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Remarks by President John J. DeGioia

Pedro Arrupe Centenary Dinner

Riggs Library
Georgetown University
November 14, 2007

It is a pleasure to welcome you to Riggs Library—one of the most beautiful spaces on campus, and the place where we usually host our most distinguished guests and members of our community.  Tonight is certainly no exception.

I also can’t think of a better place than a library to honor the life and legacy of a man who has left such an indelible mark on the character and values of contemporary Jesuit education.

In many ways, Pedro Arrupe—as we saw in the documentary film we premiered earlier today—is the very face of those values—of justice, faith and scholarship—that are at the core of Jesuit education…and especially of this university. 

I want to thank the marvelous creative team of Frank and Mary Frost, and Mike Ritter. The documentary you’ve produced is an extraordinary tribute to the enduring legacy of Pedro Arrupe.  I also want to especially thank Tony Moore. Without his sustained engagement—his dedication and belief in this project—our vision for this film would never have become a reality.

By telling the story of Pedro Arrupe, we are also telling the story of Georgetown—what we stand for…what we believe in…and what we strive to achieve.  I want to further discuss Pedro’s Arrupe’s influence at Georgetown after dinner, but to begin our evening, I’d now like to ask Fr. Gap LoBiondo, Director of the Woodstock Theological Center, to give tonight’s blessing… 

After Dinner:

…When I think of Pedro Arrupe’s influence at Georgetown, I’m reminded of the words of Jesuit Father-General, Peter-Hans Kolvenbach.  In his Foreward to the essential writings of Arrupe, Father-General Kolvenbach noted that when we read Arrupe’s writings, “We find his faith…his love…his life.”  I believe that these are precisely the three things that help guide our efforts here at Georgetown.

Pedro Arrupe, was, above all, a man of great faith.  He manifested a great commitment to the church—promoting its teachings and heritage.  We strive to do the same at Georgetown.  Our Catholic faith and Jesuit heritage is the foundation on which we build all of our efforts. And our faith and heritage help inspire our community to care for one another…to care for the whole person, body, mind and spirit…

…It ensures that we are committed to the highest standards of teaching, research and scholarship… 

…And it continually challenges our students—and all of us—to be principled leaders and compassionate citizens.

But Pedro Arrupe was not only a man of great faith—he was also a man of great love, and for him it was impossible to love without seeking justice.  As he noted, “love of God which does not issue in justice for all is a farce.”  At Georgetown, this is the ideal we try to instill in the young women and men who come to us.  We encourage them to help ensure that social justice issues are never consigned to the shadows…

…To fight for a global economy that benefits not the few, but the many…

…To work to foster understanding and peace among faiths and cultures…

…And to accept responsibility not only for their own development—but for the collective development of the human family.

The final thing that helps guide us at Georgetown is the life—the very example—of Pedro Arrupe. We are all familiar with his story.   From caring for the injured in Hiroshima after the atomic bomb was dropped… to his visionary reading of the church’s social doctrine…to his outreach to refugees, the poor, and victims of racism, violence and marginalization—Pedro Arrupe  was, truly, a man for others. 

This is very much what we want our students to be.  We want them to be women and men who don’t just want to earn a living—but to enjoy lives of meaning… 

…Women and men who understand that what is ultimately important is not what they gain, but what they give…

…And women and men who will not be deaf to the call of others…who will resist the call to selfishness…and who will hear the authentic voice of God.   Ultimately, our core—and most important—mission at Georgetown is to form these women and men for others.

Through his faith…his love…and his life, the example of Pedro Arrupe helps guide the mission of this University—and everything we do on the Hilltop.  His example is mirrored in our work, our goals—and our values.  And his example provides us with an extraordinary benchmark for our efforts.

But the spirit of Arrupe—so much in the tradition of St. Ignatius Loyola who urged us all to engage in the world to make it a better place—is certainly not confined to this place. It lives on in every Jesuit University and institution throughout the world.  It lives on in our students who take their places as capable and compassionate global leaders and citizens.  And it lives on in everyone who believes in the idea—in his own words—of “faith that does justice.”

Pedro Arrupe—in promoting a new mission for the Jesuits in terms of faith intrinsically linked to justice—can certainly be called a second founder of the Order.  But his example of love and service is not only a challenge to his fellow Jesuits and to Jesuit institutions like Georgetown.  It is a challenge to the entire Church…and to our entire global community. 

On this, the centenary of Pedro Arrupe’s birth, the Georgetown family reaffirms our commitment to strive—in all of our endeavors—to meet that challenge.

I know that all of you who have come here this evening—from the Georgetown community, the extended Jesuit community, and the Washington community—share this commitment.  Thank you for joining us tonight to honor and celebrate the extraordinary life and legacy of Don Pedro. 

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