Hundreds of students crowded into Hillside Café on Tuesday, March 10 to hear Father Casey Beaumier, S.J. deliver the second Agape Latte talk of the semester. Beaumier’s talk, “30 Bucks and a Purposeful Path,” focused on discernment and making sense of the “crazy paths of life.” The director of the newly formed Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies, Father Casey also teaches a senior Capstone course, “The Discerning Life on Pilgrimage.” However, he is perhaps best known on campus for his genuine, day-to-day interactions with students outside of the classroom. The celebrant of the Masses at St. Joseph’s Chapel, Father Casey currently lives in Fenwick Hall, where he serves as spiritual director to first-year students.
Father Casey started his talk by sharing the story of how he came to the priesthood. At Marquette University, a Jesuit school, he majored in journalism and “found a passion for writing.” However, during his time at Marquette, Beaumier also became an RA for freshmen- a decision that would end up changing his life. In a serendipitous twist of fate, the Jesuit chaplain for his dorm at the time was none other than Father William Leahy, S.J., current Boston College president. Through the Father Leahy’s mentorship, Father Casey realized that his true calling after graduation was “not to become a journalist, but a Jesuit.”
During his time at Marquette, Beaumier developed deep admiration for the writing of Maya Angelou. “Her words spoke to me,” Beaumier shared with the audience. “I knew I was not alone, because I had Maya Angelou as my friend.” One piece of Angelou’s that was especially meaningful for Beaumier was an entry called “The Power of the Word,” a piece in which Angelou reflects on God’s unconditional love.
After graduating Marquette, Beaumier entered the seminary. In order to become part of the order, novices are required to complete a Jesuit pilgrimage. With only thirty dollars and a one-way bus ticket, novices must rely on the kindness of strangers along the way to find food and shelter. Beaumier’s journey led him to Wake Forest University, where he ministered to college students. Maya Angelou, amazingly, was a professor there as well. A large influence on his faith, Beaumier knew that he had to meet her. “I called the English department to try to schedule an appointment with her,” Beaumier explained, “but I was told by a secretary that Dr. Angelou was an extremely busy and popular person and didn’t see people who popped by for a chat.”
Despite the discouragement, Beaumier did not give up hope. He stayed determined, and amazingly, was able to finally meet Dr. Angelou at a conference in New York City. “It was just crazy,” Father Casey reflected. Beaumier used the story to illustrate to students the unpredictability of life and the greatness of God’s plan.
Father Casey also offered advice to students on how to live purposeful lives. He introduced the idea of a “desert day:” a Saturday to go into the city alone and “disconnect from the world and walk with God.” He also suggested to students that they spend time recognizing one another on campus through acts of kindness, generosity, and respect. To create a more welcoming campus, students should “greet one another with a smile” and acknowledge one another throughout the day.
Students in Hillside Café for Father Casey’s Agape Latte talk were very receptive of Father Casey’s story and advice. Abigail Young, A&S ’17, said, “Father Casey, with his incredible ability to reach each and every student with his words, is the reason I go to daily Mass. When he preaches I often wonder whether everyone hears the same homily or if we each hear what we need to depending on what we are going through at the time.”
Readers interested in hearing more of Father Casey’s story can read his latest book, A Purposeful Path: How far can you go with $30, a bus ticket, and a dream?, available through Loyola Press.