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The heart and spirit of the Stritch family

Students, faculty, staff and alumni respond, react, reflect during COVID-19 global pandemic

When life changed for the whole world and we all were called to respond, people found meaningful ways to reach out, support, inform, reflect, connect, cope, serve, learn, innovate, navigate and hunker down, all with a shared purpose of helping those within their reach. The diverse efforts revealed the beauty of our world’s varied gifts, charitable spirit and heartfelt compassion. In each new day, we renew our deep appreciation and intense gratitude for the essential workers who care for us, the technology that connects us, the leadership that guides us, and the outstretched hands that help us.

In the months since our campus community dispersed, our Stritch family has remained united in a shared Franciscan spirit, bringing caring, compassion, peace and reverence for creation into the wider world through our intentional efforts and outreach in this unprecedented time in history. Read for yourself the ways our faculty, staff, students and alumni encountered, contemplated and responded to their situations at home and work, to our worldwide Stritch family, to loved ones and strangers alike, and to an ever-evolving global crisis. With deep pride, heartfelt care and never-ending amazement, we share the following links with you.

If you want to share your own submission to this collection – a story, video, link, reflection, photo or more – email New stories and links will continue to be added to this page as the challenges of the pandemic evolve, so revisit this page at any time.

Pace e bene.

Prayer of Solidarity

COVID-19: A prayer of solidarity

For all who have contracted coronavirus,

    We pray for care and healing.

For those who are particularly vulnerable,

    We pray for safety and protection.

For all who experience fear or anxiety,

    We pray for peace of mind and spirit.

For affected families who are facing difficult decisions between food on the table or public safety,

    We pray for policies that recognize their plight.

For those who do not have adequate health insurance,

    We pray that no family will face financial burdens alone.

For those who are afraid to access care due to immigration status,

    We pray for recognition of the God-given dignity of all.

For our brothers and sisters around the world,

    We pray for shared solidarity.

For public officials and decisionmakers,

    We pray for wisdom and guidance.

Father, during this time may your Church be a sign of hope, comfort and love to all.

    Grant peace.

    Grant comfort.

    Grant healing.

    Be with us, Lord.


A prayer from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

March 24, 2020: "It's 2 p.m. I haven't showered yet." Dr. Barb Spies, professor, communications

April 22, 2020: "How do we show up now?" Dr. Mark Gesner, '13, executive director, Stritch Hub for Innovation and Community Engaged Learning

April 27, 2020: "Power Redistribution" Ric Schmidt, '02, president, Alumni Association Board of Directors

April 28, 2020: "Kaleidoscope" Destiny Vang, Class of 2020

May 2020: "Reflection of a Temporary Dream" Giovanni Cantoral, Class of 2021

When describing Stritch's community, people often say it's welcoming and friendly. That inviting Franciscan hospitality didn't change as the University adapted in-person events to virtual experiences when the pandemic prevented large assemblies from gathering.

Spring 2020: Virtual Admissions events and efforts, including admitted students day, one-on-one appointments and personal outreach to incoming and potential students.

"I was on with my son today. We both thought it was very well done! Great job, Admissions! Thanks for making us feel connected." Facebook comment from the parent of an incoming student who attended the first-ever Virtual Admitted Students Day on April 22, 2020.

Plans are underway for Private College Week, coordinated by the Wisconsin Association of Private Colleges and Universities (WAICU).


Spring-Summer 2020: The Center for Excellence in Education and Innovation hosted numerous trainings and gatherings to help faculty and staff adapt to online learning, virtual student support and work-from-home connections. Within days of the campus closure, they created opportunities for faculty and staff to learn about the tools, resources and troubleshooting available to the Stritch community as circumstances unfolded. Those training sessions and weekly gatherings continued even after the spring semester ended and faculty and staff looked ahead to preparations for summer and fall.


In April and May, the Saint Clare Center for Ministry and Leadership offered three free online mini-retreats, accessible to anyone via Zoom. The retreats connected dozens of people for lectures, small group discussions in virtual breakout rooms, and reflection time. Topics included:

April 16, 2020: "From the Empty Tomb, Through the Upper Room, to Our Mission Today" featuring Michael Taylor, director of the Saint Clare Center for Ministry and Leadership.

May 6, 2020: "Compassion, Commitment and Community: A Franciscan Vision for Today's Church" featuring Taylor.

May 27, 2020: "The Sadness of Exile, the Hope of Return," featuring Dr. Michael Donahou, professor of religious studies


May 2020: "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" virtual performance by the Cardinal Stritch University Theater Department.


May 15, 2020: Even when the Class of 2020 could not gather in person on the day originally set aside for their commencement ceremony, they heard from several members of the Cardinal Stritch University community in A special video message for the Class of 2020


May 21-22, 2020: Instead an in-person end-of-year celebration and recognition, the annual Faculty and Staff Institute unfolded over two days. On Thursday the 21st, the University shared this video, which recognized numerous faculty and staff for their milestone years of service, congratulated new retirees and surprised award recipients with unexpected news of their recognitions. On Friday, at a virtual gathering, those featured in the video were invited to say a few words about their honors.


June 9. 2020: Executive producers and moguls from Project Pitch It, the television program that features Wisconsin entrepreneurs, met virtually with student entrepreneurs who appeared on the fourth season in 2020. The meeting featured on-the-spot pitches from moguls and student entrepreneurs, small group mentoring sessions and a behind-the-scenes look at Project Pitch It. 

Stritch faculty, staff and students are sharing their stories and expertise with the wider world to help inform and inspire their communities.

March 12, 2020: College of Nursing and Health Sciences Assistant Professor Dr. Bonnie Walker sat on a Fox 6 Milwaukee Facebook Live panel, sharing advice and information about COVID-19.

March 25, 2020: TMJ4 Milwaukee with Stritch's College of Nursing and Health Sciences Dean Dr. Gloria Jacobson: "Wisconsin could approve student nurses to work during coronavirus pandemic"

April 14, 2020: Fox 6 Milwaukee with Stritch's Director of Financial Aid Mark Quistorf, '07: "Federal student loan payments temporarily suspended under CARES Act: '1 less hassle'"

April 17, 2020: Chicago Tribune with student Kara Shimko "Shooting from the heart: Queen of Peace graduate Kara Shimko helps kids stay active during basketball hiatus"

April 22, 2020: Fox 6 Milwaukee with Stritch's College of Nursing and Health Sciences Dean Dr. Gloria Jacobson: "When will our state open back up? Answering your common coronavirus questions"

May 28, 2020: Wisconsin Examiner with student Daniel Gutierrez Ayala: "'We're riding through it': pandemic adds more burden for DACA recipients and families."


When alumni leave our campus and classrooms, they take into the world an indomitable Stritch spirit fortified by a foundation of values, innovation and skills that serve them and their communities well. These alumni stepped up in creative ways to serve others and reimagine their work despite the limitations the pandemic brought to the world. We know there are countless other stories of our alumni rising in this time of crisis, and we'll continue to add their stories to this list as we learn of their efforts. We're so proud of our Stritch family.

March 30, 2020: Ronald McDonald House Charities of Eastern Wisconsin Facebook posting recognized alumnus Marshall Chay, '83, and his crew for a welcome donation of food: "Thank you to House friends Steve Meves of Tyson Foods, Marshall Chay, local McDonald Owner/Operator and his terrific crew for bringing McNuggets and other treats for our 32 guest families this evening!"

April 3, 2020: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story on business owners Ryan Wickens, '06, and Naomi Kaufman, '07, '12 "Milwaukee's Quizmaster Trivia hosting pub trivia online now that bars, restaurants are closed"

April 2020: "During this pandemic, my husband, Jim, and I volunteer at the Fondy Food Pantry providing food for area families in need. We also go grocery shopping for elderly neighbors and check the condos of 'Snowbirds' who are unable to return to Wisconsin at this time. We pray that God will continue to be with us as we struggle to get through these challenging times together." - Joan (Krebsbach) Stewart, '71, a donor to Stritch's Pay It Forward Fund to provide crisis funds to students

The work and compassion of alumna Ali Jabonsky, '14, is captured in these two news pieces:

April 16, 2020: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story on Bed and Breakfast innkeeper Stuart Koehler, '02 "Baraboo inn rents rooms for health care and other essential workers who need to quarantine away from their families"

April 22, 2020: Ozaukee Press story about alumna Haley Bretl, ’12, “Nurse heads into the COVID-19 fray to help: Port High grad Haley Bretl has traveled to hard-hit New Jersey to help care for those battling coronavirus”

June 8, 2020: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story about alumna Katie (Landa) Cummings, '97, (also featured in the 2020 issue of Stritch Magazine) and the Pink Umbrella Theater Company she founded: "The pandemic forced a Milwaukee theater company to go virtual. Now its students with disabilities are thriving."

June 13, 2020: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story about alumnus Dennis Cherne, '88, and his efforts to help job seekers as president of 40Plus of Southeastern Wisconsin: "There are still pockets of hiring as job seekers in southeastern Wisconsin give each other support."

July 22, 2020: Milwaukee Journal story about alumna Alexi Loomis, '17, and her fiance starting a new business, Dockside Watercraft Cleaners: "After being laid off during COVID-19, a woman and her fiance have found success in their new boat cleaning service."

When the closure of campus scattered our Stritch family, faculty, staff and leadership made intentional efforts to broaden and expand the sense of community and connection.

March 31, 2020: "Stritch nursing professors sew masks for healthcare professionals"

April 13, 2020, (Milk Jug/Med Ball Workout) and April 15, 2020 (Wolves Never Skip Leg Day): Workouts posted by Stritch Wolves, featuring training videos created by Assistant Women's Basketball Coach Sara Bayer, '05, '10, founder of the Bayer Performance Institute, kept athletes and fans in shape at home.

April 30, 2020: Stritch hosted a virtual "Day of Caring," sharing stories of how Stritch has cared for its family and how faculty, staff, students and alumni are caring in this time of global crisis. On this day, donors contributed $30,000 to the Pay It Forward Fund, created to offer immediate emergency aid to students in need. See videos, postings and links from the day using the hashtag #StritchCares.

Ongoing: The University's social media accounts offer the outside world a glimpse into the vibrant campus community, showcasing the day-to-day life of the Stritch family. Beginning on March 16, 2020, when the University announced the suspension of face-to-face classes, those social media windows gained even greater importance, becoming an essential tool not just for the outside world, but now for students, faculty and staff to stay connected, aware, informed and supported.  Follow this link to explore "Social media builds connections, extends support, prevents isolation, inspires fun" and see specific ways that the Health and Wellness Instagram account (@stritch_healthwell) and several other University social media accounts (Instagram, Facebook) became beacons of hope, connection and information for members of the Stritch family.

Ongoing: Stritch's Office of Experiential Learning and Career Education, a resource for students and alumni as they navigate their career development process and for employers seeking qualified candidates, pivoted their services to help students continue their professional development from off-campus locations. Staff efforts included video interviews, resume feedback, virtual career planning appointments, faculty support, and assistance navigating online databases. In addition, they worked with several alumni to create a new series of 5-7-minute videos titled "Career Kickstarters" to help students stay connected and informed.

May 4-8, 11-15, 2020: Takeover of Stritch's official Instagram account by students in Art 203: Bugs, Bitmaps and Banksy. "Art203 is excited to have the honor to takeover the official @stritchu account to show off the culmination of our hard work throughout the semester. In these challenging times we want to give you a glimpse of each of our lives and to express our #Stritchpride and importance of our values. No matter where we are in the world at the moment, we are all interconnected." Postings featured people from all over the world -- Spain, Poland, Germany, Portugal and Israel -- sharing words of reflection and encouragement, photos of family and food, glimpses of daily home and work life, and varied perspectives on how COVID-19 affected each of them.

When unable to gather and celebrate the final steps of their journey together, these groups expressed their connection with and care for one another in innovative and fun-loving ways. 

April 1, 2020: 2019-2020 women's basketball team

May 11, 2020: Class of 2020 nursing graduates


March 28, 2020: Women's Basketball Head Coach John Pfaffl accepted the #BlindingLightsChallenge with his daughters. At the time of posting this, the video already had 13,000 views!

To learn more about current protocols and plans, visit Cardinal Stritch University's response to COVID-19.