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Remarks by President John J. DeGioia

Dinner in Honor of Georgetown Football, Joe Eacobacci, and #35

September 9, 2011
Georgetown University

It is a privilege to welcome you tonight to this special dinner for our football team and to honor the memory and extraordinary contribution of one of our own, Joe Eacobacci, to out football program and to the broader community of Georgetown University. I wish to welcome you, the members of the 2011 Hoya Football team, our coaching staff, and all of you who are here this evening.

I would like to offer a special welcome to the members of Joe’s family who are here: His parents, Angela and Mitch; his sister, Michelle, and brother, Tom; Tom’s wife, Andrea; and their children, Joey and Jay.

We will have the opportunity later to hear from Tom, and we are grateful to have you all with is.

This is a weekend of remembrance. Just before coming over here, I participated in our community’s Interfaith Prayer Service in Gaston Hall. Our community lost twenty-four members on September 11. Each year since then, we have held a Prayer Service. In 2002, we dedicated the park on N Street to the memory of those we lost. And in 2003, this program determined that the best way to remember Joe was to honor his number.

We are here tonight to remember the day that has had such a profound impact on our lives and to celebrate the life and contribution of one of our own and the continuing impact his spirit has on our community.

If you walk the campus at this time of year, you will see banners placed throughout the Hilltop that capture the “Spirit of Georgetown.” You will see terms that describe aspects of the tradition that animates this place. You will see words like “academic excellence” and “contemplation in action.” You will come across Latin words, “Ad Majorem de Gloriam”—perhaps the best known for any of you who have had some experience at a Jesuit institution. Those words are the motto of the Society of Jesus—the Jesuits—“for the greater glory of God.” You will see phrases that may have become very familiar to you—“Cura Personalis” and “Women and Men for Others.”

These terms constitute the Spirit of this place. We are the oldest Catholic university in America…

The defining characteristic of our community is the idea that we are built upon a tradition, one that has its origins nearly five-centuries ago in the work of the very first Jesuits, in St. Ignatius himself. This is the greatest tradition of education the world has ever seen and we, today, are the heirs of this sacred tradition.

But traditions are never static, never fixed in time. They must be made to come alive in the day-to-day life, in the decisions and actions, in the work that takes place every day. Those words on our banners have profound meaning within the context of our tradition, but unless we make those words come alive in everything we do, they are just words.

In the first letter of Peter, he writes that we are to be “living stones” and together we build up a “spiritual house.” 

The stones of this campus come alive in all of you. In what you stand for, in what you do, in the choices you make, in the care you show for one another.

Stones are just stones, words just words, unless we make them come alive.

One way in which we make this tradition—these stones, these words, come alive here in our community every year is through this football team. You represent the deepest values of our community: integrity, a commitment to excellence, the blending together of talents to produce something extraordinary. In doing so, you strengthen our community—you ensure these stones, these words are alive. You show us that to wear the Blue and Gray means something. 

We honor you tonight and we honor a very special way in which we make the Spirit of Georgetown come alive. For the past nine seasons, since Tom Eacobacci and Rob Sgarlata suggested that the best way to remember a brother and a teammate was not to retire his number, but to ensure that it lives each year in the heart of our team, the #35 has come to symbolize the very best of Georgetown. 


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