Mission and Ministry Newsletter
Mission and Ministry, under the oversight of the Vice President for Mission and Ministry, encompasses the Office of Campus Ministry, including Law Center and Medical Center Campus Ministry, and the Office of Mission and Pastoral Care at Georgetown Hospital. In addition, the Office of the Vice President promotes the Ignatian heritage, Catholic identity and Jesuit mission of the university, through programs and retreats engaging students, faculty, administrators, staff, the Board of Directors, the Board of Regents, alumni and donors in the understanding and practice of our religious identity, values and commitments.
This fall marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. Soon after his election as pope, John XXIII surprised the Church and the world by calling a council to reflect on the Church's role in the modern world. While holding sacred the ancient tradition of the Church, he also spoke of aggiornamento, or updating what and how the Church taught to meet the pressing needs of people both inside and outside the Catholic Church. Soon after the 2,500 bishops and scores of observers -- lay persons, theologians, and representatives of other faith traditions -- gathered in Rome, it became clear that their work would take much longer than expected. The Council, meeting in sessions during the fall seasons, would not close until December 1965.
What happened at the Council has profoundly affected our life at Georgetown. Much of what is featured in these newsletters reflects the letter and the spirit of the Council. We live out the Council's hopes in our commitment to vibrant interreligious dialog and understanding, in our formation of lay leadership in the Church, in our preparation of worship that invites full and active participation, in our prayerful and thoughtful theological reflection on current issues, and in our nurturing a faith that does justice.
Many of our students, born after 1990, do not know the story of Vatican II, something I am reminded of each semester in a course I teach, "The Church in the 21st Century." Yet, there is an eagerness, an openness, and often a pleasant surprise among our students from all faith traditions when it comes to learning about the great Council. For us older adults, this is a moment for us to learn anew, to re-integrate, and re-commit to what the Council taught. Read on here, to see how the Council lives on the Hilltop in the people and programs of Mission and Ministry.
I thank you for your support for all that we do. And I ask for you to continue giving to the work of Mission and Ministry so that we can continue to honor the call of the Council.
Gratefully in our Lord,
Rev. Kevin O'Brien, S.J. (C'88)
Office of the Vice President
- Office of Ignatian Programs Sees Successful First Semester
- Dahlgren Chapel Restoration Progresses
- Faculty and Staff Travel to Kenya for Catholic and Jesuit Immersion Trip
Office of Campus Ministry
- Energized to Serve: Chaplains and Jesuits-in-Residence
- ESCAPE Begins another year of programming with new students
- Celebrating the White House Interfaith Service Challenge and Gearing up for Year Two
Catholic Campus Ministry
- Catholic Chaplaincy Continues to Grow
- The Magis - The More
- Love Saxa Team Sponsors inaugural Lecture
Protestant Campus Ministry
- Chapel, Chaplaincy Accompany Students on Life's Journey
Jewish Campus Ministry
- Reflections on the New Year and High Holy Days
Muslim Campus Ministry
- The Muslim Chaplaincy: Inspiring Peace, Welcoming All
Orthodox Campus Ministry
- Orthodox Chaplaincy Reflects on the Past, Looks Toward the Future
Medical Center Ministry
- New Hopes and Programs for a New Year
Law Center Ministry
- Launching of Three Testaments: Law Center Chaplains Participate in Interfaith Event
- Supporting Mission and Ministry
- Upcoming Events
Office of Ignatian Programs Sees Successful First Semester
By Rev. Steve Spahn, S.J., Director of Ignatian Programs
This June, I traveled to the Hilltop like so many proud Hoyas for Alumni Reunion Weekend. Unlike my friends from the Class of 1992, however, I did not return home on Monday, for I had come home to stay. Thanks to a generous grant from the Leavey Foundation, I assumed the new position of director of Ignatian Programs in the Office of the Vice President for Mission and Ministry. In this role, I collaborate with Sister Helen Scarry, RJM in the direction of the Ignatian retreats offered to students, faculty, staff and alumni. These retreat offerings include the Prayer in Daily Life Retreat, the Weekend Ignatian Retreat and the Five-Day Silent Retreat--each of which are offered twice a year. Through these vibrant programs, dozens of members of the Georgetown community encounter God through the spirituality of St. Ignatius Loyola. For the eighth consecutive year, a small group of faculty and administrators is praying the full Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius in their Annotation 19 format. This yearlong endeavor has had a transformative impact on nearly 100 retreatants at Georgetown and continues to bear fruit in the life of the university. Graduates of the program extend their engagement with the Ignatian tradition through the Living the Ignatian Charism Seminar.
As director of Ignatian Programs, I also support the Human Resources Department in its formational programs for our staff. We hope to innovate spiritual programs to support Georgetown's vibrant thousands-strong workforce in their lives and work. I also serve as a Jesuit-in-Residence in Harbin Hall, the very residence hall in which I lived 25 years ago!
I am grateful for the support of Colleen Kerrisk, who serves as coordinator for Ignatian Programs. Colleen is a 2010 Georgetown graduate and served two years as a Jesuit volunteer before returning to the Hilltop this summer. Together we recently designed a retreat for the Office of Technology Commercialization, which has great promise to aid other groups within the university.
I am both excited and challenged in this new position at Georgetown. I am grateful to the Leavey Foundation for its generosity and to my colleagues in the department for their patience and support as together we endeavor to enrich the life of this great university.
Dahlgren Chapel Restoration Progresses
By Dr. James Wickman, Director of Music and Liturgy
Now that the fall semester has started, the major part of construction on the exterior of Dahlgren Chapel of the Sacred Heart is ending. Throughout the summer, those who were on campus near the chapel heard workers driving pilings deep into the ground as they installed new foundational supports to shore up our beloved chapel. The next step is to complete the waterproofing around the entire foundation, both the new and old portions, to prevent any water leaks and other humidity problems, particularly in the crypt. Soon we will cover the new foundation with dirt and new plantings, and although we will not "see" all the effort that went into this essential work, we know that this foundation will be built on rock. In a sense, it will be a mirror of the history and tradition upon which we pray in the present as well as look to the future.
Reinstallation of the stained glass windows will begin in November. The windows have been completely restored and are ready to be installed. It will take longer to install the restored windows than it took to remove them, however. This is especially true for the rose window above the entrance door, which was removed a few years ago because of cracks. The cracks in and around the window itself must be repaired before the glass may be reinstalled. We expect the entire process of replacing all the windows in the Chapel to last well into the spring of 2013.
Given that there is a light shining bright at the end of this tunnel, it is time to look toward a plan for landscaping around Dahlgren and the Dahlgren Quad. In addition, final plans and drawings for the interior restoration work will be put together. The preliminary plans for this work were discussed throughout the 2012 spring semester at open meetings with students, staff, faculty and Jesuits on campus.
All this restoration work is for the Greater Glory of God, so that we may continue the 120 year history of prayer and praise that has taken place in this spiritual home of our main campus. Thanks to all who have donated so generously to make this project happen, and who continue to contribute to the completion of this great work.
Faculty and Staff Travel to Kenya for Catholic and Jesuit Immersion Trip
By Lisa Pannucci, Interreligious Coordinator
The Office of Mission and Ministry and the Center for Social Justice sent its ninth delegation on the annual Kenya Immersion Trip this past June thanks to the generous support of donors. Twelve faculty and staff members united on this unique journey to explore a range of challenges facing the country, in addition to reflecting on Catholic and Jesuit higher education in a global context. They join a growing alumni group of over 90 individuals from the university community who have participated on past trips.
Mitchell Bailin, associate vice president and dean of students at Georgetown University Law Center, shares a reflection of his transformative experience:
I found the Kenya program deeply moving on a personal level. So many powerful images and experiences remain with me: a Sudanese woman stooping in the brutal desert sun to build a mud hut for herself and her four children at the sprawling refugee camp in Kakuma; the tiny, sewage-sodden shack in the Kibera slum of Nairobi that housed a woman and the seven children she agreed to look after when their parents died of AIDS; the angelic voice and ebullient smile of the HIV-positive orphan who greeted us so warmly in his Mbani classroom, 10 years old but, due to early malnutrition and chronic sickness, a full head shorter than my 5-year-old daughter; and the remarkable determination of the Jesuits and nuns throughout the country to look after all these survivors whom Kenya and the world might otherwise leave behind. Before this trip, I had never seen such deep suffering, such strong resilience of the human spirit or such relentless commitment to improving the lives of others. Quite simply, I returned home changed: I am more grateful for my many blessings, keep more perspective about challenges and disappointments and have a keener sense of how to make meaning in my life.
The Kenya program was just as transformative for me professionally. The inscription above the Williams Law Library at the Law Center powerfully reminds us that "law is but the means, justice is the end." But that timeless call, so deeply tied to Georgetown's Jesuit and Catholic commitment to social justice, sometimes gets lost in the noise and bustle of the academic year. Five thousand miles away from the relentless buzz of my BlackBerry, our visits with the refugees of Kakuma, the desperately poor in the Kibera slum and the many Catholic priests and nuns who have dedicated their lives to serving "the least of us" in East Africa reminded me every day about our central purpose at the Law Center: to teach students to promote justice, to be citizens of the world and to develop the skills, passion and confidence to serve the less fortunate.
I returned from Kenya this summer energized and refocused on what really matters, or should matter, in our work with students. By no accident, my first meetings upon return were with the Law Center's deans of public service and clinical education, and we have already identified ways to expand our partnerships to promote student engagement in service activities here and abroad.
While perhaps not as profound as this renewed call to service, the strong relationships I developed during and after the Kenya trip will also enhance my service to Georgetown. During our travels, I had lengthy conversations with each of my fellow Hoyas about their lives and work. I learned about everything from distance education innovations at the School of Nursing & Health Studies to exciting new building projects to important initiatives in the delivery of student health services. Given Georgetown's eight schools, thousands of employees and faculty, and ever more ambitious programming and curricula, this sort of informal sharing and relationship-building happens too infrequently, especially across campuses. Immersing ourselves not just with the culture of Kenya but also with one another's experiences led to countless "aha!" moments of connection and collaboration that will make the university more intimate and more effective.
In short, the Kenya immersion trip reinvigorated my commitment to service, deepened my connections to colleagues across the university and vividly reminded me why I am so privileged to be an educator at the world's top Jesuit university. I hope that many more colleagues will be able to benefit from this experience, and I hope you will consider supporting the program in future years.
Energized to Serve: Chaplains and Jesuits-in-Residence
By Chloe Benson, Residential Ministry Program Coordinator
The academic year at Georgetown always begins with a particular, vibrant energy. This energy thrives in the student residences. First-year residence halls pulsate with newness and enthusiasm. Upperclass students move into homes on or off campus with expectations and aspirations as they begin again. Wherever they live during this next year, students will form communities, ask questions and learn from one another. The chaplains-in-residence and Jesuits-in-residence are women and men dedicated to accompanying students throughout this process.
This year, the chaplains- and Jesuits-in-residence are experiencing a similar energy. Eight new chaplains moved into residence halls this fall, bringing with them myriad rich backgrounds and exciting ideas. In collaboration with one another, our new and returning chaplains- and Jesuits-in-residence offer many programs for students, including weekly open houses with homemade baked treat that support cura personalis, or care for each unique person in his/her own needs.
For instance, Rev. Michael Calabria, OFM and Rev. Stephen Spahn, S.J., director of Ignatian Programs in the Office of Mission and Ministry and a Georgetown alumnus, joined as a chaplain- and Jesuit-in residence, respectively, this year. They have been busy opening up their apartments in Darnall and Harbin halls to first-year students for brownies, sundaes and conversation. They are especially enthusiastic about their successful joint event, "Brothers in Christ: Francis of Assisi and Ignatius of Loyola," which discussed the spirituality and legacies of their respective orders' founders.
Rev. Matthew Carnes, S.J., also returned to Georgetown this year as a Jesuit-in-residence in Kennedy Hall. This fall he led students on a nighttime "Secret Jesuit Tour," highlighting hidden gems on Georgetown's campus and sharing fascinating facts about the Jesuit heritage, flashlight in hand. The tour is part of the "Service, Tradition, and Dialogue" series that Father Carnes and Rev. Jon Rice (chaplain-in-residence in Reynolds Hall) are co-hosting this fall.
Other chaplains and Jesuits-in-residence programs this year include "Convoy of Hope" with Rev. Stefanie Chappell and Rev. Rice in which 80 students from Harbin and Reynolds halls fed and cared for the homeless; "Meaningful Movies" with Justin and Sarah Murray in McCarthy Hall; a "Relationships Series" delving into conversations about friends and dating; weekly "Sounds of Silence" meditation with Anne-Elisabeth Giuliani in Copley Hall; weekly Mass followed by brownies and quesadillas with Rev. Christopher Steck, S.J. in New South; and a Debate Watch and discussion with Minister Wendy Hamilton and Mary Novak in Village C.
Don't you wish you were a student again?
The chaplains- and Jesuits-in-residence know that the beginning of a year can bring joy, concerns, friendships and anxiety. Whether they can offer some coffee and conversation or get to know students through programs focused on service, faith or community, our chaplains-in-residence and Jesuits-in-residence are here for all students, no matter what they may need.
For a complete list of all our chaplains and Jesuits-in-residence, visit our website.
ESCAPE Begins another year of programming with new students
By Bridget Sherry, Director of ESCAPE Program
Each fall, the Georgetown ESCAPE programs welcomes new students to the Hilltop with fun social events and opportunities for personal reflection. This year proved no different! Members of ESCAPE Team 22 and staff welcomed new students (both first-years and transfer) during New Student Orientation with s'mores at midnight, ice cream sundaes and a taste of what the reflective elements of ESCAPE provide in a special NSO Prelude program for transfer students.
The first ESCAPE overnights welcomed over 40 new students to the tradition of contemplation and community-building that has characterized the ESCAPE program for more than 20 years. Rev. Patrick Rogers, S.J. and Dr. Rob Van der Waag, a chaplain-in-residence and adjunct faculty member in the Theology Department, shared their reflections with students, as did several student team leaders. Kevin Tian (B'16), one of the first-year attendees, summed up his experience: "ESCAPE is the perfect opportunity to break out of the Georgetown bubble to meet new people while exploring yourself. Ultimately, ESCAPE is a microcosm of the dream college experience. Plus, Father Rogers is the man--you have to meet him!"
ESCAPE offers 12 opportunities for first-year students to participate in the program over the course of the academic year and welcomes more than 200 students annually.
Celebrating the White House Interfaith Service Challenge and Gearing Up for Year Two
By Mary Grace Reich, F'13
The President's Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge Summer Gathering convened July 9-10 at Howard University. More than 300 college presidents, administrators, chaplains and students attended the event, which is a collaboration between the White House, the U.S. Department of Education, the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Interfaith Youth Core. The evening was a celebration of the first year of the challenge and preparation for year two.
Addresses included a student panel, administrator panel and individual speeches from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Secretary of the Office of Faith and Community-Based Partnerships Joshua Dubois, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service Wendy Spencer and Interfaith Youth Core founder and President Eboo Patel. College representatives exchanged successes, struggles and shared values.
With Aamir Hussein (C'14) on the student panel and a shout-out from Spencer, Georgetown was well-represented at the event. It was most encouraging to see the involvement, both big and small, from a diverse range of college campuses across the country. Students from the University of Pennsylvania to Tennessee Technical to the Air Force Academy traveled to Howard to participate. There were plenty of achievements around the nation to celebrate as schools shared their experiences with the challenge.
The President's Challenge brings students of different religious backgrounds together through a joint effort of service. It is not intended to be just service or just interfaith dialogue, but interfaith action in service. The event was encouraging, exciting and thought provoking. While the questions posed are difficult to answer, the demonstrated determination across the nation to engage in conversation was uplifting. I know Georgetown is biting at the bit for year two of this initiative!
Catholic Chaplaincy Continues to Grow
By Rev. Patrick Rogers, S.J., Catholic Chaplaincy Director
The Catholic Chaplaincy has begun the academic year with great enthusiasm and joy. Mass attendance on Sundays remains steady (and high), and the voices of the faithful raise a joyful noise when singing hymns of praise to the God of life and love. The daily 10 p.m. Mass in Copley Crypt is drawing a larger and larger crowd, and there are times when it is standing room only. Sacramental preparations (RCIA) continue under the direction of Dr. Ennio Mastroianni, Rev. Alexei Michalenko and Dr. Minerva San Juan. A number of people are searching to enter the Church and be baptized this coming Easter, and others want to confirm their faith in Christ and the Church. Students, staff and community members make up this year's group. The Rite of Welcome happened at the end of October and therefore we welcome these seekers with gladness and elation.
Liturgical ministry is moving along, and we are training new lectors, Eucharistic ministers and altar servers. Our student Mass coordinators continue their fine work of making sure that our Masses come off without a hitch! The community is thankful for all of the time and effort these volunteers put in to make our worship at Dahlgren the beautiful experience that it is.
For those of you who participated in the 7:30 p.m. Underground Choir, you'll be happy to know that this group has never been larger! All kinds of instruments and singers are participating this year. Our Chapel Choir remains strong. One recent Sunday, members sang a post-Communion hymn (O Sacrum Convivium), directed by Student Music Director Stephen Gliatto, that moved many students to a powerful experience of God's presence in our midst.
Our student groups (GU Catholic, Catholic Daughters, Knights of Columbus and the Holy Hoyas Graduate Student Group) are all bringing students, faculty, and staff closer to God with many programs and prayer opportunities.
We are also excited about the canonization of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha as a saint. She is known as the Lily of the Mohawks. The Catholic Chaplaincy celebrated this first Native American saint with Masses and hospitality. We have also purchased an icon that will be placed in Dahlgren and then in the Copley Crypt Chapel of the North American Martyrs later in the year. This is the appropriate place for it to find its final resting place, as the Jesuits whom this chapel commemorates were living and working in the same area that Kateri lived.
All of the students who work with us in the Catholic Chaplaincy are so very dedicated to the ministry happening here at Georgetown. They truly do love the Church. Through their time and effort, they bring the Gospel alive in our midst. Please continue to support all of us with your prayers and we will continue to pray for you as well.
The Magis - the More
By Jennie Reis, Director, Catholic Retreats and Immersion Programs
Over the course of their four years at Georgetown, our students come to learn what makes this place different from other universities. Phrases like cura personalis, "finding God in all things," being "men and women for others," and having a
"faith that does justice" are commonly understood phrases. They mark our community in its Ignatian spirituality and challenge our students to find answers not only in the classroom, but also in the world.
Our students who participate in the MAGIS Immersion programs are doing just that--seeking answers in today's world. The word magis (pronounced "màh-gis") is a Latin word meaning "more." St. Ignatius of Loyola used the word to urge others to live more generously, and in doing so, give greater glory to God. Magis compels us to ask, "What more can I do for God?" "What more can I do for others?"
Our students who travel to El Salvador and the Mexican border during their Spring Breaks are asked these same questions. Prior to the trips, they learn as much as they can about where they are going, the history of the places, our Jesuit connections and social injustices, and they prepare themselves to be immersed in cultures and lives not their own. During the course of the week, they experience life raw and uncut. They visit sites where martyred blood was spilled, sit in contemplation around the very altar where Monsignor Oscar Romero was killed in 1980 and walk the same halls of the University of Central America where six Jesuits and two women were martyred in 1989. Our students live in campos, learn about migrant workers and social injustice, live with families and hear their stories... and throughout it all, their hearts are changed in a powerful way.
Essential to Ignatian spirituality is the practice of reflection. These experiences would mean nothing if we did not incorporate introspection. On Sept. 15-16, the students and staff who traveled to El Salvador last March came together for an overnight retreat to reflect on their experience in El Salvador. Students shared what an impact the trip had made on them. They shared their struggles with articulating the experience to others who have never been to El Salvador or witnessed the things that they had now seen. Others discussed how this trip has made their faith stronger and has given them a new sense of vocation to serve the world. At the end of the retreat, students were asked the same thing that St. Ignatius would ask if he were here today: "what more can we do?" Our students recommitted themselves to working for the common good and helping our brothers and sisters in El Salvador in whatever way they can.
And now as we begin a new year, we prepare a new group of students for MAGIS: El Salvador and MAGIS: Kino. It is customary for our participants to petition for the support and involvement of their entire communities. Contributions to our fundraising efforts this year will help make this important program happen. Investment in our students is an investment in our world.
Even if you cannot help us financially, we ask for your prayers during our time in El Salvador and Arizona/Mexico. We will leave again during spring break in March 2013. We will once again share with you about the experience in our fall newsletter and most importantly--remember you in our daily prayers.
On behalf of our all our students participating in Magis this year, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Please continue to hold us in your prayers and you can be assured that you are in ours!
Love Saxa Team Sponsors Inaugural Lecture
By Dr. Ennio Mastroianni, Senior Roman Catholic Chaplain and Director of Adult Faith Formation
There is a new working group in the Catholic Chaplaincy, and it calls itself the Love Saxa Team. This group has been in formation since last January, and on Sept. 25, it convened 105 members of the Georgetown University community for its first event. To get a better sense of the mission of Love Saxa, here is its mission statement:
Love Saxa recognizes that today's students face significant challenges with regard to love, relationships, and sexuality. Housed inside the Catholic Chaplaincy and drawing from Georgetown University's storied Catholic and Jesuit tradition, we aim to promote conversation surrounding the challenges of forming lasting and faithful relationships and families. Through advocacy, networking, and programming, we seek to engage students, faculty, and staff in a comprehensive ongoing discussion in an effort to explore these perennial challenges. By providing a voice championing chastity and fidelity in romantic relationships, we hope to achieve two primary goals: helping students in their time at Georgetown foster meaningful relationships and preparing them for their futures as responsible, loving, permanent spouses and parents. Love Saxa contributes to a campus culture that pursues and celebrates authentically loving relationships.
Professor W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project, associate professor of sociology and chair of the graduate program at the University of Virginia, served as the inaugural lecturer. His topic hit upon a strong interest among our students: "Wandering to the Altar: How to Successfully Date and Marry in America Today." Beginning with the observation that there are very few rules for dating and courtship in American culture, he deftly laid out tips for enhancing one's chances for significant lifelong relationships. This message is on target for high-achieving Georgetown students who are focused on academics and next steps beyond the Hilltop. He wisely reminded the audience that happiness in life is many times better served by a solid marital and familial life than the dream job or a fat wallet. Stay tuned for future offerings by Love Saxa.
Chapel, Chaplaincy Accompany Students on Life's Journeys
By Rev. Bryant M. Oskvig, Protestant Chaplaincy Director
They come from places ranging from Alaska to Amsterdam; they come from communities of nondenominational Christians to Mennonites, and they all gather in St. William Chapel with some hesitancy for what is to come. Soon, they will process in their academic robes for convocation, take the honor pledge and begin their academic journey; soon, they will say goodbye. The journey of college has its start in that hard goodbye, and in St. William Chapel, parents and students prepare themselves for that moment.
St. William's is a liminal space for the Georgetown University Protestant community. With familiar prayers and songs, but not always exactly the same prayers and songs from home, the transitions of academic life are met in St. William, from that first goodbye to loved ones to that moment when students bid goodbye to the Hilltop and make their way into the world. The chapel is a sanctuary and a place of sustenance and peace in the midst of all that life brings here on campus. Our time together this year started again in St. William.
Over the course of the year, we are focusing on the gift of past generations that is our sacred home. Our worship services have focused on the stained glass windows of St. William Chapel as we reflect upon the parables of Jesus that are depicted in them. A "Prodigal Group" is dedicated to discussing sacred space and the special elements contained in the chapel. The chaplaincy is also exploring the history of the chapel--from its original construction through the "Freeze's breeze" (the remarkably quick Masses that Rev. Don Freeze, S.J. presided over in the 1970s-90s) to the sounds of Gospel music that can be heard through the windows and the Eucharistic celebration of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The chapel has held an important place in the spiritual life of this community. Most recently, the chapel is in need of attention, and those that have recognized the importance of this chapel and supported its restoration, as we hope others will support the needs of this sacred space, encourage us.
This year, we welcomed new students and new staff into our community at St. William. Under the direction of its new director, Phil Carter, the Gospel Choir continues to sing praise and share the Spirit with Georgetown. We also welcomed our new program coordinator, Tori Savage, into our ministry. With the continued presence of Rev. Dr. Kesslyn Brade, the program ministries have strengthened. These include our small group gatherings, Prodigal Groups, and our Soup with Substance social justice conversations. In the coming year, we look forward to special programing with our affiliated ministries, bringing the entire Protestant community together in worship and fellowship.
Reflections on the New Year and High Holy Days
By Rabbi Rachel Gartner, Jewish Chaplaincy Director
The Jewish Chaplaincy has begun the New Year with a bang, a shofar blast and percussion, keyboards and a cello. Here's how:
On Sept. 7, we took to the streets, or more precisely, Healy Lawn. We hosted our Welcome Back Shabbat, which featured the music of Shlomo Carlebach and Trio Shalva, an incredible Israeli Jewish music ensemble based in New York. Picture it: over 100 Jewish students celebrating Shabbat with live musicians and kosher burgers and brownies. It was remarkable.
Later came the High Holy Days. This Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Jewish Chaplaincy was blessed to serve over 1,300 community members and students as they brought in the New Year with us during our High Holy Day services.
During Kol Nidrei services, I gave a drash (sermon) on suicide prevention and handed out materials with information and resources for students struggling with depression/mental illness and for survivors of a loved one's suicide, as well as tips on recognizing signs of suicidal ideation. We hope this sermon will bring blessing and help to those in need. You can find the text of the sermon and our resource sheet on our website.
During the High Holy Days, the Chaplaincy announced its new initiative for the broader community, LIMUD: Jewish Learning at Georgetown. Session topics include Religion, Politics & Elections: Where We Are in 2012 -- Jewish Perspectives, a debate between Orthodox Rabbi Barry Freundel and Reform Rabbi David Saperstein regarding the hot issues in politics today, on the eve of the national election, and A D.C. Day of Jewish Learning.
We leave you with a High Holy Day Reflection, by our program coordinator, Deborah Reichmann. We do hope you will enjoy and be inspired by it. Shanah Tovah.
The sound of the shofar swelled to fill Gaston Hall to the rafters. My gaze rose instinctively and alighted on round plaques I had never noticed before. In spite of my years as a student and my years as Georgetown University staff member, I had never seen these in Gaston before. Each plaque bore a letter in Gothic script: WISDOM.
My soul, primed by prayer, lifted by the holy sound of the shofar, opened like a flower in the sun. Wisdom faced me. Wisdom challenged me. There I was, at the start of the Yom'im Nora'im (Days of Awe), and was called upon to discern not only where I had gone astray in the past year, but how to find my way back to the right path. Where could I find the wisdom to guide me to the right path? My mind yearned for it, and my soul ached for it.
I closed my eyes and saw only darkness. I opened them and saw in my mahzor the words, "T'shuva, t'fila, u'tzedaka," penitence, prayer and charity. These were my guides; these are a guide for all people in choosing the right path. They work on a literal level, but that day, I saw them in the light of wisdom.
Penitence not solely for my acts and thoughts that harm others, but those that harm me. Prayer not only for those in desperate need, but for the penury of my soul. Charity not only to help the material needs of the poor, but charity in judgment. Not to assume, not to assign blame, to others and to myself.
How can I change if I am not part of the equation? It is not vanity or selfishness to care for my soul, not when that soul can accomplish so much more when it is whole and healthy.
My spirit, my essence, absorbed this in an instant. My mind will be revisiting this wisdom, this guide, for at least this year. Maybe, probably, longer. Wisdom has been taught in Gaston Hall and has been the subject of lectures, sermons, poems and songs performed on that stage. But, she also dwells there, watching and waiting for the opportunity to be seen and comprehended.
The Muslim Chaplaincy: Inspiring Peace, Welcoming All
By Imam Yahya Hendi, Muslim Chaplaincy Director
While riots rage on in parts of the Muslim world, at Georgetown University the Muslim Chaplaincy is focusing on developing inner peace and strengthening interfaith community. Our sermons have condemned violence and called our congregants to recall the life and message of nonviolence embodied in our Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) who taught: "Do not be people without minds of your own, saying that if others treat you well you will treat them well and that if they do wrong you will do wrong. But (instead) accustom yourselves to do good if people do good and not to do wrong if they do evil" (reported in Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1325). Insha'Allah, these lessons from the Prophet's example will inspire peace with the immediacy in which they are meant.
In continuing the successful Islamic Learning Series program from last spring, we held our first seminar on the topic "Woman of the Qur'an." Dinner was served to over 60 people, a crowd made up of undergraduate students, graduate students, alumni, and professors, among others. I recounted parts of the stories that feature women in the Quran, drawing from various verses and hadiths. Professor Yvonne Haddad and other graduate students asked questions about the story of the creation of Adam and Eve in the Quran. I was also asked to explain why I am known by some as the "Feminist Imam."
The Muslim Chaplaincy started the year on a high note by sponsoring a Muslim Student Retreat. On Sept. 21-22, over 20 students left campus for an overnight retreat at Camp High Road in Virginia. Imam Tarif Shraim, the Muslim chaplain from the University of Maryland, and I joined the students and presented two lectures on the theme of the retreat, Khushoo'--an Islamic term that can mean anything from concentration in prayer to sincerity, contentment, tranquility and peace. Students had the opportunity to reflect on the theme and the lectures in discussion breakout circles designed to facilitate deep conversations among the retreat participants. Tarif and I also were there to serve as sources of spiritual guidance throughout the retreat, participating in one-on-one discussions with students on a range of topics. There were also plenty of campfire halal s'mores, rounds of Taboo, and reinvigorating nature hikes!
There is much to look forward to this year: the ongoing Islamic Learning Series programs, Dinners with a Prophet, Georgetown Muslim Student Association dinner meetings, weekly halaqas, grad House of Wisdom, a visit from Imam Sohaib Sultan, the Muslim chaplain of Princeton University, the Graduate Muslim Student Association's service trip over Thanksgiving Break to Tennessee to help restore an Evangelical school, and, of course, the auspicious holiday of Eid ul-Adha.
We'd like to thank Rev. Michael Calabria, OFM, Tori Savage, Michelle Siemietkowski, Greg Robison, Dr. Madison, Rabbi Rachel Gartner, Rev. Bryant Oskvig and Rev. Patrick Rogers, S.J. for joining us at one time or another this semester during Jum'ah (Friday) prayer services in Bulldog Alley. It has meant a great deal to our community and given us a wonderful and renewed sense of community.
We pray for world peace and mutual understanding this semester and beyond. We hope to see many of you at our regular and special programming and close this update with another teaching of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him): "The true servants of God the Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, reply with words of peace." May we all be so wise, patient, and loving. Allahumma Ameen.
Orthodox Chaplaincy Reflects on the Past, Looks Toward the Future
By V. Rev. Constantine White, Orthodox Chaplaincy Director
As I think back, it is hard to believe that I have been the Orthodox Christian Chaplain at Georgetown since 1986, which means I am beginning my 27th year at Georgetown. My daughter graduated from the College in May 2011. Having been a Georgetown parent, I can assure everyone of what a fine education all of our students receive, amply preparing them to go on in their lives.
The end of the last spring semester brought the graduation of all of our officers for the Orthodox Christian Fellowship (the Orthodox ministries student organization)--president, vice president and secretary/treasurer. When this occurs, as it inevitably does some years, I always feel a certain amount of trepidation at the end of the school year, wondering what the fall semester will bring. In May though, with God's blessing, students stepped forward in an election to have all those positions filled. The newly elected board met last May to begin planning for this academic year. The immediate request was that our first Vespers service would be on Aug. 28, which was the day before classes started. Vespers is the evening prayer service that we have regularly throughout the year. As new students were still involved in New Student Orientation events that day, this gave an opportunity for upperclassmen to come together for their own "reunion." The following week we were able to welcome the new students, who were pleased to see that we have an active Orthodox Christian Fellowship. Prayers and individual blessings were given for the beginning of the academic year. Then on Sept. 11, we had our official welcoming meal at the Tombs--an Orthodox Christian Fellowship tradition--with over 25 in attendance.
During our first gatherings, the students expressed a desire to come together more frequently and to have more "charitable service"-oriented activities. After looking in to what could be done, it was decided that we would come together to make sandwiches for a local homeless shelter. Following Vespers one evening, 20 students gathered in one student's apartment and prepared over 100 sandwiches, which were taken to a shelter in Georgetown the following morning. Students donated money to cover most of the costs for the sandwich supplies. They are proposing that we do this on a regular basis.
We are now in the planning stages for our annual fall retreat, which traditionally takes place the Friday and Saturday before Thanksgiving at the Bishop Clagett Retreat Center in Buckeyestown, Md. The rural setting of the center gives the students an opportunity to relax and retreat from their rather intense academic lives. They are already looking forward to it.
As always, the Orthodox Christian Ministry, which serves students and faculty of all Eastern Orthodox backgrounds (including Greek, Russian, Serbian, Orthodox Church in America), is grateful to the university and the Office of Campus Ministry for the support it receives to have regular services and activities. Georgetown's Campus Ministry is one of the most diverse in the world and is constantly seeking new ways to fulfill the spiritual needs of students and faculty. It has truly been a blessing for me to be at Georgetown now for the past 26 years.
New Hopes and Programs for a New Year
By Rev. Sal Jordan, S.J., Medical Center Campus Ministry Director
I have chosen to share with you some of my recent reflections as I start my third year back at Georgetown, serving as chaplain to students, faculty, staff and alumni in the School of Medicine. I have returned to an office that has been repainted and renovated while I was recovering from back surgery for the repair of several compression fractures of my spinal column. After a very painful summer, it is such a joy to be able to walk again without pain! And so my focus now is to explore new ways of being more present to the variety of persons and communities that make up the medical campus here at Georgetown.
One of the new things I am involved with, thanks to Sister Helen Scarry at the School of Nursing & Health Sciences, is the Prayer in Daily Life Retreat experience. I will share more about this ministry in a future article. Another new adventure and challenge for this year will be an email or mini-newsletter of an inspirational nature, geared toward students, faculty and staff on the medical campus. This idea came to me as I was thinking about Jesuits and their writings that have influenced my life during my 50 years as a Jesuit. It will be a way of sharing and passing on to others what has been such a blessing for me.
As many of you know, there are a variety of programs that are sponsored by the Office of Campus Ministry through the Georgetown Group, our special outreach effort for medical students. In the past, it has included several evening dinners with invited guest speakers, followed by a question-and-answer session. Sometimes these events occur during the lunch hour. We also try to hold several open houses during the year near our office, the St. Ignatius Chapel on the medical campus and other prayer space areas. These receptions are always open to all students, faculty and staff. The Georgetown Group also coordinates faith-sharing groups and support groups that meet weekly throughout the year. We continue to celebrate daily Mass in St. Ignatius Chapel and to provide for the availability of the sacraments and counseling as needed. The conference area directly behind our chapel continues to be made available as a meeting space and place of prayer for our students of other religious traditions.
Finally, I would like to mention the importance that we place in the spirit of cura personalis, of caring for the whole person. I have decided to turn over the small office space next to mine as a hospitality space where students can come for a break and for some coffee, tea or munchies. And if they wish to use it for support group space or some small group study space, it will be available.
Let me conclude by thanking all of you for your generous support, which has allowed us to provide vibrant spiritual experiences to our medical students. Please know that you and your special intentions are remembered in our prayers and masses here in the School of Medicine chapel.
Launching of Three Testaments: Law Center Chaplains Participate in Interfaith Event
By Rev. Alexei Michalenko, Catholic Chaplain at the Georgetown Law Center
Noteworthy in the area of interfaith relationships is the publication of Three Testaments: Torah, Gospel, and Quran. Brian Arthur Brown is the editor of Three Testaments and author of the 12 contextual chapters linking the texts. The foreword is by Amir Hussain, editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. Books I, II and III contain commentary by some of North America's leading Jewish, Christian and Islamic scholars.
The Embassy of Canada here in Washington was one of the locations in North America chosen for the launching of this publication. The Sept. 11 activities concluded with a panel led by Chester Gillis, dean of Georgetown College, and three contributors to the book: Ellen Frankel of Philadelphia, recently retired 20-year CEO of the Jewish Publication Society; David Bruce, a Catholic writer from Toronto; and Amir Hussain of Los Angeles, editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. Various ambassadors and embassy personnel were also present for the event.
At the personal invitation of Arthur Brown, chaplains from the Law Center, Sister Dorinda Young, Michael Goldman, Esq. and I, also attended this most inspiring and hope-filled event, which celebrated the efforts of representatives of these major religious traditions to make it possible to know one another better and to cooperate in bringing about greater understanding to help foster world peace.
In her contribution to this publication, "Preface to the Torah," Frankel notes that "The last time such a three-way conversation happened was during the so-called Golden Age of Spain, in the period known as La Convivencia ("The Coexistence," which occurred between the 10th and 12th centuries), when Jews, Christians and Muslims lived together in relative harmony, fraternizing with each other, studying and even writing books together. The world is long overdue for a reprise."
It was a privilege to be part of this "launching" and to be inspired by the hope that motivated this project for healing our fractured world and bringing greater peace and understanding to the daughters and sons of Abraham.
Supporting Mission and Ministry
All of the programs described in this issue are enhanced by gift support. If you would like to make a gift to help a specific chaplaincy or program, or the overall effort, you may do so online at: giving.georgetown.edu.
If you would like more information on supporting any of these programs, please contact Mary Prahinski (C'85), Director of Development for Mission and Ministry, at 202-687-6671 or by email at email@example.com.
- Nov 3, 5:30pm: Global Hunger Shabat
- Nov 4, 5pm: Religious Services Open House - Protestant Worship Service
- Nov 7, 7pm: Life Beyond Sunday: Dogmatic Constitution of the Church
- Nov 9, 1:30pm: Religious Services Open House - Muslim Jum'ah Prayer
- Nov 9: reFRESHMENt
- Nov 13, 5:30am: Religious Services Open House - Orthodox Christian Vespers
- Nov 16: Weekend Ignatian Retreat
- Nov 30, 7:30pm: Lessons and Carols
- Dec 7, 10am: Advent Day of Recollection
- Dec 9, 5pm: University Advent Mass
- Jan 3: Five-Day Ignatian Retreat