Our Staff at La Vista
Maxine Pohlman, SSND
Maxine Pohlman is a School Sister of Notre Dame. She has been on the staff of La Vista Ecological Learning Center since 2005, and has served as director since 2009. As director, she plans and implements ecological and eco-spiritual programs, workshops, retreats and study groups. She collaborates with the OMI Novitiate leadership and offers programs for the novices. She edits the semi-annual newsletter La Vista Visions, a monthly E-News, and the web site
In addition, she collaborates with the staff of the Illinois Nature Preserves System, coordinating volunteers who maintain the Missionary Oblates Woods Nature Preserve. Her collaborative efforts also extend to The Nature Institute, the Piasa Palisades Group of the Sierra Club, and the Great Rivers Land Trust.
She is a member of the OMI JPIC Committee, the St. Louis Intercommunity Ecological Council, and is on the advisory council for the Center for Spirituality and Sustainability on the campus of Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville.
Previously, she taught in Catholic grade and high schools in Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri. She holds a Master’s Degree in Religious Education from Boston College and a certificate in Ecology and the Human Spirit from St. Thomas University.
Norm Comtois, OMI
Retreat Director & Presenter
Norman Comtois, O.M.I., MA, has been an ordained priest for over forty years. His experience in Pastoral Counseling, Intentional
Eucharistic Communities and Renewal programs for women religious continues to inform his ministry as a current retreat director.
In the year 2000, Norman completed the New Cosmology and Earth Literacy program at Genesis Farm, Blairstown, New Jersey. Since then he has devoted his interest and education toward developing retreats and courses that bring the Universe Story to life in a spiritually relevant and meaningful way.
His retreats invite people to enter the awe and wonder of the Universe Story and to celebrate it in all its beauty. He encourages people to ponder the wisdom of their religious traditions in the context of the interrelatedness of creation. Norman serves as a team member of and consultant to the Earth Literacy Program at La Vista Ecological Learning Center in Godfrey, Illinois. He also offers directed and guided retreats throughout the United States and Canada.
Norman translates the vision of the Oblate Ecological Initiative into the local New England area at the OEI Northeast Region.
Mary Jo Jacobs
Mary Jo joined the La Vista staff in 2006 following over 30 years as a science educator and school administrator. During her teaching career, Mary Jo became involved in the Rivers' Project,
an environmental program developed at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville.
This program engaged high school students throughout southern Illinois in studying the Mississippi River water from the Wisconsin border to the southern tip of Illinois. As an elementary school principal, she continued to foster environmental programs including PC Wet, an eight grade project studying local water.
In addition to her commitment to promote environmental ideals, she brings computer, writing, creative, and graphic skills to her role of administrative assistant at La Vista. Mary Jo and her husband Tony have six grown children and reside in Godfrey, Illinois.
Séamus Finn, OMI
Administrator and Presenter
Séamus has directed the US Oblate Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Office since its inception and has been active in JPIC ministry at various
levels for over 25 years. His work includes overseeing the ministry at La Vista Ecological Learning Center where he has been a presenter during the annual "Exploring the Sacred Universe" program each summer. He represents the Missionary Oblates on the boards of directors of a number of organizations supported by the Oblates both in the U.S. and internationally.
Visiting many of the places where Oblates work, Séamus tries to explore ways in which the office can be supportive of their efforts through addressing public policy issues and public officials and through the work of the office with corporations. He is a leader in faith-based socially responsible investing, and is the chair of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.