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Marquette Welcomes Rev. Nicholas Santos and Dr. Michael Dante

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Marquette has been welcoming an influx of new Jesuits and religious experts to campus this year, including the Rev. Nicholas Santos and Dr. Michael Dante. These two will fulfill integral roles within the Marquette community as Santos will teach courses related to his degrees in business, philosophy and theology, while Dante will serve as the new director of the Faber Center for Ignatian Spirituality.

Nicholas Santos

The Rev. Nicholas Santos, a Marquette alumnus from Pune, India, earned his MBA in 2006 and Ph.D. in 2009 at Marquette before he spent three years as a visiting scholar and then as a post-doctoral fellow at Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. He also served as program chair for the Global Social Benefit Incubator Network workshop in 2011 at Santa Clara’s Center for Science, Technology and Society.

“I looked at different options, but this seemed to be the best fit right now,” Santos said of his return to Marquette.

Before deciding to devote himself to the Jesuits, Santos said he felt torn between continuing with accounting, going fully into computer programming or studying more business.

“I took a break from work, and suddenly this dream of the priesthood came to me, and I was like, ‘What? This was not one of my three options,’” Santos said. “I didn’t want to join until I had a good sign, and there were no signs.”

Intrigued, Santos went on a spiritual retreat to meditate on his dream.

“I was looking for crazy signs during the retreat,” Santos said. “I’d be sitting in the chapel and I’d see a book lying on its side and I’d say ‘OK – I’m going to close my eyes and when I open them, let it be on the other side.’ Just waiting for some kind of tangible sign.”

But after days of reflection, Santos said he received a different type of sign.

“I remember during Mass and the priest was reading the homily and I had this unique kind of sign – I felt my entire being saying ‘Yes’ to God,” Santos said. “And at that moment, that’s when I knew.”

Now, Santos teaches marketing classes and hopes to expand his role and ignite social reform in the community across the university’s academic departments. But when he’s not in the classroom or chapel, Santos likes to be athletic.

“Why can’t a priest dance? Why can’t a priest play soccer? Sometimes, people have a very rigid idea of what it means to be a Jesuit,” he said.

Michael Dante

Dr. Michael Dante has been appointed as director of the Faber Center for Ignatian Spirituality, a campus office appointed to reinforce the Jesuit principles within the curriculum by hosting retreats and other spiritual services for the Marquette faculty and staff.

“A friend said to me, ‘Michael, you ought to take a look at this job at Marquette – the job description seems perfect for you,’ I looked at it and my wife and I prayed about it,” Dante said.

“This is an amazing fit for who I am,” he said. “(Marquette) has the ministry, retreats, spiritual direction with the opportunity to teach courses … and (the chance to) develop the core curriculum in terms of how Ignatian Spirituality can be taught in a variety of courses and thinking and dreaming big for its potential.”

Before transitioning to Marquette with his wife, who serves as hall minister of Abbotsford Hall, Dante worked in the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education at Fordham University and accrued degrees in the fields of mathematics, science and theology from Johns Hopkins University and Georgetown University, among others. He initially began pursuing a career in mathematics, but said he rerouted after feeling a longing for something more.

“The work was very good and important, but behind that there was a certain desire for something a little bit more,” Dante said. “I had the opportunity to do the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius through a retreat. Out of this, I had this desire for a career change to do something different with spirituality and education.”

Although Dante has only been at Marquette for a few weeks, he said he already has a holistic vision for the Faber Center.

“What I hope to do is have thoughtful and reflective conversations with faculty and staff of what is meant by living out the Ignatian Charism in terms of the teaching, the research, the community,” Dante said. “I look at the Faber Center as working with other partner offices and how to helping systemically and culturally influence all levels of the university.”

A self-described gregarious introvert, Dante said he loves to laugh and live life to the fullest.

“There’s a certain zeal in the way that I live – with gusto, and I just savor the time that I do have with such gratitude of what I have been given, not that everything is always easy.”

Indeed, not everything comes easily for Dante, who uses a white cane to navigate campus. He speaks very openly about his poor vision, which he acknowledges primarily for its gifts.

“Even though it has been a struggle for quite a while, some of the gifts that it brings is it allows me to see into the heart and over the horizon,” Dante said. “In pastoral situations, I can listen deeply and see better where God is moving in people’s lives. It allows me to see beyond what the eye might see in terms of potential for the Ignatian Charism.”

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