SU Voice Alumni Blog

National Poetry Month

Posted by Caitlin Joyce, '11, '18 on April 5, 2018 at 2:04 PM PDT

Fr. Steve Hands Crossed

 

Each summer we showcase Seattle University President Stephen Sundborg, S.J.’ s reading list and it’s always a big hit. As a university president, it should come as no surprise that Fr. Steve is an avid reader, but did you know he is also a poetry aficionado? In honor of National Poetry Month, we spoke to Fr. Steve about his passion for poetry and got the inside scoop on his favorite poems and those poets he thinks you should discover.

 

Q: Fr. Steve, what are your five favorite books of poetry?

A: Collected Poems by Philip Larkin

  • The Stream and the Sapphire by Denise Levertov
  • Still Life in Milford by Thomas Lynch
  • Collected Poems 1945 – 1990 by R. S. Thomas
  • The Grace of Necessity by Samuel Green

Q: What is your favorite poem?

A: “A Night in Ireland” by Anne Porter in Living Things

Q: What makes that your favorite poem?

A: It is a condensed story of great depth, beautifully expressing experience, dream, youth, and faith.  It has a wonder quatrain:

“He said You’ve come too soon

Go back into the towns

Live there as love’s apprentice

And God will give you his kingdom”

I can’t beat that for expressing the very purpose of my life in a simple, profound way!

Q: What is it that you enjoy about reading poetry?

A: Reading poetry for fifteen minutes each day is for me like prayer.  Poetry takes me below the surface, quotidian, experience of life into its more interior, intimate, holy depths.  I think of poetry as going beneath the soil of life to the tender roots of what is emerging in my life, the more nuanced, personal sources of life.  This is a holy place in which to dwell.  In my experience, there is nothing like poetry, when consistently read, for allowing access to this sacred depth.  Reading poetry every day teaches a person how to read poetry; it explains itself when faithfully practiced.

Q: Who is a poet you think is under the radar that you’d like other people to know about?

A: Mary Stewart Hammond, especially her Entering History.  I discovered her poetry from a display of multiple copies of this book in a New York City bookstore, bought it out of curiosity, and found a treasure.  I would read anything she wrote.

Exploring Seattle University’s Global Reach: Alumni Around the World

Posted by Caitlin Joyce, '11, '18 on April 5, 2018 at 12:04 PM PDT

Equipping our students with the knowledge and skills to thrive as global citizens in an interconnected world is both our passion and a strategic priority. Students are challenged to push beyond their habitual boundaries by taking part in experiential learning across geographical and cultural frontiers. Drawing inspiration from our Jesuit Catholic heritage, we aim to educate reflective global citizens who respond with intelligence and heart to the pervasive global issues of our time.

Seattle is an international city, capturing the world’s attention with global companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, Boeing, Starbucks headquartered here in the Emerald City.  It should come as no surprise that Seattle U attracts a number of international students looking to take advantage of our world class education and desirable location. This year, we have 767 international students from 61 countries on campus.

Group of alumni at a reception.

As those students graduate, our global alumni network grows and now includes nearly 6,000 international alumni in 92 countries. Accomplished professionals who are passionate about Seattle U, they remain important members of the SU community. As Seattle U continues to come of age as a global university in a dynamic city, our international alumni provide valuable feedback, insights and experiences that help Seattle U understand how we can more effectively engage with the world.

With their generosity of time and resources, our international alumni help to prepare our students to be global professionals and excel in an international marketplace. One of those alumni is this year’s University Service Alumni Award winner, Dr. Peter Lee, ’64, from Hong Kong. Dr. Lee was one of Seattle U’s earliest international students and for more than two decades remains one of our most actively engaged international alumni. Passionate about building bridges between China and the United States and helping our students increase their understanding of the impact of East Asian thought and tradition on contemporary global issues, Peter helped fund the Asian Studies Program and established the Peter L. Lee Endowed Lectureship in East Asian Culture and Civilization to advance student understanding of Asian culture and influence in a global economy.

SU remains focused on keeping our international alumni connected and engaged with their alma mater. Over the years, representatives from Seattle University have visited those areas of the world with high concentrations of Seattle U alumni, including Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand, with more recent trips to China, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. During these visits, we provide opportunities for alumni to network and share their memories about Seattle U with each other. You can see pictures from some of our most recent trips in our International Alumni Facebook album.

Digital networks provide a great opportunity for international alumni to connect and we are pleased that our alumni have created Seattle U groups on WhatsApp, WeChat and Facebook. The SU Alumni Association also introduced our newest digital platform, SU Alumni Connect, the only place where all 78,000 alumni worldwide can network and build connections. This is a great way for alumni to find other alumni in their country.

For international alumni staying in the Seattle area, we have the International Alumni Chapter, which hosts professional development and social events that meet the unique needs of our international alumni.

So to our international alumni, know that no matter how far from Seattle life has taken you, you remain an important part of the Seattle University community. And if you come back to visit Seattle U, please come see us in the Alumni Building so we can welcome you back to your alma mater.

Harnessing the Power of our Differences: Embracing Diversity and Inclusion

Posted by Caitlin Joyce, '11, '18 on April 5, 2018 at 12:04 PM PDT

Natasha Martin in orange blazer.

Each year our SU Advantage Networking Nights address topics important to the professional development of our alumni. This April’s topic not only presents an opportunity for personal and professional growth, but it is incredibly timely as well. Natasha Martin, J.D., Seattle University’s new Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, will present “Harnessing the Power of our Differences: Embracing Diversity and Inclusion.”

Dr. Martin will engage participants in a discussion on the value of authentic engagement in a multicultural society. Bring an open mindset to discover why individual context matters and how embracing difference holds promise for living, learning and working inclusively. Leave with increased awareness and ideas to enhance personal and professional endeavors.

In a recent Spectator article exploring the role of Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, Dr. Martin said, “I think it’s really important for people to understand that what we’re trying to do is to create and sustain a context, the environmental conditions for all of us to thrive—for everyone to feel welcome, valued, respected and to find their place in the institution.”

In the same article, Dr. Martin explained that although she is centered as the anchor, there is a crucial partnership with all stakeholders in order to make a true shift in the climate and culture of the university, a lesson that can be applied to all organizations and individuals striving to make a similar change.

Following Dr. Martin’s presentation, alumni will have the opportunity to network and reflect on the topics addressed.

SU Advantage Networking Night
“Harnessing the Power of our Differences: Embracing Diversity and Inclusion”
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
5:30– 8:00 p.m.
LeRoux Room, Student Center 160

Reserve your tickets to the next SU Advantage here.

About Our Speaker:

Appointed by President Sundborg in September 2017, Natasha Martin is the inaugural Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion. From 2014-2016, Professor Martin served as co-chair of the university-wide President’s Task Force on Diversity and Inclusive Excellence. Professor Martin’s leadership experience also includes three years of service as Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development in the School of Law and 15 years as a faculty member, where she focuses on Employment Discrimination, Advanced Topics in Employment Discrimination, Professional Responsibility and Torts.

A dynamic and engaging speaker, Professor Martin is passionate about fostering community dialogues on diversity and inclusion matters. Dedicated to broad notions of inclusivity, Professor Martin was appointed twice to the Washington State Gender and Justice Commission and was named to Lawyers of Color’s 50 Under 50 List of minority law professors making an impact in legal education in the 2014 Law School Diversity Issue.

Seattle U and the Aloha State: How Luau and the Hawaii Alumni Chapter Got Their Starts

Posted by Caitlin Joyce, '11, '18 on April 5, 2018 at 11:04 AM PDT

April is a big month for students and alumni from Hawaii. Every Seattle U alum from Hawaii remembers Luau, a popular celebration hosted by the Hawaii Club, for students and alumni. This April, alumni in Hawaii are celebrating the relaunch of the Hawaii Alumni Chapter.

Ask any Seattle U student what the longest running club on campus is and they are likely to say the Hawaii Club. Also known as Hui O Nani, this tight knit club describes itself as “a place for those from the islands to call their ‘home away from home’" and a place for those interested in Hawaii to understand and learn what the Aloha State is all about.” But how did one of Seattle University’s longest running clubs get its start? To get the answer, we asked Elliott Chamizo, ’66.

Elliott has long been an important part of the SU community. “In 1961 there were about eighteen of us from Hawaii at Seattle University. We were the first large group from Hawaii to come to SU and we decided it was time to start a club.”

According to Elliott, with the help and guidance of Seattle U’s Hiking Club, the group put in their request and developed a charter for the new club. By 1962 the group was organizing its first Luau.

“Seattle U didn’t have a big venue at the time, so we went off campus to the Knights of Columbus Hall up the street from campus.” The Hawaii Club students decorated the hall and had food flown in from relatives in Honolulu. “We had a real pig prepared by Islanders who lived in the Seattle area,” Elliott recalled.  “We had a great turn out. 150-200 people came out to the first luau. It was such a success that we kept having it year after year.” Luau, usually hosted in early May, quickly became an annual event the entire campus community looked forward to.

Luau Dancers

A few years ago, the club celebrated its 50th anniversary. Then club president, Keenan Kurihara, invited the founding members back to campus to celebrate. “About 15 of us returned and shared the history of the club and the founding of it.”

Despite returning to Hawaii after graduation, Seattle U has left its mark on Elliott. “I was definitely impacted by the Jesuit charism and the idea of community service.” A long-time teacher at Maryknoll High School in Honolulu, Elliott encouraged many future Redhawks to attend Seattle U, including Kurihara.

Despite annual visits by Seattle U in the past, there has not been an active alumni chapter in Hawaii until now. The Hawaii Alumni Chapter leadership committee consists of co-presidents Jennel Sesoko, ’08, and Brandi Yamauchi, ’12, events chair Jeanie Sohn, ’06, and communication chair Keenan Kurihara, ‘16.

According to the chapter’s presidents, “There's something special and unforgettable about those college years at Seattle University.  Whether it be the luau, life in the dorms, Quadstock or creating those lifelong friendships, we all have a connection to Seattle U.  From service projects to social events, the Hawaii Alumni Chapter provides alumni an opportunity to connect, engage and foster that same sense of community right here in Hawaii.”

So whether you’re in Seattle longing for your time on the islands or you’re in Hawaii missing Seattle, with Luau on April 28 and the newly formed Hawaii Alumni Chapter, there’s something for everyone.

Visit SU Alumni Connect to learn about how you can get involved in the Hawaii Alumni Chapter.

Jesuit Volunteer EnCorps: Now Accepting Applications

Posted by Seattle University Alumni Association on April 5, 2018 at 10:04 AM PDT

National Volunteer Month seems like the perfect opportunity to share that Jesuit Volunteer EnCorps is now accepting applications! JV EnCorps is a program of Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) Northwest, facilitating meaningful opportunities for service, community and spiritual formation for adults 50 and older who are committed to social and ecological justice. JV EnCorps is available to individuals living in Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane and Vancouver Washington, as well as those in Portland and Bend Oregon.

During a ten month part-time volunteer service, participants meet regularly in their community to deepen their spirituality and explore the values of community, simple living and social and ecological justice.


Participants have found the program to be a meaningful spiritual and service opportunity.


“I like being a part of our JV EnCorps community because I journey with deep souls and gentle people who love and live in my hometown.” - JV EnCorps Volunteer


“This is my second year. I feel so comfortable and look forward to our monthly meetings. It is like going home each month to my like-minded, caring, giving corps members. I have grown so much in my understanding of our citizens who are just getting by. I am now respectful of everyone I meet and try to hear their concerns. The Jesuit way has become my life. I am intent on seeing God in everything.” - JV EnCorps Volunteer


"I’ve never done anything in my life where I felt more like I belonged than my volunteer work. They could do without me; I’m not sure I can do without them. I’ve been planted there for me, to gain something, to learn something." - JV EnCorps Volunteer


Apply now!


Applications Due: August 15th. 
For more information, email JVEnCorps@jvcnorthwest.org or visit www.jvencorps.org.

Alumni Day of Prayer

Posted by Seattle University Alumni Association on March 1, 2018 at 11:03 AM PST

Alumni are invited to join us for our  Alumni Day of Prayer led by Dave Anderson, S.J. and Liz Johnson, ‘78.

This year, we will be reflecting on the theme of "walking in a manner worthy of the vocation to which we are called," which was recently shared in Pope Francis’ address to the Jesuits.

woman alum praying in chapel

According to Fr. Dave, Alumni Day of Prayer will be an opportunity to continue the long tradition of praying in silence and discussing Pope Francis' recent conversation with the Jesuit community, saying, “Questions will focus around what you find consoling, what challenges you and what helps you grow as you read and reflect on his message which is pertinent to everyone. We will conclude with mass and lunch.” Fr. Dave went on to add that, “This is a great opportunity for us to step outside our normal everyday routines to pray together and discuss at a deeper level. We will also come to know through our prayer and discussion how God might be inviting us to grow as an alumni body as well as explore some ways we can serve together.”

This event is open to all alumni and friends who feel called to attend.

More about Our Leaders:

Dave Anderson, S.J.

Fr. Dave is a graduate of Gonzaga and ministers to the Seattle University community as chaplain for alumni, performing baptisms, weddings and funerals, and attending to the sick. He is also chaplain for the men's basketball and soccer teams and enjoys meeting alumni when he travels with the teams.

Liz Johnston, '78

Liz has served on a number of boards, including Holy Family Kirkland, Holy Names Academy and O'Dea High School and is currently a member of the Peronteau Club and Crozier Society. Liz was a member of the American Women's Association of Hong Kong for four years and is a former nurse.

Alumni Day of Prayer Program

8-9 a.m. Breakfast (optional)
9:00 Introduction and program
11:30 a.m. Private mass for retreatants
12 p.m. Lunch

Reserve your spot now.

A Lenten Reflection From Natch Ohno, S.J.

Posted by Seattle University Alumni Association on March 1, 2018 at 10:03 AM PST

This year the arrival of Ash Wednesday created confusion because it fell on February 14th. Of course we had the traditional symbol of ashes on the forehead, signifying the beginning of the Lenten season. “Remember you are dust and to dust you will return,” or “Turn away from sin, and be faithful to the Gospel.” Rather than prayer, fasting, and good deeds, the media messages imaged hearts, flowers, chocolates and Happy Valentine’s Day! One student even asked if “Ash Wednesday” could be moved so as not to interfere with Valentine’s Day.

 

We can actually see that Jesus is about love. The journey of Lent leads to Holy Week—passion, crucifixion and resurrection. There is no greater love than for one to give one’s life for one’s friend. You are my friends. In his living and his dying, Jesus shows us how to love, in his journeying with us and ultimately to the resurrection.

 

The Ash Wednesday scripture readings indicate how we are to comport ourselves: “Do not blow the trumpet before you. Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; . . . . (But) when you fast, do not look gloomy like those.” Rather, when you pray, we are told, go to that inner room of your heart and deepen your relationship with God. One suggestion on entering that inner room, from St. Ignatius of Loyola who founded the Jesuits, is through daily prayer with the Examen. This invites us to find God in all that we do and in all things. You can learn more about the Examen here and with the Examen Prayer Card

 

Next, let us move into our imagination and see the possibilities our Lenten journey awakens in us. Each of us is unique, yet created in God’s image. Here is our common entry point. We are created to enter into a loving relationship with our God. The reality of our journey is to look for what resonates in each of us. With this link, you can learn more about prayer and how to discern where God’s call will take you.

 

Enter into the inner room of your heart—happy Lent.

 

 

Introducing Our 2018 Alumni Award Winners

Posted by Seattle University Alumni Association on February 28, 2018 at 3:02 PM PST

On February 13, President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., the Seattle University Alumni Association and the Alumni Board of Governors announced Seattle University’s 2018 Alumni Award recipients. For the past 33 years, Seattle University has celebrated the Alumni Awards, honoring alumni who exemplify our Jesuit values and excel in the areas of leadership, professional achievement and community service. 

We will celebrate the achievements of these outstanding Seattle University alumni and faculty as part of Reunion Weekend at the 33rd Annual Alumni Awards Celebration on Friday, May 4, 2018 at the Four Seasons Hotel Seattle. 

Alumni of the Year

Jim, ’69, and Jan Dwyer, ’70

Alumni of the Year: Jan and Jim Dwyer

Jim, ’69, and Jan Dwyer, ’70, have shown lifelong commitment and leadership to Seattle University. Both served on the Alumni Board of Governors and Board of Regents and Jim served on the Board of Trustees. Jan and Jim have volunteered their time for numerous fundraising campaigns, including chairing the Seattle University Gala, and Jan’s continued support of the Athletics department and women’s basketball team.

University Service Award

Peter Lee, PhD, ’64

University Service Award: Peter Lee, phD, '64

Peter Lee, PhD, ’64, is one of Seattle University’s earliest international students and most actively engaged. Lee led the Hong Kong alumni chapter for 17 years. He made the lead contribution and secured the remaining funds for the Asian Studies Program and established the Peter L. Lee Endowed Lectureship in East Asian Culture and Civilization. 

Community Service Award

Bernadette O’Leary, ’97

Community Service Award: Bernadette O'Leary, '97

Bernadette O’Leary, ’97, principal of St. John Catholic School, is described as one of the finest educators and school leaders whose talent and dedication rises to the top. “Bernadette is a woman for others with a clear commitment to social justice,” says Katrina Freeburg, a former colleague. 

Professional Achievement 

Major General Barbara Holcomb, ’87

Professional Achievement Award: Major General Barbara Holcomb, '87

Major General Barbara (Bonine) Holcomb, ’87, is the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (MRMC) and Fort Detrick, Md., the first nurse to serve as commander there, and is Chief of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps. She is highly awarded and decorated for her extraordinary career.  

Distinguished Faculty Award

David Madsen, PhD, ’69

Distinguished Faculty Award: David Madsen, phD, '69

Professor David Madsen, PhD, ’69, graduated from Seattle University and then joined the faculty in 1981 as an assistant professor. Associate professor in the history department since 1996, Madsen has directed the University Honors Program, moderates the Naef Scholars and has served as Grand Marshall for 18 years. 

Outstanding Recent Alumna

Shasti Conrad, ’07

Outstanding Recent Alumna Award: Shasti Conrad, '07

Shasti Conrad, ’07, is a dynamic change maker whose work is guided by diversity and inclusion. She was a White House intern under President Barack Obama and then moved to a West Wing job with the senior advisor to the president. As a Princeton Graduate Fellow, she worked with The Malala Fund, traveling with Malala Yousafzai to the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony. Conrad is the U.S. campaign manager for the 100 Million Campaign. 

Reserve your spot at the 33rd Annual Alumni Awards Celebration on May 4.

Seattle University's Jesuit Identity

Posted by Seattle University Alumni Association on February 28, 2018 at 3:02 PM PST

 

Seattle U is at its heart a Jesuit university rooted in the Catholic intellectual tradition. That tradition has defined the university through dynamic evolutions since its founding in 1891. For at least three decades, Jesuit universities worldwide have been creatively examining how to preserve their identity with the number of Jesuits in decline. Today there are currently 27 Jesuits living and working at Seattle University, some serving as resident ministers in the dorms or teaching our students as professors. 

Our vision calls for all Seattle U colleagues to know what it means to be Jesuit -- to balance self-reliance with interdependence, knowledge with spirituality, and mind with heart. Our faculty and staff, steeped in this tradition, will continue to develop Seattle U’s Jesuit Catholic character. They, in turn, will be the ones to inspire students and alumni to carry forth the Jesuit flame as leaders for a just and humane world. To realize this vision, Seattle U is pioneering a model for becoming Jesuit in a new way.

This new approach to our Jesuit Catholic identity hopes to ensure that future students, faculty and alumni share the same strong education rooted in Jesuit values as those who came before. Some ways in which Seattle University’s Jesuit Identity has evolved include:

The Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture

Seattle University’s Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture invites the Seattle University community to retrieve, reclaim and revive a tradition of exploration, examination and engagement with the intersection of religion and culture, of faith and reason, and of church and world by creating a culture of rigorous study of and dialogue with the Catholic intellectual and wisdom tradition.

The Center for Jesuit Education

The Center for Jesuit Education offers programs and services designed to foster a deeper understanding of the Jesuit and Catholic mission of Seattle University. Many of the programs are oriented toward faculty and staff, though other populations served include alumni, students and university board members.

The Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J., Endowment for Jesuit Teaching and Ministry

President Sundborg’s commitment to furthering Seattle U’s Jesuit tradition of excellence in education, teaching and service will be his legacy. The Endowment for Jesuit Teaching & Ministry will secure his vision in perpetuity, assuring our ability to recruit, welcome and employ Jesuits whenever they are available to join us. It will help to secure the Jesuit presence, a touchstone for the Jesuit education that Seattle University has offered since our founding in 1891.

Campus Ministry

Rooted in the Jesuit Catholic tradition, Campus Ministry serves a vibrantly diverse, yet inclusive community of Seattle University students committed to exploring understanding, and deepening a faith that does justice in their lives.

Regardless of one’s faith background, Campus Ministry provides an open and hospitable community to gather in friendship, conversation, discernment and understanding of what one’s purpose is in life through retreats, service, liturgy and worship, immersions, social justice education, reflection activities and more.

The Roger Gillis, S.J., Endowment to Enliven the Student Experience

Fr. Rog believed strongly in providing a variety of ways for students to be in community with and serve one another. This is why the Roger Gillis Endowment will support student retreats and immersions, ensuring these opportunities continue to exist for generations to come.

Visit our website to learn about other ways our Jesuit tradition continues to thrive on campus.

The Guadalupe Faith and Hospitality Experience Cuernavaca, Mexico

Posted by The Seattle University Alumni Association on February 28, 2018 at 1:02 PM PST

A Seminar and Immersion for Seattle U Faculty/Staff and Community Members
By Deborah Anastasi Black, ‘00

 Group photo

Each December for the past 15 years, Jeanette Rodriguez, PhD, Theology & Religious Studies, has led a group of Seattle University faculty, staff and community members from outside campus on a journey to Cuernavaca, Mexico to participate in the Guadalupe Faith and Hospitality Experience. Hosted by an order of Mexican Benedictine nuns who serve at the Guadalupe Center, this social justice encounter addresses the need to “build bridges of understanding between north and south, rich and poor, and differing cultures and religions.” The 10-day trip concludes with participation in the pilgrimage to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. One of the most important pilgrimage sites of Catholicism, the Basilica is visited by 18 to 20 million people on December 12th each year, Guadalupe’s feast day.

I was thrilled when notified that I would be one of eight participants in the 2017 immersion experience. Following is an abbreviated account of the trip.

Of the many gifts that our hearts received throughout this transformational journey, the first and one of the most indelible, was our time with the 12 Sisters at the Guadalupe Center. Through our daily participation in prayer and song, shared meals and evenings spent together, reflecting on the day’s experiences, we were able to connect with the Sisters in a way that transcended our limited language capabilities. When verbal translation was needed, however, Dr. Rodriguez and Sister Reyna mastered the task.

 Two people in Mexico

We visited two Children’s Projects, both built, physically and programmatically, with funds raised by North Americans who had spent time in Cuernavaca, had seen the impoverished conditions in which children and their families were living, and decided to make a difference. The benefactors provide training and community members, primarily parents, run the projects with the help of volunteers from abroad. Children receive academic instruction, extra-curricular activities, healthy food, a caring environment and hope for a better future.

The Project sites are surrounded by dwellings, some quite dilapidated, where the children live with their families. In l’Estacion, a severely impoverished urban barrio (neighborhood), we were invited into one of these homes.  It was a made of cinderblocks and had no bathroom or refrigeration. The parents and their two boys, ages five and nine, shared a single bed. The front door and window coverings were pieces of fabric. Asked if she feels safe in l’Estacion, the mother, Blanca, said no, explaining that children in the barrio had been kidnapped by traffickers and there is a lot of gang violence. She was grateful that her boys could attend the l’Estacion Children’s Project, and hoped that they would one day have better lives.

During our visit to the rural home of Ignacio Torres, aka “Nacho,” an Indigenous man and member of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI), we learned about the history of the Indigenous people from the oppression suffered at the hands of the Spanish Conquistadors to the present-day impact of NAFTA. Nacho also told us of the Nahua people’s spirituality, the importance of seeds and the land, the seven directions and corresponding colors. He took us to a sacred place in the forest and performed an Indigenous religious ceremony. At one point, as we prayed, the wind suddenly kicked-up with gusto, snapping tree branches. It died as quickly as it had come. Was God speaking to us? It was a truly magical moment. Dr. Ted Fortier, an anthropologist and our trip co-facilitator, provided context and interpretation of the hieroglyphics that appeared on rock walls framing this sacred location.

 Mexican landscape

At the end of our time in Cuernavaca, we said good-bye and received a special blessing from the Sisters. We traveled by van to Mexico City on December 11th, where we stayed at the Mother House for the Benedictine Order. The house was within walking distance of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Thousands of pilgrims had already gathered in reverence to Guadalupe, the patroness of Mexico. Some had walked from miles away; some had come on their knees. Others had come on bicycles, standing in the back of pick-up trucks or by car. Many carried statues and pictures of Guadalupe to be blessed. They camped in the large square in front of the Basilica, which houses Juan Diego’s tilma (cloak) on which Guadalupe imprinted an image of herself in 1531. This is the miracle that the pilgrims come to see every year on her feast day. Masses are performed in the Basilica by priests from all around Mexico, and choirs perform all day and all night. At midnight the pilgrims sing to Guadalupe, and the next day Indigenous people from all over Mexico dance in the square wearing their traditional dress. It is an event to behold.

I returned from the Guadalupe Faith/Hospitality Experience with three distinct impressions. One, is the contrast between the warmth, hospitality and graciousness in which our group was received by the most marginalized and impoverished of Mexico’s people and the way that Dreamers and undocumented migrants are treated in the United States. The second is the Mexican people’s will to survive and the power of community in lifting children up and giving them a shot at a better future. Third, a draw (calling?) that I have felt toward working with children in developing countries is indeed real.

The Guadalupe Faith and Hospitality Experience is open to Seattle University alumni. If you are interested in participating in the December 2018 trip or have questions, contact Prof. Jeanette Rodriguez, jrodrigu@seattleu.edu.