Loyola University Chicago

Institute of Pastoral Studies

Shirl Giacomi

‌Married 49 years with three children, 6 grandchildren. Worked for the Diocese of Orange as  Marriage Preparation coordinator and then was named the first lay Family Life Director. Went back to school (De Paul University) in Chicago and finished Bachelor’s degree in 1995. Completed Masters in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University in Chicago and Masters of Divinity Degree (emphasis in Scripture) from Loyola in January of 2002.

Served as Pastoral Associate at Holy Family in Inverness, Illinois.
Began position of Chancellor (the highest office that a lay person can hold) in January 2002.

With the Institute of Pastoral Ministry is the liaison with Loyola Marymount University and was instrumental in the planning and implementation of bringing a cohort Masters in Pastoral Theology program to the Diocesan Pastoral Center. As the Diocesan Director of Catholic Relief Services, has traveled to Cambodia, Tanzania, Africa, Palestine, Israel, and Chiapas Mexico. Has traveled to India, Philippines and Ghana with the Missions Office.

Awards:   Pro-Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross for leadership and service to the church. Damen Award for excellence in Church Leadership from alma mater, Loyola University Chicago. National Rice Bowl Award from Catholic Relief Services and the Boy Scouts of America Bronze Medal.

My education at IPS gave me a strong foundation for all the ministry areas that I would come to oversee. When I completed the course of study for the Masters Pastoral Studies,  I didn’t feel finished.  I wanted more. I remember being interviewed by Bob O’Gorman and he said the MDiv was more of a generalist degree.  Through my three years of study for the MPS, I had already discovered and become comfortable with my theological home base. Not specializing in just one discipline but being introduced to a number of areas appealed to me.  I was not going to focus on just one ministry but would know how and where to look for what I needed. Little did I know that I would be given such different and varied opportunities to serve our Church.

The first year after returning home to California, I received an emergency call.  A high school religion teacher had become ill and was not returning to work. This was Sept. 1 and they were desperate for a qualified religion teacher.  I had never taught high school. And I felt very unprepared to take on high school Juniors. But the subject was Scripture and I had certainly taken not just the required Scripture courses but every elective I could in the Scripture field. My scripture professor, Sr. Camilla Burns, had instilled in me a love of “our story” the way only a very talented professor could do.  She loved “the Word” and her love was contagious. Was I being called to put that love of Scripture and the time I had invested in my course of study to use in a way I never imagined? There was no curriculum or files from the previous teacher and the book she had used in the past had not even been ordered. It was a text about the bible. I decided the bible – the original source - would be my choice text if I were to tackle this. After a few minutes hesitation, I agreed and spent almost two years learning along with the students I was teaching. If I did not have the education I received from Loyola, from very gifted and talented teachers, I would not have had the confidence nor the competence to take on this unexpected ministry.

I now hold the position as Chancellor. In addition to duties prescribed by Canon Law, I currently oversee Pastoral Councils, Office of Respect Life, Justice and Peace, Restorative Justice/Detention Ministry, Hispanic Ministry, Library and Media Center, Special Collections, Catholic Relief Services, the Missions Office, Pastoral Care of Families in all stages, and the Safe Environment Office. One focus has been the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People which includes Safe Environment Programs for K-12, I supervise Victim Outreach, Parish Listening Sessions and oversee the national audit that is conducted each year to ensure charter compliance. I also compiled and edited a Diocesan history book, Learning, Loving, Living our Faith (30 anniversary commemorative book) with our archivist.

I serve on the bishop’s Executive Team, the Construction Board, Diocesan Pastoral Council, Diocesan Finance Council, Technology Committee, Audit Committee and the Budget and Financial Planning Committee. When time permits, I teach classes at the Diocesan Institute of Pastoral Ministry (Adult Faith Formation). I’ve chaired three bishops' ordinations.  I also serve on the board of the Western Catholic Insurance Corporation—a self-insured liability company and was recently asked to serve on the board of the Pontifical Missions Society.

I mention this laundry list of responsibilities not for self-aggrandizement but only to show the varied tasks, opportunities and experiences that I’ve been blessed with. From a number of ministry areas to the administrative functions of finance and insurance, from local ministry to establishing friendships all over the world through firsthand mission trips and the advocacy that results.  What you see with your eyes, touches your heart in profound and everlasting ways.  All of this, because of a well-defined course of study, of being open to the Spirit and a “yes” to serving in unexpected ways.