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Retreat Masters

Meet the Retreat Masters


Fr. Michael Class, SJ

Fr. Michael Class, SJ is a Jesuit priest of the Upper Midwest Province of the Society of Jesus. A native Chicagoan, he is a graduate of St. Ignatius College Prep and Marquette University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He entered the Jesuits in 1979 and completed his Philosophy studies at Loyola University Chicago. He earned graduate degrees in  Economics, Theology, and Higher Education Management. Fr. Class spent the past twenty years at Marquette University, where he served in administration and for the past ten years as a member of the faculty teaching Leadership Studies to adult learners. He comes to us excited about joining the Society of Jesus’ oldest ministry: giving the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

Upcoming Retreats

Sr. Wendy Cotter, CSJ, PhD

Sr.  Wendy Cotter, CSJ, PhD   is a Sister of St. Joseph from London, Ontario, Canada and has been a full professor of  New Testament in the Theology Department of Loyola University, and is now Emerita since her retirement last summer.  After her undergraduate degree in Religious Studies, she was invited to serve on her Community’s Peruvian mission for two terms (four years). Upon her return, she began her graduate studies and received her PhD in New Testament from the University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto, with a specialty in Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke), particularly the Gospel of Mark and pre-gospel material with a focus on miracle stories. Besides her articles and papers, she has published two books, The Miracles in  Greco Roman Antiquity (1999) , and The Christ of the Miracle Stories: Portrait Through Encounter (2010).  Throughout these years, Sister has been invited to offer Scripture workshops and parish missions as well as weekend and longer retreats.  She considers these the greatest source of joy and grace.

Upcoming Retreats

Fr. George Drance, SJ

Fr. George Drance, SJ is Artist in Residence at Fordham University in NYC. He is an actor, director, writer, and painter. Fr. George has performed and directed in more than 20 countries on five continents, serving such companies as Teatro la Fragua in Honduras and Theatre YETU in Kenya. He is currently the artistic director of the critically acclaimed Magis Theatre Company, praised for its skill and daring, and best known for its stage adaptations of C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce and Kalidasa's Shakuntala and the Ring of Recognition. Other acting credits include La MaMa, ETC, The Metropolitan Opera, The Public Theatre/New York Shakespeare Festival, American Repertory Theater, and Ralph Lee's Mettawee River Company. He received his MFA in acting from Columbia University.

Upcoming Retreats

Fr. Peter Fennessy, SJ

Fr. Peter Fennessy, SJ is a Jesuit priest born in Boston, and a member of the Detroit Province.  He completed most of his studies in the Boston area, but spent three years studying at Oxford University and three years teaching in Kingston, Jamaica.  Fr. Fennessy earned graduate degrees in the Classics, Philosophy and Theology from Boston College and Weston Jesuit School of Theology.  Ordained in 1970, he was active in the Campus Ministry Team at John Carroll University for 26 years, serving also as Team Director and Rector of the Jesuit Community.  Since studying Theology and Art and Buddhist Aesthetics during a 2000-2001 sabbatical at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, he has used the fine arts to illustrate his preached retreats. In coordination with the Detroit Institute of Art's recent exhibition, Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus, Fr. Fennessy offered illustrated retreats on the same theme.  After a sabbatical at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California, he joined the staff of Manresa Jesuit Retreat House in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, where he gives both preached and individually directed retreats.  He appreciates the confluence of art and spirituality and utilizes art in his retreat presentations wherever possible.

Upcoming Retreats

Rachel Forton

Rachel Forton currently serves as Marketing and Retreat Coordinator for Bellarmine. She is a graduate of Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa and has a BA in Theology and Public Relations with a minor in Catholic Studies. Rachel's past ministry experience includes coordinating and facilitating Kairos high school retreats, Antioch college retreats, and leading small group Bible studies. In Dubuque, she coordinated a nondenominational faith-sharing ministry for a low-income senior citizens home. In addition to her retreat ministry, Rachel also served as a volunteer and Young Professionals Board Member for PHD Counseling Center in Inverness, IL prior to its closing this past fall.

Upcoming Retreats

Fr. James Gschwend, SJ, PhD

Fr. James Gschwend, SJ, PhD is a member of Bellarmine’s resident staff. His background includes administrative positions in Jesuit high schools, working at Community Mental Health in San Francisco, and serving as Director of Spirituality in the sabbatical program at the School of Applied Theology in Oakland and Berkeley. In Berkeley he also served as Assistant Rector for the Jesuit School of Theology. Following a fellowship year on the clinical staff at the Southdown Institute in Canada, Fr. Gschwend served the Chicago Jesuit Provincial as assistant for personnel, assisting men with healthcare needs and transitions in ministry.

Upcoming Retreats

Fr. Brad Held, SJ

Brad Held entered the Society of Jesus in 2006. He was born and raised just outside of Milwaukee, WI. He attended Marquette University in Milwaukee, which is where he discerned a call to priesthood and came to see the Jesuits as the path through which he was to answer that call. Since entering the Jesuits he has studied at Fordham University and Boston College as well as taught at Red Cloud High School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He will be ordained a priest in June 2017.

Upcoming Retreats

Keith Maczkiewicz, SJ

Keith Maczkiewicz, SJ, a Long Island, New York native,  joined the New England province of Jesuits in the summer of 2008. Keith graduated from Fairfield University in Connecticut, and did two years of service with the Providence Alliance for Catholic Teachers (PACT), serving as a campus minister at a diocesan high school in Springfield, Massachusetts and living in community with other volunteer teachers.   After completing two years there and earning an M.Ed. from Providence College, Keith began working at The University of Scranton in Pennsylvania in the office of Campus Ministry doing primarily retreat and justice work while living in a freshmen residence hall. After taking vows in the Society in 2010, Keith completed his philosophy studies at Loyola University Chicago in 2013. From 2013-15, Keith worked in the chaplains’ office at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. In August 2015, he began his theology studies at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, CA.

Upcoming Retreats

Dr. Kevin McClone, PsyD, MDiv

Dr. Kevin McClone is a licensed clinical psychologist, certified hospice chaplain, and certified alcohol and drug counselor who has worked for over twenty-five years in the counseling, teaching, and health care fields.  He is the Director of the Institute for Sexuality Studies and has given numerous workshops and retreats both nationally and internationally on addiction recovery, spirituality and sexuality, building healthy relationships, emotional intelligence, and coping with loss and grief.

Upcoming Retreats

Fr. Richard McGurn, SJ

Fr. Richard McGurn, SJ, M.A. Psych., M.Div, was ordained in 1975.  He directed the internship for spiritual directors at the Jesuit retreat house in Cincinnati.  He has served the major superior of the Chicago Jesuits as his executive assistant and as director of formation for young Jesuits preparing for ordination and ministry.  Just prior to coming to Bellarmine, he was superior of the Jesuit community at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, IL.

Upcoming Retreats

Mrs. Mary McKeon

Mary McKeon is a member of Bellarmine's ministry staff, a spiritual director, and coordinator of women's ministry.  Mary is a graduate of Marquette University.  She taught school in Milwaukee's inner city before moving to Washington, DC to work for the United States Senate.  She and her late husband have a daughter, son-in-law and three grandsons who are the joy of her life.  Mary received her training as a spiritual/retreat director at the Jesuits' Manresa Retreat House in Bloomfield Hills, MI, where she served on the ministry team and became their first Director of Women's Ministry.  In 2014, Mary was the second person to be honored with Manresa's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Upcoming Retreats

Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ

In the year 2000, Father Mitchell Pacwa, SJ established Ignatius Productions, a Catholic media production apostolate, under the Society of Jesus, whose mission is to teach people the scriptures, educate Catholics about their Faith, and promote unity and understanding within the Mystical Body of Christ. Fr. Pacwa received his BA in Philosophy and Theology from the University of Detroit, summa cum laude. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1976 with the Society of Jesus and then continued his studies and then received his Master of Divinity and STB. from the Jesuit School of Theology of Loyola University, magna cum laude. At Vanderbilt University, he received his Master of Arts as well as his PhD in Old Testament.  Fr. Pacwa is fluent in twelve languages and has a unique understanding of the peoples and cultures of the Middle East. Father’s extensive travels to the Holy Land have inspired him to write the “Holy Land Prayer Book,” which has been published by his Jesuit apostolate, Ignatius Productions. Fr. Pacwa also has the privilege of being bi-ritual, which means he also celebrates the Maronite Mass of the Eastern Catholic Church. He is best known for his appearances on the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), where he currently hosts two television programs – “Threshold of Hope” and “EWTN LIVE” and as the weekly host of EWTN Radio “OPEN LINE” program.

Upcoming Retreats

Fr. Esequiel Sanchez

Fr. Esequiel Sanchez was born in Chicago of Mexican immigrant parents from Durango, Mexico. As he was working to complete his Bachelor’s degree in Electronics Engineering from DeVry Institute of Technology, he found his real call and entered the Catholic Seminary of the Archdiocese of Chicago.  There he earned a Bachelors degree in Social Psychology. He then moved on to complete his graduate degree at the University of St. Mary of the Lake, where he earned a Masters in Divinity and continued studies in Systematic Theology. He was ordained a priest in 1995 and celebrated his first Mass at St. Agnes of Bohemia Church.  In March of 2016, Cardinal Blase Cupich named him Rector of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines, IL, where he currently serves.

Upcoming Retreats

Fr. David Shields, SJ

Fr. Shields entered the Society of Jesus in 1961.  After finishing his theological studies in Toronto, he was ordained a priest in 1973.  He served on the Pine Ridge Reservation among the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) from 1974 to 1989.  From 1990 to 1995, he was Assistant Director of the Family Life Office for the Diocese of Rapid City, SD.  In 1996, he began ministry among Milwaukee’s Latino population, where he currently serves as Executive Director of Casa Romero Renewal Center, an urban bilingual spirituality center.

Upcoming Retreats

Tom and Geralyn Sparough

The Sparoughs specialize in creative, fun, and enriching programs. They have been married for 32 years, and they met on retreat at the Jesuit Spiritual Center at Milford! A professional storyteller and juggler, Tom has a MA in psychology. A veteran teacher and fiber artist,  Geralyn has a MA in counseling. Together they founded Creative Retreat, LLC, an organization helping people and organizations to recognize and utilize their strengths. The Sparoughs have raised two children and are very proud grandparents.They are a trained leader-couple for Better Marriages. They have been keynote presenters for Marriage Encounter and Retrouvaille national and international conferences.

Upcoming Retreats

Fr. J. Michael Sparough, SJ

Fr. J. Michael Sparough, SJ is a member of Bellarmine’s resident staff. He holds a Master of Fine Arts from the Yale School of Drama and a Doctor of Ministry degree from St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, IL.  He is the founder of Charis Ministries, the Jesuit retreat ministry for outreach to young adults in their twenties and thirties and has trained spiritual directors at Loyola University Chicago’s Institute of Pastoral Studies.  A prolific writer and speaker, Fr. Michael has published books on prayer and the sacraments with Franciscan Media, Paulist Press, and Liturgical Training Publications.  His latest book, What’s Your Decision? is published by Loyola Press. 

Upcoming Retreats

Team of Veterans

No Biography Yet!

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Fr. Karl Voelker, SJ

Fr. Karl Voelker, SJ is a member of Bellarmine’s resident staff. He is an experienced retreat master and spiritual director, including years of service as retreat director and chaplain at the retreat house of the Cenacle Sisters in Wayzata, Minnesota. More recently, Fr. Karl was pastor of the Gesu, the university church of Marquette University, followed by an assignment caring for the needs of retired Jesuits residing at the St. Camillus healthcare facility in Milwaukee.

Upcoming Retreats

Fr. Tom Weston, SJ

Fr. Tom Weston, SJ, entered the California Province of the Jesuit Order in 1965 and was ordained a priest in 1978.  Currently based in Oakland, CA, he has devoted most of his priestly life to counseling and retreat work with alcoholics and other addicts.  In addition to his Twelve Step work, he was part of a team that taught English to ministry students in Thailand and Vietnam each summer.  “Wherever he is, Fr. Weston sees the power of God working in people’s lives, but perhaps most acutely in his recovery work:  ‘People get well.  People come back to life.  Families come back together,” he says.  ‘It’s the Resurrection—and you see it all the time.’ ” (Tyson, Gail.  “Helping Others Find Sobriety.”  Mission 2008 Summer:  pg. 7.  Print.)

Upcoming Retreats

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