Ben Chu

Ben conducting a prescribed fire 

Areas of work: Wilderness Retreats, Gonzaga Explore, Integral Ecology Workshops, Sustainability Collaborations, Men's Ministry

It's a profound joy to serve as our team's Specialist for Ecological Spirituality. In animating Pope Francis's Laudato Si': On Care For Our Common Home, the hope of my work is to give students opportunities to experience incarnational encounters of the sacred in creation so they can transform society's consciousness from "ego-systems to eco-systems." Simply put, like St. Francis of Assisi, we long to love God more deeply in nature and in humanity.

I studied philosophy, psychology, and outdoor leadership at the University of Oregon while working in vineyards, a neuroscience lab, and a search and rescue team, and then I began an eight-year career in wildland fire on helitack units, a prescribed fire module, an interagency hotshot crew, and a military veteran crew as a foreman and captain, during which I received a master's in organizational leadership from Gonzaga.

My work in ministry started in my Korean Catholic home community in San Diego, and I was formed with Franciscans on a farm in Siberia, the Jesuit Refugee Services in Cambodia, the Taizé Community in France, and Dominicans at the U of O Newman Center. Some of my most grace-filled moments are when I'm with God in the wild, when I'm participating in the Eucharist, and when I'm connecting with Zags and delighting in my wife and kids.

As pictured above, I conducted prescribed fire operations for ecological restoration, and now I feel drawn to St. Ignatius of Loyola's call to "go forth and set the world on fire" in a new way for the regenerative healing of our world.