It would be unfair for this blog to continue into the 2011 academic year without acknowledging the invaluable contributions of all who contributed to this blog the past academic year. At this time, however, I am happy to continue this fruitful and important work. To this end, I suppose my own introduction is now appropriate!
I do not want to say that I am honored to continue this blog’s good work for the foreseeable future – rather, I am humbled that I have an opportunity to provide a platform for meaningful and honest reflection. To this end, I hope that the interests of this blog’s readers wholly inform my work. I humbly ask, then, if there are particular themes, topics, and/or sources of discussion that should be considered in this blog’s weekly postings, please contact the blog! At any rate, I hope my combination of excitement and humility might be a source for Boston College’s professional community to reflect and grow in its understanding of its important and unique work.
The Heart of the Week : A Eucharistic Semester
As the Boston College academic year begins, both old and new members of the community have been brought together. From the wide-eyed freshman to the dissertation-defending doctoral student, from the first-year Student Affairs professional to the senior administrators, all have been brought together in a common community : that of our Catholic-Jesuit institution, Boston College.
Might this simple occasion of ‘coming together’ be a source of reflection as students and departments across the university construct and develop new goals, commitments, and initiatives? What brings and binds this community together in common purpose? What makes our work, as Student Affairs professionals, integral to the mission of an institution like Boston College in 2011?
Perhaps a good start is reflecting on the defining component of the institution that informs Boston College. The Eucharist (coming from the Greek εὐχαριστία/ eucharistia), literally means “thanksgiving”, or “to give thanks”. It is the center of the Christian-Catholic life. Certainly, there may not be a more appropriate time to share in thanksgiving than beginnings. But what ought we, as professional members working within this Christian-Catholic community, be thankful for – especially if new projects and responsibilities seem to be inextricable from this ‘beginning’?
The Eucharist is understood to bring individuals together into a whole. It transforms individuals’ selfish desires of false-pride, ego, and an autonomous self-sufficiency into the desires for human solidarity, a greater and more consistent gratitude, and a renewed sense of wonder for the world in which we live. For Boston College professionals then, perhaps this Eucharistic ethos can serve both as a comfort and a challenge : a comfort to know of the Eucharistic and transformative principles that define the community in which we work, and a challenge in extending an opportunity for all to engage more fully in the Christian community that our work is inseparable from here at Boston College.
It seems then, that we might be presented a choice. We might either consider this new year anticipating another year of burdensome and perhaps mundane responsibility, or, we might consider our coming together as an opportunity to give thanks for the most basic gifts of employment and belonging at Boston College : that is, the working with one another in an institution that promotes, or rather, is defined by its ‘bringing together’, and creating the product of a Eucharistically-defined community that is greater than the sum of its integral parts.
Most certainly not unrelated, Boston College’s The Church in the 21st Century (C21) has devoted this Fall semester to investigating the role of ‘Eucharist’ in the Christian community – particularly here at Boston College. On Thursday, October 6th at 5:30pm, Fr. Thomas Massaro, SJ will speak in Gasson Hall on a central theme to both Catholic identity and mission : ‘The Eucharist and Social Justice’. Father Massaro seeks to maintain a commitment to hand-on social activism. He recently completed a term on the Peace Commission of the City of Cambridge and is a founding member of the steering committee of Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice.
Perhaps this notion of ‘Eucharist’ might serve as an occasion to renew our gratitude for this community of Christian fellowship and mission.