Posts Tagged ‘Jesuit-in-Residence’
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.
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.