A Week of Unforgettable Speakers
Mission Week Keynote
A 23-year-old engineering student when the Rwandan genocide began in 1994, Immaculée Ilibagiza survived by hiding with seven other Tutsi women in a small bathroom at the home of her Hutu pastor. After 91 days, she emerged to discover a horrible reality: All of the other members of her family had been murdered at the hands of Hutu Interahamwe soldiers, with the exception of a brother who was studying abroad at the time. Ilibagiza is the author of seven books, including Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust, a New York Times bestseller translated into 15 languages, in which she shares the ways her Catholic faith sustained her through unthinkable heartbreak and injustice. This faith led her to eventually forgive the perpetrators and view her family’s murderers with compassion.
A highly sought-after speaker and recipient of many honorary degrees, Ilibagiza received the Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Reconciliation and Peace in 2007. She has appeared on many television programs, including 60 Minutes and in the documentary, The Diary of Immaculée. She has addressed national groups, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ 2008 National Migration Conference and the National Black Catholic Congress. Ilibagiza recently signed a contract with MPower Pictures to produce a major motion picture about her story of courage and hope. The love and forgiveness that she embodies is an inspiration for people everywhere.
Rabbi Abie Ingber
Rabbi Abie Ingber is the founder and executive director of the Center for Interfaith Community Engagement at Xavier University in Cincinnati, where he also serves as an adjunct professor of Theology. As an immigrant and the son of Holocaust survivors, he has advocated throughout his life on behalf of immigrants, interfaith understanding and peace. His list of fascinating experiences includes talking his way into John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s 1969 - Bed In for Peace, where they signed his petition to free Soviet Jews; co-creating the 2005 award-winning exhibit, A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People (which has toured over 18 American cities); and delivering 31,009 prayers written by exhibit visitors to Jerusalem’s Western Wall.
Known for his work on interfaith dialogue and his out-of-the box approach to bringing religiously disparate groups together, Rabbi Ingber’s international influence has taken him to refugee camps in Darfur, allowed him to serve as an eyewitness in Ethiopia to the repatriation of Ethiopian Jews to Israel, and resulted in his keynote lecturer at the Cameroon Muslim Student Union annual conference. He sees his interfaith work at a Jesuit university as a dimension of the Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam: healing the world.
Rev. Bryan Massingale, Ph.D.
Rev. Bryan Massingale, Arts '79, received his doctorate in moral theology from the Academia Alphonsianum in Rome. He specializes in social ethics and teaches courses on Catholic social thought, African American religious ethics, liberation theologies, and racial justice. In social ethics, he focuses on religious faith as both an instrument of social injustice and a catalyst for social transformation. Father Massingale is the author of Racial Justice and the Catholic Church, which received a first-place award from the Catholic Press Association. He has authored over 70 articles, book chapters, and book reviews for scholarly and pastoral journals. His current research explore the contributions of Black religious radicalism to Catholic theology; the notion of "cultural sin" and its challenge to Catholic theological ethics; and the intersections of race and sexuality in both social life and Catholicism. Father Massingale's many academic leadership roles include a term as president of the Catholic Theological Society of America. He is the recipient of two honorary doctorates and the Marquette University Teaching Excellence Award.
In addition to his academic pursuits, Father Massingale strives to be a scholar-activist, serving faith-based groups advancing justice in society. As a noted authority on issues of social and racial justice, he has addressed numerous national Catholic conferences and lectured at colleges and universities across the nation. He has served as a consultant to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on issues such as criminal justice, capital punishment, environmental justice, and affirmative action.
Rev. James Voiss, S.J., Ph.D.
Rev. James Voiss, S.J., Ph.D. is a Jesuit of the Oregon Province. After receiving his doctorate in systematic theology from the University of Notre Dame, Father Voiss taught for nearly 14 years at Saint Louis University. He returned to the Pacific Northwest to take a sabbatical, during which he worked on a book (under contract with Liturgical Press and now nearing completion) on Christian forgiveness. Before completing his sabbatical, he accepted a position as Assistant Vice President for Mission at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA, where he works primarily with faculty and staff in promoting the mission of Jesuit Higher Education. He also teaches part time, as his schedule allows.
Lunch program speakers
Kathleen Coffey-Guenther, Ph.D.
Kathy Coffey-Guenther currently serves as the associate vice president for the Office of Mission and Ministry at Marquette University. Kathy received a Ph.D. in counseling psychology from Marquette University and a certificate in spiritual direction from the Aquinas Institute of Theology. Prior to her work at Marquette, Kathy has worked in private practice as a psychotherapist and spiritual director integrating psychological and theological paradigms to assist in psycho-spiritual healing. In addition to her work on campus, Kathy also serves as a speaker and consultant to religious congregations, clergy and religious, and parishes focusing on the work of community building, conflict resolution and spiritual growth. At the request of the Archbishop, Kathy currently serves as co-chair on the Community Advisory Board for clergy sexual abuse issues in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
Justice Janine Geske
Justice Janine Geske, Law ‘75, recently retired as a distinguished professor of law and director of the Restorative Justice Initiative at the Marquette University Law School. Under her direction, the Initiative served as a resource for victims, communities and non-profit organizations, as a restorative justice clinical experience for law students, and as a program promoting scholarship, research, and dialogue on restorative justice. The Initiative was respected internationally for its groundbreaking work to support victims and communities in their healing processes.
Justice Geske was named in 1993 to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, where she served for five years. She responded generously to the needs of the Marquette community by serving as interim dean of the Law School from 2002 to 2003 and to the Milwaukee community in the capacity of interim County Executive in 2002. In addition to extensive professional accomplishments, and three honorary degrees, she has received many awards lauding her faith and commitment to social justice.
Timothy Johnston is a native of Old Mines, Missouri. Timothy’s love for music and liturgy was nourished by his family and parish community of St. Joachim. After completing a degree in music education at Quincy University, where he also served as Director of the Office of Worship and Prayer, Timothy spent three years as a Canon of the Order of Prémontré (Norbertines) in De Pere, Wisconsin. While there, he worked closely with the Diocesan Office of Liturgy (Green Bay) training liturgical ministers and giving workshops on liturgical theology. Timothy spent three years teaching religion both during and after his time in religious life. As a high school religion teacher, Timothy served as a campus minister, coordinating the student liturgy committee and the student liturgical choir. Timothy completed an MA in Liturgical Studies at Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota. During his time at Saint John’s, Timothy served as co-chair of the liturgy committee for the School of Theology∙Seminary and was the coordinator of the student liturgies at the College of Saint Benedict. Timothy served as the Director of the Office of Liturgy for the Diocese of Salt Lake City, Utah from 2008 - 2011. Currently, Timothy is the director of liturgy at Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI.
Pardeep Kaleka and Arno Michaelis
On August 5, 2012, an American white supremacist fatally shot six people and wounded four others at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, before taking his own life. This unfathomable act of violence shocked the nation and drew expressions of compassion from around the world. Six weeks after the tragedy, Pardeep Kaleka (Arts ‘00), and the son of slain temple president Satwant Singh Kaleka, contacted Michaelis, author of My Life After Hate, in the hope of discovering how someone could commit such a heinous act. An astonishing partnership resulted and led to the creation of Serve2Unite, a nonprofit organization seeking to teach interfaith youth to build a more peaceful and compassionate world. Together, Kaleka and Michaelis work to replace hate and bigotry with knowledge, truth, and love. Their compelling story is a testament to forgiveness at its deepest levels.
Janan Najeeb, a founding member and current president of the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition has been a spokeswoman for Milwaukee’s Muslim community to media outlets, government officials, interfaith leaders, academic institutions, hospitals, and a community groups. A microbiologist by profession, Ms. Najeeb left her career to devote herself to bridging the gap between the erroneous perception of Islam and Muslims in society and the actual beliefs and practices of the vast majority of the world’s Muslims. Ms. Najeeb serves on many committees and community boards including the board of the Islamic Society of North America’s Leadership Center, the board of the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts and the board of the Milwaukee Association for Interfaith Relations. Ms. Najeeb serves as an adjunct professor at Cardinal Stritch University, teaching the Religious Culture of Islam, and she directs the new Islamic Resource Center on the Milwaukee's south side.
Ms. Najeeb is the recipient of the International Institute of Wisconsin’s World Citizen award, the Wisconsin Community Fund’s Grantee of the Year award, and the Council on American Islamic Relation's National award for activism. Wisconsin Woman Magazine has named her as a Leader Making a Difference.
Jacqueline Schram is a governmental and community affairs associate in the Office of Public Affairs. She is a band member of Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba, Canada. She grew up hearing her language and experiencing strong tribal politics among her father’s family. Her mother introduced her to the traditions of the Ojibway and provided the balance necessary to counter intolerance. Jacqueline has earned undergraduate degrees in Anthropology from the University of Manitoba and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and a Master’s degree in Museum Studies and Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. With a focus on the issue of the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), she worked at the Smithsonian and the Anthropology Department of the Milwaukee Public Museum, with an underlying hope that some institutional holdings of Native American cultural material and human remains would be returned home. Jacqueline is an advisor to Marquette’s Native American Student Association and is active in the Native American community. She is currently working toward her doctorate in Educational Policy and Leadership at Marquette, to help inform her passion of making space for Native students in a variety of leadership roles.