Archived Letters from Interim Director Fr. Howell, SJ

Giving an Account for the Hope That Is in Us

Posted by Patrick J. Howell, S.J. on Wednesday, September 5, 2018 at 4:05 PM PDT

In the first letter of Peter, he challenges the faith community to “always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you”(1 Peter 3:15).

Such an accounting seems eminently timely as we begin another academic year. “To give an account for the hope in us,” it’s not sufficient simply to catalogue all the terrific events that ICTC hosts, the grants it unleashes for faculty research, or the generous support elicited in donors, we need to delve deeper into the very purpose of the Institute.

The core motivation, of course, is to advance the cultural and intellectual heritage so richly abundant and present in the Catholic tradition. It was after all the Catholic Church, that is, its religious leaders, who founded the great universities of Oxford, Salamanca, Prague, Bologna and Paris in the 11th and 12th centuries. Though seldom averted to, Catholic priests wear the black academic garb attributed to the learned academics during that era.

Deeper than these externals is our foundational belief in a gracious, all-loving God who has created us and brought us into the fullness of life. This coming year, in particular, we hear the clarion call of the Jesuit Superior General Father Arturo Sosa given at Bilbao, Spain, this summer: “universities are sources of reconciliation.”

Since faculty operate in contexts of constant debate, tension, unrest, contest, skepticism and disagreement, Father Sosa’s assertion seems gratuitous, even utopian. But it’s precisely this range of ideas, beliefs, commitments, and points of view that makes Seattle University such a powerhouse of dialogue and offers a life so rich. The context which overcomes deep polarization, characteristic of our country, is a community of scholars of divergent viewpoints, sharing a faith that does justice, that engages cultures, and welcomes interreligious dialogue, who work together toward deeply shared values and ideas.  

Accepting Father Sosa’s challenge to be a source of reconciliation, once again this year the ICTC is co-hosting two important “summits”: one on Immigration (March 2019) and the other on Laudato Si’: Care for our Common Home, the Earth (June 2019).

Central to the year will be the Catholic Heritage Lecture series with its intriguing theme of Practicing Spirituality in a variety of disciplines and forums (See below for more information on the fall lecture).

Once again we invite you on this journey, on this search for meaning, guided by the Holy Spirit and informed by daily discernment. Any “account for the hope that is in us” certainly rests on our partnership with you.

Patrick J. Howell, S.J.
Interim Director, Sept. 2018 to July 1, 2019