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All Things Jesuit

An Examen for the Environment

October 13, 2017

Lucas Sharma, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic who joined Seattle University’s Arrupe Community this year, played an integral role in creating a new resource for contemplating the challenge of climate change. 

Modeled on the Examen, a technique for prayerful reflection that Jesuit founder St. Ignatius incorporated into The Spiritual Exercises, “Reconciling God, Creation and Humanity: Ecological Examen” invites us to a deeper understanding of our responsibility for the environment and those communities that are most impacted by its degradation. 

Sharma, an instructor in the Department of Anthropology, Sociology and Social Work, wrote the first draft of the Examen while working as an intern with the Jesuit Conference Office of Justice and Ecology last summer. The conference, which represents the Jesuits of the U.S. and Canada, collaborated with the Ignatian Solidarity Network to produce the Examen. 

“The hope of the project was to bring together our rich tradition of Ignatian spirituality, Pope Francis’ call for ecological justice in Laudato Si’, and our most recent Jesuit General Congregation’s call that we be persons who work for reconciliation in our world today,” explains Sharma. “Together with the Ignatian Solidarity Network, I wrote this examen to ask how we might connect what we know about climate change and environmental destruction with our knowledge that the poor are often disproportionately affected by environmental damages. Certainly too, we hope that people would pray with this tool in a way that would call for increased protection and reverence of our common home and the people who we live with on our earth.” 

A member of the Jesuits West Province, Sharma has a master’s in Sociology from Loyola University Chicago and an M.A. in Philosophy from Fordham University. 

“The experience (of drafting the examen),” he says, “was a part prayer in itself—looking at my own experience with the Examen Prayer and asking, what might Ignatius’ (examen), which has been powerful in my own life, teach us about creation? Doing that, I saw in myself ways that my own choices negatively impact the earth and my local communities. This quickly turned into a larger discussion between the Ignatian Solidarity Network, the Jesuit Conference and other Jesuit and lay partners committed to environmental justice. Together, we offer this tool as a way for individuals and groups to enter into conversations about care for creation.” 

You can read more about the Examen and follow a link to the full set of related materials at Jesuits.

Jesuit Jubilarians

October 9, 2017

Two members of Seattle University’s Arrupe Jesuit Community known for their warmth and personal touch are celebrating special anniversaries this year. Pat Twohy, S.J. (left), marks his 60th year in the Society of Jesus, while Natch Ohno, S.J., is celebrating 25 years as a priest. 

Father Twohy has lived and worked with the Native Peoples of the Northwest for more than four decades. In addition to his work here at SU, Fr. Twohy is director of the Rocky Mountain Mission and minister to the urban Native community in Seattle. 

Father Ohno wears many hats at Seattle University, serving as assistant rector of the Arrupe Community and chaplain. His is a familiar face around campus as he interacts regularly and extensively with students, faculty and staff.

Let’s congratulate Fathers Twohy and Ohno on their jubilees and thank them for all they mean to our university community!

SGSU leads way in supporting DACA

September 29, 2017

The student government presidents of all 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the U.S. universities have issued a joint statement in support of the DACA program. Spearheaded by the presidents of Seattle University and Loyola Marymount University, the statement reads, in part, “As colleges and universities rooted in the Jesuit traditions, our students are called to engage in the discourse and advocate for a more just and equitable world.”

You can read the full statement here.

Jesuits West

August 24, 2017

As previously shared, the new Jesuits West province officially came into being on July 1 when the Oregon and California provinces combined. The following video highlights the institutions and people of the new province. Spoiler alert: You may see some familiar faces!

Justice through a Jesuit Lens

August 15, 2017

Eboo Patel began his keynote address before a packed-to-the-gills Pigott Auditorium by joking that the talk might not be the one his audience had expected or hoped to hear.

Patel (right) was at Seattle U for a conference on justice that drew hundreds of faculty and staff from Jesuit colleges across the U.S. and beyond. 

Launched in 2000, the national gathering has taken place every four years since 2005. The inaugural conference at Santa Clara may ring a bell for some as it featured Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., then superior general of the Society of Jesus, whose talk, “The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice in American Jesuit Higher Education,” is today considered pivotal in clarifying the identity of Jesuit institutions. 

The 2017 conference held this month was titled “Through the Eye of the Needle: Commitment to Justice in Jesuit Higher Education.” The gathering drew nearly 430 attendees, representing 27 of the 28 U.S. Jesuit colleges and universities, as well as colleagues from Jesuit institutions in Brazil, Canada, India, Italy and Nicaragua. 

Appropriately coinciding with the conference was the publication of the latest Conversations on Jesuit Higher Education. Titled “Sanctuary for Truth and Justice,” the issue examines the roles and responsibilities of Jesuit institutions in the current U.S. political climate and features pieces by four Seattle University faculty and staff, including Pat Howell, S.J., chair of the national seminar that publishes the journal. 

Challenging perspectives on justice

Having previously spoken at other Jesuit institutions—and the recipient of an honorary degree from Loyola University Chicago—Patel was warmly welcomed by the crowd at SU, which included some faculty and staff with whom he had previously crossed paths. 

Considered a leading voice in the movement for interfaith cooperation, Patel is founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), a national nonprofit working to make interfaith cooperation a social norm. He served on President Obama’s inaugural Faith Council and is author of three books, including his latest, Interfaith Leadership: A Primer (2016)

If attendees were looking for easy answers to the question of what justice means in the context of Jesuit higher education, Patel was not obliging. Instead, he challenged the hundreds of faculty and staff assembled to question and expand their conceptions of justice. Not in a finger-pointing way, but through a series of personal stories that were equal parts self-critical, laugh-out-loud humorous and, ultimately, thought-provoking. 

A self-described “multicultural progressive,” Patel acknowledged his own biases—principally his failings to consider the worldviews of those with whom he disagrees. Like the time he met an Iraqi leader and, assuming this person shared his own views, apologized for the U.S. government’s intervention in his country. (It turned out the Iraqi was a Kurd who not only welcomed the military action to topple Saddam Hussein’s regime, but deemed it long overdue.) 

His often mesmerizing presentation, which was laden with down-to-earth anecdotes about shoveling snow and Little League baseball, posed such questions as “Doesn’t diversity mean the differences you like and the differences you don’t like?” and, inspired by the writings of Jesuit theologian John Courtney Murray, this: “Isn’t the definition of a diverse society, a society in which different people and communities hold divergent and—Murray’s term—incommensurable views of justice? And isn’t the good society the society that can hold all those people together without having them go to war?

Three inspirational days

Joining Patel on an impressive slate of keynoters were Rev. Bryan Massingale, S.T.D., theologian at Fordham University specializing in social ethics, with teaching/research interests in the areas of racial justice, liberation theology, and Catholic Social Thought; Sr. Simone Campbell, S.S.S., executive director of NETWORK, a Catholic organization promoting social justice in public policy, and well known for her leadership of the 2012 “Nuns on the Bus” project; and Michael Garanzini, S.J., chancellor and former president of Loyola University Chicago, who serves as the Secretary of Higher Education for the Society of Jesus. Breakout sessions included an additional 140 presentations, with more than 20 Seattle University faculty participating as presenters and panelists. 

Many other faculty and staff were instrumentally involved in organizing and putting on the conference, including the Center for Jesuit Education; Conference and Event Services; School of Law; Bon Appétit; Information Technology Service; Arrupe Jesuit Community; President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., and the Seattle University leadership; and Digital Design Associate Professor Naomi Kasumi, who created the conference program. 

“It was a privilege to work on this conference, to invite the keynote speakers and session presenters, to reach across the AJCU network and beyond to gather attendees and to welcome them to our Seattle University campus for three inspirational days,” said Joe Orlando, director of the Center for Jesuit Education. “We learned a great deal together, and I know that we all provided one another with insights, encouragement and strength to return to our campuses and communities to carry forward this Jesuit mission of the service of faith and the promotion of justice. SU was in service to our national colleagues in the Jesuit/Ignatian family through this Commitment to Justice Conference, and I’m so thankful to have had the chance to contribute to such an excellent event.”

Jesuits International

August 15, 2017

Jerónimo Nadal, S.J., one of St. Ignatius’ companions used to say “the whole world is our house,” in reference to the international scope of the Society of Jesus and its ministry.

In that spirit, a good portion of the globe was represented when these six Jesuits, hailing from five different nations, recently broke bread together in SU’s Arrupe Residence.

Clockwise from top: Daniel Fernandez, S.J. (India); Pat Kelly, S.J., (U.S.); Trung Pham, S.J., (Vietnam); Isidro Lepez, S.J., (Mexico) with his back to us; Frank Savadera, S.J., (Philippines); and Viet Tran, S.J., (Vietnam). 

All pictured Jesuits are members of SU Jesuit community, except Father Fernandez, who was in town for the Justice in Jesuit Higher Education conference

(Thanks to Patrick Gilger, S.J., for taking the picture and Fr. Kelly for sending it in.)

Celebrating a founder, marking a new chapter

August 7, 2017

On Monday, July 31, Seattle University joined other Jesuits and Jesuit institutions worldwide in celebrating the Feast of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus (a.k.a. the Jesuits). Feast days are celebrated on the dates of saints’ deaths. St. Ignatius passed away July 31, 1556. 

At Seattle U, the day began, appropriately enough, with a feast—a continental breakfast at the Arrupe Jesuit Residence. Throngs of faculty and staff mingled in the residence dining room over assorted pastries, bagels and coffee, with some venturing into the adjoining backyard to enjoy a beautiful garden, lush with flowers and plant life. Later in the day, a special Mass was held in that gem of a campus chapel that bears the founding Jesuit’s name.

This year’s Feast of St. Ignatius carried additional significance for SU as it also celebrated the unification of the Oregon and California Provinces into one new province called “Jesuits West.” Long in the works, this change officially took effect in July. 

Tom Lucas, S.J., rector of the Arrupe Jesuit community, who came to SU in 2013 after serving in the former California Province, presided at the Mass and spoke of the unification of provinces in his homily. With a touch of humor, he likened it to “a bunch of bachelor uncles and brothers who've lived apart for a while, but are reconnecting, albeit idiosyncratically. We’re adjusting to variations in customs—plaid flannel versus Hawaiian shirts, Birkenstocks and snowshoes versus flip-flops and huaraches.” 

Father Lucas went on to share an important teaching of St. Ignatius, modo suave—or “way of sweetness.” 

“This is what our institutions and the works we share should be about, and mostly are all about: all about the modo suave,” Father Lucas said. “In classroom and confessional, in the boisterous work of parishes and social services centers and in the whispered realm of spiritual conversation, in meeting with student or penitent, parishioner or seeker, in our on-going, learning encounters with the poor and the powerless, we try to meet them all with mercy, with love rather than judgment, in order to help them to acquire a knowledge of their own hearts, knowledge we have interiorized first for ourselves, and need to share. 

At the conclusion of Mass, Father Lucas invited attendees to enjoy some cake on the Union Green and, if they so desired, avail themselves of a temporary Jesuit tattoo. It was an invitation that, as this photo shows, Father Lucas himself was happy to accept. 

Following is the full text of Father Lucas’s homily. 

Dear Sisters and Brothers, 

We thank you for joining us today from all parts of the Salish Sea region to celebrate the feast of St. Ignatius and the new reality of Jesuits West Province. This union, actually a reunion of the former Rocky Mountain Mission, and the Oregon and California Missions and provinces, has been long planned for and awaited. Most of us Jesuits rejoice that it has finally arrived, and we don’t need to talk about its arrival any more. I’ve been asked a lot what this all means. 

Perhaps an image will help. Jesuits West is a bunch of bachelor uncles and brothers who've lived apart for a while, but are reconnecting, albeit idiosyncratically. We're adjusting to variations in customs—plaid flannel versus Hawaiian shirts, Birkenstocks and snowshoes versus flip-flops and huaraches. 

Still, with patience, with God’s help, and your help, the help of our colleagues and friends, we’re remembering, even learning anew how much we love each other and the mission that started us --and Ignatius--on this way.  The way is the way of mission, of hard, demanding, and satisfying work for the glory of God and the good of souls.  It’s a way has always moved us into conversation with one another and the world, into freedom and danger, into grace and mercy. 

Last month for two weeks, I had the pleasure of teaching 72 Jesuit novices from all over North America about the history of the Society of Jesus. Perhaps because of the toxic political climate we live in, the thing that engaged them most, and that moved me most in rediscovering it, was our consideration of Father Ignatius’ secret weapon. It wasn’t razor sharp wit or flawless dialectic; it was manners he learned at the Spanish Court joined to experience of being a loved sinner that he received from God’s mercy at Manresa. He called that secret weapon the modo suave, the way of sweetness. 

Consider the instructions he gave to his three companions as they departed as staff theologians for the Council of Trent in 1545. Trent was a fractious and controversial and seemingly endless palaver, an uneasy, even perilous place to be. This is what Ignatius taught them: 

“I should be slow to speak, and should do so only after reflection and in a friendly spirit, particularly when a decision is given... profit by listening quietly to learn the frame of mind, feelings, and intentions of the speakers, so that I might be the better able to answer in my turn or keep silent…I should not touch upon matters that are in controversy…but simply exhort the people to live a good life and practice the devotions of the church.  I should move them to acquire a knowledge of their own hearts and a greater knowledge and love of their creator and lord, appealing to the intellect.” 

This St. Ignatius Day, this day when we celebrate the union of minds and hearts in such a broad and diverse range of geography, works and conversations, I can think of no better encouragement or no better advice for us all: to apply this modo suave in all our dealings, recognizing that when we treat others with mercy it is because we have come to know our own hearts through the mercy of God we have received. 

Informed by this modo suave, our shared vocation is a noble one: to live aright so that we can witness aright. We do not convince through apologetics or argument, but through the goodness and sincerity of our lives. St Francis of Assisi understood this when he said “Preach always; when necessary use words.” How we act, how we say what we say becomes even more important than the content of the words themselves. 

This is what our institutions and the works we share should be about, and mostly are all about:  all about the modo suave.  In classroom and confessional, in the boisterous work of parishes and social services centers and in the whispered realm of spiritual conversation, in meeting with student or penitent, parishioner or seeker, in our on-going, learning encounters with the poor and the powerless, we try to meet them all with mercy, with love rather than judgment, in order to help them to acquire a knowledge of their own hearts, knowledge we have interiorized first for ourselves, and need to share.

(Photo courtesy of Natch Ohno, S.J.)

SU graduate ordained in Egypt

August 2, 2017

Fadi Aboulesaad, S.J., who graduated this June from the School of Theology and Ministry’s Master of Arts in Transformational Leadership program, was ordained in Cairo, Egypt, last month. This followed his ordination to the diaconate at SU in April.

(Photo courtesy of Frank Savadera, S.J.)

 

Father Pham teaches, presents art in Bangalore, India

July 18, 2017

Trung Pham, S.J., assistant professor of Fine Arts, is teaching this summer at St. Joseph’s College in Bangalore, India. While there, Father Pham also held an exhibition at a city gallery. He and his art were featured in The Times of India.

Father Pham is at St. Joseph’s as part of Seattle University’s emerging collaboration with the sister Jesuit college. In April three St. Joseph’s faculty members visited SU to meet with faculty and staff and explore new ways to deepen the partnership.

New Jesuit Province Formed

July 6, 2017

It’s official: the Oregon and California Provinces reunited on July 1 to form Jesuits West. The newest Jesuit province, which encompasses 10 states, continues “the Jesuit tradition of going to the margins of society to provide education, spirituality and justice wherever it is needed most,” writes Jesuit.org. You can read more about the Jesuits West here.

Service, Community and Spirituality: A Second Act

July 3, 2017

Are you: 

  • 50 years or older?
  • Seeking meaningful, fulfilling work that benefits society?
  • Wanting to be part of a supportive spiritual community?

Well then, JV EnCorps (JVE) is just the program for you.

Launched in 2012, JV EnCorps grew out of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) Northwest, a 60-plus-year volunteer program that focuses on core values of community, simple living, social justice and spirituality. While JVs tend to be on the younger side—typically college graduates—the idea behind JVC EnCorps is to provide a similar opportunity for people with a little more tread on the tires who are retired or heading toward retirement.

JV EnCorps volunteers (JVEs) serve in part-time volunteer positions that allow them to make an impact on the lives of others, particularly those living on the margins. Although they don’t live together as Jesuit Volunteers do, JV EnCorps volunteers connect with each other in many ways. This includes monthly gatherings with other JVEs for community-building, support and reflective sharing; two group retreats; and opportunities for additional group social, spiritual or service activities.

Based in Portland, JV EnCorps is now available in six cities, including Seattle and Bainbridge/Kitsap. The Seattle group meets regularly at St. Joseph Church in Seattle and welcomes people from all spiritual traditions. (A current Seattle-area EnCorps volunteer was recently featured in Northwest Catholic.)

The application deadline for JVE is Aug. 15. Click here to learn more about the JVE program and to apply. If you prefer to complete a printed version of the application, please e-mail JVESeattle@jvcnorthwest.org or call (206) 305-8911.

Father Conroy ministers to members of Congress

June 16, 2017


Pat Conroy, S.J., chaplain of the House of Representatives, is pictured here offering a prayer before the Congressional Baseball Game on June 15. A longstanding tradition that pits Democrats against Republicans to raise money for charity, this year’s game came on the heels of a shooting that injured House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and three others while they were practicing. 

A member of the Oregon Province of Jesuits, Father Conroy previously served in Campus Ministry at Seattle University. Sworn in as House chaplain in 2011, Father Conroy spoke with The Commons during a return visit to campus in fall 2012.