Valuing Formation: A Conversation with Jack Butler, S.J., vice president for University Mission and Ministry
Why is student formation important at Boston College?
As a Jesuit, Catholic university, Boston College was established to help individuals achieve freedom, maximize their potential, and become the people that God wants them to be.
The great hope of a BC education is to engage students in the process of becoming more human, since people are more than the subjects they study or the careers they pursue. We see education broadly. It isn’t just how one masters a discipline or prepares for a vocation. It is the process of discovering oneself and using that self-awareness to find one’s place in the world.
How does this formation process benefit students beyond graduation?
First, it enhances the quality of their lives. Formation is the bedrock of forging relationships, making decisions and setting priorities, and seeking one’s deepest desires, both intellectually and emotionally. Formation initiates the process of falling in love, which is, hopefully, a lifetime endeavor.
Second, formation helps make the world a better place, which is the invitation of Ignatian spirituality: to live a good life by engaging with the world. When people take responsibility for others and participate in the issues and concerns of the day, they have a positive effect. This is how we, as people of faith, build the kingdom—both personally and globally.
How can the University community help affirm BC’s commitment to formation?
Stay engaged with the University and its mission. If you’re a parent, be in partnership with us; as a graduate, stay in dialogue with your alma mater. When you carry the BC mission into the world by sharing your time, resources, and love with others, you are also bringing that mission back to the Heights by example.
An important element of BC’s mission is to be in partnership with the Catholic Church, which is deeply concerned with personal formation. It certainly isn’t necessary to be a Catholic to attend BC or to engage in the work of formation. But if you are a member of the Church, your relationship with the Church is another way in which you support this process of spiritual discernment and encourage others to participate in it as well.