Posts Tagged ‘Jesuit Father Matthew Carnes’
Jesuit Father Matthew Carnes, assistant professor of government at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., untangles the politics that underlie labor policy, social welfare and inequality issues in his research and in the classroom. “I’m convinced that inequality is the issue of the next century,” he said.
“We have 1 in 5 children in the United States growing up in poverty and 16 percent of the population living below the poverty line. It’s not something that happens naturally; it’s something we actually choose,” Fr. Carnes explained.
According to Fr. Carnes, many political choices affect the levels of inequality — from how much we tax individuals and corporations to how much we fund public education or how we defund welfare programs. “At the end of the day, society gets to make that choice. We are a democratic system, which gives us mechanisms for choosing. But I think we need to recognize it as a choice and talk about those mechanisms.”
Students in his courses study the variation of political behavior over time, across the United States and among different countries. “There are lots of other ways the world can be, [which shows students] we can create the world we want to live in,” said Fr. Carnes, who received Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service Faculty of the Year Award this May.
Fr. Carnes said that while inequality raises complicated and contentious issues, he also sees that his students are eager to tackle them. “I push them to be constantly thinking and rethinking and challenging ideas,” he said.
By showing students how political choices have created the world we live in, Fr. Carnes hopes they understand that their actions can also change it. “Students have this real enthusiasm with trying to make a difference. I point to the fact that there are differences and those differences are human made, so if they want to make a difference they can.”
Read the full interview with Fr. Carnes at the Georgetown University website.
Jesuits living among students in college residence halls as “Jesuits-in-Residence” is a tradition the Society of Jesus has embraced across the United States since its earliest schools were founded. Today the tradition continues at many Jesuit colleges and universities, including Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Seattle University and Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia.
In a new video, the Ignatian News Network visited students and Jesuits-in-Residence living in community at Georgetown University. Jesuit Father Matthew Carnes explained his role as a Jesuit-in-Residence:
“It’s [about] being mentors, friends and colleagues [with students]. Being gentle correctors at times, but also being those people that can inspire and draw people into living as their better selves.”
According to Jesuit Father Christopher Steck, Jesuits-in-Residence serve their campus community in a unique way. “We’re there both as a witness to the academic enterprise, and we’re also there to say we care about your lives as social people, your lives as people trying to make hard decisions.”
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.
For the past 10 years, Georgetown University has held a Jesuit Heritage Week to celebrate the school’s Jesuit character. But one event is more emotional and anticipated than the rest: the annual Spike-A-Jesuit volleyball match.
“I’m a bit of a twisted soul, but I look forward to this match the day after it’s finished,” said Jesuit Father Pat Rogers. “I’m in charge of rallying up the Jesuits and it’s just a lot of fun; we talk it up a whole lot and the guys get really excited about it.”
The Jesuit community had a perfect 8-0 record entering the 2010 match, their first loss. The students defeated the Jesuits for the second year in a row on Feb. 1.
“It’s pretty simple, the students were really quite better than we were,” Fr. Rogers said. “Actually I’m pretty proud of ourselves because we’re a pretty old team, and we get out there and we try and we scrape.”
While the Jesuits lost the first two games and therefore the match in the best-of-three format, both teams decided to keep playing, and the Jesuits won the third and fourth games.
“We started playing as a team, and we have age and wisdom on our side,” said Jesuit Father Matthew Carnes.
Fr. Carnes credited a fundamental Jesuit skill as the reason for their success in volleyball: discernment. “Discerning the weaknesses on the other side, discerning your strengths, and using them to your advantage is what it’s all about,” he said.
As he left the court, Rogers said, “The students better not get too full of themselves, because we will be back.”
For more on the volleyball game, visit the Georgetown Voice.
The video portrait features Jesuit Father Ryan Maher, Associate Dean and Director of Catholic Studies; Jesuit Father Kevin O’Brien, Executive Director of Campus Ministry; Jesuit Father Christopher Steck, Associate Professor of Theology; and Jesuit Father Matthew Carnes, Assistant Professor of Government.
“This place is alive with questions of religion and religiosity. And frankly, my job is so much fun and interesting and engaging, because I am entrusted to care for all these good people asking great questions,” says Fr. O’Brien. “Real interreligious dialogue must engage the intellect, we must think through questions and engage in serious dialogue; dialogue that will deal with real differences, not just common ground.”
The Jesuits share how they serve as professors and spiritual guides and how they encourage interreligious dialogue and support the diversity of the campus community.