What Are We? An Introduction to Boston College and Its Jesuit Tradition gives readers a look at the roots of the Jesuit academic experience and a brief history of Boston College, as well as scores of prayers, spiritual passages, poems and philosophical points for reflecting on their own lives.
"It's really an attempt to give a sense of the larger picture," explained Vice President for University Mission and Ministry Joseph A. Appleyard, SJ, who compiled the book along with Center for Ignatian Spirituality Director Howard J. Gray, SJ. "It attempts to tell people who may not know very much about Jesuit education something of its origins and main themes, as well as provide some spiritual nutrition for prayer."
Fr. Appleyard said the publication grew out of a request by University President William P. Leahy, SJ, to develop a book of prayers and reflections for students and new members of the Boston College community.
"We feel that this book will introduce Boston College and answer some of the questions that people have about us," he said. "But we also wanted something that people would come back to. It gives [the reader] things to reflect on, things to ponder."
"It's a resource book," said Fr. Gray. "It's a reference tool that people can go back to again and again to learn more about any number of topics, such as how Boston College was started, who is Ignatius Loyola, or what is Ignatian Spirituality."
Fr. Gray said the book "meets a wide range of interests and needs," noting that some faculty members are utilizing it in their classes and that some of its sections on the Jesuit education tradition have been included in an orientation package for new members of the Georgetown University Board of Trustees.
"We geared it for the incoming freshmen to read," said Fr. Gray, "but others can 'overhear' it as well. It's very adaptive."
Even the design of the 189-page book is meant to encourage readers to think beyond narrative text, Fr. Appleyard noted. Its solid red cover bears no title. Right hand pages in the publication contain text on the history of Jesuit education and Boston College in particular, while left hand pages offer prayers, poems and philosophy points that intertwine with each chapter's theme.
Vice President for University Mission and Ministry Joseph A. Appleyard, SJ (left), and Center for Ignatian Spirituality Director Howard J. Gray, SJ.
"Students and faculty can turn to it for advice," Fr. Appleyard said. "It has an old-fashioned appeal. It's a serious book to savor and to ponder."
Fr. Appleyard said that the first edition of the book was distributed to entering students, and new faculty and new teaching assistants during summer orientation sessions. It will also be used in orientation programs for new employees, and will be available for student and staff retreats throughout the year. The center plans to publish updated editions for future staff members and incoming classes.
"We didn't plan to distribute it to all students and BC employees at this time," Fr. Appleyard said, "because this first edition is a trial version that we want to get feedback on and revise.
"But, as long as our supply lasts, any student or University employee who wants a copy can get one by calling my office," he said.
Fr. Appleyard can be reached ext.2-1603.
Return to Sept. 21 menu
to Chronicle home page