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 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 an heal the earth. To build community, we spend Wendesday on a field trip to downtown Chicago to learn about the history of the Chicago River and enjoy the great tourism our city has to offer. 

Throughout this experience, participants receive the mentorship of current Loyola students who serve as leaders throughout the week. They live on the Lake Shore Campus in a Loyola residence hall, share meals in Loyola dinign 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 the morning sessions.


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 3 hours a day looking at sacred water from a scientific, ethical, and spiritual perspective. They will explore the life-giving properties of water, global issues related to water, the impact of humans on the environment, our ethical responsibility to the common good, the spiritual call to ecological justice, and how our relationship with environment informs our relationship with God and vice versa. 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 a diverse array of activities throughout the week to that capture the multitudes of interests, talents, and gifts that our participants bring.