by Stephanie Johnson
On April 2, the Boston College chapter of Alpha Sigma Nu, the honor society for Jesuit colleges and universities, held its flagship event of the spring semester. A panel discussion on the role of a Jesuit education after graduation took place in Higgins 310. The event was organized by the current officers and facilitated by Fr. Gregory Kalscheur, Alpha Sigma Nu’s faculty advisor. The panel was comprised of six panelists including Ashley Duggan, Associate Professor of Communication; Fr. James Keenan S.J., Professor of Theology and Director of the Presidential Scholars Program; Fr. Richard McGowan S.J., Adjunct Professor of Finance and Economics; Tim Muldoon, Assistant to the Vice President for University Mission and Ministry; Tim Mulvey, Assistant Director of the Center for Student Formation; and Fr. James Weiss, Associate Professor of Theology.
Together the panelists aimed to answer how one continues to live according to the values of a Jesuit education. Tim Muldoon was the first panelist to address the juniors and seniors in attendance. He suggested that we see ourselves carrying on something started long ago by St. Ignatius. Ignatian spirituality provides us with the confidence needed to discover what it means to be a human being. Muldoon recommended that the members of Alpha Sigma Nu continue to ask themselves, “What is it that God made us for?” The Boston College faculty “cares about what kind of human beings you become.” Finally he stated that a Jesuit education has ultimately given us a lifelong appreciation for what is worth loving.
Next, Tim Mulvey presented the audience with an experience of his own which enabled him to recognize the value of a Jesuit education. He ultimately found it in the midst of failure. After two years of teaching through a program in Tennessee, he realized that he hated teaching. It simply was not what he was meant to do. That was when his Jesuit education came to the rescue. He utilized the three “be’s” to discern what he was truly meant to do: be attentive, be reflective, be loving. What he learned at Boston College ended up helping him through a very tough time in his life. He recommended that the audience use the three “be’s” when experiencing failure.
Ashley Duggan spoke next, and she reflected on her time as a professor at Boston College. She suggested that BC is “a place to step back and look at the long road, find integration in unexpected ways, and discover the hidden meaning in life.” We must ask ourselves how our education plays a role in our everyday decisions.
Fr. Keenan followed Duggan with a few words on vocation. He stated, “As members of the Society of Jesus, we each have our own vocation; that’s what we believe about students, too.” He claimed that Jesuit education is about faith, social values, excellence, and realizing our own vocations. We are not all invited to be the same person. It is important that we each become who we are called to be. Our Jesuit education allows us to pursue our vocations in life. He concluded by stating, “We are all made in the image of God, but we are made differently.”
Next Fr. McGowan offered a management perspective. He told the audience, “One thing to take out of stats is how to take a risk.” Our Jesuit education teaches us that risk has two elements: danger and adventure. His hope is that the ideal Jesuit graduate has learned to want to take risks and seek out adventure.
Finally Fr. Weiss reflected on the results of two Jesuit educations in his life. He focused largely on the transition of Jesuit education throughout the past 40 years. He claimed that a lot of what we call Jesuit is not specific to Jesuits but rather is common amongst Catholics. Since 1975, Jesuit education has become associated with social justice, the practice of reflection, and discernment. According to Fr. Jim Weiss, “the subject of what is distinctively Jesuit remains unclear.”
The panel concluded with a question and answer session involving the members of Alpha Sigma Nu in attendance.