Thursday, February 10, 2011

Doing the Jesuit's Justice

Tasked with deciphering the contemporary mission of Jesuit higher education, as well as the Jesuit mission as a whole, Peter-Hans Kolvenbach expresses fascinating insight into one dimension of the Jesuit student’s homeland. As students at Loyola, it is important for us to identify the Jesuit dimension of our personal homeland. Like it or not, we have been crafted and molded by the Jesuit mission, and in more ways than one it has left its mark on who we are as people. Kolvenbach not only looks to identify this mark, but asserts distinctly that Jesuit institutions should aim to “create men and women for others” who act in light of “the service of faith and the promotion of justice”.

As an eight year student of Jesuit higher education, Kolvenbach’s speech really hit home. Although this is not my first time encountering it, I find each new reading brings new insight in what it means to be a student of Jesuit higher education. Reading this speech through the lens of our class discussions on what the phrase ‘homeland’ entails brought me new and fascinating insight into my own homeland. The aspect of Kolvenbach’s speech which resonated the deepest was the relationship between “solidarity” and “contact”, or more succinctly, the service element of Jesuit education.

During my time at Loyola I have been fortunate enough to participate in four service-learning classes, and although I have not been able to fully participate in the service aspect of all of them, the experiences I have had have kept me yearning for more. Although one service-learning course is demanded of each Loyola student, not every student must partake in the service option. In order for Loyola to justly follow Kolvenbach’s mission I believe each student should be required to perform some form of physical community service before they graduate.

Not only would this further pervade the Jesuit mission into each individual’s personal “homeland”, but it would allow students to become more closely acquainted with their physical homeland of Baltimore. Whether we like it or not as students of Loyola we must recognize Baltimore as one of our physical homelands. Kolvenbach does an excellent job of spelling out what it means to be a Jesuit student in the modern era, as well as daintily demanding the fulfillment of the Jesuit mission from every student.

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