Reverend Louis Gaffney, S.J. Chair

The Reverend Louis Gaffney, S.J. Chair 2018 - 2020 is Mary-Antoinette Smith, PhD

 Mary Antoinette Smith smiling with flowers

Seattle University President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., has named English Department Professor Mary-Antoinette Smith as the Reverend Louis Gaffney, S.J., Chair in the College of Arts and Sciences. Her two-year appointment began July 2018. This endowed chair is made possible by the Jesuit community at Seattle University and promotes issues germane to the Jesuit mission and identity of the faith that does justice and supports the Jesuit ideal of teaching.

Smith earned her doctorate in 18th and 19th Century British Literature from the University of Southern California and has been an SU faculty member for twenty-five years. Her classes incorporate the Ignatian pedagogical paradigm (context, experience, reflection, action, evaluation) and they, along with her scholarship, emphasize race, class, gender and sexuality theory that moves towards praxis in the Jesuit social justice tradition. A professed member of the Third Order of St. Dominic, she has been deeply influenced by all-things Ignatian while making countless retreats, including the 30-Day Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola and the nine-month Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (SEEL); and, as a trained Ignatian Spiritual Director, she practices “holy” listening and “wholly” listening—two skills which inform and enrich her Gaffney Gatherings.

Smith’s theme—Tender Mercies: Moving from a Kaírós of Mercy to Creating the Beloved Community for a Just and Humane World—is inspired by the complementary global visions of Pope Francis and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The former inaugurated the Jubilee Year of Mercy (2015-16) while the latter sought creation of an all-inclusive Beloved Community (1958-68), and mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation, and the Ignatian principle of cura personalis (care for the whole person) are at the core of both of their visions for compassionate, holistic healing of the challenges and brokenness that plague our global world.

Smith’s Gaffney Gatherings include book reading groups, Desolation/Consolation Circles, Beloved Community Deep Dialogue Workshops, and guest speaker engagements which foster cura personalis while enacting tender mercies towards faculty, staff, and students throughout our campus community. Gaffney Gatherings are inclusive, caring, collaborative spaces which promote meaningful dialogue and merciful listening in response to Dr. King’s insightfully observation that for far too long we have "live[d] in monologue rather than dialogue."

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Gaffney Endowed Chair Gatherings - Fall Quarter 2019

Year Two of the Gaffney Gatherings on the theme of “Tender Mercies: Moving from a Kaíros of Mercy to Building Beloved Community” launches this quarter with come-as-you-are discussions which follow in the tradition of last year’s gatherings. This theme merges the philosophies of Pope Francis and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. around merciful, tender, just, and inclusive interactions among all members of society (local, national, global).                                                                                  

At these Gaffney Gatherings you are welcome to:

  • engage in desolation/consolation sharing of challenges carried and graces gifted among compassionate and caring SU community members (faculty, staff, students) in the spirit of our Ignatian ethos for cura personalis (care of the whole person); or
  • share in some meaningful “Can I Get a Witness” dialogues where what’s needful to say is said and heard by a supportive community that practices holy listening and wholly listening; or
  • come learn more about the Gaffney-themed books (noted below) to be discussed during winter and spring quarters; or
  • simply come and sit in silent contemplation in the company of others seeking quiet, respite, and restorative time away from the busyness of our campus lives.

The location is the Wismer Center (Loyola 400) on the following dates: October 24, November 13, and December 2. The atmosphere will be casual and you are invited to come as you are, for the time span you are able between 12:00-2:00pm. Light nibbles will be served to complement the brown bag lunch you bring.

Please RSVP to and note the date(s) you plan to attend.

Winter and Spring 2020

During winter and spring quarters the gatherings will focus more specifically on discussions of the following books:

The Name of God is Mercy, The Name of God is Mercy Treatise, AND The Church of Mercy [Pope Francis];

Strength to Love, Why We Can’t Wait, AND Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? [Martin Luther King, Jr.];

A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life (Welcoming the Soul and Weaving Community in a Wounded World) [Parker Palmer];

Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in Challenging Times AND The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear [Paul Rogat Loeb]           

Please contact Kari Berkas if you’d like to order books now so you can start some leisure reading:

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Gaffney, S.J. Chairs

  • 1985 – 1989: Sister Rosaleen Trainor, Philosophy
  • 1989 – 1992: George Kunz, Psychology       
  • 1992 – 1995: Gary Chamberlain, Theology & Religious Studies
  • 1995 – 1997: Steen Halling, Psychology
  • 1997 – 1999: Patrick Burke, Philosophy  
  • 1999 – 2001: Madeline Lovell,  Anthropology, Sociology and Social work  
  • 2001 – 2003: Edwin Weihe, English 
  • 2003 – 2005: James Sawyer, Institute of Public Service 
  • 2005 – 2007: Femi Taiwo, Global African Studies
  • 2007 – 2010: Jodi O'Brien , Anthropology, Sociology and Social Work
  • 2010 – 2012: Ted Fortier, Anthropology
  • 2012 – 2014: Tom Taylor, History
  • 2014 – 2016: Le Xuan Hy, Psychology
  • 2016 - 2018: Jeanette Rodriguez, Theology & Religious Studies