Loyola University Chicago

THEA Institute

Program Overview

THEA Summer Institute

The Theology of Healing Earth in Action (THEA) Institute at Loyola University Chicago explores water through scientific, ethical, and spiritual lenses to come to a deeper understanding of the sacredness of water and to inspire future socially just and environmental leaders. Each year, THEA welcomes 35 high school students to our beautiful Lake Shore Campus to dive deep into the significance of water in our lives, our faith, and our world. Participants engage in classes, daily guided prayer experiences, and small group conversations where they are encouraged to explore their personal vocation to care for and heal the earth. 

Throughout this experience, participants receive the mentorship of current Loyola students who serve as leaders through the week. Participants live on the Lake Shore Campus in a Loyola residence hall, share meals in Loyola dining halls, and enjoy our beautiful lakefront views. Additionally, participants experience classes with Loyola’s diverse faculty and staff as they lend their unique expertise facilitating college-like classes. 

Guiding Inspiration

Healing Earth, a free online textbook internationally recognized and awarded the Expanded Reason Award from the Vatican's Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI Foundation, is an ongoing project founded at Loyola. This unique resource - created and written by scientists, humanists, activists, and spiritual leaders across the globe - guides THEA's comprehensive curriculum.

Pope Francis's second encyclical, Laudato si': Our Care for Our Common Home and its discussion on integral ecology shapes THEA's overall framework and interdisciplinary approach to academic class sessions, small group conversations, and enrichment activities. This inspirational text allows participants to gain a holistic perspective as they interact and learn alongside one another and reflect the nuances of social and environmental changes. 

Loyola University Chicago is rooted in our identity as a Catholic, Jesuit institution. The spiritual exploration in THEA's programming flows from this identity, while holding great respect for the diverse expression of spirituality in our world. 

Sacred Water 

The theme of the THEA Institute is sacred water. Participants will spend each morning diving deep into sacred water from a scientific, ethical, and spiritual perspective. They will explore the life-giving properties of water, human impact on water around the world, our ethical responsibility to the common good, the spiritual call to ecological justice, and how our relationship with the natural world informs our relationship with creation. Each day will offer the opportunity to explore diverse forms of prayer that connect to our theme. 

Utilizing the knowledge gained, introspective reflections, and collaborative energy, participants apply their learning by engaging in an action project about the common good and water. Additionally, THEA provides participants with a diverse array of activities throughout the week that capture the multitudes of interests, talents and gifts that our participants bring.