Fr. Patrick Marshall leaves Newman Center at UIC after successful 27-year tenure
June 1, 2018

Rev. Patrick Marshall felt that UIC students were always the focus of his ministry. He presided over hundreds of liturgies during his 27-year tenure at the Newman Center. After a sabbatical, Fr. Marshall hopes to return to the Chicago area.

By Robert Kingett

After 27 years working as the director of the St. John Paul II Newman Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), the Rev. Patrick M. Marshall is moving on from the center after a much needed sabbatical this summer.

Fr. Marshall has served as a priest of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago for the past 39 years. On June 30, he will be on his way to a six-month sabbatical, where he can relax and study.

“During the sabbatical I will make an eight day retreat, have time to visit with family and friends, and then participate in a priest sabbatical program in Rome,” Fr. Marshall said. “There will be about 30 priests in the program. I will have the opportunity to celebrate Mass with Pope Francis as well as to study theology.”

Ever since being appointed by Cardinal Joseph Bernadin in 1991 to be the director of the Newman Center, Fr. Marshall held Mass daily. He spent time with the Newman staff organizing programs with the students to be educated and informed in the Roman Catholic faith. He has been a pastor to the students and provided spiritual counseling and direction.

“Shortly after I arrived at UIC, I noticed that many of the students were uneducated in the basic teachings of the Catholic Church,” Fr. Marshall recalled. “The Newman Center offers a variety of programs to address this need.” He noted that students often cannot participate in their faith as much as they would like because of the challenges of school, work, and family obligations, so the Newman Center made it easier for them to do so.

With a group of physicians, UIC faculty, ethicists, and benefactors, Fr. Marshall and other Newman staff founded the Integritas Institute for ethics in 1997. This institute, a mission of the Newman Center, provides lectures and symposia for the students and staff of the UIC health science colleges.

In 1999, Fr. Marshall and his colleagues made a proposal to the Arthur J. Schmidt Foundation for a grant to subsidize an adjunct faculty member to teach Catholic studies courses for university credit.

“The day after I made the proposal to the Schmidt board I received a call from the chairman, Dr. Richard Becker, asking to meet with me that morning at 11 a.m.,” Fr. Marshall recalled. “He came to the meeting and told me the board had discussed my proposal and my greater plans to endow a chair for Catholic studies” and had approved them.

They worked with the university and selected the first chair holder, Paul Griffin, to form the program. Then-Cardinal Francis George worked with Stanley Fish, then dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at UIC, to iron out the details.

Catholic studies

“Catholic studies has benefited many students with classes each semester on the history and impact of the Catholic Church.” Fr. Marshall said.

“Students from UIC have always been the focus of my ministry,” he added. “Many are coming from families challenged socioeconomically, yet they are rich and talented in so many ways. I have seen many of them go on to be good Catholic spouses and parents. They use their faith as educators, social workers, engineers, journalists, doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals, priests, and nuns. I am very proud of our graduates.”

Fr. Marshall said one of his greatest joys working at the Newman Center has been “to witness the marriages of so many of our alumni and then to baptize their babies. This has taken me all over the world, with the international students having had 12 weddings in Italy, a wedding in Dubai, and two weddings in India. I also have had weddings all over the United States.”

He added, “It’s a special thing in my heart just to see young women enter the convent and young men to enter the seminary. Fr. Marshall noted six Newman Center participants are in the seminary. “One was just ordained on May 12 as a transitional deacon and another one will be ordained a priest on June 30,” he said. “They are the future of the church.”

Fr. Marshall said he has been “so blessed these 27 years to also be involved in our Little Italy community. I’ve enjoyed getting to know so many of our neighbors. I have been a priest who has served them in many ways during these years.

After the sabbatical, Fr. Marshall hopes to return to serve in the Chicago area.

His successor, the Rev. Connor Danstrom, as of July 1, will be director and chaplain of the John Paul II Newman Center at UIC. He hopes to emulate Fr. Marshall’s service. He formerly was an associate pastor of a parish.

“For me this included regular Sunday and weekday Masses, marriage preparation and weddings, funerals, baptisms, hospital and home visits to the sick and elderly, and teaching religion in our school and religious education program,” Fr. Danstrom explained. “While I served as associate pastor I also finished an additional theology degree at the University of St. Mary of the Lake, where I did my seminary studies.”

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