Posts Tagged ‘Seattle University’
Serving in the Peace Corps led Jesuit Jason Welle to the certainty that he was being called to the priesthood. What he wasn’t so sure of was what sort of priest he wanted to be.
To begin his vocational discernment process, Welle took to the Internet. The more research he did online, the clearer it became that he belonged with the Jesuits.
“I knew the Jesuits by reputation only, mainly for their commitment to social justice,” says Welle, who currently serves as program coordinator for Seattle University’s Education Abroad Office. “And I knew I wanted to do something that combined my interest in international development with a deep spirituality and service as a priest. I could see myself fulfilling both of those desires as a Jesuit.”
Entering the priesthood was not a foreign concept for Welle. He attended a high school seminary, but left to enroll at the University of California, Santa Cruz. After earning a degree in community studies, Welle worked as a travel agent and as a flight attendant. He loved traveling for work, but it soon became mundane. He decided to engage the world in a deeper way by joining the Peace Corps, where he was placed in Malawi.
“The Peace Corps is really where I discovered my vocation to enter the Society,” says Welle, who joined the Jesuits in 2006. “Getting out of the U.S. fish bowl gave me a new perspective on the world and America’s place in it.”
Welle was in Malawi for 9/11, an experience that he says completely reshaped his view of the world. “I was living in a country where 3,000 people died every week from HIV and AIDS — that’s about what the death toll was in the towers. People there were living at a level of poverty that we just don’t know in the same way here in the U.S. They had hardly even seen a two- or three-story building, much less a 150-story tower. It was just beyond their worldview. 9/11 just sort of awakened me out of a slumber or a complacency about America’s role and my own place in the world.”
The Peace Corps was transformative for Welle in other important ways. “There’s a lot of downtime, especially in Malawi, where there’s 12 hours of night, without a television and not much radio. I became very introspective. I think, without realizing it, I was praying, really yearning to understand who I was.”
Read more about Welle at the Seattle University website.
Jesuit Father James Pribek, Associate Professor of English at Canisius College, joins the Seattle University English Department faculty as the LeRoux Scholar for the spring quarter 2012. Father Pribek will teach, conduct research, and deliver the lecture, “’When Hope and History Rhyme’: Irish Literature as a Resource for Hope.” Fr. Pribek follows Jesuit Father Mark Bosco, Loyola University Chicago English Department, and Jesuit Father Mark Ravizza, Santa Clara University Philosophy Department, as the latest Le Roux Chair.
“The Le Roux endowment gives us an opportunity to bring outstanding scholars to campus,” said Arts and Sciences Dean David Powers. “At the same time, the chair has time for research and writing that expands his discipline.”
The College of Arts and Sciences, Seattle University’s largest college, provides funding for the William F. LeRoux, S.J. Endowed Chair in Arts and Sciences. The endowed chair is awarded to a Jesuit academic in the arts, humanities, or social sciences. The appointment is for one academic quarter. The chair is required to teach one course and conduct a public lecture, with remaining time available to advance his scholarship and engage with the Seattle University community.
Fr. Pribek holds a master degree in English from Gonzaga University, two graduate theology degrees from Weston School of Theology in Cambridge, MA, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Anglo-Irish literature and drama from University College Dublin. He has been a Jesuit for 25 years and a priest for 13 years.
Seattle University’s highly acclaimed chapel, has garnered the American Institute of Architects’ 2012 Gold Medal for architect Steven Holl. The medal is one of the most prestigious awards given to architects, with its previous recipients including Frank Gehry, Santiago Calatrava, Ieoh Ming Pei and Frank Lloyd Wright.
Built in 1997, the Chapel of St. Ignatius was immediately welcomed as Seattle University’s spiritual heart and has come to be a popular destination for visitors interested in joining the campus community in worship or simply marveling at its beauty.
Jesuit Father Jerry Cobb, currently provincial assistant for formation and the provincial assistant for higher education for the Oregon Province, chaired the planning committee that hired Holl and supervised the design and construction of the chapel. As the chapel celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2007, Father Cobb shared his thoughts with Broadway & Madison, the printed faculty and staff newsletter that preceded the University’s current publication, The Commons. Excerpts from the interview follow.
Broadway & Madison: What’s something the average faculty or staff member might not know about the chapel?
Father Cobb: Non-Catholics might be consoled to know that in 1995 we asked Steven Holl to design a chapel that would be “engaging for people of all faiths or no faith or faith-under-crisis.” The poet Rilke once advised that when people disappoint you, you should turn to nature because nature will not disappoint you, and I feel something similar about the Catholic Church. When it disappoints you, which is likely to be every day, you can turn to places such as the chapel where God’s saving presence seems tangible and life-giving.
Fifty years ago, in 1961, Jesuit Father Patrick Howell entered the Society of Jesus at Sheridan, Ore, the novitiate for Jesuits in the Northwest.Today, Fr. Howell is the rector (religious superior) of the Jesuit Community at Seattle University and professor of pastoral theology. In this piece for the Seattle Times, Fr. Howell looks back upon his time as a Jesuit and his own travails.
A recent graduate of Gonzaga University, I was only 21, but my peers, most of whom had entered directly from a Jesuit high school, such as Seattle Prep or Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma, considered me one of the “old men.”
The years pass swiftly, but they have been full of grace and certainly much more joy than sorrow.
I was blessed with first-class opportunities for advanced education. After initial studies in spirituality, prayer, Jesuit tradition and a dose of Latin and Greek, I studied philosophy and English literature at Boston College.
Then came three years of high-school teaching at Jesuit High in Portland. I survived the trials and testing by high-school boys and grew to love the personal interaction and challenge of teaching English, creative writing and poetry and advising the high school newspaper.
This “formation” period of teaching in high school probably accounts for why most Jesuits are such good teachers and homilists. Survival demands that you develop rhetorical skills and a flair for the dramatic — even though it’s not native to your personality — in order to grab the attention of 28 sophomore boys for 50 minutes each day…
But another significant portion of my life has been spiritual care of those who have suffered severe mental illness.
All this arose as a surprise, when I suffered a psychotic breakdown myself at age 35 and then recovered through excellent psychiatric care and the good graces and support of family and friends…
This “grace” led to an amazingly rich ministry with people with mental illness and their families.
Years ago, Jesuit Father Michael Buckley, in an address to Jesuit seminarians asked, “Is this man sufficiently weak to be a priest?”…
Why weakness? Because, according to the Epistle to the Hebrews, it is in this deficiency, in this interior lack, in this weakness, that the efficacy of the ministry and priesthood of Christ lies. “For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18)
I think, after 50 years, I can rejoice in being “weak enough” to allow the grace of Christ to shine through and carry the load.
More of Howell’s life as a Jesuit can be found in this piece in the Seattle Times.
Jesuit Father Patrick Howell, rector and professor at Seattle University, wrote recently how despite the fact that the university has relatively few Jesuits as teachers compared to the 1950s and ’60s, they still have a strong impact because they are in key positions, including president, chaplain for faculty and staff and campus ministry director.
Fr. Howell explained that the Jesuits’ focus has changed to adapt to the smaller numbers of Jesuits on campus: “Instead of being almost 100 percent devoted to students, Jesuits now assist lay faculty and staff in understanding, embracing and leading the Jesuit mission. In this age of the laity, Jesuits value collaboration in mission so that everyone here becomes devoted to a more articulate, better understanding of the Jesuit mission for the sake of students.”
While the old era where Jesuits lead every facet of the university may be over, he wrote, “The great gift that the Society of Jesus brings to this enterprise is the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. At the heart of this spirituality is the desire to share the love of Christ with others.”
To read more of Howell’s article, visit the Seattle University Spectator.