December Newsletter: Universal Apostolic Preferences
- President's Post
- JASPA Leadership Election Results
- Recognition and Awards Committee Update
- JASPA 2020 Five Year Summer Institute Updates
- Save the Date: NJSLC 2020
- Moment for Mission
- December Blog: Mike Puma, Loyola University Maryland
This month, I want to highlight integrity. Integrity can be understood and approached in many different ways. One lens we might look through is offered by the the German Christian pastor and modern martyr Dietrich Bonhoffer. Bonhoffer is known for his writings, his activism against the Nazi regime, and his courage and wisdom. He was undoubtedly a person of integrity. He has left us with two quotes that help us reflect on that quality in our time.
First, Bonhoffer reflects on the season of Advent and how we might understand it more fully: “The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come.”
At a time of our academic year when many of us are troubled, a bit overwhelmed, and perhaps worn down by the stresses and challenges of our vocations, this can be a reminder of both the brokenness of our world, and the incredible hope that we can turn to. In the Christian tradition, that hope arrives at Christmas, and changes everything. In many other traditions, there is a compelling hope that gives meaning to struggle and suffering. Whatever our own tradition, approaching our work with integrity means understanding both brokenness and hope, both deficits and strengths, both sorrow and joy.
Second, Bonhoffer points to a truth that is valuable for us to remember: “There is meaning in every journey that is unknown to the traveler.”
This reassuring statement can bolster each of us, as we journey through our busy days. We never know the impact of a conversation we might have with a colleague, a small kindness or a challenging lesson we offer to a student, or a modest innovation that changes our institution in some way. These everyday acts may seem routine to us, but they carry meaning that unfolds in ways we often don’t imagine. I would want each of you to know that your work this past year has undoubtedly had impacts that you do not see, and that may not come to fruition for months or years to come. I believe that integrity involves trust in the value of our work and our shared mission.
In closing, I have already mentioned Advent and Christmas, which shape December of many of us. Other colleagues are looking forward to Hanukkah, Bodhi Day, Pancha Ganapati, and Kwanzaa later this month. I wish you peaceful holidays ahead, and all the strength you need to finish the term with grace, energy, and, of course, integrity.
Todd Olson, Phd
JASPA Leadership Election Results
We are grateful to Deb Cady Melzer, who has served JASPA as President Elect. As Deb departs the Jesuit network for her new role as Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at Assumption College in Massachusetts, that creates a new opening - both for the President Elect who will move into the President role in 2020, and for the next President Elect, who will begin serving in that role in 2020. We are also enthused about the new role of Vice President for Online Enrichment.
We are pleased to announce our newest Executive Board Members:
David Johnson, Xavier University
Serving now through July 2020, at which time David becomes President
Vice President/President-Elect - beginning July 2020
Michele Murray, College of the Holy Cross
Vice President - Online Enrichment
Jean Griffin, Xavier University
Congratulations to Dave, Michele, and Jean - and thanks to each of them for their generosity and commitment to JASPA! Deb, you will be sorely missed, but you're always part of the JASPA family!
Recognition and Awards Committee Update
We continue to recognize members of the JASPA community who are creating innovating ways to integrate our Jesuit values into student affairs work on their respective campus. The purpose of the JASPA Community Impact Awards are to highlight a program, service, publication or institutional commitment that embodies the values of Jesuit higher education. Awardees are selected monthly to showcase best practices integrating Jesuit mission and identity to inform our student affairs work.
The Recognition and Awards Committee is thrilled to announce the November and December Community Impact Awards:
November Community Impact Award:
Día de los Muertos Festival (Creighton University)
December Community Impact Award:
International Festival (Loyola University Maryland)
More information about the fall 2019 awardees, including contact information about the organizers, will be available on the JASPA website in the new year.
The nomination form for the January Community Impact Award can be found here. Nominations for January are due on Friday, January 17, 2020. If you have any questions about the nomination process or would like to join our committee, please do not hesitate to reach out to Dr. Mark Harrington, Chair of the Recognition and Awards Committee, at email@example.com. We look forward to highlighting the awardee in next month’s newsletter.
The JASPA Annual Awards winners will be announced at the JASPA 2020 Summer Institute at Loyola University Chicago. Please be on the lookout for the nomination process in future e-newsletters.
JASPA 2020 Five Year Summer Institute Updates
In the season of gratitude, we would like to take a moment and give thanks once again to all of our dedicated members for your program proposals! We received a record number of submissions this year! Participants will be notified of their selection status sometime next week, so be sure to check your inbox for that update.
Registration will go live in January, so be sure to follow us on social media or watch for an email update headed your way at the start of the new year! We will begin releasing exciting details on our incredible keynote speaker lineup, educational sessions and workshops, and engagement opportunities as we get closer to our Institute in July.
Follow JASPA on social media to stay up to date:
— The JASPA 2020 Five Year Summer Institute Programming Committee
Save the Date: NJSLC 2020
We are excited to announce that the 2020 National Jesuit Student Leadership Conference will be hosted at Loyola Marymount University, June 22 through 25, 2020. Be sure to save the date, and look for registration information as well as a call for proposals in December on the JASPA website.
Moment for Mission: Waiting in Joyful Hope
Last night, I sat in the campus recital hall with great anticipation for the start of the A Cappella Christmas concert. As the noisy, over-capacity crowd, awaited the arrival of their friends and fellow Broncos to perform, the spirit of the holiday season was evident. The cheering as each new group entered the stage and the unbridled enthusiasm at the conclusion of each musical piece was heart-warming and joy-filled.
Each Advent, the Jesuit School of Theology, (JST) offers an, online retreat authored by members of the JST and SCU community. The daily reflection includes sacred texts and a prayer for each day of Advent. The title of the online retreat, Waiting in Joyful Hope, invites us to reflect deeply on the experience of Advent and Christmas.
Whether you subscribe to these daily reflections or not, you are encouraged to find some quiet time in each day of Advent to inspire and rekindle your commitment to your work, your colleagues, family and community.
I invite you to join me in this process. To sign up for the daily Advent reflection emails, use this link.
Warm wishes for a safe and blessed holiday.
Santa Clara University
Past President, JASPA
December Blog Post: Mike Puma, Loyola University Maryland
Reflections on Journeying with Youth
Here I am, stuck on this couch
Scrolling through my notes
Heart was broken, still not growing, nah
Waking up to headlines
Filled with devastation again
My heart is broken
But I keep going
Pain, but I won't let it turn into hate
No, I won't let it change me
Never losing sight of the one I keep inside
Now, I know it
Yeah, I know it
You can't take my youth away
This soul of mine will never break
As long as I wake up today
You can't take my youth away
- Lyrics from “Youth” by Sean Mendes ft. Khalid (2018)
In his February 2019 letter introducing the Universal Apostolic Preferences, Superior General Arturo Sosa described youth as “that stage in life when each person makes the fundamental decisions through which they become part of society, seeking meaning in their lives and ways to make their dreams come true.” Through his letter, we are once again called to Journey with Youth and walk together with young people to create a hope-filled future. This priority certainly aligns with the goals of Jesuit student affairs and the work that we do on daily basis. However, three aspects of Superior General Sosa’s letter led me to a deeper appreciation and renewed energy for the work that lies ahead. Our ability to address this priority relies on how we define youth, how we embrace reciprocal learning and how we cultivate a shared sense of hope.
During my last twenty years working in Jesuit higher education, I have become more aware (and perhaps my students have too) that “the youth” less and less includes the likes of me. However, youth can represent more than an age. In describing his song “Youth” in an August 2018 Variety Magazine article, artist Sean Mendes clarifies “when we talk about the word youth, we’re not describing age, but the feeling of happiness and freedom.” Viewing youth in this manner makes our journey more inclusive and connected to the practice of discernment (another apostolic preference). We are called to walk together in making sense of the world, asking big questions and providing the challenge and support necessary for growth.
Learning from Our Students
The call to walk with our students also requires us to embrace reciprocal learning. Our students have become much more diverse in their thoughts, beliefs, and identities. They have grown up in a world of rapid technological changes, perpetual global conflicts and polarizing politics. All too often we frame those factors as barriers to deeper reflection, meaningful communication and sustained growth. But what can we learn from their experiences? How can we check our own assumptions and biases that too often cloud our interactions? Learning will require active listening and authentic relationship building.
Finally, Superior General Sosa takes great lengths to emphasize the role of hope in our work. Regardless of age, the feeling of hopelessness on any given day can consume us. Over time, hopelessness works against the promotion of justice, equity and freedom in our communities. Learning from our students and viewing the journey as a partnership is key to maintaining hope. Superior General Sosa writes, “The viewpoints of young people can help us understand better the change of era that we are living through, and the hope that it brings”. We have seen our students embrace calls for a more inclusive Church community, lead efforts to curb climate change, and advocate for concrete actions that promote racial justice. This makes me hopeful.
As a member of the Program Committee for the 2020 JASPA Summer Institute, I am also hopeful because of the record number of program proposals we received from colleagues around the country. Many of the proposals describe the already journey that is underway with our students and the innovative thinking that will propel us to greater heights. I look forward to seeing many of you in Chicago in July to discuss the apostolic preferences and reaffirm our commitment to Jesuit higher education and the students that we serve.
Michael Puma is the Co-Director of Messina, Loyola University Maryland’s first-year living-learning program. He received his BS from Fordham University, MS from Syracuse University and was a Residence Director at Le Moyne College before moving to Baltimore. He is currently pursuing a doctoral degree at the University of Maryland – College Park.