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Georgetown’s New Mission and Ministry VP Embraces Interreligious Dialogue

March 16, 2017 - Rev. Mark Bosco, S.J., an associate professor of English and theology at Loyola University Chicago, will become the next vice president for mission and ministry at Georgetown on August 1.

Bosco, who also directs The Joan and Bill Hank Center for the Catholic Intellectual Heritage at Loyola, is a scholar of 20th-century Catholic theology, culture and aesthetics, and an expert on Catholic writers Graham Greene and Flannery O’Connor.

“I was attracted to Georgetown because of the sense that it not only represents and nurtures its own faith tradition, but engages in interreligious dialogue and reaches out to people of all faiths,” says Bosco, 52, who will also become a professorial lecturer in the university’s English department. “I’m excited to come and be part of that effort.”

Learning, Faith and Service

The Office of Mission and Ministry advances the university’s Catholic identity, Ignatian heritage and Jesuit mission, and supports the integration of learning, faith and service through a broad array of programs that engage students, faculty, staff, senior leaders and alumni.

As vice president, Bosco will oversee the Office of Campus Ministry, which supports Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Orthodox Christian, Hindu and Buddhist worship services and is a resource for weddings, infant baptisms and Catholic initiation.

He replaces Howard Gray, S.J., who has served as interim vice president since August 2016.

Extraordinary Dedication

A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Bosco comes from a large Catholic, Italian family. His brother teaches at a Jesuit high school in Kansas City. The incoming vice president received his undergraduate degree in philosophy from Cardinal Glennon College and his master’s degree in English from St. Louis University.

He also holds master’s of divinity from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley and a Ph.D. in theology and literature from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California.

Bosco entered the Society of Jesus at the age of 25 and was ordained in 1999.

The author of Graham Greene’s Catholic Imagination (Oxford University Press, 2005) and 17 journal articles and book chapters, he also has served as co-editor of two books, including Finding God in All Things: Celebrating Bernard Lonergan, John Courtney Murray and Karl Rahner (Fordham University Press, 2007). 

"Father Bosco's dedication to our Catholic and Jesuit tradition, along with his commitment to deepening interfaith and ecumenical dialogue and animating scholarship is extraordinary," says Georgetown President John J. DeGioia. "We look forward to welcoming him to our community later this summer."

Interreligious Dialogue

At Loyola’s Hank Center, Bosco created a series of panel discussions called Catholicism in Dialogue.

A recent discussion involved scholars, chaplains and students from each of the Abrahamic traditions who discussed the themes of mercy, forgiveness and solidarity found in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

“The Hank Center was already a presence at the university,” he explains. “What I’ve done in my term as director is to make it a more integral part of the university, a place where we hold conferences, film and lecture series, symposiums and get students involved with faculty research in the field.”

Flannery O’Connor Documentary

Bosco’s scholarly work goes beyond books and articles.

With Loyola colleague Elizabeth Coffman, he is the producer, director and writer of a film, Flannery O’Connor: Acts of Redemption, to be completed this year and under discussion as a feature-length documentary with PBS’ American Masters.

“What people often don’t know about Flannery O’Connor is that she was very funny and very, very Catholic,” Bosco says. “She wants to push our simple notions of Catholic thought and doctrine to the edge, and she does it with a lot of humor.”

The documentary includes interviews with actor Tommy Lee Jones, as well as writers Alice McDermott, Mary Gordon, Alice Walker, Tobias Wolff and New Yorker critic Hilton Als, among others. Bosco and Coffman began the project four years ago and received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2016 to finish the project.

A Unique Experience

At Loyola, he has taught such courses as The Catholic Literary Tradition, Sacramental Theology/Theological Aesthetics, Art and Religious Imagination and 20th Century American and British Literature.

Living in a student residence hall at Loyola, he said he often cooks Italian dishes for students. He also was tasked at Loyola with creating a seminar to deepen understanding of that school’s Catholic, Jesuit mission.

“We had about 15 faculty and a dean across the disciplines, of all faiths, as well as those without faith commitments,” explains Bosco. “We talked about how Jesuit education is a unique experience and what it brought to the whole discourse of education. Our goal was for faculty to have some literacy about Jesuit education and we were very successful.”