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Remarks by President John J. DeGioia

Jesuit Heritage Week 2011

Dahlgren Chapel
January 30, 2011

Jesuit Heritage Week is our annual way of reflecting on the extraordinary gift we all share by virtue of our membership in this community. I wish to express my appreciation to Phil Boroughs, Kate Cullen, and our student co-chairs Federico Rivas and Maria Theresa Chamorro for their leadership in making this week possible. Each year, there are a few people who step forward and take responsibility for this very special week and we are profoundly grateful for you and your leadership.

Every year, at this time we take a week to deeply engage this tradition that has animated our university for 222 years. And we take this time to honor the presence of a community within our community, the Jesuit Community of Georgetown, a community inspired by the vision of an extraordinary spiritual leader, St. Ignatius of Loyola.

We honor them, we honor a spiritual tradition that has been handed down, given to generation after generation of students, faculty and staff here—given to each of us, to embrace, question, challenge, given to each of us to engage, and to offer our own interpretation of what this tradition asks of us, now, here, at this moment in the life of our community. Traditions are never fixed in time. They are always evolving, always adapting to the needs and challenges of time and place. What is asked of each of us, is to follow the example of those who have come before us and to accept the seriousness of the responsibility we share for the vibrancy of this tradition. It is only as alive as we are attentive to the imperative of engagement.

And we could have no better examples than the members of the Jesuit Community of Georgetown—who have provided an inter-generational presence here. Men our celebrants, Phil Boroughs, Matt Carnes and the Rector of our Jesuit Community, John Langan. Men like those seatered here – the men of our Jesuit community.

On Friday, at Mass, we celebrated the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas. We heard these words from St. Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews:

“You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised.” (Hebrews 10:36)

We can learn from the presence of these men—they provide an enduring presence, an enduring witness to the promise of, what is by virtue of our membership in this community, our tradition.

We honor their witness. We honor their “endurance.”

We honor their faith, a faith shared by Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Sarah. A faith we share: “Faith…the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1-2)

And we honor their humility. This is a tradition with a profound respect and understanding, that it is not the “wise”, it is not those of “strong,” it is not the “powerful.” It is “the lowly … of the world” that “God chose.”

It is:

the poor

it is those who are mourning

it is the meek

it is the merciful

it is the peacemakers

it is the persecuted

It is those who hunger and thirst for justice

Who offer us the deepest wisdom. This is the insight at the heart of our tradition.

This is our week to embrace our tradition and to express our gratitude for this incomparable resource here, in our midst, inviting us to share in its promise, that each of us can experience the presence of God, to have the feeling of God’s forgiveness, to know that we are loved.


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