Ten Questions for Continuing the Conversation on "Mission Possible?: A Reality Check"

In the spirit of reflection, we pose these questions as an opportunity to extend the conversation. We hope that by offering these ideas, the discussion continues on your campus – with colleagues, with students, and with your community.

The Ignatian tradition privileges the role of discernment – the examining of our inner desires for trends that lead us to joy, sorrow, consolation, and desolation. Ignatius believed that if we prayed with and tracked our desires each day, we might find the voice of God instructing us on how we ought to live and where we might find the most joy.

The same can be said of our Jesuit mission: We face real problems that provoke distrust of our Jesuit mission. We have to discern how to respond to these signs of our current times so that we can serve our faculty, staff, and students with effectivity and love. Key questions today include:

  1. Does the leadership meet the claims of the Jesuit Catholic mission, vision, and values statement of the university/college?

  2. What are the mission strengths of your institution? What are the mission challenges?

  3. Many of the Jesuit institutions of higher learning are in the process of revising or have recently revised the core curricula. Has your institution preserved a robust core that educates for mission while meeting the needs of a changing world context? [“The mission is delivered through the core.”]

  4. Does the scholarship of the faculty reflect a commitment to the mission, and does it find ways to incorporate social justice commitments, which arise out of a faith that does justice in the Jesuit tradition?

  5. How would you describe the relationship of your Jesuit Catholic institution with the local church? Is there a healthy dialogue with all dimensions of the church (not only the bishop, but clergy and laity). Does this dialogue include productive ecumenical and interfaith relationships with other faith traditions?

  6. Has your institution made a vigorous, effective response to degradation of the Earth and climate change. Has Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’: Care for the Earth made an impact on the curriculum and sustainable practices of your campus?

  7. How does your institution develop policies, practices, educational forums to address vital social and cultural issues of our day? A partial listing includes the prevalence of sexual assault and violence on campuses. Identity politics. Gender and diversity. Has your institution created a mission-centered approach to these issues?

  8. Does your institution take a mission- centered approach to contracts for labor, construction, food in such a way that it upholds the dignity of contracted laborers?

  9. Does your institution keep a healthy balance in negotiating the annual budget, tuition costs, and a just wage for faculty and staff?

  10. What measures has your Jesuit institution taken to ensure a long-term commitment to its Jesuit mission, especially through effective “hiring for mission” procedures?

From the Editor: Mental Well-Being and Illness

By Edward W. Schmidt, S.J. 

The Conversations seminar meets three times a year to discuss issues, identify themes, and plan future issues, suggesting authors, specific topics, and places to write about. We rotate the schedule through the 28 AJCU schools. It is an upbeat time, especially meeting faculty and students for lunch and discussion.

When the seminar members made their way to Gonzaga in Spokane last April, they found the campus alive. It seems that the weather had been pretty cheerless in the days before the meeting, but when we got there the sun was shining and the air was warm and the students were all soaking it in. Smiles, excited conversations, lounging about,

When I arrived I had to look for the Jesuit community, which had been moved from where I knew it before. I went into an office to ask, and a bright young man told me, “Oh,
it’s just over across the yard.” When I asked if he could point it out for me, he said, “Oh, no. I’ll walk you over there. I want to get outside. It’s great out!” I suggested he could give me a tour of the campus, but he thought that might be stretching things.or strolling slowly gave the campus a feel of contentment.

We know from the articles in this issue of Conversations that not everything on every campus is so bright and cheerful. As in any human society, issues arise. The intensity of campus life perhaps heightens those issues. But so too, there is a remarkable willingness and competence to confront issues, to provide support, to promote health and well-being.

The stories here study a wide array of issues from anxiety to discrimination, from the stress of the undocumented to sexual identity. Some of the stories explore issues from the personal experience of the writer. All of the stories show important aspects of the issues involved. And they all show clearly that someone cares. Not someone, but rather many, many faculty members, administrators, and students themselves care a lot.

Three of the articles describe very specific programs at Georgetown, Rockhurst, and Regis. Others develop wellbeing resources and tie them in with the cura personalis that many describe as distinctive in Jesuit education. Young alumni share their personal journeys as encouragement to others: You can do it! We can do it!

We have regular features too. One is a two-page spread that in word and in picture shows the history of one of our 28 constituent schools; this time we feature Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. In Teaching to Mission, a seminar member reflects on teaching as a ministry; this time it is a biology teacher from the very same Saint Joseph’s Univeristy who shares his reflections. And we have our Ten Questions to prompt conversations.

A rare entry is an advertisement for a new editor! I won’t go into fond farewells until a future column, but after six years I am ready to hand over responsibilities to a new editor. Please consider this advertisement!

The cover photo is featured courtesy of Melinda Stuart of the Flickr CC

In issue #53 the photo on the inside back cover was incorrectly identified as John Carroll University. It is in fact of the University of Scranton. Also, on page 24, in the story from the University of Detroit Mercy, Live6 was established by the university and The Kresge Foundation, not “by major businesses,” as stated. Also, Lauren Hood, the first Interim Director of Live6, is no longer with the organization.