B.C. And Its Jesuit Community Establish The Center For Ignatian Spirituality

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

Members of the University community will be better able to explore faith and religious questions as they relate to their lives at Boston College through the recently established Center for Ignatian Spirituality.

Located in Rahner House, the center was created through an agreement between the University and the Jesuit Community at Boston College. It will be supported with an endowment of $4 million contributed by the Jesuit Community and other benefactors, and is under the direction of Howard Gray, SJ, who was a 1996-97 Jesuit Institute visiting fellow.

The center's goals, Fr. Gray said, will be to develop programs that provide a basic understanding of Jesuit education and Ignatian spirituality; help faculty and staff to integrate Ignatian values in their professional or personal lives through retreats, conversations, support groups or other activities; and encourage those wishing to lead this process in their areas of the University.

"The discussion about preserving Jesuit heritage is taking place not only at Boston College but at other similar institutions," Fr. Gray said. "People want to talk about the distinctiveness of Jesuit education, especially those who are new to it, and this cannot be accomplished in one general orientation session.

Howard Gray, SJ. (Photo by Gary Gilbert)
"At the same time, Jesuit institutions are looking to their faculty, staff and students to help provide the leadership that will enable Jesuit education to thrive," he continued. "The hope is that there will be a core of people - whether they are Jesuits or not - who are willing to invest in this education."

Fr. Gray said the center will enhance, not replace, current University initiatives or efforts that address spiritual matters.

"The center cannot be, and is not intended to be, a substitute for the Jesuit Institute or campus ministry," said Fr. Gray. "Their contributions to Boston College are extremely valuable and enriching. What the center can do is enable schools, departments, offices or individuals to launch their own kind of inquiry."

During his tenure at the Jesuit Institute, Fr. Gray said he saw considerable enthusiasm within the University for the type of discussions and initiatives the center hopes to encourage. He emphasizes the center is focused squarely on meeting that demand.

"How the center develops and what it undertakes will depend on how people partner with it," he said. "The center has to meet the needs of the community."

While that community has Ignatian and Catholic origins, Fr. Gray emphasized the center will serve as a resource for faculty, staff and students representing other religious or cultural traditions who are interested in Jesuit values.

Fr. Gray said he will hold meetings with the University community during the coming months to talk about the center and its mission. University President William Leahy, SJ, also will appoint an advisory board in the near future to provide consultation, he noted.

Fr. Gray is a former provincial of the Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus, and has taught at Boston College, Fordham and John Carroll universities, Loyola University of New Orleans, the University of Detroit Mercy, the Weston School of Theology and the Jesuit School of Theology.

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