culture engenders dialogue. Members of the campus community explore and celebrate distinct expressions of human identity and striving, and affirm what persons hold in common. Cardinal Walter Kasper observes, “Dialogue is not only an academic and intellectual exercise,” but seeks “common ideals and values, for freedom and justice, for peace and reconciliation, for family values, preservation of creation, and above all for the sanctity of life.” Dialogue, ultimately, is a means to friendship.

  • In order to foster dialogues that will promote understanding, cooperation, and respect, the College sponsors Catholic Identity Hospitality Dinners drawing together scores of students, staff, and faculty in an ambiance of food, discussion and reflection. Topics range from ecumenical perspectives on “Who is God?” to conscience and political participation, the business of sport and the portrayal of women, the sexual abuse crisis and response in the Church, literary depictions of the human body’s sacramentality, Data Poverty, and a panel discussion on Pope Francis’ papacy.
  • Building on relationships formed in the weekly Qur’an conversation group at Loras, the “Children of Abraham” monthly series gathers local Islamic, Jewish, and Christians for monthly interfaith dialogue on themes such as peace, race and discrimination, inspiration, creation, human sexuality, and civil disobedience.
  • The Fr. Ray Herman Center for Peace and Justice at Loras College generates programs devoted to dialogue around social justice issues including immigration and refugees, nonviolent resistance, Fair Trade concerns, poverty, the environment and sustainability. Fr. Herman was a Dubuque priest whose life was taken in 1975 while tending to the poor and vulnerable of Bolivia. It is in his name that the center continues.
  • Students have opportunities to grow in faith and prayer in a variety of small group residential settings.
  • Staff-Faculty “Mini-Retreats” integrating meditation and prayer are sponsored quarterly by the Spiritual Life Division. Loras employees and invited guests present reflections on work as vocation, selflessness and centeredness in Eastern spiritual traditions, how to disconnect from overly electronically-connected lives and adapt to change, going “all in” for Lent, and Celtic spirituality.
  • The Archbishop Kucera Center for Catholic Studies sponsors faculty-staff reading and discussion groups each semester, engaging themes such as the Catholic imagination, Catholic Social Teaching, the collected writings of Dorothy Day, Augustine’s Confessions, and the aesthetic dimensions of Catholic thought and practice.

“Peter proceedeto speak and said, ‘In truth, I see that God showno partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fearhim anactuprightly iacceptable to him’.” Act10:34-35