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All Things Jesuit

Ready to build bridges

April 26, 2017

Fadi Aboulesaad, S.J., a student in the School of Theology and Ministry’s Master of Arts in Transformational Leadership program, was ordained into the Order of the Diaconate this month at the Chapel of St. Ignatius.

Ordination to the diaconate is the last step before priestly ordination in the Society of Jesus (Jesuits).

After Aboulesaad graduates from the Transformational Leadership program in June, he will return to his home country Egypt, where he co-founded “Point of Light,” an interfaith retreat for Muslims and Christians to offer a safe space for shared spiritualty. 

“I believe that our studies at the School of Theology and Ministry have changed our lives forever, and we are not able to be indifferent anymore, but peacemakers and agents of change,” says Aboulesaad. “I feel ready to go back to Egypt, stand with those who fight for freedom, dignity and social justice. I will carry with me all that I have learned here and all the love that I have received. My hope is to build bridges between communities and share not only religions, but different cultures.”

In above photo from left to right: Tito Cruz (STM Associate Dean of Academic Affairs), Dung Tran (faculty NCS), Carla Orlando (MATL professional coach), Joe Orlando (Director of the Center for Jesuit Education), Fadi Aboulesaad (Jesuit MATL student from Egypt) and Frank Savadera (Jesuit DMin student from the Philippines).

- School of Theology and Ministry

Holy Week at Seattle University

April 4, 2017

Campus Ministry invites all students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends to the following Holy Week celebrations at the Chapel of St. Ignatius.

Palm Sunday       April 9, 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Holy Thursday     April 13, 7:30 p.m.

Good Friday        April 14, 3 p.m. 

Easter Vigil         April 15, 9 p.m.

Easter Sunday    April 16, 11a.m. only

(Photo by Monica Lloyd)

AJCU opposes Administration's higher education budget

March 17, 2017

Representing the 28 Jesuit institutions of higher education throughout the United States, the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) has weighed in on the Trump Administration’s proposed higher education budget for fiscal year 18 (FY18).

“The proposed budget will eliminate or make cuts to critical and very successful programs including Pell Grants, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) and Federal Work Study (FWS) programs, all of which provide opportunities for many of our nation’s disadvantaged students to attend college,” AJCU wrote in a statement.

The full statement, which can be read here, concludes with the hope “that Congress will reject these harmful proposals and instead make appropriate decisions for the sake of our nation’s disadvantaged students and the future health of the U.S. economy.”

Bringing a Jesuit perspective to difficult conversations

March 8, 2017

Written by Pat Howell, S.J.

Race relations, police brutality, racism, police support, micro-aggressions, Jesuits and slavery, sexual consent/social justice, “Catholic mission—too much, not enough”—these are just a few of the difficult topics featured in the current issue of Conversations magazine. 

Capitalizing on the magazine, the Jesuit universities and colleges in the Heartlands/Delta region, from Chicago to New Orleans, used this same theme of “difficult conversations” for their well-attended faculty conference at Creighton University, Feb. 24-26.

The organizers of the Creighton conference recommended four articles from Conversations to be read in advance, including “A Spirituality of Citizenship: Cultivating the Ignatian Charism of Dialogue” by Michael P. Murphy of Loyola Chicago and “Difficult Conversations, One Bite at a Time,” by Thomas Curran, S.J., of Rockhurst University. The focus of the conference was active participation in engaging difficult conversations rather than simply talking about them.

The keynoter was Chris Pramuk, associate professor at Xavier University, who spoke on “Leaning into Difficult Conversations: An Ignatian Composition of Place,” offering a superb, contemplative approach for reframing the dialogic engagement needed for conflictual conversations. Two faculty members of the Werner Law Center of Creighton Law School, who specialize in mediation and conflict engagement, guided and facilitated actual, difficult conversations among the conference participants.

We commissioned articles on this theme last year because of the critical situations that had arisen in Baltimore and St. Louis. In each case, a young African-American male was either shot or brutalized by police. Loyola University of Maryland and St. Louis University were directly affected in the aftermath and found creative, “Jesuit” ways of responding to these race-laced situations.

The National Seminar has sought in recent years to partner with other AJCU events so that the magazine receives maximum use and effect. Similarly, the Seminar will partner with Seattle University for the Justice Conference this coming August when it publishes its next issue:  the Jesuit university as “Sanctuary for Truth and Justice.” The topic, rather obviously, arose following the turbulent ascendancy of the current U.S. president and his immediate implementation of discriminatory bans on immigration from Muslim countries and a fierce round up of undocumented peoples.

Pat Howell, S.J., is professor of theology and part of the Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture. He chairs the National Seminar on Jesuit Higher Education, publisher of Conversations. The National Seminar has a rotating membership of nine faculty members coming from each of the 28 Jesuit institutions of higher education and serving for a three-year term. Father Howell has been chair and general editor of the magazine for seven years.

Faith and Reason—Friends, Foes or Strangers?

March 1, 2017

On the first day of class when Eric Watson, S.J., walks in wearing a collar and clerics, his new students sometimes look confused, seemingly wondering whether they inadvertently registered for a theology course. While Father Watson certainly knows his way around theology, he is, by trade, an associate professor of chemistry. 

His students are not alone in thinking that priest-slash-scientist is an odd combination—if not an outright contradiction. 

This idea that science and religion just don’t mix was the starting point of a presentation Father Watson gave Feb. 28, titled “Reflections of a Jesuit Scientist.” (The talk was part of the Institute of Catholic Thought and Culture’s Jesuits in Science Series.) 

Speaking to a standing-room-only crowd in Wyckoff Auditorium, Father Watson (right) invited attendees to consider for themselves the nature of the relationship between faith and reason: “Do they engage, oppose or ignore each other? Are they friends or foes or strangers?” 

He pointed to a Pew Research Center study in which a majority of respondents—nearly 60 percent—believe science and religion are often in conflict. (Interestingly, a much smaller percentage responded that their own beliefs conflict with science.) The media, Father Watson said, is significantly responsible for reinforcing this perception. He quoted Oxford University biochemist and Anglican priest Alister McGrath, who said, “There is a world of difference between saying that ‘science and religion are necessarily in conflict’ (which is historically indefensible) and ‘science and religion are sometimes in conflict and sometimes work together’ (which historically is true but will seem unexciting to many)." 

Conflict, Father Watson added, is actually just one of four models by which the relationship between faith and reason can be understood. He identified the other three as independence (science and religion are “polite strangers” operating in a sort of parallel, peaceful coexistence); complementarity (religion and science are in dialogue, informing and keeping one another honest, while still pretty much autonomous); and integration (science and religion are viewed cohesively through the prism of a personal relationship with a creative, active and loving God).

Father Watson deftly drew upon the wisdom and insights of scientists and theologians alike to elaborate and critique each model. Speaking from his personal experience as a priest and professor on campus, he shared his views on how Seattle University fosters an integration of religion and science. “Jesuit education promotes dialogue between faith and culture, which includes dialogue between faith and science.” Along those lines, he added that “It’s rewarding for me to see some of my students at Mass on Sunday and then at class on Monday.”

He also spoke with passion about his research. “This is what I make,” he said, pointing to a slide on the screen, “triple-decker organometallic compounds. They’re interesting…they’re colorful…they have eventual applications…but really, I love these things because they’re beautiful.” 

“There’s a lot of harmony,” Fr. Watson concluded, “between my life as a teacher, a priest and a researcher.”

Nine Days of Grace: Novena 2017

February 28, 2017

Presenters: Pat Kelly, S.J., Lisa Dennison and Kent Hickey

Are you longing to restore your relationships with God and others, and renew hope? Come experience for yourself the surprising graces of “Building Bridges, Building Hope,” a unique nine-day Lenten retreat in the midst of daily life! Join for one, some or all of these nine days of Eucharistic liturgies, featuring meaningful and relevant reflections by three Ignatian-inspired presenters, your heartfelt prayers of petition and healing offered through the intercession of St. Francis Xavier, and beautiful musical prayer—all  surrounded by an inspiring community of faith-filled people. The novena takes place from Wednesday, March 8 through Thursday, March 16, as follows: 

Weekdays: 12:30 p.m., Chapel of St. Ignatius, Seattle University; or 7 p.m. at St. Joseph Church

Saturday: 1 p.m., St. Joseph Church

Sunday: 1 p.m., Chapel of St. Ignatius

Marketing Jesuit Universities

February 24, 2017

How can a Jesuit university like Seattle U remain true to its identity when marketing itself without alienating non-Catholics? This was one of the questions taken up at a recent panel discussion on “The Jesuit Brand: Perspectives on the Marketing of Jesuit Universities.”

Teaming up to sponsor the Feb. 17 event, which attracted a full crowd in Casey Commons, were Albers Arrupe Alumni, Marketing Communications, the Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture, and the Center for Jesuit Education.

The discussion was led by Matt Issaac, associate professor of marketing, Francesca Lukjanowicz, director of university marketing, and Nicky Santos, S.J., a marketing professor from Marquette University. Jessica Ludescher Imanaka, associate professor of marketing and philosophy, served as moderator.

The topic generated a rich and spirited conversation. In fact, the panelists did not get very far into their presentation before numerous audience members were chiming in with questions or observations.

While some of the discussion touched on the differing perceptions many have of the words “Catholic” and “Jesuit,” most of the time was spent exploring how explicitly a university should be marketing itself as Jesuit.

Some believed Jesuit universities should be clear in identifying themselves as such. “The Jesuit brand has equity,” Father Santos, S.J., said, later adding, “(You should) be who you are.”

Others pointed out that a sizable swath of the general public, including prospective students, are not familiar with what it means to be Jesuit. In these instances, some asserted that marketing should be utilized as a tool to educate and raise awareness. Others countered that, given the reality of limited marketing funds, universities must stick to what resonates with the intended audience.

It was further pointed out that many of the elements that are part and parcel of a Jesuit education—such as social justice, educating the whole person and others—do resonate with prospective students and can be effective in marketing Seattle U in an authentic way.

And as a member of the audience noted, while many of SU’s students might not be all that familiar with the university’s Jesuit ethos when they enroll, many of them develop, in time, an enduring appreciation for the mission and identity of the school.

Clearly there was a lot of interest in the topic and passion for how the university should be presenting itself.

Ash Wednesday

February 21, 2017

Ash Wednesday is March 1. The distribution of ashes on campus will take place at Catholic Masses held at the Chapel of St. Ignatius at 8 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent, a 40-day period of fasting, prayer, alms giving, and repentance for Christians before the celebration of Easter. People receive ashes on their foreheads on Ash Wednesday as a remembrance of our mortality and a sign of our desire for reconciliation.

Mission Examen Self Study

February 16, 2017

As part of the Examen process Seattle University has undertaken for the 2016-2017 academic year, Mission Examen Committee completed a Self Study with input from more than 400 members of the campus community. The study surfaced a number of strengths and challenges in how the university is living out its Jesuit Catholic educational mission:


  • Pervasive recognition and embrace of the university’s mission.

  • Integration of aspects of the Catholic, Jesuit character throughout the academic, cocurricular, and operational dimensions of the university.

  • A high level of service, social justice and global awareness among faculty, staff and students.

  • Collaboration among Jesuits and lay faculty and staff in providing programs to enhance awareness of and commitment to the university’s Catholic, Jesuit identity.

  • The university’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion and institutional integrity.


  • Maintaining the university’s commitment to the Catholic, Jesuit character of the university during the next twenty-five years and beyond.

  • Increased intentionality in mission-focused hiring, promotion and development for faculty and staff, and clear communication of our Jesuit Catholic mission.

  • Polarization between the administration and some elements of the university community calls for increased efforts to build procedures of mutual listening, respect, and openness as we face together a challenging future in higher education. 
  • In this era of social change, the university must continue to build its capacity to engage with students, faculty and staff on timely issues of transparency and effectiveness.

  • A recurring challenge heard in the input sessions of fall 2016 is the strain put on university life, student access and program support by limited financial resources.

Visit Examen for the full text of the Self Study and other materials on the process.

Perspectives on the Marketing of Jesuit Universities

February 1, 2017

You are invited to a panel discussion on "The Jesuit Brand: Perspectives on the Marketing of Jesuit Universities" from noon to 1:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 17, in Casey Commons.

The discussion will feature Director of University Marketing at SU Francesca Lukjanowicz and marketing professors Nicky Santos, S.J. (Marquette University) and Mathew Isaac (Albers School of Business and Economics). 

Panelists will explore: 

  • Various approaches that Jesuit universities take in marketing and branding themselves
  • How a Jesuit university can remain true to its identity when marketing itself without alienating non-Catholics
  • Potential strategies for a Jesuit university to authentically and appropriately communicate different aspects of its identity when interacting with disparate audiences (e.g., alumni, students, staff, donors, faculty, community partners, employers, parents) 

Cosponsored by Albers Arrupe Alumni, Center for Jesuit Education, Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture, and Marketing Communications. Lunch will be served. To RSVP, contact

In Solidarity

January 30, 2017

President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., released a statement over the weekend on the Trump Administration’s Jan. 27 executive order on immigration. 

Father Sundborg wrote, in part: "The university strongly opposes the discriminatory and misguided executive order issued by the Trump administration on non-U.S. citizens from select countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen). We stand in full solidarity with our international students as well as faculty and staff who may be affected." 

Father Steve’s statement was highlighted by the Ignatian Solidarity Network

To view statements on the order by other Jesuit colleges and universities, visit AJCU.

Supporting undocumented students

November 30, 2016

President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., joined with the leaders of the other 27 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States in signing a statement in support of undocumented students.

The presidents pledged to continue working to: "protect to the fullest extent of the law undocumented students on our campuses; promote retention of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA); support and stand with our students, faculty and staff regardless of their faith traditions; (and) preserve the religious freedoms on which our nation was founded."

The statement followed a letter President Sundborg, S.J., wrote to the campus community on Nov. 21, in which he affirmed that "As a Jesuit Catholic university, we are deeply committed to the dignity and equality of every individual, to the common good and to developing leaders for a just and humane world. We also recognize how central a safe, inclusive and welcoming community is to educational excellence and the success of students. And we are deeply committed to fostering respectful and constructive dialogue, which is essential to a thriving institution of higher learning and the welfare of all students, faculty and staff."

Long a supporter of undocumented students, Father Sundborg wrote an op-ed, "Our DREAM Students," which appeared in the LA Times in November 2010.