From the President:
“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”— Romans 3:23
When Paul wrote this, he didn’t make any exceptions (except for Jesus Christ, of course). In fact, before his conversion to Christianity, Paul was one of the biggest offenders, ruthlessly persecuting the followers of Jesus before his conversion on the road to Damascus.
But God found redemptive qualities in Paul, eventually choosing him to tirelessly proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles before his eventual death at the hands of the Romans. What a transformation!
I believe God is still transforming people like Paul today. He certainly believes in redemption, and following His example, so do we here at Siena Heights. In fact, it’s embedded in our mission statement to “respect the dignity of all.”
In this issue, we highlight two alumni who were originally on the opposite ends of the criminal justice spectrum, but are now championing efforts to improve the system—and those in it—from the inside out.
There’s Michael Donovan ’75, who left a long and distinguished career in the IRS to volunteer in prison ministry in the South Side of Chicago. His work with juvenile offenders and others involved in violent crime is truly inspirational. He is doing his part in trying to find the next “Paul,” someone who needs a helping hand in getting their life back on track. It’s an overwhelming—and often disappointing—task, but his dedication to his personal mission is an example to all. He fittingly calls it a “Ministry of Presence.”
Then there’s Siena graduate Aaron Kinzel ’10, who literally grew up on “the wrong side of the tracks.” That path eventually led him to violent crime and nearly a decade-long stint in a federal prison. Only by the intercession of caring grandparents—and a determination to use education to reform his life—did he turn his life around. We are proud that he chose Siena Heights to become part of his educational journey. Now, as a college instructor, he is educating others and sharing his unique perspective to bring awareness to a flawed criminal justice system.
Both of these stories remind me of the continuing mission of Siena Heights. The word “transform” is often thrown around, sometimes quite loosely, when talking about the impact education can have on people. But I don’t think I overstate the fact that each of these remarkable graduates have used their Siena Heights education to help transform the lives of others, not to mention their own.
As I reflect on the mission of Siena Heights, I ask myself, “Am I committed to being a transformative force for good?”
Sister Peg Albert, OP, PhD