Xavier University Launches Pilgrimage for Veterans
Tags: Jesuit, jesuits, pilgrimage, Society of Jesus, Xavier University
Xavier University’s director of veterans affairs, Nate Davis, led five Cincinnati-area veterans on a spiritual pilgrimage to Assisi and Rome this past August. The pilgrimage is part of a new, veterans-only theology course developed by Xavier professor of theology Sister Rosie Miller, Davis and pilgrimage staff in Italy.
Xavier is the first Jesuit institution of higher learning to develop a veterans-only theology course and the first Jesuit institution to send a group of veterans on a pilgrimage. Miller suggested the pilgrimage because she is familiar with issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Veterans Program was founded in 2009 to help recruit and retain veterans, who are eligible for free tuition and books through the GI Bill. Davis, a former Marine who attended Xavier after his own military discharge, knows the ins and outs of both military and college life and can provide one-on-one help.
“We’re just trying to connect veterans, so they see their opportunities,” Davis says. “If our academic programs aren’t the right fit, we don’t just send the veteran away. The focus is on the veterans, so if it looks like another school is best for them, we help them get there.”
While the inaugural pilgrimage was Franciscan, Davis says it is still tied to Xavier’s Jesuit identity. “St. Ignatius and St. Francis had different backgrounds – one was highly educated, the other was not – and different approaches – one was more about living, the other about thinking – but still both were soldiers and suffered through many of the same things soldiers face today when they return from battle,” he explains. [Xavier University, The Catholic Beat]