Category Archives: Featured Staff

Rest and Repair: Guest Blogger Caroline Faherty Reflects on Her Experience at the First Annual Student Affairs Retreat

Coming to the end of year at BC Health Services is always welcomed with mixed emotions.  Having completed my first year (academic) of working over nights, fulltime, five out of seven nights a week, I felt tired and somewhat lost. Even questioning if what I am doing is the journey I am meant to be on. Upon checking my email the final week, there waiting to be read was an invitation to attend a retreat … the first of its kind. Without hesitation I knew I had to go on this retreat. Now invitations had come and gone for other wonderful events  put on by BC supporting departments to Health Services, but they did not have the same appeal. There was food in an abundance at the other events, but I knew it was not a nutrition boost  I needed. The retreat would hopefully help nourish my faith life and soul.

At the end of the year, reflecting on time past…what do I see? It shouldn’t be surprising that I end with the same question: it is a journey that has come full circle, yet I am not in the same place. The mystery of time has brought me back to the starting line, but the lessons I have learned together suggest that it is time to go… to rest and reflect and repair.

Trying to do it all…yet feeling empty and unfulfilled…what is the lesson?  Reflecting on the words so beautifully spoken on the retreat “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another…” (John 13:34) The new commandment from Jesus defines the path that we should follow to do more. Offer ourselves to the world where others may benefit from your gifts and talents. Answer the call to serve through the common, ordinary, unspectacular flow of everyday life. We are not the Messiah…, but we do have the power to be a source of faith, hope and love to all whom we encounter in this journey of life and our time at Boston College. Perfect we are not…only human, a mixture of grace and frailty, saint and sinner, which does not condemn us, but offers us the opportunity to give and receive the precious gifts of love and forgiveness. Just try your best to be the person you want to be, and the mystery of life will take care of the rest. It may not always play out how we expect, but through our partnerships in life we encounter the living God, who created us and lives in the core of our humanity. Which of course, quite simply: to know, to love and to grow. To be alive in this moment offers us an opportunity to respond to God’s call to be greater today than we were yesterday. An invitation to continue to love and  be loved – by God, by neighbor, coworker and by self.

The retreat gave me the opportunity to feel connected again, to not feel as lost and to know, its okay to take of “me”.  Its okay to rest and repair and more importantly to reflect.

Caroline Faherty serves as Staff Nurse in the Department of Health Services at Boston College.

Look Onward with Rejoicing: An Easter Reflection from Guest Blogger Patricia Birch, Assistant Director of Residential Life

As we culminate another Lenten season let us reflect. Whether you gave up meat, chocolate or technology take the time to remember from where you came in an effort to see your future. For 40 days like Jesus in the wilderness, you sacrificed for a reason. Look onward with rejoicing and faith that your sacrifice was not in vain.

Reflect on your renewed sense of well-being. Reflect on the change that will occur. Reflect on the righteousness of the heavenly father. He brought you to this place, this day, this moment to remember him and all of his sacrifices and the small opportunity we were able to partake in during Lent.

What a blessed joy to have the occasion to experience the goodness of Jesus. He died on the cross for us. Even before we were born Jesus knew us. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5 (NIV). He knew us when we went down a path less than pleasing to him. Yet Jesus loved us with agape love. His love is not built on pretense of what we can do for him but rather what he can do for us.

For some it’s not always easy to stay focused on Jesus but hopefully this joyous time of the year will resonate peace in your soul. We are the true witness of Jesus’ holiness. He rose for us on the third day and with resounding wisdom, he prepared witnesses to share his life story with us. Now, we have the victory. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” I Corinthians 15:55-57 (NIV). What a blessed hope we have in Jesus. God made us worthy so walk in the Favor of God (F.O.G.) and remember Jesus is Over You (J.O.Y.)!

Shalom,
Patricia Birch

Patricia Birch serves as Assistant Director of Residential Life at Boston College.

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.

“Love is…” Guest Blogger Daniel Ponsetto offers a Valentine’s Day Reflection

It’s St. Valentine’s Day and love is in the air… and on the air… and in the malls. Here’s what I’m thinking.

Love is a verb. It’s something we do and it can be difficult. That Greek word that gets kicked around (agape) implies something about sacrifice, about giving ourselves away to others. That can be challenging in light of our inherent selfishness. To really give oneself to another is a mighty feat. I have been married to a wonderful woman for almost 28 years and continue to struggle with it. In fact, while we may embrace the call to love others and commit ourselves to act on this call, we also may sometimes despair that we fail at this with the people we are closest to: our family members, our roommates, our neighbors. A legitimate critique of intentional service experiences is that they often take us to places and involve us with people far away from where we live – physically or experientially. Doing great things for the widow and the orphan is lovely work, but unless that same spirit of service is brought into our relationships with our spouses, our siblings, our children, or our living mates, the value of our work might be rightfully questioned.

I was recently at the funeral of a good friend who had succumbed to brain cancer after a year’s battle. One thing became clear at this funeral: Howie was deeply loved by many people. One friend after another stood to tell a story about Howie’s generosity, friendship, sacrifice, humor, and steadfast faith. The testimonials were powerful, and not surprising from what I knew of Howie myself. What was most impressive was what came after the friends and colleagues finished with their stories, when Howie’s wife and two grown children rose to speak. They talked about a husband and father, who loved them deeply, sacrificed happily for them, challenged them in faith, made them laugh hard, and even in the darkest moments of his battle with cancer, spoke of the power of hope. Howie had led a very good life, and he was a wonderful friend, husband and dad.

On the drive home from the funeral I was struck deeply by the experience of hearing just how far Howie’s love and commitment to others had reached. And I wondered: if that were my own funeral, and if there were any willing to stand and tell stories of how I had loved and sacrificed, would the family in the front row – my wife and kids – recognize the person being eulogized? Or would they instead wonder if this was the same human being they had lived with?

Love is a noun. It’s something we experience and, ultimately, it’s the only thing that lasts. This may just be a sign that I am getting older, but I spend some good time meditating on the fact that life is short and always changing. My body is changing, friends come and go, children grow up and want to cuddle less, our parents get older and eventually we have to let them go. The time is coming when I will no longer be on this earth and indeed, everything I have and treasure will pass away. The house I now call my home – so very special to my children and our family – will one day fall down and make way for something else. There is no certainty that the persons I love most – my wife Sue, my four children, family members young and old, my dearest friends – any one of them may be gone tomorrow. That happens. It happens. And because it happens it makes me wonder: what does last? If everything I know and love on this earth is dying and will one day vanish from memory, what lasts?

The invitation is to believe that while what we have now – the home, the marriage, the children, the family reunions and vacations, the joy of experiencing the exhilaration of life itself – will one day come to an end, the experience of love which is shared with these people in these holy moments and places is eternal. The wonder and mystery of love is that it is a participation in something far greater than our temporal human experience. So while we will lose those we love most, and eventually lose our own human life, the love that we experience in relationship with one another is eternal. That love will last. It’s what awaits us when we enter into the full presence of God, who is Love.

Daniel Ponsetto serves as director of the Volunteer and Service Learning Center at Boston College.

“For This I Am Grateful…” Joana Maynard to be featured speaker at BC’s Annual Multi-Faith Thanksgiving Celebration

Boston College’s annual Multi-Faith Thanksgiving Celebration will take place on Thursday, November 18, at noon in the Heights Room of Corcoran Commons.  This joyful celebration of song, reflection and prayer brings students, staff and faculty from a variety of religious traditions together in thanksgiving and fellowship.

This year’s program will feature Joana Maynard, Assistant Director of AHANA Student Programs, who will share a personal reflection with participants.  Joana is involved in a variety of interfaith and service work at Boston College.  For example, she recently participated in the annual BC Common Ground Interfaith Retreat, a day-long opportunity for students, faculty and staff to come together to experience various spiritual practices  represented on our campus and to dialogue about the implications of interfaith life.  Joana is currently pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree with a specialization in Ministry in Complex Urban Settings.

The Multi-Faith Thanksgiving Celebration will conclude with a light buffet lunch.  Additionally, as part of the celebration, the sponsoring organizations are partnering with “Spread the Bread” to assist needy families during the Thanksgiving season.  Please consider joining this effort by baking or purchasing a gift of bread or other baked goods to be collected at the celebration.  For those unable to bake, an opportunity to make a donation will also be available.

The Multi-Faith Thanksgiving Celebration is sponsored by: Latino/as at Boston College, The Offices of Campus Ministry and the Vice president for University Mission and Ministry, and The Undergraduate Government of Boston College.