Artist Showcase and Cover Art Competition

As students of CTU, we at Theophilus seek to engage the voices and perspectives of our
academic community in the contemporary dialogues of theology and ministry through the annual
publication of an academic journal and our ongoing blog.

We also hope to promote the artistic endeavors of our diverse and talented community. This
artist showcase presents the creative work of a number of CTU students for our wider
community to enjoy. All students and alumni were welcome to submit two pieces for the

In addition to providing a forum for students to share their creativity, this event will help us to
select the cover art for the 2015 publication of Theophilus, The Student Journal of CTU.
All members of the community who come to see the show can vote for their favorite work by this Friday, March 13th! The winning work will be featured on our cover!

Not all works are presented here as some artists did not wish to have their work shared digitally.

Enjoy the creativity present in our CTU community!

J. Bernardo Ávila Borunda, M.Div./M.A. Student

Icon of Kateri Tekakwitha
egg tempera and gold leaf on panel
1 Avila Borunda kateri tekakwitha

Mother of Hope
acrylic guache gold leaf on pane
17 avila borunda mother of hope

Nhan Anh Bui, CPPS, M.Div. Student

Saint Gaspar’s Call
The Mission for Reconciliation in Vietnam
carved wood (digital photo of original work)
2 Bui Saint Gaspar

Ora et Labora
Prayer and work are inseparable in our missionary activities
carved wood (digital photo of original work)
3 Bui ora et labora

Sharon Dobbs, M.Div. Student

Sharon writes:
“I am a mother and an M.Div. student at CTU, and I am drawn to taking photos of children and women. The first photo is of children that do not have a mother, and are being cared for by a Catholic order of sisters in India: Handmaids of the Blessed Trinity.  The second photo was taken on a cycling trip in northern China.  We stopped along the way to rest, and during this stop in a small farm village were warmly welcomed by all including this beautiful mother and baby and their proud grandmothers.”

Girls praying before dinner in Vasai India
digital photograph
4 Dobbs Girls praying

Family love in northern China Ningxia Province
digital photograph
5 Dobbs Family Love

Susan Francesconi

Susan writes:
“This is a botanical illustration of a rose hip in early fall. This particular rose hip came from a bush in my garden which at the time still had a few roses in bloom. However, none of those flowers could compete with this luminous, glossy rosehip that seemed to be telling me ‘the best is yet to come.’”

Susan has a BA in Fine Art and studied botanical illustration for a short time at the Morton Arboretum.

Fruit of the Rose, 2007
watercolor on paper (digital reproduction)
6 Francesconi Fruit of the Rose


Graham R. Golden, O. Praem., M.Div. Student

Untitled (crucifix in Sacred Heart Parish, Española, NM)
digital photograph
15 Golden Untitled Crucifix

Untitled (bell tower of San Francisco de Asís, Ranchos de taos, NM)
digital photograph
16 Golden Untitled Bell Tower

Ali Kenny, M.A. in Intercultural Ministry Student

acrylic paint (digital reproduction)
sewing needle used as painting utensil (in lieu of traditional brush)
7 Kenny Jerusalem

Sarah Martz, OSF, M.A. Justice Ministry Student

acrylic on foam core
18 Martz Gifts

Steve Niskanen, CMF, D.Min. Student

Tree Burst
digital photograph
9 Niskanen Tree Burst

Autumn Path
digital photography
10 Niskanen Autumn Path

Mauro Pineda, M.Div. student, Romero Scholar

Mauro writes:
“I am… a parishioner at St. Gall Parish on Chicago’s Southwest Side.  I was born in Mexico and grew up in Chicago. I am passionate about the art of expression in any medium. Diego Rivera and Pablo Picasso are the two artists that have been an inspiration.  I have admiration for the entire Renaissance, particularly Michaelangelo.  That motivated my leaning towards Fine Arts.”

Gavan Y Huaraches
charcoal on paper
This drawing was inspired by Luke 9:3, the New Testament image of the disciples being sent by Jesus to spread the Word, taking only the clothes on their back and sandals on their feet.
He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there. And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.” Then they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere.

11 Pineda Gavan y Huaraches

prismacolor on paper
This drawing was inspired by 1 Samuel 17:49, the Old Testament image of David taking down Goliath with a mere sling shot.
David put his hand into the bag and took out a stone, hurled it with the sling, and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone embedded itself in his brow, and he fell on his face to the ground. Thus David triumphed over the Philistine with sling and stone; he struck the Philistine dead, and did it without a sword in his hand.
12 Pineda Resortera

Josh Van Cleef, M.A. Student

“Jesus was not crucified on a marble altar between two golden
candlesticks, but on a city garbage dump, outside the walls,
between two thieves”- George Macleod

Mary, Mother of God
acrylic and gold leaf on salvaged material
13 Van Cleef Mary mother of God

Jesus, Giver of Life
acrylic and gold leaf on salvaged material
 14 van cleef Jesus Giver of Life


Abraham’s Children: The Journey Makes Us One

Text and Photos by: Erin Hempstead

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From January 19th through January 31st a group of CTU students, professors, staff, and additional travelers formed a unique group of Christian, Muslim and Jewish participants to make up the Abraham’s Children trip to Israel and Palestine. Together, we explored important holy sites in the Islamic, Jewish and Christian traditions, witnessed many people and groups involved in intra and interfaith dialogue, heard voices of those affected by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and experienced a small taste of the complexity, and richness of the culture, religions and history of this ancient land. The trip made visible the many walls and borders that separate us as people, as well as the potential for transformation when we have the opportunity to cross borders and enter into authentic relationship with the other. We not only observed these bridges being built through dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians, but also experienced this dialogue first hand through the relationships formed amidst our group. By participating in this trip we formed rich friendships across many borders and became one through the journey we made together. Below are a few photos from our time together.

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Visiting the Western Wall, the holiest site of Judaism, provided us the opportunity to connect and pray with millions of others who have touched the remains of the 2nd Temple’s retaining wall, leaving notes and prayers to God. Throughout the trip we had the chance to touch concrete symbols of each faith’s tradition. Due to the importance of these places to so many people all over the world, however, they are also fraught with tension. We learned that at the Western Wall, for example, an area for prayer once shared by men and women, is now separated by gender. An organization called Women of the Wall, led by Jewish women from around the world, works for women to have the right to wear prayer shawls and read the Torah aloud at the wall in the same way that men are allowed. They engage in action for a pluralistic, integrated section of the wall.

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The Souk, open-air market in Jerusalem

Each day while in the Old City of Jerusalem we walked through the bustling streets and open-air markets, exploding with smells, colors and goods for sale. Meandering through the souk in the Muslim Quarter was a sensory overload entailing delicious freshly pressed pomegranate juice, the chance to eat local dates, and bargaining for items for sale.


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The al-Haram al-Sharif is one of the holiest sites in Jerusalem and is an important holy place for all of the Abrahamic traditions. Below the dome lies the rock where tradition holds that Abraham was ready to sacrifice his son. Also, from this rock, during his midnight journey, the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) also ascended into heaven. We had the privilege to tour the al-Haram al-Sharif with Professor Mustafa Abu Sway, a professor of Islamic philosophy from al-Quds University in East Jerusalem.

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Professor Inam Haq praying at Islamic Sufi mystic, Rabia of Basra’s tomb in East Jerusalem

We visited the tomb of Rabia of Basra, an 8th century, female, Mesopotamian, Islamic Sufi mystic whose life, poetry, and writing continue to inspire many centuries later. Despite being sold into slavery as a young woman, a life, which included physical and sexual abuse, Rabia became a spiritual leader and mystic poet with a deep spiritual connection with God. Her tomb celebrates the gift of her life and the timeless, transcendent works of this strong female spiritual leader.

“When God said, “My hands are yours,
I saw that I could heal any creature in this world;
I saw that the divine beauty in each heart
Is the root of all time and space.” – Rabia of Basra

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Holocaust Memorial Sculpture at Yad Vashem

“And to them will I give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name (a “yad vashem”)… that shall not be cut off.” Isaiah 56:5

Yad Vashem, a Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, seeks to preserve the names and voices of the millions of victims of the Shoah. Visiting Yad Vashem in Israel is a unique and powerful experience in a place so deeply affected by the horrors, loss and memories of this atrocity. After visiting Yad Vashem, we also had the opportunity to celebrate a Shabbat service at a reform synagogue and afterwards, rabbinical students celebrated a Shabbat dinner with us, leading us in singing and prayer.

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Olive tree at the Garden of Gethsemane, Jerusalem

Gethsemane contains a grove of olive trees, whose roots likely date back hundreds, if not thousands of years, due to the fact that olive tree roots are extremely resilient and difficult to kill. Their soil is broken and rocky, but they are strong and durable, continuing to give off fruit and new life. The interplay of brokenness and new life in the image of the olive tree, its roots and soil, provided a powerful symbol of the Passion and resurrection of Jesus.

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Separation Barrier

The Israeli- Palestinian conflict was a focus of our trip and the wall a poignant image of the deep and concrete divisions between the Israeli and Palestinian people. The massive concrete wall in the photo above is a section of the separation barrier built by Israel starting in 2002. The wall, planned to extend 430 miles at its completion, does not run along any internationally recognized borders, but rather much of it is built on occupied land. In 2004, the UN International Court of Justice declared that the wall was illegal, but its construction continues. In order to cross the wall to gain access to their land, work, religious sites and healthcare, Palestinians must obtain permits from the Israeli government and pass through checkpoints. The wall also surrounds certain communities, completely isolating them and destroying the social fabric of Palestinian life.

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Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory

The growing number of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory in East Jerusalem and the West Bank makes coming to a peace agreement increasingly difficult as the situation on the ground constantly changes even in the midst of peace negotiations. The settlements violate international law and further occupy the land and resources of the Palestinian people.

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Students from Bethlehem University with CTU students

Students from Bethlehem University spoke to us about their lives, studies, and challenges of living in occupied territory in the West Bank. Bethlehem University, the first University established in the West Bank in 1973, developed as a result of Palestinians expressing their desire to study in their homeland. Today, despite 12 closures due to military orders, the university still provides education to thousands of Palestinians, the majority of whom are Muslim women. Nonetheless, access to quality education for the majority of Palestinians remains an enormous challenge. According to the Israeli non-profit, Ir Amim, in occupied East Jerusalem 84% of Palestinian children live below the national poverty line and of those with access to education, 40% will drop out by 12th grade.

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Palestinian women at the Mahmoud Darwish Museum, Ramallah, Palestine

Mahmoud Darwish, an internationally acclaimed Palestinian poet of the 20th century used his poetry to express the beauty and challenge of the Palestinian people and their struggle.

“We have on this earth what makes life worth living:
On this earth, Lady of Earth,
Mother of all beginnings and ends.
She was called Palestine.
Her name later became Palestine.
My Lady, because you are my Lady, I deserve life.”
– Mahmoud Darwish

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Youth Circus Makom Ba-galil Galilee, Israel

In Galilee we visited a small town called Karmiel, where the Galilee Foundation for Value Education provides opportunities for Arab and Israeli youth to form relationships of trust and build community together through the arts, including a youth circus. Since circus routines require trust and non-verbal communication, it’s an opportune method for youth to work together. Youth between the ages of 7 and 17 performed for us, and without a doubt, our time with these young people was a highlight of the trip. Their joy, energy and performance put a smile on everyone’s faces and instilled hope for the future in our hearts.

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Rainbow over the town of Bethlehem in the West Bank

While in Jerusalem and Bethlehem we heard many people tell stories of suffering and loss as a result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. An Israeli man named Rami from a group called the parents circle, which works to unite Palestinians and Israelis to heal from their common experience of suffering, shared about his 14 year-old daughter who was killed by a suicide bomber. By his side sat a Palestinian woman named Aesha who shared the story of her brother, shot in the heart by an Israeli soldier who later died as a result of the complications. In Bethlehem, Fr. Marwan, a Palestinian Franciscan priest, recounted the murder of his brother, shot and killed by fellow Palestinians while driving from Jerusalem to Bethlehem because he was mistaken for an Israeli. Students at the University of Bethlehem expressed their pain and frustrations of trying to live life in the occupied West Bank, where basic freedoms and human rights elude them, and where they remain separated by a concrete wall and checkpoints. The challenges of working for peaceful resolution and reconciliation amidst this conflict are enormous, but none of the voices we heard would give up all hope. One morning from my bedroom window in Bethlehem, after spending a somewhat sleepless night wrestling with the many stories of pain and loss we heard, I woke up and saw a rainbow stretching over the whole town. The rainbow in the blue sky, rising above the dark clouds, was a message from God for me to bring back home, that even amidst darkness, brokenness and violence, beauty and hope can rise above.
Peace, shalom, salaam.

Life Emerging

By: Bob Barko

Life Emerging

“So whoever is in Christ is a new creation:

the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.”

-2 Corinthians 5:17


While walking on this very brisk morning, I saw this extraordinary plant pushing its way toward the light. It was so palpably hard to imagine that from the cold, cold earth this new life could emerge. Yet, there it was . . . a Lenten observation about renewal and the goodness of things yet to come.

Psalm 126

Psalm 126

On retreat on the Oregon Coast

“God has filled us with laughter and music!” 

Susan Francois, CSJP snapped this dynamic picture while on retreat with her community at the Oregon Coast. The theme of the retreat was “Joy and Play.” When Susan saw this image, it seemed to her as if God was playing with her and the other retreat participants at that moment. The quote from Psalm 126 not only fits the retreat and the sense of sound and play we gather from looking at the photograph, but was also the psalm used in Susan’s final vows liturgy the year before.