In the Spirit of the Saints—Hospitality and Seminary Formation

Rector's Address – August 22, 2018

 

 

 

Rector's Address 2016

Posted by Sacred Heart Major Seminary on Wednesday, August 24, 2016

 

Preamble

Matthew 25:  31-46 Final Judgment

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Throughout the history of the church, God has inspired saints who, through his grace, provide us compelling and inspiring examples of holiness.  Their virtue, often in the midst of challenging times, raises our thoughts to the greatest heights of contemplation and moves us from the depths of our being to acts of heroic charity.  The saints and blesseds are our trusted guides. As we consider the many ways that God has blessed us (and continues to do so) here at the seminary, we also recognize our need for ongoing conversion and growth in holiness, the need to be better teachers and formators, to be better spiritual guides and leaders, to be better in our daily work of the seminary.  In short, to be committed to the call to grow in virtue. That is what witnesses like St. Benedict, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Teresa of Calcutta and Blessed Solanus Casey model for us, a renewed sense of holiness and mission.

For that reason, in light of the disheartening events of recent weeks in the life of the church (which I will speak to later in this address), and as I listened carefully to you throughout the year about our own institutional challenges and opportunities, I was moved in prayer to select the passage from Matthew as the starting point.  Why? Because in this passage about the final judgment, it speaks in a powerful way about the works of mercy. There is refreshing clarity in these words, a simple yet direct mandate. And woven together with these we see an important virtue exemplified by the saints and blesseds. A virtue that has important relevance for us this year as a seminary community, as we renew ourselves in the mission entrusted to us, as we look honestly and directly at our areas of needed growth, not with discouragement but rather with confidence and faith, as we continue to devote ourselves to the formation of holy and healthy priests, deacons, and lay leaders.  And that virtue is hospitality.

The passage from Matthew comes immediately after the parable of the talents and just prior to the events of his betrayal, passion and death.  There is an urgency in the words of Jesus here. The urgency is directed toward those who wish to follow Jesus and enter eternal life, those who are entrusted with the kind of mission and work that has been entrusted to us.  A call to be vigilant, to work tirelessly for the good of others, because we know not the day or hour of the Lord’s coming.

In the context of the teaching, it is clear from the very beginning that Jesus uses the word “I” to connect himself with the ‘hungry’ the ‘thirsty’ the ‘stranger’ the ‘naked’ the ‘ill’ and the one in prison, in general the most vulnerable.  The connection is both personal and provocative. Jesus is not saying that for those who desire to enter eternal life they need to be good to the poor because they are poor and need help. Not at all. On the contrary, by repeatedly using the word “I”, Jesus emphatically presents to the disciples his very presence in the marginalized, in those who are vulnerable, in those who hunger for the truth, and in those who need to be accompanied along the path of holiness.

And so, the foundation for authentic hospitality comes from a deeply held conviction that we reverence Christ in a profound way in each person we meet.  Hospitality is a prayerful disposition, a habit formed through contemplation and action, by which we truly experience, reverence, and embrace the other person because Jesus abides in the one who is hungry, naked, thirsty, ill, in prison, or a stranger.  It’s St. Benedict himself who says in chapter 53 of his rule: “Let Christ be adored in them as He is also received.” And so what does it mean to “live the virtue of hospitality” in a seminary formation program and how, as leaders, can we commit ourselves to that task?

Part I

Living the virtue of Hospitality

Living the ‘virtue of hospitality’ involves two modes:  1) to reverence Christ in the other; and 2) to accompany them so they may receive Christ more deeply into their lives, especially through the sacraments.  The teaching from Jesus demonstrates that clearly and it is radiated through the lives of the saints.

To reverence Christ in the other.  Living the virtue of hospitality is a dynamic disposition whereby we look for and encounter Christ in the other.  We might say, using the image of the door that this first mode of living the virtue of hospitality is the door opening inward to receive others, to receive Christ.  When we hear the word ‘hospitality’ our initial thoughts might bring to mind the notion of assisting strangers because we pity them, or think ourselves more capable, endowed, or fortunate.  Authentic hospitality is much more than ‘giving’ to the other the material benefits that we ourselves may enjoy. There are whole industries and programs in the secular world that speak about the ‘art of hospitality’ and providing the other person what they desire.  Showing the person a good time. To be hospitable can, at times, be reduced to providing the material and physical pleasures to another person to satisfy temporary desires.

On the contrary, in his commentary on this passage, St. Thomas Aquinas quotes the letter to the Hebrews (13: 2) which states:  “Hospitality do not forget: for by this some have entertained angels.”   In the context of authentic hospitality, then, the other person is not a ‘guest’ as commonly understood.  The virtue of hospitality is different. As we live the virtue of hospitality, those with whom we work, those we seek to serve, or those we encounter casually are no longer guests or strangers, but those in whom Christ abides.

One of the great saints of our modern times, St. Teresa of Calcutta commented:  “When Christ said ‘I was hungry and you fed me’ he didn’t mean only the hunger for bread and for food.  He also meant the hunger to be loved and received. Every human being in that case resembles Christ, and that’s the real hunger.”  Those entrusted to our care here at the seminary, and in every case, are always to be treated with the utmost dignity because Christ abides in them, and when we receive, form, or teach one of these, we do so because Christ abides in them.

Therefore, hospitality is truly seeing and hearing the voice of Christ in and through the other.  It’s about providing the space to truly welcome Christ and listen to Christ in the other person. It is about the repeated practice of looking for (going outside of ourselves) and reverencing Christ in each and every person I meet that forms the foundation of holiness for our relationships and interactions with one another.  From the very notion of Aquinas himself, this habit is a disposition of the mind from which we freely and joyfully choose to encounter Christ in the other. Sometimes we live the virtue well, and other times we don’t. In the end, as a community whose work is formation, we can be inspired by the words from the archbishop’s pastoral letter that state:  “missionary conversion entails a strikingly countercultural way of living grounded in prayer, Scripture, and the sacraments; unusually gracious hospitality; a capacity to include those on the margins of society; and joyful confidence in the providence of God even in difficult and stressful times.”

To accompany the other to receive Christ more deeply into their lives, especially through the sacraments.  The second mode of hospitality is to accompany others to receive Christ more deeply into their lives, especially through the sacraments.  In this mode of living the virtue of hospitality, the image of the door I mentioned earlier might now be considered as the door that opens outward, toward mission.  Here, we present the truth of the Gospel with great joy, we present opportunities for renewal and conversion, we actively accompany individuals to receive Christ anew in the sacraments, to be awakened to a new grace at work in their lives, to be made new!  In this context we move from a notion of hospitality as ‘guest service’, to the notion of hospitality as engagement and accompaniment.  This sense of the virtue of hospitality prompts us to walk with the other, to guide the other to Christ who is the true fulfillment of every desire and hope.  

Here, Pope Francis has some very helpful insights for us from Evangelii Gaudium.

“In a culture paradoxically suffering from anonymity and at the same time obsessed with the details of other people’s lives, shamelessly given over to morbid curiosity, the Church must look more closely and sympathetically at others whenever necessary. In our world, ordained ministers and other pastoral workers can make present the fragrance of Christ’s closeness and his personal gaze. The Church will have to initiate everyone – priests, religious and laity – into this “art of accompaniment” which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other (cf. Ex 3:5). The pace of this accompaniment must be steady and reassuring, reflecting our closeness and our compassionate gaze which also heals, liberates and encourages growth in the Christian life.  (EG, 169)

The Holy Father, with beautiful language, reminds us that hospitality encompasses these two basic movements.  First, we recognize the dignity of others because they bear Christ in a very unique way, and second that we accompany the other to a deeper faith.  How often it is that hospitality stops with the initial welcome, but never takes the next step toward accompaniment, toward presenting the truth of the Gospel, to ‘make present the fragrance of Christ.’  To bring someone to the saving waters of baptism, to accompany someone as they receive Christ in the Eucharist, are forgiven by Christ in confession, are healed by Christ in the sacrament of holy anointing.  That is hospitality, welcoming a soul and accompanying that soul to Christ.

The Holy Father then continues: “Today more than ever we need men and women who, on the basis of their experience of accompanying others, are familiar with processes which call for prudence, understanding, patience and docility to the Spirit, so that they can protect the sheep from wolves who would scatter the flock. We need to practice the art of listening, which is more than simply hearing. Listening, in communication, is an openness of heart which makes possible that closeness without which genuine spiritual encounter cannot occur. Listening helps us to find the right gesture and word which shows that we are more than simply bystanders. Only through such respectful and compassionate listening can we enter on the paths of true growth and awaken a yearning for the Christian ideal: the desire to respond fully to God’s love and to bring to fruition what he has sown in our lives.” (EG, 171)

Hospitality requires patience and prudence.  Blessed Solanus Casey is an incredible model and inspiration for us in that regard.  Throughout his life he reverenced Christ in others and accompanied the other always to Christ one gentle step after the other.  His “unusually gracious hospitality” was marked by a deep love and a desire to listen. And that type of hospitality has a central place in seminary formation and as such we do well to consider how we can integrate it better into our programs, in our relationships with each other, and how we can live it better in our lives.  As we welcome the young and old, as we teach in the classroom, as we form our seminarians, as we work with our colleagues, as we talk with those who might be discouraged or disillusioned, we need to ask the Lord to expand our hearts and make us effective instruments of his grace. And above all, be men and women of virtue, following the example of the saints who call us to holiness and conversion.

Looking Forward:  Institutional Initiatives

With these reflections in mind, I look forward to the coming year and the important initiatives that we have before us, many of which we see through the lens of hospitality.  Some of these initiatives are exciting and inspiring, some may seem challenging and perhaps discouraging, but in the end, I am confident that if we entrust all of this work to the Sacred Heart, if we truly seek to cultivate a culture of hospitality in our own hearts and minds, in the way we work together, the Lord will continue to bless the seminary.

Universal Church Crisis

Here let me offer words directly about the current crisis regarding clergy abuse and the Grand Jury report from Pennsylvania as it relates to Sacred Heart.  First, I forwarded to you last week the letter that Archbishop Vigneron wrote to the people of the Archdiocese. In that letter he noted with deep sorrow the impact of the abuse as well as the resolve to correct it.  I share that deep sorrow. Words will never capture the hurt that the victims endure, the damage done, or the evil wroght. We need humble repentance and a deep commitment to address this completely. The Archbishop also noted that as we move forward we need to redouble our efforts and be vigilant in our work of growing in virtue and holiness.  And he concludes with the words: “By the power of the risen Christ, this hour of darkness is a time to anticipate the dawn.” With these words as the backdrop, I offer my own words that the formation team and faculty will look carefully at our current policies, practices, and goals for our programs to be sure they are thorough and that we are doing all we can to admit, form, and shape candidates who will be healthy and holy priests for service in the archdiocese and beyond, and to be vigilant about fostering a culture here that leads to holiness and virtue, one in which Christ is truly reverenced and respected in the other, and never abused.  Those conversations have already begun with the formation team and the faculty and they will continue with the staff and the seminarians upon their return. As a whole seminary community, we will approach this with directness and openness (we need to keep this in the light), we will approach this in faith, knowing that as we place this before the Sacred Heart our efforts will be rooted in the one who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Continued reflection on the Pastoral Letter Unleash the Gospel

As part of our institutional planning and assessment, in 2017 we added a short term goal that stated:  Align seminary programs and activities to the character and priorities of the Archbishop’s pastoral letter Unleash the Gospel.  The purpose of the one-year goal was to have sustained reflection on the pastoral letter, Unleash the Gospel, so that our institutional initiatives could be aligned with those articulated in the pastoral letter.  

During the 2017-2018 academic year, there was sustained reflection on the pastoral letter, together with institutional surveys and the work of programmatic assessment.  Formal reflection sessions on the pastoral letter were completed by the board of trustees and the full faculty in October and by various departments of the seminary throughout the fall semester.  In addition, institutional surveys of staff and faculty were conducted as part of the normal planning and assessment program. Finally, the administrative council considered these various data at its monthly strategic meetings during the spring and summer semesters.

The fruit of this work is a white paper (which I forwarded to you earlier in the summer) that seeks to capture the main points that give direction for our institutional planning, some related to the pastoral letter and some specific to the seminary.  The white paper consolidates the data from the various activities and presents a series of categories that have emerged as priorities moving forward.

Mission Documents - A Renewed Sense of Mission  

In light of the pastoral letter and the organic growth of the seminary, it seems an appropriate time to give renewed attention to our mission documents.  The mission statement, the vision statement, the core values and identity statement need to be reviewed. The last time there was a formal approval of the mission documents was 2012.  During the process of the last review, considerable effort was given to a rewording of the mission statement. However, the vision statement is currently out of date and needs immediate attention.  Finally, the document on the core values would benefit from a review and perhaps a modification. Data from the institutional survey (2018) shows a much better engagement and enthusiasm with the mission than in 2014, which is good.  At the same time, these documents need to be reviewed so that they accurately reflect the seminary, keep it truly mission-driven, and contribute to the centennial celebrations.

In order to review the mission documents in a timely manner, I appoint a mission task force whose responsibility it will be to review and present for adoption a set of mission documents that are accurate and inspiring.  The membership of the task force will be announced in the coming weeks. In the end, our work on these mission documents is critical because these documents keep us focused, remind us of who we are and where we are going.  

Internal Communication

Data from faculty and staff surveys point to internal communication as an area for needed improvement.  Comments that help contextualize the issue relate to the way in which administration communicates with the faculty, the information that is shared, and the timeliness with which is it shared.  Faculty have noted that the flow of communication from the administration could be more effective and provide better information. I pledge, as your rector, to be more thoughtful and intentional and to find the most effective ways to communicate with all of you. Finally, faculty note that communication between themselves needs to be improved so that theological and pastoral differences can be explored in a healthy, humble, holy manner.   

As institutions grow and evolve, there will naturally be moments where communication needs to be improved.  As I noted above, the fact that we have areas for growth or areas that need attention should not discourage, frighten or paralyze us, but set within the context of authentic hospitality should inspire us to approach these areas with a deep faith and confidence that the Lord abides in our hearts, to recognize that we are called to holiness and to model virtue.  As part of our efforts to address this, the faculty will have a session this afternoon through which I am confident a deeper sense of collegiality and shared sense of mission will emerge. And for the institution as a whole, we are blessed to have the leadership and expertise of Mary Henige, who has joined the Archdiocese of Detroit as Strategic Communications Director and who will help lead our work in improving internal communication.  The administrative council, together with the faculty and staff, will continue to explore ways to improve communication so that a culture of hospitality, transparency, patience, charity and forgiveness can be enhanced.

Engagement with planning

Data from faculty and staff surveys indicate that there could be a more effective vertical integration for institutional planning, including but not limited to institutional initiatives and faculty hiring.  Although the planning process is strong, one area that needs attention according to the surveys is engagement with faculty and staff. This area of needed growth is connected directly with the priority noted above (internal communication) but not limited to that.  The IPAC will consider structural ways that will offer more engagement from the faculty and staff in planning, and some good ideas have already emerged! This will be extended to the board of trustees as well so that appropriate consideration is given to every group as it relates to institutional planning and assessment.  

Online programming

Among the exciting priorities for the next decade will be the effective organization and delivery of online programming.  The work of delivering high quality online programming emerges from sustained reflection, study of data, and extensive consultation.  We are approaching this from a position of strength and a deep desire to live our mission as fully as possible. It is reflected as well in our Institutional Strategic Plan under Priority 3, Expand Outreach. As noted in an email sent in the spring, we received full approval from the Higher Learning Commission to offer one program (the Certificate in Catholic Theology) delivered completely online.  This will be a first step for us, and I take this opportunity to introduce Dr. John Gresham, the first ever full-time Director of Distance Education and Online Learning. With strong approval from the board of trustees, we have realized a first step of this initiative.

Along with the addition of Dr. Gresham, we have also reconfigured some responsibilities so that our work in the area of online programs will be effective.  In order to assist faculty on a practical level in developing online courses, Mr. Ryan Cahill (who is actively working on his doctorate in educational technology at Central Michigan University) will assume additional responsibilities as educational technology specialist.  And Melissa Pordon has joined Marguarite Seraphinoff in the Office for Admissions so that we can provide excellent service for those seeking admission either as online students or traditional students.

Action Steps

Finally, the Archbishop’s pastoral letter identifies this goal:  that central services partner with Sacred Heart Major Seminary to develop practical and ongoing opportunities for clergy, lay ecclesial ministers and lay faithful around key area of missionary activity.  In order to address this, three action steps were identified: 1) to work with the faculty and administration of Sacred Heart Major Seminary to explore the possibility of establishing an institute dedicated to Lay Witness in the World.  I’ve asked Dr. Gerlach to lead this initiative for the seminary and he has already begun some of the foundational work. We will certainly hear more from him in the coming months about the possibility of such an institute. Second, 2) the Archbishop charged the Moderator of the Curia and the Rector of the seminary to collaborate on the development of practical and ongoing formation opportunities for clergy, lay ecclesial ministers and lay faithful around key areas of missionary activity.  I have had initial meetings this past spring regarding the charge and will offer the first updates during our fall meetings. And finally, third, 3) the Archbishop charged the leadership of the seminary and the faculty, in collaboration with the Office for Black Catholic Ministry, to study how, in accordance with the Seminary’s mission, to marshal and organize resources to advance the new evangelization in the African-American community. I’ve asked Dr. Gerlach to lead this action step as well and he has already had initial conversations with Leon Dixon and will be expanding this important conversation during the fall semester.  I would encourage you to approach him or me with any ideas, thoughts or recommendations you have as we work on these action steps.

As I noted, we have already begun some initial work on these action steps and it seemed most appropriate to have these action steps woven into the seminary Strategic Plan so that we can work on them collectively.  So you’ll see these action steps as part of our seminary strategic plan and also receive regular updates in the coming year(s) on the progress being made. These initiatives from the Archbishop’s pastoral letter, along with the other priorities for the seminary, are the fruit of much prayer and I look forward to the way in which, as we work together, these initiatives will bear much fruit.

Institutional Update

Gala

At the Archbishop’s Gala this year we broke another record for attendance.  Over 1,200 people enjoyed an inspiring evening and I cannot thank everyone enough for the hard work that goes into an event like that.  In particular I want to thank Emily Bershback and Edmundo Reyes, and the many volunteers (so many of you!) who work so hard to make the Gala a success.  At the Gala this year we received the first gift from the Knights of Columbus who have pledged another 1 million dollars to the seminary for an endowed scholarship.  What a blessing it is to have the support of the Knights and also the support of so many throughout the state of Michigan. As we approach the centennial, the Gala next year will focus on the many moments of God’s providence in the first 100 years of Sacred Heart, and then in 2020, we will look forward with hope and joy to the way in which God will continue to provide for the seminary in the years to come.   

Centennial

Speaking of the centennial, this year will mark the final year of planning for the various centennial celebrations for Sacred Heart.  The year of celebration will actually begin in the fall of 2019 with an opening Mass of Thanksgiving in September. The year will be filled with an international academic conference in October, a special Advent Concert at the Detroit Opera House in December, a neighborhood barbeque in the spring and of course the Archbishop’s Gala in 2020 in June that will close our celebrations.  During the course of the year we will have many opportunities to look back and thank God for the countless blessings bestowed on Sacred Heart over 100 years and also to look forward with faith, hope, and love and marvel at the way in which God will continue to guide our mission.

Enrollment

Each year at this time many wonder about the status of enrollment.  Recruitment and enrollment are critical for us as we move forward. We will start the year with 123 seminarians, a high mark we have not seen since 2012.  And our lay enrollment continues to trend positively. While we can only give estimates at this time, we expect approximately 380 lay students for the fall semester.  Combined enrollment, then, is estimated to be over 500. The stability in enrollment is further highlighted when you consider we just had our largest graduating class in over a decade.

New hires

In addition to Dr. John Gresham and Melissa Pordon, whom I mentioned earlier and in an email back in the spring, we are blessed to welcome three others who join the seminary community in new capacities.   

Fr. Cyril Whitaker, SJ.  This summer Fr. Cyril Whitaker assumed new responsibilities as a new member of our resident priest faculty.  Although many of you may know Fr. Whitaker already since he has been a part-time spiritual director for us last year, I express my gratitude to Fr. Brian Paulson, provincial of the Mid-West province of Jesuits, for releasing Fr. Whitaker for full time service as a resident priest here at Sacred Heart.  Fr. Whitaker will serve as a full time spiritual director. He is not assigned to the faculty or to any courses and will devote his entire time to spiritual direction, retreat work, and conferences for the seminarians. I’m pleased that we are able to welcome Fr. Whitaker to the seminary and grateful to have a faithful, devout, and wise spiritual father who will guide our men and accompany them in their discernment and growth in holiness.

Stephanie Nofar-Kelly.  At the end of the spring semester Dr. Ron Prowse moved from being the Director of Liturgical Music and Professor of Music on the College Faculty, to semi-retirement.  He will continue with us in his teaching capacity, but we now have a new Director of Liturgical Music. I am pleased to welcome Stephanie Nofar-Kelly as the new Director of Liturgical Music.  Stephanie is a familiar face here at the seminary and known to a number of you already. She is an accomplished musician with a Master’s Degree from the University of Michigan. She served here during a sabbatical for Dr. Prowse and has also served at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament.  Stephanie will work closely with Fr. Charlie Fox and I’m pleased she will contribute to the liturgical formation of our seminarians.

Paige Schroeder.  Paige is the new administrative assistant to the Dean of Studies.  She too is familiar to many of you since she worked most recently in the Development Office and was often here on the third floor.  Paige brings her many talents and generous spirit to the work of academic administration. We are pleased to welcome Paige in this new position.   

New Dioceses

In our work of forming faithful, dedicated, and holy priests for service in the church, one of my responsibilities is to present our program to new bishops and dioceses.  As these conversations unfold it’s good to hear the various impressions that bishops have and also the pressing needs they see for the church. This year we welcome the Diocese of Toledo and seminarians for the college program.  While Toledo is not necessarily a new diocese (some of you may recall we had a candidate from Toledo some years ago) it is a renewed relationship that will be strong moving forward. These additions are good indicators of the strength of our formation program and also the need we have to be vigilant and attentive to providing excellent human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation.

Conclusion

As I conclude this address, I return to the virtue of hospitality and its important place in the culture of our seminary.  There is a genuine depth to hospitality, a richness that far surpasses the superficial way one might at first think about it.  It is rooted in something ancient and yet forms a central component for how we approach the new evangelization and face the crisis in the universal Church.  In the midst of all of our planning, all of our initiatives, all of our responsibilities, all of the hurt from the scandal that erodes trust, we have a tremendous opportunity in the coming years.  It’s not just about numbers and data. It’s about an unwavering commitment to grow in holiness and reverence Christ in others; an unwavering commitment to accompany others to Christ; and an unwavering desire to be a part of this community that seeks to form healthy and holy priests and leaders for service in the Church.  

Last year we spent a considerable amount of time reflecting on the virtue of humility, a critical foundation for ministerial life.  This year, with all that faces us, we turn to hospitality. These virtues can, and should, first emerge from the example we give in our teaching, our preaching, our daily work and in conversation.  It should emerge first in our hearts as an expressed desire that we want to grow in virtue. Whether preaching in the chapel, listening attentively in the confessional, teaching in the classroom, or doing anything else wherever we are in the building, we model this virtue and so give greater glory to God.  

I can’t help but think of the statue of the Sacred Heart that stands quietly and yet strongly at our front entrance.  Perhaps we don’t look at it often. I know there are times I walk by quickly, preoccupied by other matters. But let’s pause for a moment and consider his own posture, arms outstretched, ready to embrace. The Sacred Heart is a heart ready to welcome, forgive, encourage, challenge, accompany, and above all, to love. As the weeks and months of this academic year unfold, I make this plea that each one of us deeply commit ourselves to growing in virtue and specifically the virtue of hospitality; to encourage each other as well.  To be a vibrant, holy, joyful and healthy house of formation, and to thank God in advance for all that he will accomplish through our work this year.

Prayer of John Henry Cardinal Newman

Dear Lord, help me to spread Thy fragrance everywhere I go.  Flood my soul with thy spirit and life. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may only be a radiance of Thine.  Shine through me, and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Thy presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me but only Thee O Lord.  Stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine as Thou shinest; so to shine as to be a light to others. The light O Lord will be all from Thee; none of it will be mine; It will be thou, shining on others through me.  Let me thus praise Thee in the way Thou dost love best, by shining on those around me. Let me preach Thee without preaching, not by word but by my example, by the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what I do, the evident fullness of the love my heart bear to Thee.  Amen.