Category Archives: Featured Departments

Living out the Faith : Christian Discipleship and Witness

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile”

– Blessed [Mother] Teresa of Calcutta

In the setting of the university, particularly a Catholic university, it may seem easy to get ‘caught-up’ in the dogmatics of Catholic-Christian principles.  Between orienting professional work with a university’s doctrinally-influenced mission, and balancing fidelity to the faith with dialogue and conversation with those who disagree with constitutive teachings of the Church – remaining confident, motivated, and convinced of the integrity of Christian discipleship may seem impossible, or at least, often difficult and confusing!  Concisely, having to abide by certain codes and rules may seem limiting on our ability to actively ‘live out’ principles of good Christian practice through simple professional relationships.

This seems to pose a particularly poignant set of questions, including : what is it to be a Christian disciple?  What does it take for me to be a Christian disciple in the 21st century?  What is it take for me to be a Christian disciple in the setting of a university in the 21st century?

Pope Benedict, in a recent Angelus (3.6.2011) {VIDEO HERE}, spoke of the necessity to ‘listen to [Jesus’] words and put them into practice…[Jesus] places the disciple and his journey of faith in the perspective of Covenant, constituted by the relationship God weaves with man through the gift of his Word, entering into communication with us’.

This relationship of Jesus’ authority (and that authority’s presence in Christ’s Church) and love is at the center of growing in a more robust understanding of what it is to be a Christian disciple.  Benedict continued in his statement, ‘Jesus is the living Word of God.  When he taught, people recognized in his words the divine authority itself and they felt the Lord’s closeness, his merciful love, and praised God.’  It is precisely this notion of authority as communicated through love that might allow a renewed understanding of what it is to be Christian in practice.

It is Christ’s precedent by which we might understand what it is to be a disciple.  That is, to be Christian is to practice those actions by which Christ’s love is communicated (or ‘witnessed’) through gentility, patience, and gratitude (or, as Blessed [Mother] Teresa of Calcutta might say, ‘kindness’).  It is these simple practices that allows others to discover and experience the loving authority of Christ, now present in His Church – which for all of us at Boston College, is inextricably tied to our professional work setting.

On Tuesday, October 18th at 5:30pm, Terrance W. Tilley, Chair and Professor of Catholic theology at Fordham University will speak on ‘Practices of Discipleship’.  This presentation explores the Gospels and the Creed to understand in part how disciples’ practices embody and transmit the faith.  This event will be held in the Heights Room, located in the Corcoran Commons.  It is sponsored by the School of Theology and Ministry.

In many ways, Christ kept it simple.  Through His free choice to commune and enter into relationship with humanity, He provided the most basic template by which we might imitate His example – precisely through relationships.  Perhaps it is in this way that we, as professionals in the Boston College community, might renew our sense of simple loving, not manifested primarily through long-winded explanations of how particular departmental goals are bound to university and ecclesial mission, but rather, through our attentive love through simple, personal, and often mundane relationships.  Yes, it seems it is in this way that we might best witness to Christ’s example as we strive to be faithful Catholic-Christian disciples in the 21st century.


The Importance of Family : Personal and Institutional

“As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live”

– Blessed Pope John Paul II

Much can be said about the importance of ‘family’.  Many, it seems are quick to acknowledge the positive influence drawn from their own personal experience within a family.  Plainly, much of the successes individuals have accomplished throughout their lives, while certainly indicative of a personal initiative, very well may not have been possible without the personal support, development, and community found within one’s personal ‘family’.

Yet, perhaps there can be a different forms of ‘family’ – or rather, communities other than just immediate families that are nevertheless bound by similar principles as immediate families.  Binding principles that come to mind may include common values, motivations, and understandings of the importance of the individual’s relationship with the community in which they are an integral part.

As Student Affairs professionals in a community driven by a unique mission and purpose (particularly here at Boston College in a community defined by its Eucharistic principles), perhaps we are bound in a familial way in our role as administrators by a common mission, a commitment to personal and professional development.  In the least, if indeed a family is that which provides support in individual development that otherwise be impossible, it seems as though both the role of the Boston College professional ‘family’/community as a whole and our place within it might be a fruitful source of reflection.   Perhaps there is much professional development to be gained through this ‘Boston College family’ that would otherwise be impossible.  It is in this way that we might realize our dependence on others, and others’ dependence on us!  Whether it is immediate personal family or a broader ‘family’ through a common community, what humility it requires for individuals to recognize their dependence on others for their own sake!

To this end, on Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 12pm, Ernest Collamati, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Regis College will present a lecture on ‘The Eucharist: The Center of Family Life’ in the O’Neill Library Reserves Room.  This lecture is sponsored by Boston College’s Church in the 21st Century (and is a continuing component of this semester’s Eucharistic theme) and the Office of Employee Development.

It is a striking paradox of Christian principle: in the realization of one’s own personal limits by virtue of his/her individuality, one is drawn into a community brought together precisely by this realization and through this community, transcends those individual limitations.  Perhaps it is in this way that at this Catholic institution, we as professionals are brought into, and are constituents of the ‘Body of Christ’!

An Introduction : Beginnings in Thanksgiving : A Eucharistic Focus

An Introduction

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.

At Murray House, Grad Students Find Free Lunch and Food for Thought…

The Spring 2011 edition of the Boston College Magazine features the Murray Circle, a graduate and professional student community that meets monthly at the Murray Graduate Student Center to discuss, debate and pray about the connections between faith, social justice and the Catholic intellectual tradition…all over free lunch of course.  The group is advised by the Office of Graduate Student Life.  Read the full story online!

Finding Peace, Cookies and God in the Residence Halls: Friday Food for Thought from Guest Blogger Ryan Mulderrig, Resident Director of the Keyes Community

It’s 10:28 on the night before St. Patrick’s Day and the beginning of the NCAA Tournament.  Less than a week has passed since Spring Break and yet the stress of mid-terms and the looming housing selection process ensure that stress and anxiety have returned to their pre-break levels.  Students begin to trickle into the Keyes North entertainment lounge, home to a big screen TV, foosball and pool tables, as well as a few cushioned couches and chairs.  Some come in straight from their books and homework, others arrive in their pajamas – pillows and blankets in hand.  Before long there are about forty Keyes residents sitting in the comfy seats or hunkered down on the floor with their blankets.  They chat happily in a familiar way that is no different from the chatter to be heard on the dreaded Newton shuttle or in Stuart dining hall.  Their chatter continues as the overhead light is turned off, leaving only the light of a few strategically placed electric candles.  A bell is struck once and the room becomes almost instantly silent…the kind of silence that the nuns of my grammar school could have only wished to achieve with a single bell’s ring.

John Glynn, a master’s student in the School of Theology and Ministry as well as the residing peer minister in Keyes Hall, is responsible for the ringing of the bell.  He warmly welcomes us to “Peace & Cookies,” the weekly reflection that has brought us all together.  He encourages the room to think carefully about where they find themselves in this moment as he encourages them to acknowledge what it is that they want to get out of this night.  For the next 20 minutes, the only sounds emanate from John’s speakers.  As they listen to tunes that they have heard hundreds, if not thousands of times, they hear the words and the melodies with new ears.  A line that may have been forgotten as quickly as it was sung during a car ride or a treadmill-run takes on new meaning here.  As I sit and consider the thoughts and the questions posed by these words, I am not able to keep my mind from jumping to other things.  I think, “Maybe  there is something else I experienced during my day or my week that can take on a new meaning now that I have the time to consider it in a different light.  Let’s see…”  One song follows the next and finally when a soft instrumental number finishes John waits a moment before beginning a poem.  As he recites its verses I can feel myself becoming ever more aware of the sense that the mood has changed.  Once a room of chattering freshmen, then filled with the sounds of music that helped move us to reflection, the lounge is now a place where the sincerest thoughts and hopes are being offered up in form of a shared prayer.  A palpable solemnity descends.

The bell chimes again and the room inhales and exhales deeply three times, once for each ring.  With each outward breath, I sense our combined spirit being offered up only to be returned moments later as we inhale again together.  As I breathe and prepare for the end of the reflection, I am acutely aware that God is present with us.  And when I open my eyes to see the room full of my residents opening theirs – seeming at least a little refreshed and more at peace than before – I am so happy that this happens in my community and so sure of the reasons why this room is full every week.

Ryan Mulderrig works in the Office of Residential Life at Boston College, where he serves as Resident Director for the Keyes Community.

Prayer and Poetry: The Offices of Campus Ministry and Graduate Student Life Offer a Unique Lenten Practice

Looking for a unique way to take time out for prayer, reflection and fellowship during the Lenten season?  Not sure how to make this happen in the midst of your busy day?  Campus Ministry and Graduate Student Life have just the answer for you: The Lenten Poetry series returns this year.  Join us every Monday at noon, beginning March 14, in the Murray Graduate Student Center living room.  We’ll provide poetry, cookies and tea.  All you need to bring is yourself!

ODSD Launches Formative Sanctions Website

The Office of the Dean for Student Development at Boston College has launched its newest online resource, which highlights it comprehensive formative sanctions program.  By addressing student behavior with its formative sanctions, ODSD aims to be intentional, restorative, and educational. From “Friday Night Heights,” to the “Roads Retreat,” each of the programs detailed on the website provides an opportunity for students to learn new information, to reflect on their own behavior in light of the new information and to consider new ways of behaving in community living, whether on or off campus.  Visit the formative sanctions website and explore the many programs offered.