Monday, February 09, 2009

Georgetown celebrates Jesuit Heritage Week.

Georgetown University just completed its ninth annual celebration of Jesuit Heritage Week, a mix of religious, social and academic events focused on the founding traditions of the oldest Catholic university in the United States. Georgetown celebrated Jesuit Heritage Week for the first time in March 2001, when I was a senior living in Copley Hall. I regret that I haven't been around for any of the subsequent celebrations of Jesuit Heritage Week, but I've been gratified to read year after year about the positive impact that this observance appears to have had.

Part of what has always impressed me about Georgetown's Jesuit Heritage Week has been the commitment shown by its student organizers. Though Jesuit Heritage Week enjoys the support and sponsorship of Georgetown administrators, the committee that plans the week's events has always been led by undergraduate students. Reading an article about this year's Jesuit Heritage Week in The Hoya, I was very consoled by the comments that the various students who planned the JHW events made regarding Georgetown's Jesuit identity. I also appreciated what one of the student co-chairs had to say in an interview with The Hoya when asked whether "Georgetown does enough to emphasize and live out its Jesuit heritage":
That’s sort of the question of the ages, I suppose. There is lots of room for critique, but like I said, Georgetown does what no other Catholic school can do. It’s a place where Catholicism can meet the rest of the world and the rest of the world can meet Catholicism. Georgetown comes under fire for a bunch of the stuff it does, but a lot of [the criticism] is ignorant of the fact that Georgetown does serve the Catholic Church in its mission in this very particular and unique identity. So, I do think Georgetown does a lot. Enough? Probably not. There’s always room for improvement. But what Georgetown does overall, I think it does very well.
Amen to that. I could say further that the "very particular and unique identity" of Georgetown played an essential role in my own discernment of my vocation. In other words, I don't know whether I would have been able to perceive the call to enter the Society had I not encountered the Jesuits first at the cosmopolitan crossroads that is Georgetown. For me, then, Georgetown's Jesuit Heritage Week provides an apt occasion for what a Jesuit I got to know far from the Hilltop might call "a very explicit Te Deum" - a Te Deum for the gift of a personal vocation that was made manifest to me through the vocation of an institution. AMDG.


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