by Antonina Zielinska
The boys at the Father Edward Troike Leadership Program bid their director, Father John Cush, goodbye this summer.
Father Cush, who has directed the summer leadership program at Cathedral Prep Seminary, Elmhurst, for the past nine years, was assigned to continue his studies in Rome as of this September. He will work toward a doctorate in Dogmatic Theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas.
“I think this will be a great loss for Cathedral Prep but a great gain for the diocese,” said alumnus Matthew Zinser, a teacher in the program.
Zinser said that continued studies will help Father Cush better serve the diocese for which he already does so much. Aside from working at the Troike Program, Father Cush also serves in various ministries in the diocese including: serving as spiritual director for Cathedral Prep; acting as a theological consultant for NET TV; and writing for the Sunday’s Scripture series in The Tablet.
As Father Cush enters a new chapter in his life, he said the Troike Program will continue to be close to his heart.
“It’s been great to be with the young leaders and to learn from them,” he said. “We’ve been blessed over the last nine years by the boys in the program, both as participants and as counselors. I will take some of the lessons I learned from the kids over to Rome.”
His charges in the Troike Program said they have also learned an incredible amount from the affable priest.
“He’s been my spiritual director, and he taught me how to live the right way – how to come closer to God,” said John Postel, 17, a Cathedral Prep student who serves as co-head counselor in the Troike Program.
Postel also said that with the loss of Father Cush, the program will lose more than just a man. It will now be left with only one priest.
Zinser, who went through the program himself as an elementary school student and counselor, said Father Cush’s insights are irreplaceable.
“He is a phenomenal teacher,” he said. “You learn a lot from him, not just in the classroom but by just spending time with him.”
Father James Kuroly, recruitment director and theology teacher at the Prep, will serve as the program director next year. He said that he will miss his fellow priest and his insights. However, he said there may be at least one good outcome from the situation. He hopes the boys in the program will see this void and think of filling it themselves by becoming priests.
The Troike Program is a four-week experience during which students from Cathedral Prep work alongside professional educators to provide a leadership program for boys in grades six-to-eight. The goal is to familiarize the participants with the preparatory seminary and to give the Cathedral students a chance to hone leadership skills.
In the morning, the middle school students take various academic classes. In the afternoon, they have organized sports play.
Stephen Martinez, 17, who is the other head counselor, said the logistics of the program can seem overwhelming. However, he said that thanks to the leadership of Father Cush, the four summers he spent in the program turned out to be positive experiences.
“I think Father Cush is a strong administrator with a good sense of everything,” he said. “He knows how to be stern and how to be gentle at the appropriate times.”
“I think that he is such a great leader that everyone knows what their part is,” Zinser said. “So I think the program will have a good transition because everyone knows what they have to do.”
As he departs, Father Cush has a request to all the educators in the program.
“Enjoy every moment of it because it’s part of evangelization, and realize that you are doing Christ’s work,” he said.