Fr. Andrew McAlpin has worn a few uniforms in his lifetime. He’s worn a shirt and tie during his time in the corporate world. He’s also sported the traditional khakis, button-up, and garrison cap of the Navy. Today, he can be seen wearing the deeply rooted and historic robes of the Dominican Order.
Growing up, McAlpin always considered himself to be a Catholic. But it was not until after high school that his life direction fell into place; leading him eventually to the Priesthood and to where he serves now as Dominican University’s new Ministry Chaplain.
McAlpin’s path to University Chaplain was not the result of a direct enrollment in the seminary out of high school. He first joined the Navy where he served as an electronic warfare technician aboard the USS Fox. And it was here where he found a true interest in the Church.
“It was in the Navy where I felt a call to further my religious existence,” the tall, dark-haired McAlpin said. “I read the New Testament cover to cover and it all made sense to me . . . at that point I started to acquire the faith as my own.”
However, this was not the deciding factor that led him into the Priesthood. It was during his time building computer chips at Honeywell wherehe met a deeply Catholic man, and through their conversations he felt a call to do something more.
McAlpin feels that his ministry is “very much a ministry of presence.” And he hopes to “fulfill any type of ministry to the students that is necessary.” McAlpin wishes to be available for all of the student’s emotional and spiritual needs.
This is exactly what ministry professor, Kathy Heskin, feels Dominican University needs. “We need to develop relationships between our Chaplain and the students,” Heskin said. The Chaplain should be “present, accessible, and they [the students] need to be able to find him,” she added.
McAlpin will not be hard for the students to find; he is typically adorned in the traditional Dominican robe. “I’m almost always in the habit, so people see something different,” McAlpin said, “I want to be known as the Chaplain.” McAlpin wants people to know they have somewhere to turn to for spiritual guidance.
This is not McAlpin’s first experience as a Chaplain. He served for three years at Fenwick High School in Oak Park teaching and practicing ministry. He pursued a position on a college campus because he wanted to work with students who would “go deeper” than the typical high school teenager.
“I saw myself wanting to engage in deeper conversations with people who will come up to me and ask me questions and go deeper when it’s necessary,” McAlpin said. “I feel like that happens best on college campuses.”
Junior year student and mass attendee, Chelly Britt would agree. Britt described how McAlpin understands and relates well with his younger, intellectual audience. “He speaks to us as college students,” said Britt.
Fr. Andrew McAlpin’s personal desire is “to be a radical witness to the gospel.” His devotion to being a beacon of spiritual guidance is evident throughout his history.
“Our reality in life is we either attract or repel by our very being,” McAlpin said.
When it comes to his beliefs McAlpin is clear; “show that in a world that is very confusing and tainted by negativity; that there is goodness, truth and beauty in the world. Be an example to that.”
– Jacob Walters, Contributing Writer