“Wait a minute,” wondered Amy Lovell’s sister aloud, “you mean you turned down a guy who asked you to go to church on a first date?”
Amy smiles today when remembering her sister’s reaction. She and Mike were students then at the University of Pittsburgh, she in the pharmacy program and he in engineering school, and studying was vastly more important than dating. It was not a tough choice, she admits. After all, she’d already gone to Mass.
So it can be said faith played a role in bringing Mike and Amy Lovell together and has remained bedrock in their lives ever since. And due to that commitment, the quandary Marquette laid at their doorstep some months ago brought Amy and Mike to once again turn to each other and lean on their faith to find the answer. “It became a trust,” Amy says, “to let go of our own will and take on His. We live our lives trying to do what God wants us to do.”
Amy is the flip side of a coin that Marquette has never before experienced. She is the calm in the tumult … of moving a family to Milwaukee six years ago when Mike became dean of the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee College of Engineering and Applied Science … and in the second move two years later to take up residence in official housing when Mike was named chancellor after serving just nine months as interim chancellor. “That wasn’t even on his radar,” Amy admits of the call to leadership.
Now, again, it falls to Amy to steady nerves and guide what her four children probably hope is the final move, this one into a home of their own while Mike fulfills the bidding he and Amy came to accept through prayer.
And in another twist of fate, while Mike takes the reins as Marquette’s first lay president, Amy also finds herself in a position that wasn’t on her radar. “Leading is definitely not my comfort zone,” she says. But when tragedy struck her north shore Wisconsin neighborhood with several suicides, and then hit particularly hard with the death of a 13-year-old friend of the family, something happened.
“I went to Adoration that day,” she says. “I was still grieving and praying, and suddenly all these names came to me.”
Amy began dialing and emailing, and within 24 hours, 16 people gathered at her parish to talk about raising awareness to prevent teen suicide. Through that initial conversation, a sort of emotional healing was given birth. At a second meeting, 20 people came together, out of which grew the movement now sweeping through families and homes and communities and schools. It is called REDgen, and it’s a coalition joined by the commitment to help people, particularly teens, learn skills of resiliency and begin to talk openly and honestly about mental health. Today, 11 congregations, several public and Catholic schools, and a community of parents and mental health professionals are working to help young people learn skills to ward off feelings of desolation. “It’s been a huge undertaking but so worth it,” Amy says.
Marquette students agree. During inauguration week, the Active Minds student organization dedicated to mental health awareness, the Residence Hall Association, the Counseling Center and SigEp sponsored a Glow Bingo fundraiser on Central Mall. The lawn north of Lalumiere Hall was lit with fluorescent fun while hundreds of students festooned in neon necklaces, headbands and eyeglasses spelled out B-I-N-G-O for prizes and raised $500 for REDgen.