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October 19, 2008 Guest Stephen Schmidt
Program:  Honesty and Chronic Illness

Stephen Arthur Schmidt was born March 28, 1933 in Jefferson City, Missouri to Henry T. and Bertha (Korsmeyer) Schmidt. His father was a truck gardener who farmed 40 acres. As a child Stephen worked alongside his dad in the family business.

He attended Trinity Lutheran Grammar School and Jefferson City High School. After a year of collegiate studies at the University of Miami, FL he entered Concordia College, River Forest, IL in 1952 and graduated three years later.

In 1962 he received a call to teach at his alma mater, Concordia College. During his decade long service at Concordia he chaired the department of education and briefly the department of theology and education. While at Concordia, Stephen received a three-year leave of absence in the mid-sixties to pursue doctoral studies in the joint degree program of Columbia University and Union Theological seminary, NY where he studied under Philip Phenix, Lawrence Cremin, and Robert Lynn. His doctoral dissertation focused on the work of Paul E. Kretzmann, a paradigmatic Lutheran religious educator. Stephen received his doctorate in 1969.

His final years at Concordia coincided with a controversy in the Missouri Synod culminating in the formation of Seminex (Concordia Seminary in Exile), a group of liberal seminary teachers who did not agree with the Missouri Synod's interpretation of scriptural inerrancy. He, along with many other faculty members in the synod's Concordia, left their positions, often in jeopardy, as a result of their beliefs.

Next began Stephen's nearly thirty-year career teaching in Roman Catholic higher education. In 1976 he was hired at Mundelein College, Chicago, IL, a Catholic women's college operated by the sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM). In addition to their undergraduate school, Mundelein College had a graduate program in religious studies which attracted large numbers of people to its campus every summer. Stephen was appointed director of the Graduate Program in Religious Studies at Mundelein in Spring, 1978. In 1991 Mundelein College was absorbed by Loyola University Chicago, and Stephen then joined the faculty of the prestigious Institute of Pastoral Studies, a program in the graduate school that education adults for ministry, and taught.

In retirement Stephen continued to teach one course a year at Loyola's Institute of Pastoral Studies until 2005. He has received a grant from Wheat Ridge Ministries to work with Advocate Lutheran Hospital, Park Ridge, IL reexamining their mission and values. He also serves as the editor of Stauros Notebook, a quarterly publication focusing on theological meanings of illness and suffering, sponsored by the Roman Catholic religious order, the Congregation of the Passion.

Throughout his career, Stephen has been an active member of Grace Lutheran Church, River Forest, Illinois.


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