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Fostering Spiritual Growth

Human Development magazine is a quarterly publication for anyone interested in personal spiritual growth or for people fostering the human and spiritual growth of others. This includes religious leadership and formation, spiritual direction, pastoral care, education, counseling, and health care.

at a glance

Read our featured article this month!

Finding Peace in a Polarized Church and World

Michael J. McCallion

We are living in a polarized Church and world. Engaging in forms of meditation or prayer helps some individuals find peace in such a world. Here I suggest sociological insights will also help. Sociologically, “peace finding,” at minimum, requires making social contact, body-to-body, with those who differ. This social contact is more likely if individuals are grounded in a strong web of familial and communal relationships. Pope Francis, in Fratelli Tutti, seems to concur: “I can welcome others who are different, and value the unique contribution they have to make, only if I am firmly rooted in my own people and culture” (par 147). Being grounded in community is critical to finding peace in a polarized world because this grounding makes one feel secure in reaching beyond one’s own “in-group.” The people I discuss below are not grounded in communal relations, and out of their ungroundedness they become more polarizing, lashing out in anger. ….

Additional Articles in this Edition Include:

  • God and Humanity: Poles Apart?
    Msgr. John Strynkowski

  • Reconciliation and Truth in Polarizing Times
    Bishop John Stowe

  • Responding to the Polarities of Our Time From a Contemplative Heart
    Nancy Sylvester

  • The Call to Conversion: Living in Faith, Love and Hope
    Lou Martin

  • “Encounter” in Christian Community
    Susan Muto

  • The Grace of Humor
    Carolyn Humphreys 


Msgr. John Zenz

Executive Editor

Jeff Henrich

CEO, Guest House, Inc.


Associate Editor

Fred Cavaiani

Associate Editor

Jeff Jay

Associate Editor

Richard Hittle, SJ

Associate Editor

Si Hendry, SJ

Associate Editor

Mary Lou Cochran


Michael J. McCallion

Michael J. McCallion received his Ph.D. in sociology from Wayne State University in Detroit and his M.A. in liturgy/theology from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.   He is an STL faculty member at Sacred Heart Major Seminary where he holds the Rev. William Cunningham Chair in Catholic Social Analysis.  He is primarily interested in the sociology of religion, spending whatever time he can studying Catholic liturgical worship and the New Evangelization from that perspective.  His wife Catherine and he reside in Clinton Township, Michigan.  Their children are now adults and they belong to St. Jude’s Church in Detroit.

Nancy Sylvester

Nancy Sylvester, IHM, founded the Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue (ICCD) in 2002 in response to her experiences working for justice and right relationships in church and in society. Nancy is committed to the transforming power of communal contemplation in one’s life and the life of the community. She believes it invites the shifts in consciousness so necessary to embrace our evolutionary journey and engage the critical issues facing us in ways that foster dialogue, relationships, compassion and justice.Nancy is an author and known national and international speaker. She has served numerous congregations and other organizations by designing processes to deepen both individual and communal commitments to contemplation and to invite deepening conversations on the issues facing them.  Nancy is one of the persons featured in the documentary, Band of Sisters. She wrote for and co-edited Crucible for Change: Engaging Impasse through Communal Contemplation and Dialogue, and currently writes for the Global Sisters Report, in a series “Contemplate This.” In addition, she has also contributed articles and interviews to a number  of publications.Nancy served in the Presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious while she was vice president of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Monroe, MI. She served on staff of NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobby, first as researcher, then lobbyist and then for ten years as National Coordinator. Prior to NETWORK, Nancy taught secondary education in the Detroit, Michigan metropolitan area.Nancy did her undergraduate work at St. Louis University majoring in philosophy and political science. Her graduate degree, from St. Mary’s University, Winona, MN, is in human development with a concentration in economics and theology.To read more about Nancy and the Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue, please go to the web site:


Bishop John Stowe

Bishop John Stowe, OFM, Conv. was ordained and installed as Bishop of Lexington, KY May 5, 2015. Ordained a priest in 1995 for the Conventual Franciscan Province of Our Lady of Consolation, he served in the diocese of El Paso, Texas as a pastor, Moderator of the Curia and Vicar General.  He also served as Vicar Provincial of the Province and Pastor-Rector of the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio

Msgr. John Strynkowski

Ordained a priest in Rome December 18, 1963 for the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, Msgr. Strynkowski has served in diverse ministerial settings over the decades – Associate Pastor St. John Cantius, Brooklyn; graduate studies in Rome for his S.T.D. in Dogmatic Theology; service to the Roman Curia in the English Section of the Secretariat of State and in the Congregation of Bishops. During those years he was an adjunct professor at the Gregorian University and Spiritual Director at North American College. He has served as Professor of Theology and Rector of Immaculate Conception Seminary, Huntington, NY, and Pastor of Holy Cross Parish in Maspeth. He has worked at the USCCB in the Office of Campus Ministry and the Office for Doctrine.He also served as Rector of St. James Pro- Cathedral in Brooklyn. Retired February 1, 2015, Msgr. Strynkowski continues to offer priests’ retreats and workshops throughout the country.

Susan Muto


Susan Muto, Ph.D., is executive director of the Epiphany Association and Dean of the Epiphany Academy of Formative Spirituality. She holds a doctorate in English literature from the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Muto has been teaching the literature of ancient, medieval, and modern spirituality for over forty years. She has written more than thirty books, and in 2014 she received the Aggiornamento Award presented by the Catholic Library Association in recognition of an outstanding contribution to the ministry of renewal modeled by Pope St. John XXIII. Her book, “A Feast for Hungry Souls: Spiritual Lessons from the Church’s Greatest Masters and Mystics”(Notre Dame, IN: Ave  Maria Press, 2020) won the 2021 first-place award in Spirituality from the Catholic Media Association. For more information on her life and ministry go to

Lou Martin

Lou Martin lives happily in retirement with his wife Mary Ann in an old farm house near Saline, Michigan and is a member of St. Andrew the Apostle parish.At the time of his retirement, Lou had been the Director of Human Resources with the Adrian Dominican Sisters for 12 years. Before serving at ADS he worked as the Director of Employee Development at two different automotive suppliers in Michigan. Prior to that he served on pastoral staffs at several parishes within the Diocese of Lansing.Apart from receiving certification as a Senior Professional in Human Resource Management, Lou earned a BA (History) at Sacred Heart Seminary, STB-MA in Theology and Ph.B (Philosophy) at the University of Louvain, Belgium and an STL in Theology of Spirituality at Weston School of Theology.

Carolyn Humphreys, O.C.D.S., O.T.R.

Carolyn Humphreys, O.C.D.S., O.T.R. is a discalced Carmelite secular and a registered occupational therapist. She is author of the books: From Ash to Fire: A Contemporary Journey through the Interior Castle of Teresa of Avila, Carmel Land of the Soul: Living Contem-platively in Today’s World, Mystics in the Mak-ing: Lay Women in Today’s Church,  Everyday Holiness: A Guide to Living Here and Getting to Eternity and Living Through Cancer, a Practical Guide to Cancer Related Concerns, Her articles have been published in Homiletic and Pastoral Review, Spiritual Life, The Priest, Review for Religious, Carmelite Digest, Spirituality, Religious Life Review, Mount Carmel and other Catholic journals.  She blogs at: ‘Moments of rest and reflection with the gentle Heart of Jesus.’