August Newsletter: Magis
- President's Post
- JASPA Networking Coffee Social Hour
- More from the AJCU Network
President's Post: Hope Does Not Disappoint (Romans 5:5)
Reflecting on the life and accomplishments of Congressman John Lewis, Eboo Patel writes, “There is, of course, a clear through-line to the work of John Lewis. Over the course of it all – from the beating he took in Selma to the achievement of the Voting Rights Act to the elections of Barack Obama and then Donald Trump - he claims to have never despaired. He always believed that America could become a beloved community.”
The countdown to the beginning of the fall semester at many of our Jesuit sister schools can be better measured in days than weeks. And yet, as I write you, I have just received word of two additional Jesuit universities that are joining the ranks of those schools going remote this fall. To be sure, not being on campus will be a terrible disappointment, a disappointment that will invite despair.
It is also true that, at this very moment, many of our schools are welcoming RAs and student leaders back to campus. The excitement of the students on these campuses cannot be held back by masks nor social distancing. Nonetheless, excitement and anxiety run on parallel tracks. While it is wonderful to have students returning, there is great uncertainty about how the fall will unfold, and there is also still much work to do, likely more than is feasible, in the final days before orientation and classes begin.
As we move online, or as students return to campus, it is imperative that we not only turn our backs on despair but that we embrace hope. Eric Clayton, the senior communications manager for the Jesuit Conference, compares the many injuries, challenges and pain of our current context to the cannonball that struck St. Ignatius. He describes “the cannonball of seeing Black bodies beaten on social media” and “the cannonball of accompanying a loved one in their final days of life – maybe from a distance.” Clayton notes, nonetheless, that the cannonball was the beginning of Ignatius’s story – not the end. Ignatius faced trial and tribulation, time and again, and he was forced to change his plans and goals time and again. And yet, against great odds, he set in motion the creation of a global network of Jesuit colleges and universities. A network that has survived – and ultimately thrived – despite tremendous change and challenges.
Central to the success of Jesuit higher education has been our Ignatian spirituality. Ignatian spirituality nurtures and sustains hope and perseverance through the practice of things we know well, like: solidarity, finding God or the good in all things, reflection and cura personalis. As we face the year that lies ahead, we are invited to not just preach these values but to practice them.
Our students need us now more than ever. And, as is all too evident, our world needs our graduates more than ever. Our world needs our graduates to, as John Lewis preached and practiced: “Get in trouble. Good trouble. Necessary Trouble.” This is an imperative that is held together by hope and perseverance.
As we begin the semester, let us engage in practices to build and sustain our own hope and perseverance so that we may be conduits of hope for others. And when we despair, and we will, may we gently and patiently invite ourselves to work back towards hope.
Dave Johnson, PhD
JASPA Networking Coffee Social Hour
For new professionals, and those new to Jesuit higher education: Interested in learning more about JASPA and how to get Involved? Connect with other Jesuit student affairs colleagues in two weeks:
Aug 21, 2020 01:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting (please register):
Meeting ID: 946 1215 3615
More from the AJCU Network