Students walking in front of Student Union

Feb. 12, 2014

Contact Bill Reese at 608-796-3708 or


LA CROSSE, Wis. – The La Crosse community is invited to explore the topic of “Living the Life of Radical Hospitality” at the annual Viterbo University Humanities Symposium the afternoon of Wednesday, Feb. 26 in the Fine Arts Center Main Theatre.

The “Living the Life of Radical Hospitality” humanities symposium will share the visions of hospitality from the many unique perspectives of Viterbo alumni and faculty with a desire to lead by serving through faith, hope, and charity.

Hospitality is a word with a marvelous history. Christian monasteries, places of solace and refuge, appeared in the early part of the fifth century. Wayfarers, homeless, and strangers in need could come there for needs of body, mind, and spirit. The Latin term, hospes, has been often applied to the phrase, “host of the stranger.” Hospital, hospice, hospitable, hospitality—all from the same root word, meaning generous, caring, sustaining. St. Benedict created a guideline for monks to live by—The Rule of Benedict—which is used still today by many monasteries around the world. “Listen with the ear of your heart,” St. Benedict wrote.

The symposium is free and open to the public. The schedule of public events:

  • Noon–1:15 p.m. Keynote Speaker Molly Simones of Friendship Park in Sacramento, Calif. Friendship Park offers an array of programs committed to feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless.
  • 1:30–2:30 p.m. Community Activists/Servant Leaders Panel Discussion with Viterbo alumni Sue Kastensen, founder and director at Fair Shake Reentry Resource Center, an organization committed to supporting the successful reintegration of formerly incarcerated people into society; Michael Kruger, director of The Dwelling Place, a Catholic Charities home where four people with disabilities live; Wayne Oliver, executive vice president of community banking at State Bank Financial, branch manager at Raymond James Financial Services, and director of Downtown Mainstreet Inc.; Kelsey Pruitt, nurse with Gundersen Health System; and Tom Skemp, chaplain with La Crosse Jail Ministry.
  • 2:35–3:35 p.m. Viterbo Faculty Panel Discussion with Judy Casto, Marlene Fisher, Michael Ranscht, Tom Thibodeau, and Wayne Wagner.

Viterbo’s annual humanities symposium is sponsored by the School of Letters and Sciences. It is designed to provide a common topic that upholds the values of the university’s Franciscan heritage while offering opportunities to apply those values through an interdisciplinary lens.


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