Honoring the Class of 2019 Distinguished Alumni

Dedication, determination and commitment — this year’s Chaminade Julienne Distinguished Alumni honorees share many of those traits. While their life journeys varied greatly, the origins of their callings are firmly rooted in the solid education and strong faith formation of Chaminade Julienne.

Reverend Luke Ballman ‘83
The Associate Director of the Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life & Vocations at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C., Rev. Ballman was ordained in the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 2001. In addition to his work as parochial vicar, pastor, vocation director and vicar for clergy in Atlanta, he also served in Rome as Director of Apostolic Formation at the Pontifical North American College. While his life of faith has spanned the globe, the foundation of that journey began at CJ.

“CJ instilled in me the habit of virtue, which had already taken root in me because of my parents. My teachers, coaches, and high school friends cultivated in me more deeply the habits of honesty, hard work, discipline, and above all, Christian charity. Regardless of the situations that life throws my way, I fall back on these habits of Christian virtue to guide my path.”

Col. Christopher Gunther (ret), USMC. ‘70
The now retired colonel joined the Marine Corps in 1974 after graduating from the University of Minnesota. One of his most notable feats was commanding the successful mission to rescue United States Air Force pilot Scott O'Grady, downed over Bosnia. While his military career began after college, his high school experience prepared him for that challenging career in three ways.

“Academically, by awakening a real interest in science and technology – and realizing that I could only master these subjects by studying hard. Sports – some of the most meaningful experiences of my high school years were playing team sports – football taught us the need to master the basics, the value of teamwork, and never to ‘read our press clippings.’ Faith – the most important thing taught at Chaminade – the example of the Marianist community as well as all of the lay members of the staff, how they lived their lives and their dedication to the students exemplified the life of faith they all lived.”

Peter Healy, ‘84
The President of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston has more than 25 years of experience in healthcare administration. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton and earned a master's degree in healthcare administration from Xavier University. While he acknowledges the importance of the academic foundation CJ provided, his alma mater gave him many tools for success.

“I would say my education at CJ helped me in two critical ways. First, it taught me how to actually be a student and how to really learn. My time at CJ prepared me far better than I appreciated at the time for my next steps at the University of Dayton and then Xavier University. I was very well prepared to manage those academic environments. The second and more important learning I had at CJ was how to conduct myself as a member of a community in the Marianist tradition. Things that I had learned in my home and that are critical to life and career success were explicitly and implicitly reinforced at CJ. Things like respect, service to others, honesty, humility, generosity, patience, kindness, compassion, teamwork, social justice, forgiveness and integrity.”

Joseph McCracken ‘71
The biopharmaceutical advisor consults with companies about the design and implementation of corporate strategy and the development of business initiatives. He has contributed to the research and development of pharmaceutical products used to treat a variety of diseases and disorders. While there were many people who contributed to his success, he is now focused on helping others succeed.

“I just feel humbled to be considered along with the truly distinguished alumni. I also feel grateful for my education and for the many people who taught me and were supportive of me in my education and throughout my career.  With their support and encouragement I have accomplished things that I never imagined were possible, and I am now able to ‘give back’ by supporting individuals, organizations and institutions that are committed to the well-being of people, animals and our environment.” 

Sr. Rita Sturwold, SNDdeN, ’60
Sr. Rita set out to be a teacher, not a trendsetter but, in the end, she was both. Her early ministries were in the classroom but as she explained, “that classroom just kept getting bigger and bigger” as she accepted various professional challenges. She was the first director of development of Notre Dame High School in Chicago, the first International Director of Mission Integration Research for the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, the first president of Mount Notre Dame High School in Cincinnati and the first U.S. Director of Mission Integration for the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. All of those firsts are deeply rooted in her Julienne High School experience.

“Over these years, I have been privileged to touch many lives through teaching and administration in Catholic schools. Then I worked on behalf of Catholic schools or in spreading the mission of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. My class grew from 42 eighth graders in Chicago to 134 schools across the Archdiocese, then to the United States and beyond. I am truly blessed by such enriching and interesting opportunities to create new endeavors and contacts with so many  people. I am deeply grateful to the many educators who assisted me with these projects.”

The Distinguished Alumni Class of 2019 were honored at a dinner at CJ on Thursday, April 25. Congratulations to all recipients!

Posted April 24, 2019