Posts Tagged ‘Boston College’
Ryan Duns, SJ is a Jesuit scholastic studying at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, and has been playing traditional Irish music on a tin whistle for over 25 years. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!
“The season of Lent is a powerful time in all of our lives, for each year we are invited deeper into our relationship with God,” says Jesuit Father Terry Devino in the third Lenten podcast from the New England and New York Province Jesuits. “We hear in the Scriptures on Ash Wednesday, ‘Come back to me with all your heart.’ So we strive to do this by leaning into this invitation.”
Fr. Devino says he sees Lent’s many signs, symbols and invitations all around him on Boston College’s campus, where he serves as vice president and university secretary.
One of those signs included the 120 Boston College students who recently spent their vacation days helping the poor in countries that included Belize, Mexico and El Salvador. Fr. Devino says these students weren’t going to bring God to these places, but allowing God to find them.
“They offer hope — yes to those they visit — but more to those of us left behind at home. They are hope,” says Fr. Devino.
“We are the gardeners, and we’re called to be gardeners of hope. We too must cultivate the ground on which we stand. In my ministry I’m so blessed to be part of the mission of cultivating ground for young men and young women as we assist in forming them to be men and women for others.”
Listen to the full podcast at the New England Province website.
How can networking help the Society of Jesus accomplish its mission? A new initiative, International Jesuit Networking, hopes to promote reflection on this topic and foster international networking in the Society.
In April 2012, encouraged by the call made by the Society’s 35th General Congregation to promote international networking, a group of 26 Jesuits and 7 lay partners from 10 countries gathered at Boston College to discuss the issue.
“I think of all of these graduates of schools, of parishioners, of lay people working in Jesuit institutions and of all the students, and if those folks felt they were part of a broader network, it seems to me that there’s a really incredible opportunity to get a lot done,” says conference participant Chris Lowney from Jesuit Commons, one of the most promising new examples of Jesuit collaborative efforts at a global stage.
As a result of the conference, a final document has been released and is available on a newly launched website, www.jesuitnetworking.org. The initiative has also opened channels for a global conversation on the topic through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. All Jesuits and collaborators are invited to join those platforms to explore future emerging collaborative networks.
“It’s very important that we collaborate and integrate our common mission and work together,” says Jesuit Father Xavier Jeyaraj, who serves in the Jesuit Curia in Rome and attended the conference.
Watch the video below to learn more about the networking initiative and hear from conference participants.
Jesuit Father Robert VerEecke, the longtime pastor of St. Ignatius Parish at Boston College, is also a dancer, a choreographer and the Jesuit Artist-in-Residence at Boston College, earning him the nickname “the dancing priest.”
Fr. VerEecke also founded the Boston Liturgical Dance Ensemble in 1980 to perform in church venues, and each Christmas the troupe produces a show. For 28 years, that show was “A Dancer’s Christmas,” a holiday tradition in Boston until 2008. For the past four years Fr. VerEecke’s ensemble has been performing “Christmas Reflections,” which includes an almost 80-member cast of professional dancers, Boston College students, alumni and others. The story reflects on the meaning of the season through Luke’s Gospel.
Fr. VerEecke was recently interviewed by the Boston Globe about his calling to the priesthood and to dance. The interview is below, along with a video of Fr. VerEecke discussing “Christmas Reflections” that shows the dancers in action.
Q. Are you a priest who happens to be a choreographer, or are the two inextricably combined?
A. They’re inextricably combined. When I think of Catholic ritual, there’s so much movement and choreography. What makes ritual work for people is a sense of flow and movement integrity. I work with young Jesuits and try to help them understand that sense of the larger picture. It’s such a passion, for me there is no separation between religious expression and movement expression. It always comes together quite spontaneously. It’s when I’m most alive.
Q. What happened when you were called to the priesthood at age 18?
A. I entered the Jesuits thinking I’d never have a chance to do anything artistically. Then in 1970, the Jesuits organized an artist institute and they had a track to study ballet, and I took that. When I started taking class, it was an epiphany. It gave me the vocabulary for choreographing, but the advantage of not having early training was that I was never set in a particular language of moving, so my choreography tends to be more from within. I feel free to use whatever comes.
Q. I know with all the “Nutcracker”s this time of year there was intense competition to get performers for “A Dancer’s Christmas.” Was that part of why you stopped the production after 2008?
A. The challenge was always mounting such a big production and trying to replace people every year without a huge budget, particularly male dancers. But the real issue is that I was very aesthetically pleased with the work that had evolved, so I said this is the last year. It had become absolutely perfect for me. It had reached its apex.
Q. But the very next year you were back with “Christmas Reflections” How did that come about?
A. There were all these children who were heartbroken that “A Dancer’s Christmas” was ending, and it got to me. We were all crying — one of my nicknames is Sobby Bobby. I just couldn’t say this is the end, so I said I’d try to think of what else we do, not on the same scale. “Christmas Reflections” is like “A Dancer’s Christmas” in miniature, like one of those little [snow] globes, very delicate and charming.
Q. “A Dancer’s Christmas” used pageantry, modern dance, ballet, and folk dance to tell the Christmas story from three historical periods. How different is the new show?
A. The pieces are shorter. It uses a lot of familiar Christmas music. The three-act format is still very similar. This first is scriptural, the second has the playfulness, the third has some of the repertory of the third act of “A Dancer’s Christmas.” One of the new pieces we added, which is a lot of fun, is “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” with the dancers representing all the characters. A local championship Irish dancer, Helen O’Dwyer, a BC alum, was a dancer for a number of years in “A Dancer’s Christmas.” I asked her if she thought her school might want to participate, and now there are 30 to 40 Irish dancers. We have a guest artist, Jamaican contemporary dancer Steven Cornwall, portraying Joseph, and he’s a spectacular dancer. He brings a beauty and strength that is very powerful to watch.
Q. You’ve always maintained that “A Dancer’s Christmas” created a unique sense of family and community among the performers. Have you been able to re-create that?
A. It’s what’s kind of magical about it, because people put a lot into it, and the story draws people in. A lot of people listen or sing these songs, especially more traditional carols, but they never had a chance to dance to them, and it can be powerful for them. “Silent Night” is the final number, with children joining adults in the end, and there’s something quite moving about seeing it all unfold.
Q. At the core, what do these shows mean to you and perhaps to the others who come to them year after year? What is the takeaway message?
A. It’s about the profound sense of joy that is available to all of us in the Christmas season, no matter how we celebrate it. From a religious point of view, it’s about God loving us so much that he wants to dance with us. These days there’s so much negative about God and salvation. My image is that God is enmeshed in the flesh of Jesus. He wants to have arms and legs so he can dance with us.
Despite their youthful outlook and demeanor, the three Jesuit priests pictured here have a staggering 120 years of combined service at Boston College.
Jesuit Father James Woods, ’54, M.A.T.’61, S.T.B.’62 (right) joined the university in 1968 as dean of the Evening College, which at his urging became the College of Advancing Studies in 1996. In May 2002, the school was renamed the Woods College of Advancing Studies. After 44 years, Fr. Woods stepped down as dean in May 2012.
Jesuit Father Joseph Appleyard, ’53, S.T.M.’58, H’12 (center) started his career at Boston College in 1967 as a member of the English faculty. Beginning in 1987, he served for 10 years as director of the Arts and Sciences Honors Program before being appointed founding vice president of the Office of Mission and Ministry, a post he held until 2010, when he was asked to take a senior administrative position with the New England Province Jesuits.
Jesuit Father William Neenan (left), an urban economist, arrived from the University of Michigan in 1979 as the university’s first Thomas I. Gasson, SJ, Professor. From 1980 to 1987 he served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, before becoming academic vice president and dean of faculties. Since 1998 he has been vice president and special assistant to the president. He has presided at 225 Boston College-related marriages.
The three were photographed this past summer in front of the statue of St. Ignatius on Boston College’s campus.