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March 17, 2005 • Volume 13 Number13

Dianne Duffin and Daniel Leahy '82 are helping coordinate Alumni Association efforts to provide spiritual programs and opportunities.

BC Focusing on Alumni Spiritual Needs

By Reid Oslin
Staff Writer

Two University employees are spearheading a recently launched Boston College Alumni Association effort aimed at reconnecting graduates with their Jesuit-based educational and spiritual roots.

Dianne Duffin, a former member of the University Development staff, has been named coordinator for spirituality programs, and Daniel Leahy '82, who had been a campus minister in the Office of Campus Ministry, has been appointed campus minister for alumni classes and chapters. The two will join Alumni chaplain Rev. William McInnis, SJ, in assessing, planning and implementing a range of spiritual programs and activities for graduates.

"There is a desire and a hunger among our alumni for the spiritual side of things," said Alumni Association Executive Director Grace Cotter Regan '82. "Our graduates want the experiences they had at Boston College to be replicated as alumni.

"Over the past five years, we have had some great ideas and lots of well-intentioned ideas from the Spiritual Life Committee of the alumni board - our 'idea bank' for spiritual life," Regan said. "We have had a desire to have a more formal approach, but we have not had the resources or the time to really focus on this area.

"With the addition of Dianne and Dan, and with Fr. McInnis and the Spiritual Life Committee already on board, we are finally at a point where we can take a strategic look at our spiritual life at Boston College and the desires out there of what people want and need."

Duffin and Leahy say they are ready to accept the challenge.

"I think that a spiritual program is an important element of BC's identity as a Jesuit, Catholic University," said Duffin. "What makes graduates of a Jesuit University different from anyone else? How do we live differently?

"What we are looking at is how to provide opportunities and resources for our alumni to reflect on their lives, to reach out and touch others, and to be a transforming community. Sometimes it is through simple gestures of kindness and thoughtfulness, such as our alumni bereavement program when we send expressions of sympathy and condolences and have masses said for deceased alumni.

"It's amazing how that touches people. It says this is a unique community, and this is one expression of how we 'live' community."

Leahy, who helped oversee international immersion and service programs when he worked for Campus Ministry, says he is anxious to bring his experiences to the alumni body. "It has been said that one test of who we are as a University is who our students become.

"I can look back at how much of an impact Boston College has had on my own life. Some of the things I have been involved in - like community service, spirituality and opportunities for reflection - really set a direction for my life. I am anxious to take a look at all the wonderful efforts that have already happened with the alumni and to be a part of a team moving in the direction where we will be able to offer more spiritual resources and more opportunities for community service, more opportunities for retreats and spiritual development."

Duffin and Leahy are currently assessing the spiritual resources available to University alumni and canvassing other Jesuit schools to ascertain what other types of programs are effective. "We also plan to do some focus groups with alumni," said Regan, "that will represent the diversity of our alumni in such areas as gender, AHANA, decades and the like.

"At the end of the day, we are going to come up with a plan, put everything on the table and figure out what we can do."

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