Rev. Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J. (C’56), a former Georgetown president, offered the invocation at the Jan. 20 inauguration ceremony for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris continuing a tradition of Jesuit involvement in Inauguration Day events.
O’Donovan, who led the university between 1989 and 2001, delivered a prayer before Biden and Harris were sworn into office..
O’Donovan, who currently serves as director of mission at Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, is a longtime friend of the Biden family and was invited by the president-elect for the honored role at the event.
“We are a people of many races, creeds and colors, national backgrounds, cultures and styles now far more numerous in a land much vaster than when Archbishop John Carroll wrote his prayer for the Inauguration of George Washington 232 years ago,” O’Donovan recited during the Inauguration Day ceremony. “Archbishop Carroll prayed that you Creator of all would assist with your holy spirit of counsel and fortitude the president of these United States.”
‘Special and Close-Up View’
The Jesuit priest isn’t the first Georgetown president to participate in Inauguration Day events. His immediate predecessor as university president, Rev. Timothy Healy, S.J., participated in the second inauguration of President Ronald Reagan in 1985. (PHOTO HERE via Lauinger Library)
“As the first Jesuit and Catholic university in the nation, our location has given Georgetown a special and close-up view for the peaceful transfer of power in this country for generations,” said Rev. Mark Bosco, S.J., the university’s vice president of mission and ministry. “It is an honor that Father O’Donovan has been invited to participate in this historic occasion in order to give the invocation.”
The Presidential Inauguration Committee hosted a memorial to remember and honor the lives lost to COVID-19 in cities and towns across the country on Jan. 19. The ceremony included a lighting around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, and locations across the United States lit up buildings and tolled church bells.
Georgetown observed the memorial by ringing the bells of the Healy Hall clock tower that day.