In his vision that the ‘service of faith’ must always include the promotion of justice, Fr. Pedro Arrupe, the former Superior General for the Society of Jesus, exhorts that the, “prime educational objective must be to form men and women for others…men and women who cannot even conceive of love of God which does not include love for the least of their neighbours”. The mission of Jesuit education then, is to, “educate the whole person of solidarity for the real world” with a ‘faith that does justice’. The real measure of the success of Jesuit education lies in who their students become, and this becoming, necessarily implies transformation and conversion.
But are these not lofty ideals, and perhaps daunting ones as well, for those of us that might wonder if conversion and transformation are not much more than we originally bargained for? None-the-less this is the call to each of us as Christians, and in a particular way, our call in the study of theology. Each student who walks through the doors of Regis College is ushered in on the breath of the Holy Spirit! We come from all walks of life, at different ages and stages, and with immensely varied life and cultural experiences. But the common thread that binds all of us together in this community is that deep longing for wholeness and for freedom in our desire for God. It is therefore not only in the excellence of academic education that transformation is fostered, nor is it solely to be found in the richness of this education steeped in Ignatian Spirituality, but fundamentally and concretely, transformation is fostered, as it lived out in the relationships of this Regis College community. It is here that we are all challenged by diversity, and it is here that we pray together, share our stories, and dare to imagine as we discover that our unspoken dreams find resonance and life, in the shared dreams of another.
But why is it that we talk of transformation and conversion in relation to the mission of Jesuit education to form the whole person? What makes this process so much more important than merely the acquisition of knowledge and the fine tuning of skills? I believe that it is because it is not possible to fulfill the mandate, ‘to educate the whole person of solidarity for the real world’ with a ‘faith that does justice’, unless we first become aware of our own poverty, our own brokenness in our stance before God. Herein lies the seed bed by which solidarity is germinated. For it is here that we begin to know who we truly are in our radical dependency on God and thereby, are enabled to cooperate more fully with God’s transformative grace. History has shown that many good intentioned people have also done the greatest of injustices. Good intention, without the reflection that brings transformation, is not enough! Solidarity with the poor is only possible when we come together as equals in the knowledge of our own poverty, so that we learn from one another, heal one another in a communion of friendship that speaks of the Reign of God. The ‘doing’ of justice is fundamentally about our ‘being’- it demands authenticity in relationships, and authenticity in relationships is the substance of our conversion and transformation.
In this way the students of Regis College are formed to be, not only ‘workers’ in this world of ours with its complex and global problems, but more importantly they are formed to be a ‘presence’ in the world. A presence that incarnates the love of Christ that is for all, and that is the catalyst for the transformation of the whole world, in the ground-breaking and in-breaking efforts of the Reign of God.
And so my dear fellow students, faculty and guests, today we, as a community through this ASN induction ceremony, acknowledge in these students, that indeed Jesuit education has fulfilled its mission to form the ‘whole person of solidarity for the real world’. We also congratulate the honourary inductees, who mirror this same process. The evidence is modeled here, in the lives and in the commitments of each of these people; lives that reflect the values of, scholarship, loyalty and service. We thank them for being who they are in their generous response to God’s initiative in their lives- lives from which flow efforts that in silence, resound with the Glory of God.