Posts Tagged ‘Jesuit Father David Collins’
Jesuit Father David Collins has always been “fascinated by God and religion.” At Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., he explores the relationship between religion and science in an Ignatius Seminar course he created two years ago.
Fr. Collins says that he’s always had a theological curiosity, and as an undergraduate he began to investigate his own relationship with God. As a senior, he applied to join the Society of Jesus.
“Even during a highly skeptical phase in my life, I found the big questions that theology poses intriguing and important as in no other discipline,” Fr. Collins says. “But the decision to enter religious life and pursue the priesthood had much more to do with an awareness of God in my heart than with any theological proposition or school of thought.”
In the classroom, Fr. Collins channels his interests into his popular seminar, “Science and Religion in the West: Historical Perspectives.” The course begins with Latin theologian St. Augustine and the dominant question of his time — should Christians study science, as the pagan Greeks do? — and ends with modern American debates about evolution.
For Fr. Collins, the most rewarding aspect of his Ignatius Seminar is that it goes against the popular Western narrative that science and religion are enemies. History, he says, shows that these two institutions work well together and that their cooperation often leads to good things for civilization.
“America’s religiously inspired hostility to evolution is the exception, not the rule, in the history of the West. It’s enjoyable to watch students’ jaws hit the floor when they see that, despite some newspaper polemic, Western scientific discovery has recurrently advanced thanks to religious insights and religious commitment of resources,” Fr. Collins says.
“The actual history of the relationship between science and religion in the West is so much more interesting than the sound bites of culture warriors on the left or the right.”
Read the full story at the Georgetown University website.
What do you get when you mix a dorm filled with undergraduate students and a Jesuit-in-residence? An opportunity for Ignatian spirituality. At Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Jesuits-in-residence serve as mentors to students. For instance, Jesuit Father David Collins, one of the university’s Jesuits who lives in a student dorm, holds open houses every week so that students can stop by to talk.
“It’s an unstructured way for students to come up and, in fact, raise issues that they want to talk about,” Fr. Collins said. “The advantage of putting so much emphasis on an unstructured open house is that it allows themes to be set by students.”
Fr. Collins, a history professor, said the experience of living in a residence hall allows faculty to interact with students they might never otherwise meet.
Jesuit Father Dan Madigan, from Australia, is in his first year as a Jesuit-in-residence on campus, and for him the experience offers a chance to broaden his understanding of American college life.
“I was very interested to meet resident assistants — that was an eye-opener, because I didn’t go to a school like this,” Fr. Madigan said. “I went to undergrad in Australia, and we always go to state university as commuters, so we don’t have the sense of 24/7 residential contact.”
Like Fr. Collins, Fr. Madigan likes that he can meet a more diverse group of undergraduates — and give students the opportunity to get to know a Jesuit.
“We make a lot of the fact that this is a Jesuit university, but many students never get to meet a Jesuit,” Fr. Madigan said.
Jesuit Father Matthew Carnes is a chaplain-in-residence for the first time at Georgetown this year, but he has previously been a Jesuit-in-residence at Santa Clara University in California, and he has big plans.
“I’m going to lead a secret Jesuit tour,” Fr. Carnes said. “Essentially, at nine at night we go with flashlights to different historical sites, get keys to see secret places around campus and finish up with ice cream at my apartment.”
The Jesuits say that dorm life is no more chaotic than is typical for a college community.
“Other than when the Yankees won the World Series, I’ve never been kept up at night,” Fr. Collins said. Read more about the Jesuits-in-residence at The Hoya website.
Jesuit Father David Collins has ministered to students in various ways during his time as a Jesuit-in-Residence at Georgetown University, but on this given day, it is as a master cookie baker.
From his room on the eighth floor of Village C West student residence hall, Fr. Collins hosts an open-door night, where students come in and out; some have circled up chairs in the living room. Many have tasted Collins’ cookie of the week: Portuguese Love Knots.
“The goal is never to repeat a cookie recipe,” Collins said, dressed in a red short-sleeved button-down shirt and jeans.
Conversation among the students shifts from the “Dora the Explorer” cartoon to excommunication. Collins says the approachable atmosphere is part of the learning experience for students.
In his role as Jesuit-in-Residence, he ministers to students, but also showcases the modern roles of a Jesuit at Georgetown: professor, researcher, chaplain and priest.
As part of his workload, he is organizing a panel for a conference on superstition, writing a book on Albert the Great, constructing a chapter on the late medieval church, editing a chapter of an anthology and analyzing a 15th-century text that has never been studied, all while mentoring several graduate students also pursuing their own projects.
Yet, the fusion of professor and priest can best be seen however during his homily in Mass to the mostly student congregation. Reminiscent of his classroom demeanor, Collins makes constant use of his hands, explaining the significance of sight as seen through Jesus’ healing of a blind man in the Bible.
“I can bring up heavy issues that cause people to question things, but [I] always end on a hopeful note,” he said. “Sometimes I do it better than others.”
For more about a Day in the Life of a Jesuit, visit The Hoya.
Jesuit Father David Collins helps Georgetown University students discern if they have a vocation to the Society of Jesus as a leader of the Barbistes, a group that gathers for informal meetings, consisting of Mass, dinner and discussion.
The purpose of the group is not to “funnel people into the Society,” said Fr. Collins of the Barbistes, named after the college at the University of Paris where the candidates who first entered the Jesuits met in the 1500s.
Meetings usually include one of campus’s 64 Jesuits, who talks about his current work and reflects on his decision to enter the order.
“Georgetown students have a phenomenal resource in the Jesuits on campus,” said Danny Gustafson (’11), who is currently applying to enter the Society. “Without the Jesuit community here there’s no way I would have even considered applying. I’ve found their support really moving and inspirational.”
“It’s a prayerful way of making a decision,” said Jesuit Father Kevin O’Brien, Executive Director of Campus Ministry. “The students share with one another their desire for the priesthood, their questions and their struggles.”
For more information, read The Hoya’s article on the Barbistes.