Posts Tagged ‘Boston College’

Two Jesuits Receive New Appointments at Boston College

JeJesuit Father Terrence Devinosuit Father Terrence Devino, special assistant to the president and director of Manresa House at Boston College, has been appointed vice president and university secretary by the Boston College Board of Trustees, effective December 31, 2012.

Fr. Devino, who this year marked his 25th year as a priest, brings experience as a veteran administrator who has developed programs in the areas of campus ministry, student formation and vocational discernment.

“Fr. Devino knows Boston College well and brings substantial experience from his work here and from his previous assignments at Fairfield University and the University of Scranton,” said University President Jesuit Father William P. Leahy. “He will be an engaging presence among our students, faculty and alumni.” [Boston College]


Jesuit Father Gregory KalscheurJesuit Father Gregory Kalscheur, an associate professor at Boston College Law School, has been named senior associate dean for strategic planning and faculty development in the College of Arts and Sciences.

In his new post, which he will assume in August, Fr. Kalscheur will assist in reviewing academic programs and in the school’s faculty hiring process.

Fr. Kalscheur, who will continue to teach a course in civil procedure at BC Law, said his job as A&S senior associate dean represents a “natural evolution” in his vocation and academic career.

“Undergraduate liberal arts is at the heart of the Jesuit educational mission,” Fr. Kalscheur said. “I see this appointment in A&S as connecting with my background as both a student and a teacher in the Jesuit tradition.” [Boston College]

Boston College Jesuit Geologist Fr. James Skehan Honored on his 89th Birthday

Jesuit priest, geologist and author James W. Skehan, a Boston College professor emeritus who served as the longtime director of the University’s geophysical research observatory, has been honored with the unveiling of a bronze bust in his likeness at an event celebrating his 89thbirthday.

The sculpture was created in clay by local artist Janie Belive, who works at Campion Center in Weston, Mass., where Fr. Skehan is in residence. Vincent J. Murphy, James Lewkowicz and Robert O. Varnerin—longtime friends of Fr. Skehan—commissioned the bronzing of the sculpture. The bust’s base, from the Le Masurier Family Quarry in North Chelmsford, Mass., is made from Chelmsford Granite, one of Fr. Skehan’s favorite rocks. The bust is on display in BC’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, which was founded (as the Department of Geology) by Fr. Skehan in 1958.

Many colleagues and friends joined Fr. Skehan at the Apr. 25 event. John Ebel, Boston College Earth and Environmental Sciences professor and Weston Observatory director, gave an address that served as a retrospective on Fr. Skehan’s career. A reception with birthday cake followed, hosted by BC’s Jesuit Community and the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department.

Fr. Skehan is a renowned geologist whose research has focused on the history of the Avalon terrane, the geological micro-continent stretching from Long Island to Belgium upon which Boston lies. From 1973 to 1993, he directed BC’s Weston Observatory, which monitors seismic activity around the globe.

He is the author of Roadside Geology of Massachusetts, a 400-page illustrated guide to the geological history and makeup of the Commonwealth. He followed that with Roadside Geology of Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Fr. Skehan has been honored in special ways during his storied career. In 2003, Mount Holyoke College paleontologist Mark A. S. McMenamin named a new genus of trilobite in Fr. Skehan’s honor. Skehanos is a marine arthropod that lived more than 500 million years ago and whose fossil was discovered in Massachusetts.

Author Sarah Andrews created a fictional Fr. Jim Skehan character for In Cold Pursuit, her mystery novel set in Antarctica. Fr. Skehan is also the recipient of the American Institute of Professional Geologists’ Ben H. Parker Memorial Medal, honoring individuals with long records of distinguished and outstanding service in the field of geology, among other honors.

A man of science, Fr. Skehan is also a man of deep faith. Growing up, his family said the rosary regularly after dinner. He entered the Jesuit order in 1940 and was ordained in 1954.

A noted retreat and spiritual leader, he is the author of Place Me With Your Son: Ignatian Spirituality in Everyday Life and of Praying with Teilhard de Chardin, on the life and thought of French Jesuit paleontologist and philosopher de Chardin. The convergence of geologist and priest was profoundly on display when Fr. Skehan said the first Mass on the volcanic island Surtsey soon after it rose off the coast of Iceland.

Fr. Skehan sees no conflict in his devotion to both science and faith, telling the Boston College Chronicle:

“If you look at a beautiful sunset, or how mountains are formed, or observe how continents move, you can view it either as science or as God speaking to you, or both. I do both. What I do as a scientist is no different from what I do listening to the cosmic word of God. It’s nice to have both [science and faith] – in fact, it makes everything so exhilarating. What could be more marvelous?”

[Boston College]

Boston College Star Enters the Jesuit Novitiate

Dan Kennedy graduated from Boston College (BC) last month, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and the recipient of the school’s most prestigious prize, the Edward H. Finnegan Award.

Winners of the Finnegan, given to the student who best exemplifies the BC motto, “ever to excel,’’ tend to go big – top grad schools, Wall Street, overseas fellowships. Kennedy is planning to give away his computer, recycle his Blackberry, and move to a modest communal house in St. Paul, Minn.

He will get $75 a month for incidentals. He will have no romantic relationships. He will go where his superiors ask him to go, and do what they ask him to do. If all goes well, Kennedy – “Dan-o’’ to his friends – can hope to be ordained a Jesuit priest in 2023.

Entering a religious order straight out of college is rare these days, particularly for a standout student at an elite school. One or two graduating BC seniors enter seminary each year, but never in recent memory has a Finnegan winner done so.

“Um, I could never see Dan-o on Wall Street,’’ Shannon Griesser, a junior, said, laughing. “I’ve never met such a kind human being, to the core.’’

But he is hardly a “laxbro,’’ either, as one of his theology professors, Stephen Pope, quipped. (The term is slang for a lacrosse-obsessed frat brother.)

Medium height and solidly built, the bespectacled Kennedy keeps his room in military order, his comforter neatly folded, paper clips and pens exactingly arrayed in his desk drawer. He uses words like “unitive,’’ as in, “There’s nothing more unitive than enjoying a meal together.’’ There is no self-consciousness in his voice when he talks about his motivation for becoming a Jesuit: “My personal relationship with Jesus Christ.’’

“It’s the love I feel from God, and how I want to reciprocate that,’’ he said.

“I’m not entering the church of 50 years ago or 500 years ago. I’m entering the church in 2012,’’ he said. “So you have to be realistic about the challenges of the images of priesthood in this day and age. . . . I don’t find it daunting, but it’s going to be a challenge.’’

Many of his closest BC friends are religious – but many are not. Florence Candel, an atheist who said she arrived at school with “a lot of anger at the church,’’ developed a strong friendship with Kennedy, who presented a face of Catholicism that Candel said she had never seen before – open, accepting, and embracing her questions as invitations for conversation. “Dan-o just basically taught me that to say I have a lack of faith is incorrect,’’ she said. “I obviously have faith in some things. Maybe not the same faith as people around me have, but that’s OK.’’

Candel still calls herself an atheist, but she sometimes participated in the informal “examens’’ Kennedy held for friends in his room on Monday nights. A cornerstone of Ignatian spirituality, the examination of consciousness is a ritual of prayerful reflection on daily life.

For 15 or 20 minutes, the group would sit together in Kennedy’s dorm room, a suite shared with three roommates, and silently consider questions Kennedy posed: “Where did you encounter God today? When could you have been more loving? What were you grateful for?’’

The daily examen is just one of the ways Kennedy continued to explore Jesuit life. In addition to attending Mass at least once a week, and getting to know the Jesuits on campus, he began to meet with a spiritual director, Jesuit Father William B. Neenan, BC’s vice president and special assistant to the president.

Kennedy will spend the first two years doing a series of “experiments’’ imitating the life of St. Ignatius, including a 30-day silent retreat, stints working at a hospital and with the poor. He will study a foreign language, and he will go on a pilgrimage with just $10 in his pocket and a letter from his superiors to speed his progress.

After the first two years, Kennedy will be sent to study philosophy for three years at a Jesuit university; then he will probably teach at one of the Jesuit high schools in the province. In the following three years, he will earn a master’s of divinity, preparing him for ordination.

Find out more about Kennedy’s considerations and expectations as he plans to join the Society of Jesus this August in this Boston Globe article.

Boston College’s Person of the Year: Jesuit Father James A. Woods

Jesuit Father James A. Woods has seen a lot after spending over four decades at Boston College (BC.) Since 1968, he has served as dean of the Woods College of Advancing Studies (WCAS) and he will be stepping down from his position this spring.

“My first teacher was my father, a role model who inspired me and others to do our best, to see what could be done,” Fr. Woods said. “We were the closest of friends.”

His father was a milkman, who he often accompanied on milk runs. His mother was an involved community member and parent, who offered him advice and support, and pushed him to make his dreams come true. “She taught me to ‘dream great dreams’ and to work with confidence to make them a reality,” Fr. Woods said.

His parents’ philosophy on life sparked a mindset that has guided him since childhood. “My parents’ outlook sparked optimism and hope,” he said.

Fr. Woods decided to become a Jesuit when he was a senior at Boston College High School, wishing to follow in the footsteps of those who had educated him.

“I was interviewed in the very spot where my office is today, but back then, it was an army barracks,” he said. “In front of the army barracks was an enormous pile of dirt, the forthcoming Fulton Hall. And then I saw the four other buildings that made up Boston College: Gasson, Bapst, St. Mary’s and Devlin Hall.”

He began his studies at the Shadowbrook Jesuit Seminary in Lenox, Mass. After four years, he continued his studies at Weston College, which was a constituent college within BC at the time, where he studied philosophy and worked toward a master’s degree in teaching mathematics for three years. After three years teaching at an all-boys’ boarding school, Cranwell, he returned to Weston College for theological studies, was ordained in 1961 and graduated in 1962.

Before beginning his position as WCAS dean, he was Provincial Secretary for the New England Jesuits and concurrently began working at the university as registrar of the Schools of Liberal Arts, Philosophy and Theology, and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Fr. Woods had various other responsibilities and various other jobs over the course of his life, including starting Bishop Connolly High School in Fall River, Mass., and serving as Adult Education Advisor to former president Jimmy Carter.

“I met monthly at the White House with a team of experts to facilitate the learning opportunities for a growing, diverse learner population,” he said. “This has been a lifelong commitment to each and [every] student eager and ready to begin their studies part-time.”

“Being responsive to the academic, financial and pastoral needs of the surrounding communities has been my responsibility these past 44 years,” Fr. Woods said. “Serving those students who dream of a Boston College education part-time in the Woods College of Advancing Studies and helping them make it happen has been extraordinarily meaningful for me.”

Cheryl Wright, coordinator of student services for the WCAS, began 30 years ago as a temporary employee filling in for her mother, but stayed ever since.

“He made this school what it is today,” she said. “It’s the love and respect that the students have for him that has made such a difference in their lives and in his life.”

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Australian Jesuit Reflects on Taking Final Vows

A few short weeks ago Jesuit Father Jeremy Clarke, an Australian Jesuit and an Assistant Professor of History at Boston College, professed final vows in the Society of Jesus at St. Mary’s Chapel on Boston College’s campus. Final vows occur when the Society of Jesus invites a Jesuit to full incorporation within the Society.  As one Jesuit said, at first vows, you accept the Society; at final vows, the Society accepts you. Fr. Clarke recently offered this reflection in the Australian province’s newsletter upon the completion of his final vows:

On Friday as I concluded taking my final vows in the Society of Jesus, I read the phrase, “At the altar of St Mary in St Mary’s Chapel, Boston College, Massachusetts, April 20, 2012.”  When I joined the Jesuits in 1993 at Canisius College, Pymble in Sydney, little did I know that I’d be halfway around the world almost two decades later.

On the occasion of my first vows, which were pronounced at the end of the novitiate in February 1995, along with three other men (including Jesuit Brother Kevin Huddy and Father Minh Van Tran), I spoke the words “I vow to your divine majesty, before the most holy Virgin Mary and the entire heavenly court, perpetual poverty, chastity, and obedience in the Society of Jesus. I promise that I will enter this same Society to spend my life in it forever.” At the end of the formula there is another prayer, which entreats God with the words “as you have freely given me the desire to make this offering, so also may you give me the abundant grace to fulfill it.”

They are wise words as the promise made then is that when one is called to final vows many years later one will then be ready to enter the Society completely, to be incorporated as a fully professed member of the Jesuits. Thus, our training and our testing, as envisaged by Ignatius and then experienced by countless generations of Jesuits, can indeed be long and arduous. Little did I know that as I gazed out over the deserts of the Kimberley region during a novitiate placement in 1994 (pictured, right) that I’d then end up being an academic in a Jesuit, Catholic university on the east coast of the United States.

And yet, in a way, this makes perfect sense in a Jesuit world. As we desire to enter the Society, so the Society desires to enable us to be all that we can be, for the good of our mission, which is to serve Christ’s poor and in so doing help build a better and more just world. Our congregations have articulated this desire in ever-more sophisticated (and lengthy!) ways over the past decades and one articulation of this that resonates with me is that we seek to be men on a mission, who seek a faith that does justice. Read the rest of this entry »