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Feb. 2, 2006 • Volume 14 Number 10

The residents of Mod 21B (L-R): Margaret Nuzzolese, Danielle Naugler, Marianne Tierney (seated), Kate Taylor, Michelle Bradley and Jen Marsh. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

Their Ignatian Spirit Is Burning Bright

For these six, 'set the world aflame' is a promise, not a slogan

The next time you pass by Mod 21B, don't be surprised if you feel a warm glow coming from inside. That's because the women who live there are busy setting the world aflame.

In the spirit of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the six seniors who live in Mod 21B - Michelle Bradley, Jen Marsh, Danielle Naugler, Margaret Nuzzolese, Kate Taylor and Marianne Tierney - have turned their accommodations into a kind of spiritual incubator that befits a Jesuit school. It's a dynamic environment in which the residents and their friends celebrate the Jesuit idea of finding God in all things and encourage one another to use their talents to improve the world around them.

And don't get the wrong idea: they have a lot of fun doing it.

"We're just as likely to say 'Go set the grill aflame,'" said Naugler, a theater and human development major who is actively involved in the performing arts on campus. "We're very much in the fun part of the BC spirit."

The typical week in Mod 21B kicks off Sunday night with what the women call "Sunday Celebrations," when they eat cake and celebrate the Jesuit idea of finding God in all things. After attending the 10:15 p.m. Heights Room Mass in Corcoran Commons, the women gather back in their apartment to discuss the highs and lows of the weekend and their recent thoughts on life. They talk about where they saw God in their day, what it means to have joy, and how they can be "women for others" in deciding their future plans.

To understand this last point is to first appreciate the residents' diverse interests, which span volunteer work in Appalachia and Latin America, varsity sports, biology, theater and freshman orientation.

"Each of us is deeply involved in different activities on campus, and we feel like we are using our gifts in a way that is serving others here and trying to figure out how we are going to be women for others later on," said Nuzzolese, a political science major who has volunteered in El Salvador and wants to return to Latin America after graduation.

The six women had not lived together as a group before senior year, and they credit "the triumph of random housing" for putting them under the same roof.

Similarly, they didn't plan on Ignatian spirituality becoming a major theme in their lives this year.

"It's not like we all sat down in September and said this is what we're going to do. It just kind of evolved," said Tierney, an English major who is involved in the new "Companions Understanding Reflection Awareness" (CURA) program on campus.

The women say that just as they were mentored as underclassmen by upperclassmen at BC, they try to set a good example for younger students and encourage them to serve others. Consequently, Mod 21B is a hive of activity featuring a rotating cast of characters.

Among the outsiders familiar with Mod 21B and its residents is Campus Minister Catherine Brunell, who oversees CURA activities at Boston College. CURA is BC's version of Christian Life Community, an international lay organization that shares the spirituality of the Jesuits, and it is designed to help students reflect on their faith and their lives through weekly sessions.

Brunell participates in a CURA discussion each Monday night at Mod 21B with several of the residents, whom she called "leaders in every capacity."

"They are always trying to be more loving toward their friends," Brunell said. "They make that effort to live the things that they are learning."

Her Campus Ministry colleague, Jack Butler, SJ, was equally effusive in his praise of the women of Mod 21B.

"From my perspective as a Jesuit, all of them are what you hope graduating seniors from a Jesuit institution become: They have been transformed, and now they are transforming others," Butler said.

As they embark on their final semester at BC, many of the women of Mod 21B still do not know exactly what they will be doing after graduation - except that it will involve "setting the world aflame" in some form or another.

Bradley said she plans to attend Loyola Medical School and will continue to do volunteer work. Marsh, a biology major who has organized BC student volunteer efforts in Appalachia, said her plans are unclear but will likely involve service to others and bringing change to the world.

Marsh said that for all of its advantages, a Jesuit education carries a tremendous responsibility.

"The success of a Jesuit university is measured by how more free, loving, humane, creative and intelligent the rest of the world is because you went here and they didn't," Marsh said, echoing the words Prof. Rev. Michael Himes (Theology) spoke to incoming freshmen last year.

"BC can be a microcosm for the change you want to see in the world and how you want the larger world to act," said Marsh. "Setting the world aflame is about finding that passion."

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