2002 Ignatius Award Recipient

Saint Ignatius Award Photo

The inscription on the reverse of the medallion reads:



The award was presented
at the Founder's Week Mass on
February 10, 2002 in St. John's Church.

Thomas J. Purcell, III

Department of Accounting, College of Business
Ignatian Award Citation

For Saint Ignatius, God's love was a light that breaks into a variety of rays and colors. They have names such as compassion, creativity, peace, courage, and justice. Each is a different hue flowing and sharing the same root that is God's eternal love.

"The just man justices" and Professor Tom Purcell of the College of Business is a just man who thinks, teaches, talks about, and does God's justice here at Creighton, within the wider community and with his family, wife, Suzanne and their three children.

"For as long as I have known Tom Purcell, almost twenty years, a lot has changed, however, there is one constant in his life, service of others." "For him certain actions are natural. These include serving in the Church, building homes for the poor, educating and mentoring students and generously donating his time when called upon."

A former student writes, "His dedication to Creighton University, its students as well as to his family and the Omaha community amaze me. He is a kind member of the Creighton faculty, an adviser, consultant, board-member, friend and father." "Dr. Purcell is not someone who simply talks about living our lives as men and women for others, but he leads through his example. His love of God and of the people around him is very evident."

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice; they will be satisfied." "When I think of Tom Purcell, I think of someone who is always hungry, not for the food that nourishes our bodies, rather food for the soul. He has an insatiable hunger for good words that can fill his spirit. He seeks out books and articles about justice and the common good. He always stops whatever he is doing to be part of discussions about values. He practices spiritual discernment and recommends it to others. He craves experiences that will fill his spirit, such as his having taught the fall semester of the College of Business in the Dominican Republic in 1999. He served for two years as the chairman of the Board for Catholic Charities of the Omaha Archdiocese.

As long as there are people who go hungry, Tom Purcell will hunger for their being satisfied. As long as there are students at Creighton who hunger for the knowledge of right and wrong, Tom will be available to satisfy their desires. "Tom has a good kind of hunger, the kind that spreads to other people and makes them know their hunger too."

Those who know Tom, his students, his colleagues in the College of Business, his friends, all know where he stands. He stands with those building with Habitat for Humanity. He presently is the chairman of the steering committee for the "House That Creighton Built" for Habitat for Humanity. He stands for the teachings of the Church and Creighton University in the area of Faith and Justice. He stands in front of his students and leads them in their understanding of their place in being part of the problems and part of the solutions.

Injustice has many faces. Those who see Tom Purcell have a picture of one person who faces the social ills with compassion, courage, creativity, peace, and a desire for what is right. Those who hunger for the wisdom to do the works of justice also have many faces. Tom Purcell is one such countenance in whom we see both the spirit of Saint Ignatius and the Spirit of God's love for humanity.

Alice B. Smith

Media Services, Information Technology
Ignatian Award Citation

Saint Ignatius lived with the awareness that God is always laboring to bring love and unity into our world. That spirit of trust in God and in the gifts God gives us penetrates many of the men and women whose lives build and decorate the Creighton mission.

This spirit of loving-labor can be experienced in the person of Alice Cannon Smith.

Alice is a tapestry woven with the threads of professional competence, eagerness to serve anyone in need, large or small, with a loving spirit within her family and her communities, and a religious sense, which makes all her goings, graces.

"Alice seems to know when people are in need and makes herself available to help them." "She is free with her hugs", and whether she is delivering a projector from her office in media Services, or a meal to a grieving family, Alice intends to make sure you are important and serving you is the only thing on her mind right then.

"She is a woman of faith and that faith is recognizable." She never seems in a hurry, yet is always on the move. "She and her husband Marty, present a wonderful model of family love and marital commitment." For the past six years, they have extended their family welcome to students from other countries to join their three sons and one daughter in their home as one of the family. "She and Marty are parents who work tirelessly to give their children experiences which are not only academic and intellectually formative, but also experiences that broaden and stretch their children to be faith-filled and open to the wonders (people and places) of God's world around them."

Beyond Creighton and her family, Alice embraces the needs of those around us. She is a commissioned Family Minister at Margaret Mary Parish and there coordinates the Bereavement Ministry. She coordinates volunteer-cooks for the Rainbow House which is a temporary residence for families with children who are in Children's Hospital here in Omaha.

"Alice's work ethic and personality have gained her the respect and admiration of her peers. Her high energy level and positive attitude represent to those whom she serves what it means to be a Woman for Others. Alice has the unique capacity to express fully her concern and generous commitment in a way that is contagious. "You want to be around her." "She shares her energy willingly and you find yourself drawing from it."

"Alice Smith embodies the spirit of St. Ignatius to which we may often refer, but rarely witness so continually and so completely."

Alice Smith, small of stature, large of heart, expansive of spirit, grand of generosity, and much of a woman of faith. She is a woman who assists Godís laborings to bring life and love into our world and our mission here at Creighton. God loves us through such a person as Alice.

Laura A. Weber

Department of Theology, College of Arts & Sciences
Ignatian Award Citation

Saint Ignatius missioned the early Jesuits to the ministry of education, especially instructing the youth in Theology. The studying of God and the questions that women and men have had for centuries has formed the teaching of Theology here at Creighton during its long history. Since the time of Ignatius, the Jesuit tradition has been, and continues to be, unafraid to face neither the questions nor the implications of the answers.

Creighton's Department of Theology, for the past five years, has had its own Doctor Laura. Laura Weber is well known and beloved for her energetic asking of the big questions, and especially for her not being satisfied with the easy answers. She has taught three or four courses every semester she has been here and has led Freshman Seminars. She has taught as well at The College of St. Mary's and in the preparation-program for Deacons in the Omaha Archdiocese.

Her teaching does not end in the classroom. She gets personally involved in the lives and faith-struggles of her students in such a way that leads them towards a faith commitment along and a familiarity with Ignatian Spirituality. "She canít help it. She believes so strongly that Theology is suppose to be faith seeking understanding, that she simply cannot see it only as an academic endeavor." As a result, her students experience Theology as life changing, and as a call to love and serve others

Laura has gathered students around her in a voluntary Multi-Faith Service-Reflection group, which this year comprises eleven different faith traditions and who enter into a service activity together once a week and then every other week share their reflections upon their experiences from a faith stance. Most of these thirty students have been attracted to this form of learning, by having had Dr. Weber as their educator. Laura volunteered to lead this last year and the students insisted on her continuing with them this year as well.

We are blest to have such a woman who loves this mission, because she finds here so many people committed to the spirituality and mission of Ignatius. One of the aspects of this way of living and loving is to pray never to be deaf to Godís call. During the second semester last year, St. John's Parish found itself without a Liturgist; Dr. Laura was the living answer.

One other way in which Laura answers her call is by being one of the Charter members of a group of lay men and women who bind themselves together and to the missions of the Society of Jesus. The Ignatian Associates labor according to their own gifts and their personal experiences of Ignatian Spirituality. Laura has been one of the persons helping to form the newly founded Associates group in the Twin Cities. She has been doing this in her "free-time" on weekends. "She can't help it, because she refuses to be deaf to the call.

"What symbolizes her most is her Ignatian outlook, which is the total generosity of time, money, energy and all the other gifts God has given her. It is impossible to be in the same room with Laura for very long, without realizing you are in the presence of an extraordinarily loving person and an embodiment of a good-spirited, woman who "can't help it".

Doctor Laura Weber, a woman of her times, God's time, and who makes time for the mission of leading young people to their being found by God.