As November turns to December, the weather grows colder and the night longer, it is undeniable that winter is here and holidays are fast approaching, making it the perfect time to wish you all a happy and blessed Christmas season.
I hope you have the opportunity to spend time with family and friends, celebrate your favorite traditions and enjoy some delicious food. But I also hope you find time for some peace, quiet and reflection.
I often find the Christmas season to be the perfect time for reflection on the blessings of the previous year. I am filled with a sense of gratitude and as President of Seattle University, I have so many things to be thankful for.
I am grateful for the Seattle University community. For our students who are always striving for a just and humane world. For you, our alumni, who are leaders in the community throughout Seattle, across the country and in 62 countries. And for our great faculty and staff who guide and prepare our students for life outside these walls.
I was especially blessed this year to have the opportunity to accompany a small group of friends of Seattle University to meet Pope Francis in November.
A visit that was expected to be 15 minutes lasted 45. The Pope gave us his full attention. We found it hard to believe there was nowhere else the leader of the Catholic Church would rather be. For me, this was the experience of a lifetime.
When asked what message he would like us to bring back to Seattle University, the Holy Father shared a thought that is particularly relevant to the holiday season.
It was, “witness.” He said words don’t count. Words only touch a person’s mind. The only thing that counts for those at your university is your witness. The witness of your life, the witness of your faith, the witness of your commitment and the witness of who you are. Witness is what counts.
I’d like to ask you to reflect on the Pope’s message as Jesuit-educated alumni. What does it mean to you to witness during this holiday season? Does it call you to bear witness to those less fortunate than you? How are you a witness to your family and friends in order to connect more authentically? How do your actions reflect your faith and commitment?
I hope you will take some time this Christmas season to reflect on all that you are grateful for and how you serve as a witness in this world. Just as we are thankful for you, we hope that when you think of Seattle U, you are filled with a sense of pride and gratitude. Never forget that even after graduation, we remain your university.
I look forward with anticipation to the year ahead and wish you all many blessings in this Christmas season and the new year.
Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J.