by Kathryn Lieder
“Music often unlocks my heart….it gives me clarity of vision and an awareness of what really matters,” Father Terry Devino, S.J. shared with the students and faculty who packed into Hillsides Café for his Agape Latte talk entitled “Love Yourself.”
As part of UGBC’s Happiness Project, a week featuring empowering talks and events promoting positivity and authenticity on campus, Fr. Terry’s talk encouraged everyone in the audience to reflect on how he or she is embracing and radiating God’s love.
Following a performance by two members of the Heightsmen, Paul Reilly MCAS ‘18 and Kamau Burton MCAS ‘18, Fr. Terry took the stage to captivate the audience by sharing some of his remarkable stories based on the inspiration he had gleaned from some unsuspecting sources, namely Taylor Swift and the movie “Love Actually.”
As Vice President, University Secretary, and Director of Manresa House, Father Terry wears many hats at BC and much of his day-to-day life centers around spreading compassion and nurturing connections.
“There is much that seizes our hearts in life, and so often that seizing needs a prompt,” Father Terry shared, “for me the prompt is music, and the stories that accompany music.”
He admits that he gets a lot of inspiration from YouTube videos. “If anything ever happens to YouTube, I’m sunk,” he joked.
He recalled a long drive to New Jersey a few years ago when Taylor Swift’s “You Belong with me” came on the radio. He was struck by the lyric, “What you’ve been looking for has been here the whole time.” He repeated the line to himself a few times and began to internalize it, asking himself: “What are you looking for?”
Father Terry went on to praise the beginning of the movie “Love Actually,” which opens with a scene of people being “greeted, welcomed, and loved” in the arrival wing of London’s Heathrow Airport. In the background of this “collage of people,” the narrator states, “when the planes hit the twin towers as far as I know, none of the phone calls were messages of hate or revenge…they were all messages of love...If you look for it, I have a sneaky feeling, you’ll find that love actually is all around.”
“People always ask themselves what they’re looking for,” he told the audience, saying that for most, it’s simply love.
He then returned to his analogy of music, highlighting that each student has their own song within them. “Out of your music, you teach, encourage, enlighten, challenge, and most of all you bless,” he remarked.
“I worry that you don’t realize how really good you are…. Do you realize that?” he asked the audience.
While he highlighted that he devotes so much of his time and energy to encouraging others to trust in their extraordinary potential, he admits that he too often finds it challenging to love himself.
Returning to the title of his talk, he challenged everyone to find that which anchors them in love. “We must find those people in life who will fan our fire,” he urged, encouraging everyone listening to “be recipients of encouraging people.”
“How do we fan the flames of love and goodness in ourselves on our own?” he asked, empowering the audience to turn inward and reflect on how they view love and its omnipresence in their own lives.
Fr. Terry shared that his brother struggled with depression for years, but now looking back, Devino is able to see the darkness his brother encountered in a different light.
“Maybe my brother’s darkness was due to the fact that he gave all of his light away to those who needed it most.” he expressed. “The difference was made out of love.”
The countless friends, family, loved ones, and acquaintances that came to his brother’s funeral helped him realize that his brother had touched so many lives with the immense love and compassion he radiated to those around him.
“But there is a struggle to love,” he recognized, encouraging the audience to “be attentive to the many ways you love those who are on the pages of your lives.”
“In loving them…they are loving you,” Father Terry said of this mutual, self-giving, agapic love.
Fr. Terry again returned to praising Taylor Swift’s lyrics, stating, “Maybe what you’ve been looking for has been here the whole time. Keep singing your stories and embrace that desire to believe just how really good you are.”