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."

Upcoming Event

Gaffney Gathering - The Color Purple (EVENT IS POSTPONED)


Wyckoff Auditorium

In honor of Black History Month and in homage to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Pope Francis, and their shared visions for self and social transformation through the practice of mercy, THE COLOR PURPLE will be shown and discussed in alignment with the Gaffney Theme of Tender Mercies: Moving from a Kaírós of Mercy to Creating the Beloved Community for a Just and Humane World. THE COLOR PURPLE, a remarkable film in and of itself, becomes particularly compelling when viewed in terms of our institutional ethos and engagement with the Ignatian principle of cura personalis (care of the whole person, inclusive of self and community care), the tender navigations between desolation and consolation, and the importance of merciful engagement with others in order to the build beloved communities so desired by both Dr. King and Pope Francis. Come see and discuss this film’s relevance to the interior movements of the Spiritual Exercises, the Ignatian pedagogical paradigm (context, experience, reflection, action, evaluation), and our institutional commitment for transformative self and social change!

Film begins at 5:30pm; light hors d’oeuvres will be served.

Please email to RSVP. The first 25 RSVP’d attendees will receive a gift copy of THE COLOR PURPLE (1982) by writer, poet, and activist Alice Walker.

Read more about the event: Gaffney Gathering Event Flyer

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