Monday, November 30, 2009

with our brother Josias in your kingdom

My Prayer

We gather today in a spirit of thanksgiving for God’s glory shown in our brother Josias Sterling during his brief life, a happy life, a life in which a young man fulfilled the hopes and promises suited to his age. We thank God that Josias was a grace for his parents and siblings, for his relatives and friends. We are grateful that God saw fit for Josias to attend St. Joseph’s Prep and Temple University.

The emptiness in our hearts caused be his absence reveals to us how eagerly we made a space for him, and tells us how prominent a place he took in his family , among his classmates, on the rugby team, and in the hearts of all who got to know him. His relationship with us is God’s work, letting us know in Josias more about the richness of creation.

So we pray. Dear God, let the memory of this happy young man lift from us the gloom we experience in his physical absence. Help us know that his cheerful, resolute spirit continues to enliven us whenever we who know him gather together. May his spirit help us build on the heroic desires of his own life, help us be men and women for others just as Josias became more each day a man for others.

Yes, Good God, Increase our faith in the saving power of the Lord Jesus who welcomes those who have died into a new heaven and a new earth. When our day comes, give us a place in the new creation so that we may be with our brother Josias in your kingdom. But today on this field, dear God, help us to know that Josias joins us and commits his spirit to bring joy and enthusiasm to our company and our competition.

We ask these things through Christ our Lord.

The Spirit blows where it will, the blog of George Bur, SJ

A rugby team tenderly remembers one of its own Philadelphia Inquirer
By Kristen A. Graham

Inquirer Staff Writer

Because they were Josias Sterling's friends, they formed a line and slung their arms around each others' shoulders. Some shivered in the bitter breeze.
They were the members of 428 West, a rugby team from the St. Joseph's Prep Class of 2008. They share inside jokes, stories about tournament weekends, and a deep sense of loss.

In July, player No. 8 - Josias A. Sterling, 19, a boisterous, happy Temple University sophomore - died in Ocean City, N.J., when a powerful rip current pulled him out to sea. He had been standing in knee-deep water tossing a football with Ryan Gregory, a teammate and best friend.

Yesterday, the friends gathered for the Josias A. Sterling Memorial Apple Pie Sevens Rugby Tournament. Bill Gregory, Ryan Gregory's father and Sterling's coach at the Prep, addressed the more than 250 people who stood on the playing field in Fairmount Park.

"Today, we're going to celebrate his life, have a happy day, and smash each other in the face," Bill Gregory said, earning smiles and cheers from the crowd of rugby players and enthusiasts.

The tournament's name is a nod to Sterling's favorite dessert, which he was famous for downing on road trips. The trophies awarded to yesterday's winners - a college division made up of a Temple team of current players and alumni, and a high school division, West Shore United - featured an apple and a picture of pie.

"There's not a diner in the tri-state area that we haven't hit and he cleaned out of apple pie," said Bill Gregory, now the coach of the University of Scranton's rugby team. "We'd joke, 'We're coming. Get the apple pies ready.' "

The name given to the gathering was silly, but the emotions were genuine. Before the first match, 428 West - named for the address of a Shore house the young men shared the summer before they all left for college - stood on the sidelines and talked about their missing brother.

"He was a goofball," said Nolan Grady, laughing.

"He was loud, energetic, always ran hard, never gave up on anything," said Tyler Dewechter.

Sterling was a chicken-legged rascal, the young men added. And his arms? Always in constant motion, windmills blocking his opponents.

He laughed often. No one ever saw him angry, and his happiness wasn't an in-your-face kind of thing. Sterling was just at peace with who he was, they said.

(click title for the entire article from the Philadelphia Inquirer)

First vows...

A.J. Rizzo, SJ
First Studies

Only a few days after he pronounced his first vows, A.J. Rizzo, SJ, was moving into his new home in Ciszek Hall at Fordham University where he will begin First Studies, two years of graduate level philosophy. He still had to register for classes, buy his books and do all the things a student does to get ready for a new semester. But already, he was feeling prepared.

“The novitiate, the first two years, have prepared me well for this next step,” he said.

After all the new experiences of these past two years, he’s learned how to adjust, how to feel a little less nervous at new places and new people. He knows, he said, “God is faithful.” “I have met people who have made my life as a Jesuit beautiful and full of joy and I have faith that
will happen again.”

Mr. Rizzo, a Philadelphia native, spent three years at Loyola Blakefield, a boys preparatory school in suburban Baltimore, before entering the Society of Jesus. At Loyola, he spent a year as assistant to the school’s chaplain, Joseph Michini, SJ, followed by two years as Loyola’s director of Christian service. A graduate of St. Joseph’s Preparatory School in Philadelphia and the University of Scranton, he has gotten to know Jesuits since he took a summer program at the Prep before his eighth grade year. Each experience brought him closer to entering the order. “I first thought about it while I was in high school,” Mr. Rizzo said, remembering “Jesuits at the Prep were real role models for me.” After working along side Jesuits after college graduation — one year volunteering at the Prep and then three years at Loyola — he “fell in love with the work that the Jesuits do.”

And something more, too. Ignatian spirituality drew him into a closer relationship with God and with the world. Mr. Rizzo was attracted to the way Jesuits pray and how they see the world. “It spoke to who I am and who I want to be,” he said.

The last two years have been full ones. While studying at the novitiate in Syracuse, Mr. Rizzo has
worked in schools, hospitals and in another country. He spent the spring semester in campus ministry at Georgetown University. Last fall, he visited patients and distributed communion in a hospital. The previous spring, he worked at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx, where all first year novices spend time working with terminally-ill patients. Five novices provided physical care for patients as nurses aides.

The first semester after his entrance into the Society, he taught English and religion in a grade school in Syracuse — and spent the last hour of each school day helping the first graders get their things together to go home. Every novice makes the 30-day silent retreat, the Spiritual Exercises, and then spends two months in an international apostolic work.
Mr. Rizzo went to Belize. He went, he said, “all charged and excited to live out the Ignatian spirituality.” Most of the time was spent in the Jesuit schools and parishes of Belize City where he worked with people of the parishes and little kids of the schools, “meeting God in the people that God sent my way every day.”

But the highlight was a visit to Mayan villages in Punta Gorda with a classmate. They lived with families, getting to know them, praying with them. “They took wonderful care of us,” he said, profoundly moved by their lack of materialism and the richness of their love. “It was beautiful to be part of that,” he said.

At First Vows, pronounced Aug. 16 in Syracuse, Mr. Rizzo was surrounded by his family — he’s the second oldest of six children — and many of the people from the apostolates where he served. “All my parents and my family want is for me to be happy,” he said, noting the support they’ve given him since he decided to become a Jesuit. At First Vows, they saw how happy Mr. Rizzo is. While at Fordham, Mr. Rizzo will serve as Jesuit liaison for a Jesuit Volunteers community in Harlem and he hopes for another apostolate in the Bronx.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Freedom of religion ~ an Islamic point of view

“Fight against those who do not believe in Allah…from among the People of the Book, until they pay the jizyah and have been humiliated and brought low.”

the discriminatory tax imposed on “People of the Book”—Jews and Christians living under Islamic rule—in accordance with Chapter 9, verse 29 of the Koran

America Magazine - Hidden Prayer in Yemen
Islam and the problem of religious intolerance
David Pinault

Christians in Sanaa, the capital city in Yemen, cannot pray in church. They must congregate in secret in their homes, and non-Christian Yemenis are monitored to ensure that they do not attend. During a recent visit to the country, I attended many of these clandestine services and watched with admiration as both foreigners and local Yemenis sought ways to practice their faith in a hostile environment.

Unfortunately, the plight of Christians in Yemen is not unique. In Iraq, Saudia Arabia and other countries in the Muslim world, freedom of worship is severely restricted, and the number of Christians has dwindled. The values of pluralism and diversity are dismissed in favor of a strict adherence to the rule of the Koran, which sees any visible Christian presence as an attempt at evangelization. Yemen is emblematic of an Islamic culture that fails to see the spiritual growth that can come from encounters with people of other faiths.

Enforced during the height of Islamic political power in the days of the caliphate, collection of the tax was abandoned by secularizing governments of the modern Middle East. But some of today’s Islamist movements view the jizyah as a marker of the resurgence of Islam. For years, Paulos Faraj Rahho, archbishop of Mosul’s Chaldean Catholic community, had made jizyah payments to local militants on behalf of his diocese’s Christians. Finally, as the security situation in Iraq improved, he refused any further payments, a decision that led to his kidnapping and murder in 2008. Eventually a member of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia was convicted of the crime. Under such pressure, almost half of Iraq’s Christians have fled the country.

Click title for the entire article.

The Elephant in the Room: A war of ideas within Islam Philadelphia Inquirer
By Rick Santorum

Three Muslim students approached me after I had finished a speech at Harvard University. I was there to talk about the threat of radical Islam across the globe, as part of the Ethics and Public Policy Center's Program to Protect America's Freedom.

The students, one man and two women, wore Western-style clothes and spoke English with little or no accent. They disputed my description of Islam as it's practiced in the Middle East, maintaining that al-Qaeda's version of Islam in no way reflects the Islam that is practiced around the world.

So I asked them a question: Should apostates - Muslims who convert to another religion - be subject to execution?

One of the women quickly said no. She insisted that she was free to leave Islam if she wanted to, and that she knew other people who had done so without a problem - in the United States.

I said I wasn't talking about her and others' freedom of religion in this country. What if they lived in a Muslim-majority country?

Silence. Eventually, the young man blurted out, "That's different."

Why? I asked. I recall him saying, "Because in Muslim countries, Islam and the government are one, and converting from Islam is the equivalent of treason against the government, punishable by death." The two women agreed.

I suspect that most readers will find it shocking that three liberal, Western Muslims at Harvard expressed this view. But what's shocking is that anyone finds this shocking.

If, after 9/11, the U.S. government had set out to clearly define the nature and gravity of the Islamist threat we face, it would be common knowledge that the views of these three Harvard students are widely held in the Muslim world.

Click title for the entire article.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ratio studiorum

Province Express - Maintaining flexibility in curriculum

The Jesuits have some form when it comes to curriculum. The Ratio Studiorum was a plan of studies, in effect a plan for curriculum and teaching in Jesuit schools, which was formulated over a period of fifteen years before its final publication in 1599.

The Ratio provided a structured and coherent approach to education and provided the basic structure for Jesuit education around the world up to the Twentieth Century. It can be argued that it was the single most influential plan of studies in the history of education. The Ratio was one of the keys to the success of Jesuit schools in the late sixteenth into the eighteenth centuries, a period in which the Jesuits were called ‘the schoolmasters of Europe'.

While the Ratio laid down the foundations of curriculum it also allowed for flexibility and adaptation according to the particular context of a school.

The impact of the Ratio can, in part, be measured by the extraordinary range of individuals who were its products during this period: Matteo Ricci, Athanasius Kircher, Calderon, Corneille, Molière, Galileo, Descartes, Montesquieu, Leopold Mozart, Clavius, Rubens, Voltaire, St Francis De Sales, Talleyrand - to name a few.

On the whole, the Ratio appeared to strike a balance between structure and creativity, between a common approach and local circumstance. Perhaps there are lessons to be learnt in this for us as we move towards a national curriculum.

Click title for entire article.To find more about the Jebs down under click
Australian Jesuits.

A Jesuit's Perspective on Abortion

A Jesuit's Perspective on Abortion - On Faith at

“Thou shalt not kill,’ not kill yourself, not kill time (because it belongs to God), not kill trust, not kill death itself by trivializing it, not kill the country, the other person, or the Church.”

These words, spoken by Trappist martyr Dom Christian De Cherge, seem especially apropos as a tool for reflection on this 35th anniversary of the Roe v Wade abortion decision. Jesuit spirituality suggests that it is good to reflect frequently upon the times we might turn away from God. In our individual participation in the struggle over abortion, this turning can manifest itself in concrete emotional, spiritual or physical behaviors. The obverse is true of our reflections as well; it is good to consider daily the ways in which we turn towards God. After identifying the personal failings and strengths of our own conduct in the abortion debate, we can ask the Lord to assist us in avoiding the sin that destroys, and to send us the grace which lifts us nearer Him.

Dom Christian listed several categories of killing we might ponder today: killing of time, death, trust, and the country. While each of us defies these precepts in various ways, it is my intention today to focus on the mechanisms whereby we kill ourselves, other people, and the Church. We kill ourselves in turning away from the God-given purpose of our existence. We kill others in our destructive ruminations, violent words and physical attacks. We kill the Church in dismissing her officials and publicly dissenting from her teachings without carefully examining her arguments.

One foundational component of a Catholic worldview is that human beings exist to praise, reverence and serve the Lord in this world and to be happy with Him in the next. Thus, entertaining thoughts that are unworthy of a Christian, speaking words that goad others or myself to sin, or using my body in the service of ungodly desires could be seen as spiritually killing myself. Wallowing in wrathful thoughts towards those who draw different conclusions than I do could serve as a gateway to false pride. Pride can distort the position of the servant relative to the master, putting the created being in the place of God. While I am right and good to assess the validity of others’ arguments, internal hatred of my interlocutors wounds my soul without touching those of my adversaries.
How do I kill other people in the abortion debate? I kill in the use of words to wound rather than to convince. Making personal attacks against others places me again at risk of pride and wrath. Note well: when discussing abortion, one sometimes hears, “You will never change anyone’s mind about this. People think what they think.” If the abolitionists and suffragettes had denied the possibility of change in their fellow citizens’ opinions, this country would still have slavery and women without the vote. Denying the possibility of conversion is to deny the possibility of grace: it plays into the hands of the enemy of our human nature.

A further note on killing the other person: As a practicing physician licensed to care for pregnant women, I believe that abortions kill a living human being in the earliest stages of development. The moral question at hand is not if we are killing; it is whether the victims have any claims as persons or not. While the U.S. legal balance is at present skewed towards the denial of rights for the unborn, Catholics and many Evangelical Christians argue that both the mother and the unborn have rights. On a spiritual level, a woman seeking an abortion should recognize that exercising her “choice” will kill a vulnerable and defenseless human being. There is no doubt about this. There is also no doubt that an action can be legal and at the same time be wrong.

Final point, we kill the Church when, in ignorance, we hold it up to ridicule. Last Spring, I asked several medical students in a seminar whether they rejected Catholic teachings regarding reproduction and artificial contraception. Several raised their hands. I prompted them to articulate the position and to give their critique of it. Conversation languished for some while. None in that group of graduating physicians had an answer, yet these well-educated role models were willing to publicly disagree with an argument they could not explain. At a recent Christmas party, a gentlemen identifying himself as a Catholic biologist was railing for research that would result in the death of frozen human embryos. He justified the exploitation, “because they are just sitting there.” I advised him that the Church’s reverence for the protected status of a human person is not based on level of activity but on an intrinsic dignity. He agreed to consider that.

In conversations about abortion we can turn away from the purpose of our being when we entertain malicious thoughts. We kill when we speak unholy words, or physically attack the other person. We kill our children when we abort, terminate, or “get rid of” them. We can kill the Church if we dissent in ignorance from the teachings of its experts and legitimate authorities. Following a reflection such as this upon our failings, it is good to look at the way in which we turn towards God. In this case it shall be to consider how we appropriately love ourselves, the other person and the Church. I leave it to the readers’ good discretion to identify examples of their healthy spiritual habits, generosity to their fellows, and active participation in communities of worship. Concluding those considerations, all that remains for persons of prayer is to ask that the Lord help us to turn away from sin and to further embrace the Good News of love. May God help this broken soul to do so.

Dr. William Blazek, a Jesuit scholastic and physician, is a board certified specialist in Internal Medicine and a Research Scholar in the Center for Clinical Bioethics at Georgetown University School of Medicine. He teaches ethics and clinical skills as an Adjunct Assistant Professor while preparing for ordination to priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church.

Dr. Blazek entered the Society of Jesus following residency in Internal Medicine and professed perpetual vows in 2003. He is a veteran of Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield in Saudi Arabia and Iraq where he served as an Infantry Officer in the 101st Airborne Division. Among his military awards are the Bronze Star, Southwest Asia Service Medal, and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. He is a graduate of the US Army Ranger, Airborne, and Air Assault schools. He is presently on a planned leave of absence from the faculty to complete his theological studies in preparation for ordination to the priesthood.

And then we have MSNBC's Chris Matthews, last year's commencement speaker at St. Joseph's University, ripping the bishop of Rhode Island on why he believes that people shouldn't kill babies. Perhaps someone could pass on Fr. Blazek's article to him. Then, maybe, he'll see the light. Seems that since he can't come up with an appropriate punishment for people who kill their unborn children... we'll just keep chugging along.

The catalyst for Chris' insulting interview was Bishop Tobin's response to Congressman Kennedy's criticisms of the Church, which can be ready here... Dear Congressman Kennedy BY BISHOP THOMAS J. TOBIN.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Blessed Mother Ghattas

Joy in Nazareth as Palestinian nun beatified

Thousands of Christians gathered in the town of Nazareth in the Holy Land yesterday for the beatification of Maria Alfonsina Danil Ghattas, co-founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary of Jerusalem.

Palestinian Magdolin Koresh, 13, attends Arabic class at the Rosary Sisters' High School in Jerusalem. The school is run by the order whose founder, Mother Marie Alphonsine, was beatified yesterday. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill)

In Rome yesterday, Pope Benedict praised Mother Ghattas for her work which helped girls in the region overcome illiteracy.

The ceremony was presided over by Archbishop Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes and special Vatican envoy at the event. It was held in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth.

Speaking ahead of the Angelus, Pope Benedict said Mother Ghattas had "the merit" of having founded "a congregation formed solely of women of the region, with the purpose of religious instruction, to overcome illiteracy and improve the conditions of the women of that time in the land where Jesus himself exalted their dignity."

He added, “The beatification of this very significant figure of a woman is of special comfort to the Catholic community in the Holy Land and it is an invitation to always trust, with firm hope, in Divine Providence and Mary's maternal protection."

Mother Ghattas (1843-1927) was born Soultaneh Maria, as a Palestinian in Jerusalem.

She founded the Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary of Jerusalem in the 1880s.

The order is highly regarded in Palestinian communities and continues to run schools for Palestinian girls in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

She died in Jerusalem in 1927 at the age of 83.

For learn more about the Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary of Jerusalem please click WWW.ROSARY-CONG.COM.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

St. Joseph's vs #7 Purdue / 8:30 tonight

Hawks battle Boilermakers in Paradise Jam -

St. Thomas, VI (Sports Network) - The seventh-ranked Purdue Boilermakers will attempt to avoid an upset tonight as they take on the Saint Joseph's Hawks in the semifinals of the Paradise Jam.

Saint Joseph's needed overtime to beat Drexel in the opener, and barely squeaked by Holy Cross in the second game of the season. For those reasons, the Hawks figured to struggled against Boston College on Friday night at this event, but they managed to knock off the Eagles by an 84-80 final. Heading into this season, the Hawks weren't considered by many to be one of the top teams in the Atlantic 10 Conference, but head coach Phil Martelli always finds a way to put his team in place to contend for the league title.

Purdue opened the season with an 89-64 romp over Cal State Northridge back on November 13th. The Boilermakers played just their second game of the campaign last night as part of this tournament, and they held off South Dakota State by a 74-63 final. Coach Matt Painter's Purdue team is not short on talent or experience, two reasons that the Boilermakers are threats not only to win the Big Ten, but also to reach the Final Four.

Saint Joseph's and Purdue haven't met since 1971, when the Hawks won an 85-74 decision.

Four players are averaging double figures in scoring for Saint Joseph's through the first four games of this season. Carl Jones is tops with 15.7 ppg, especially impressive because the freshman check in at just 6-0 and 147 pounds. Darrin Govens provides 15.3 ppg, and Garrett Williamson adds 12.0 ppg. The final member of the foursome is Idris Hilliard with...

(click title for the entire article)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Another Hawk fan visits...

Future Hawk
the Box Office yesterday
and showed us, in no uncertain terms,
whom he roots for ;-)

Philly Jebs beat Boston Jebs 84-80

St. Ignatius Loyola advises that the grace we seek is "indifference". There was no indifference last night as our St. Joseph's Hawks defeated fellow Jesuit school Boston College ;-)

Welcome to the Jesuit Basketball Spotlight page from the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities !

A simple, coordinated first step to build awareness of the Jesuit mission by using the strength of Jesuit basketball.

The Jesuit Basketball Spotlight pilot project is a nationwide effort to identify basketball games between Jesuit schools during the upcoming 2009-2010 season, and, through those games, bring greater positive awareness to Jesuit education and mission. This project was developed by the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) in response to member institutions wanting to spread the word of Jesuit higher education through the more than 90 basketball games in which Jesuit institutions play each other (men and women) this 2009-2010 year.

Over the last few years, many interested parties have sought a way to take better advantage of Jesuit basketball to create unified awareness, heighten media attention and celebrate our common Jesuit mission. The Jesuit Basketball Spotlight games allow Jesuit institutions to do this through targeted messaging; media, television and radio announcements; and other marketing communications initiatives during game operations.

BC cools at finish, falls to St. Joseph’s - The Boston Globe

ST. THOMAS, US Virgin Islands - Tied with Saint Joseph’s with two minutes remaining, Boston College hit a poorly timed cold snap and lost to the Hawks, 84-80, in the opening round of the Paradise Jam tournament.

Garrett Williamson pulled Saint Joseph’s (3-0) even at 76 with a layup with 2:03 remaining. BC missed its next four shots, including a Biko Paris 3-pointer and short-range attempt by Corey Raji, and Williamson converted on the other end with a foul-inducing layup, the 3-point play giving the Hawks a 79-76 lead with 38 seconds left.

The Eagles (2-1) answered on a layup by Reggie Jackson before Williamson restored the 3-point cushion with a pair of free throws with 12 seconds to play. Williamson scored 10 points in the final two minutes to finish with 18 overall.

With BC trailing, 82-80, in the final seconds, Jackson couldn’t get a layup to fall, and Williamson clinched it with two more foul shots.

Hey Coach Skinner - will you ever take responsibility for your team's "terrible defense"? Another milestone in BC basketball's record of underachievement and boneheaded losses. St. Joe's coach is outstanding and has owned Skinner over the years.

St. Joe's surprises Boston College Philadelphia Inquirer

ST. THOMAS, Virgin Islands - St. Joseph's basketball coach Phil Martelli had a lot to celebrate on the opening day of the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Not only was it his 33d wedding anniversary, his Hawks had just knocked off Atlantic Coast Conference power Boston College for the fourth consecutive time, 84-80.

"Today's my 33d wedding anniversary, and the last time we played on it we lost by, like, 100 points to Duke," Martelli said last night. "I'm happy for the players that they're going to experience the winners' bracket."

Martelli knew coming in that the matchup would be a battle from beginning to end, and it was. There were eight lead changes in the game, seven in the second half.

The final lead change of the night came with just 38 seconds to go when Garrett Williamson hit a breakaway layup, was fouled, and made the free throw to put St. Joseph's up, 79-76.

Williamson then hit 5 of 6 free throws down the stretch to help the Hawks improve to 3-0. They will face Purdue, a 74-63 winner over South Dakota State, tomorrow at 8:30 p.m.

Williamson scored a team-high 18 points and shot 10 of 13 from the free-throw line. Darrin Govens and Carl Jones added 16 points apiece for the Hawks.

Boston College's Joe Trapani scored a game-high 20 points, 14 in the first half. The Eagles' Reggie Jackson had the game's lone double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds to go with a game-high four assists.

"The biggest thing that I talked to these guys about coming in is my respect for [Boston College coach] Al Skinner and his type of play," Martelli said. "I told these guys, 'When you play Boston College, you have to fistfight and play tough.' "

Up next #7 Purdue -- 8:30 PM Sunday.

Purdue-Saint Joseph's Preview -

Purdue coach Matt Painter wasn't satisfied with his team's play in its opening-round game of the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam, but he was still pleased to come away with a victory.

Painter hopes for a better effort from the seventh-ranked Boilermakers in the second round of the tournament Sunday night against Saint Joseph's, which is trying to open a season with four consecutive victories for the first time in six years.

With all five starters returning from a year ago, Purdue (2-0) is expected to contend for a Big Ten title and make a run in the NCAA tournament. It didn't look much like a top 10 team, though, as it came out flat in Friday's opening-round 74-63 win over South Dakota State.

The Boilermakers, who made only 2 of 14 shots from 3-point range, led just 39-37 at the half before pulling away late to avoid the upset.

"Any time you have close games, and any time somebody can outplay you and out-tough you, and you still win, those are good games," Painter said. "We have to be patient and play a lot smarter."

Painter would probably like to see floor leader Robbie Hummel play with a bit more composure.

While E'Twaun Moore led the Boilermakers with 22 points against the Jackrabbits, Hummel scored 14 in only 23 minutes because of foul trouble.

Hummel wasn't the only Purdue player overaggressive on the defensive end. The Boilermakers committed unnecessary fouls and South Dakota State took advantage by making 13 of 15 free throw attempts in the first half.

"The key was the flow of the game, and I thought they were tougher than us and quicker than us," Painter said. "We talked at halftime about staying tight with them and carrying out our assignments."

While Purdue appeared to lack intensity at times in its opening-round victory, Saint Joseph's (3-0) played with poise down the stretch in beating Boston College 84-80 on Friday.

Garrett Williamson scored 10 of his 18 points in the final two minutes for the Hawks, while Darrin Govens and Carl Jones each scored 16.

Williamson's layup with 1:57 left tied the game, and his three-point play with 38 seconds left gave St. Joseph's a 79-76 lead. He then made 5 of 6 free throws in the game's final 27 seconds.

"I was proud of the fight we had and we had it all through the lineup. I'm happy for the players that they're going to experience the winners' bracket," coach Phil Martelli told the school's official Web site.

The Hawks' defense again keyed the team to victory.

Saint Joseph's held the Eagles to 35.6 percent shooting and have limited their first three opponents to 37.0 percent from the field.

The Hawks, who haven't opened a season with four consecutive victories since the 2003-04 team won its first 27, will face Purdue for the second time in school history.

Saint Joseph's won the previous meeting 85-74 on Dec. 30, 1971.

The winner of this game will face either No. 10 Tennessee or DePaul in the championship game Monday night.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Christmas wreaths from St. Joseph's Pro-Cathedral

The following is from my friend Kristin, who works with the children at St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral in Camden, NJ.

The wreaths are tremendous, and 44 gets two each year to decorate the mansion in Somerdale ;-) And yes... they do last a long time!

So go to the big retailers and spend a ton... or buy a wreath and help some nice Catholic kids in Camden. Not a tough choice. Call or e-mail Kristin and order a few today.



November 16, 2009

Dear Family, Friends, Teachers, Coworkers and Neighbors,

It’s that time of the year again! The wreaths have arrived, and the teens of the Saint Joseph Pro Cathedral Youth Ministry Program are working diligently to prepare them for all of you, our generous supporters.

The program continues to grow by leaps and bounds, and is extremely successful amidst a city with very few opportunities for youth. For those of you who aren’t as familiar, St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral is a multi-ethnic, urban parish located in Camden, NJ, one of the poorest cities in the United States. Founded in 1892, St. Joseph serves its community through a variety of spiritual, social, and educational offerings, including the youth ministry program. St. Joseph School, pre-school, youth program, and afterschool program combine to serve more than 500 children per year.

St. Joseph’s youth programs are open to all Camden residents, ages 12-19. The demographics of our youth are as diverse as the city, being 68% Hispanic, 17% Asian, 10% African American, and 5% Multi- Racial. 47% percent of our youth come from households where one or both parents are absent, and 95% qualify for the federal school lunch program.

The majority of our students come from families without a history of educational achievement: many of our children will be the first in their families to graduate from high school. The local public high school, where many of our teenagers attend, has a current graduation rate of 46%, yet 100% of our youth have graduated from high school over the past three years. Just this past spring, of our 15 involved seniors in high school, all 15 went on to a 2 or 4-year college. From Camden County Community College, to Rowan, Rutgers, Scranton and even a full scholarship to Saint Joseph’s University, all of our graduates are finding their freshman year challenging yet rewarding and exciting.

Although the program has a strong emphasis on education, the program is multifaceted and the youth are able to become involved in activities that most interest and excite them. Through spiritual, social/recreational, service and educational programs, the teens partake in leadership trainings, sports leagues, monthly college visits, SAT prep programs, volunteer opportunities at local shelters and soup kitchens, attend Phillies’ games, travel to the shore, experience camping in the wilderness, lead a discussion on a relevant teen topic, host a suburban high school group for a cultural experience within their home, learn to cook, participate in Boys’ nights where they can bond with male mentors, travel to other cities and states, and so much more. All of the aforementioned programs are possible solely due to the generosity of people like you. Please assist us in growing this ministry into what it has the potential to become.

If you, or anyone you know, are interested in purchasing a $20 Christmas wreath, or simply making a donation to our programs, please contact me via email, work or cell.

God Bless you and your families this holiday season,

Kristin Prinn, MSW
Director of Youth Programs - St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral
2907 Federal St. Camden, NJ 08105
(617) 780-8805


Christmas Wreath Sale
for the benefit of
St. Joe-Pro Cathedral Youth Programs

“St. Joe-Pro Cathedral Youth Group is conducting its 9th annual Christmas Wreath Sale.

  • The proceeds will benefit the St. Joe-Pro Cathedral Youth Programs activities.
  • The Christmas Wreaths are double faced; 22/24-inch pine wreaths and all come with pine cones and a decorative, hand-made 6-inch bow. These wreaths normally last for 3 months, well beyond the Christmas season.
  • These wreaths will be available approximately the first week of December.
  • The cost of these decorated wreaths is $20.00 each: same price as the last 2 years.
  • Christmas Wreath orders & delivery can be made Kristin Prinn @ (617)780-8805. Make checks payable to the St. Joseph Pro Cathedral.




# wreaths total:

Events on Hawk Hill

Record Numbers Attend Alumni Gala to Honor Maguire '58 and Support Student Scholarship


Nearly 600 friends and supporters, including a record number of alumni (260), celebrated Saint Joseph’s 28th Annual Alumni Gala on October 30 at the Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue. The SJU Alumni Association’s premier event — which raises funds for the Shield of Loyola scholarship fund — was highlighted by the presentation of the Shield of Loyola Award to James J. Maguire ’58. The award is bestowed annually upon a distinguished alumnus or alumna who has had remarkable success in his or her profession; whose life reflects the values of St. Ignatius Loyola, and who has demonstrated unparalleled loyalty to Saint Joseph’s University. This year’s attendance marked the event’s largest numbers since its inception in 1981.

The affair featured an array of noteworthy guests, including ten former Shield of Loyola recipients, University Trustees, major benefactors, and Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, who took a moment during the cocktail hour to be photographed with the Mr. Maguire and University President Timothy R. Lannon, S.J. for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Sean Sweeney (MBA) ’94, Executive Vice President of Philadelphia Insurance Companies, guided the evening as emcee. Speakers included 2007 Shield of Loyola recipient Mary Lou Finlayson Quinlan ’75, Alumni Association President Dennis Sheehan, Esq. ’85, Fr. Lannon, and President and CEO of Philadelphia Insurance Companies, James (Jamie) J. Maguire Jr. ’84. The Most Reverend Joseph P. McFadden, D.D., V.G. ’69, Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia provided the Invocation.

Fr. Lannon offered a University update, and remarked on Jim Maguire’s role as a leader in the Saint Joseph’s community. “Jim Maguire is an inspiring person and a leader…He credits Saint Joseph’s with transforming his life, and in turn, he and his wife, Frannie, have transformed Saint Joseph’s through their generosity, commitment, and support,” he remarked.

SJU Commemorates 20th Anniversary of Martyred Jesuits

PHILADELPHIA (Oct. 23, 2009) -- Rodolfo Cardenal, S.J., former provost of the University of Central America (UCA) in El Salvador, will present “The Message of the UCA Martyrs in Today’s Reality” at Saint Joseph’s University on Thursday, Oct. 29, at 11:30 a.m., to commemorate the murders of six Jesuit priests and their two colleagues at UCA in 1989.

The lecture, which is sponsored by the Office for Mission and Identity at SJU, will take place in the Banquet Hall of Campion Student Center located off of Cardinal Avenue near City Avenue. It is free and open to the public.

On Nov. 16, 1989, the Salvadoran army raided the Jesuit residence at UCA (Universidad Centroamericana, located in the capital, San Salvador) murdering the priests, their housekeeper and her daughter: an act of violence resulting from contention for social and economic power in El Salvador.

As professor of history and provost of UCA at the time of the slayings, Fr. Cardenal may have been murdered that night, had he not moved from the University’s campus shortly before the attack.

“Through his close association with his brother Jesuits – professors all – who were tireless voices for social justice in El Salvador, Fr. Cardenal will offer deep insight into their legacy, and how contemporary Jesuit universities can be agents of change,” said Daniel Joyce, S.J., assistant to the vice president for mission and identity at Saint Joseph’s.

Fr. Cardenal will share his personal reflections on the 1989 killings and how they are relevant today, remembering his friends and colleagues: Ignacio Ellacuria, S.J., Ignacio Martin-Baro, S.J., Segundo Montes, S. J., Amando Lopez, S.J., Juan Ramon Moreno, S.J., Joaquin Lopez y Lopez, S.J., Julia Elba Ramos and her daughter, Celina Mariset Ramos.

A member of a prominent Nicaraguan family, Fr. Cardenal is currently a professor of history at the University of Central America in his native Managua, Nicaragua.

Submit Your Intentions for the Mass for All Souls
Throughout the month of November, the Roman Catholic Church turns its attention toward remembering those who have gone before us in faith. In keeping with this tradition, Saint Joseph’s invites you to submit intentions for your deceased loved ones – parents, spouses, family members, alumni, professors, Jesuits and friends. Your loved ones will be prayed for during the Mass for the Solemnity of Christ the King on Sunday, November 22 at 11:00 a.m. in the Chapel of St. Joseph. All are welcome to join us at this service. Please submit the names of those whom you would like us to pray for to by Friday, November 20.

Ignatian Five Day Retreat
Saint Joseph's University's Office of Mission Programs is offering a five day Ignatian Retreat, January 11 – 15. The retreat will be held at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville, PA. For more information, contact Fr. Dan Joyce, S.J. at 610-660-3291 or

Summer Immersion Programs to Host Auction
You may remember the "Project Mexico Auction." We have grown! Now, over 70 students travel annually to Ecuador, Guatemala, New Mexico, and Mexico for a full immersion into the culture through our Summer Immersion Programs. The SIP Auction on December 2 raises funds to support these trips. For more information on these events, visit or e-mail

Alumni Service Trip to El Salvador
Members of Saint Joseph's University alumni are invited to participate in a service trip to San Salvadore, El Salvador from January 9 - January 16. The trip is being run through the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus' Project FIAT. During Project FIAT International, participants leave the comfort, efficiency, and competitiveness of their culture, to enter to some extent into the values, experiences, and limiting circumstances with which billions of the world's people live. Interested parties can contact Fr. Dan Joyce, S.J. at 610-660-3291 or more>

Catholic Intellectual Series
The Catholic Intellectual Series 2009-2010 will host its third discussion on Tuesday, February 2, entitled "U.S. Foreign Policy in Light of Catholic Social Teaching." Maryann Cusimano-Love, Ph.D. '86, from Catholic University of America's Department of Politics, will be speaking in the Wolfington Teletorium in Mandeville Hall at 7:30 pm. more>

Medical Alumni to Host Chapter Meeting
The SJU Medical Alumni Chapter will host its next chapter meeting on Saturday, December 5 in the Claver House Conference Room. Conference call capabilities are available. Among the topics will be the 2010 Chapter awards, Dinner with a Doc and the Spring Luncheon. Please RSVP to Megan Famular at 610-660-3294 or more>

Thursday, November 19, 2009

HHC gear...

Looking for that something special at Christmas for the Hawk in your family?

Look no further!

Ignatian Discernment

National Jesuit News: Former Jesuit, Congressman Cao Discusses Using Ignatian Discernment to Reach Health Care Vote Decision

A Vietnamese-born lawyer, the first Vietnamese-American to be elected to Congress, and a former Jesuit seminarian, Anh "Joseph" Cao is the current U.S. Representative from Louisiana's 2nd congressional district and was the lone Republican to vote for landmark health care reform on November 7, 2009.

Cao spoke with National Jesuit News about the process of discernment that he uses in reaching decisions as a U.S. congressman, how those decisions are grounded in his background in Ignatian spirituality and why he didn’t chose the party line in voting for health care reform.

Our Q&A with Congressman Cao is below:

National Jesuit News: As a Jesuit scholastic, you experienced the Spiritual Exercises, a foundational piece of Ignatian spirituality from Jesuit founder Ignatius Loyola. Now, as a congressman, do you find that you use the Ignatian principles of discernment as you reach your political decisions? Has a grounding in Ignatian spirituality helped shape your political decision making process?

Cao: I still use the Ignatian methods almost every day, from examination of conscience back to the methods of the 30 day retreat. I do that very often. Using the whole process of discernment to see where the Sprit is moving me has been extremely important, especially in my recent decision to support the health care reform plan. The Jesuit emphasis on social justice, the fact that we have to advocate for the poor, for the widow, for those who cannot help themselves, plays a very significant part. But at the end of the day, I believe that it’s up to, at least from my perspective, understanding what does my conscience say, how is the Spirit moving me. I use that almost every day in my decision making process. The issues that we contend with in Congress affect every single person here in the United States, so I want to make sure that my decisions are based on good principles and good morals.

For example, right before the [health care] vote, I actually went to Mass and I prayed. And the theme of the day was one of the readings from Isaiah. The priest gave the homily about be not afraid, so I really felt a personal touch during this homily, that this homily was meant for me. I was going through a lot of turmoil, debating on what was the right decision, knowing the fact that if I were to vote ‘yes’, I would be the most hated Republican in the country. [laughs]. So, it was a tough discernment process but I felt during the Mass that it was speaking directly to me. It gave me the strength to say ‘yes, you have to make the right decision’ and ‘be not afraid’ to do it because ‘I will go before you’ so that is why I supported the bill knowing the fact that I would be the only one.

National Jesuit News: As the lone Republican to vote in support of the health care bill, you showed what many would call courage and independence. Even getting elected in a predominately Democratic area shows your uniqueness. What gives you the strength to follow the path that you’ve decided for yourself?

Cao: The question, ultimately, is ‘what is God’s will for me in my life?’ I see everything in life as a gift. I’m not too attached to my position. I’m not too attached to being a U.S. congressman. I see myself as being there to serve God, to do what is God’s will in my life, and if things happen to change, the next year or two, then I’m pretty happy and pretty satisfied. That’s how I approach my life, one day at a time and make sure that each and every day, what I do is according to how God’s will is for me on that day.

National Jesuit News: The health care debate could at times be very divisive, especially around the matter of abortion. The Bishops lobbied heavily around the legislation when it came to abortion policies in regards to health care. What are your thoughts on how Catholics should approach the health care issue?

Cao: We need health care reform because the reform process is intended to help those who cannot help themselves. But also we have to make sure that some of our core moral values are not compromised and that was the drawing line for me. No matter what happens, strong anti-abortion language has to be included in the bill. I stated several months back that by supporting the bill, it would probably mean the end of my political career, but I just cannot support a bill that would go against my moral conscience. I would not support a bill that would support federal funding of abortion. During the negotiations, I made that specifically clear to the House leadership that we cannot support any reform bill that would provide federal funding for abortion.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hawk Hill Horns of Hattin for HC Crusaders...

This little known St. Joe's landmark will give a clue as to where 44 parked last night. Anyone, anyone...

Although I'm not allowed to post any of Greg's great pics any longer... don't cheat yourself. Click and checkout his pics from the Hagan home opener at Sideline Photos. 75 pages worth! Last night's game should be uploaded later today.

(44 note: great to have Dick Jerardi back ;-)

FOR A DECADE, Saint Joseph's basketball has been an unstated star system. The names are familiar - Marvin O'Connor, Jameer Nelson. Delonte West, Pat Carroll, Pat Calathes and Ahmad Nivins. It was a universe of players with a star or stars at its center.

When this season began, it surely looked as if there were no stars on this team. There were veteran players who had success, but no individual who was transcendent.

Late in the second game of a season that is less predictable than any Hawks season in memory, a player standing 5-11, weighing 155 pounds and playing in only his second college game chose to take center stage.

St. Joe's had led Holy Cross for 31 minutes. Then, as the game headed into the final 2 minutes, after the Crusaders had scored seven points in 75 seconds to get a tie, the Hagan Arena crowd was somewhere between edgy and confused.

Freshman guard Carl Jones showed no fear. He wanted the ball. He was not afraid to fail. And he didn't.

He got into the lane and dropped in an on-the move floater. When his man, Andrew Beinert, scored at the other end, Jones attacked again, was fouled and dropped in two free throws.

After two Crusaders misses sandwiched around a St. Joe's miss, Jones held the ball in the backcourt, waiting to get fouled.

He went to the foul line with 15.4 seconds left and calmly dropped in the two shots that would be the winning margin after Holy Cross scored in the final second.

St. Joe's (2-0) will not go unbeaten, after winning Opening Night in overtime against Drexel and last night, 69-67. But winning is winning.

"This kid's got a big ticker," St. Joe's coach Phil Martelli said. "The thing that guys at the end of games have to be willing to do is they have to be willing to miss a shot.

"Not just take a shot, they have to be willing to miss a shot. And he is willing to do that. That bodes well."

Jones, who came off the bench, finished with a game-high 18, including those six at the finish. If it looked as if he wanted the ball, it was because he wanted the ball.

"When [Devin Brown] hit the three in the corner to tie the game, there was a lot of emotions going through the whole team," Jones said.

So, Jones came with that floater.

"I've always been little, so I had to find different shots to get over the big men," Jones said.

And, yes, he did want to get fouled at the end.

"I always want the ball in my hand at the end of the game," he said. "If I'm going to lose the game, I want to lose the game. I want to be held accountable for it, even as a freshman."

The freshman from the Cleveland area has gained 10 pounds since he arrived on campus, all the way to 155.

"He's nuts, really," Martelli said. "He has a swagger that you would swear like Bernard Hopkins has just walked into the room."

Playing against senior point guard Garrett Williamson in practice really helped Jones get ready for college defenses.

"He's playing big for us," Williamson said. "I just try to push guys in practice, really get up in them."

Holy Cross (0-2) stayed in the... (click title to continue...)

So good to have as my guest last night former SJC president Fr. Terrence
Toland, SJ. Since we both like "breakfast, anytime" we went to
the IHOP pre-game. An octogenarian with unlimited energy -- he insisted
on jaywalking across City Line Avenue. For interested alums from that era
Father is stationed at Old St. Joe's, when not life-guarding at Chelsea during
the summer :-)

St. Joseph's edges Holy Cross, 69-67 Philadelphia Inquirer
By Ray Parrillo

Inquirer Staff Writer

Carl Jones peeled off his St. Joseph's jersey and revealed the upper torso of a middle-school student. A skinny middle-school student, at that.

"One hundred fifty-five, to be exact," the 5-foot-11 freshman guard said when asked his weight. "I was 146 when I got here, but I've gained almost 10 pounds. A lot of good food."

Jones proved last night that his skin and bones conceal a big heart as he scored 12 of his 18 points in the final 91/2 minutes to help St. Joseph's hold off well-drilled and determined Holy Cross, 69-67, at Hagan Arena.

When Hawks coach Phil Martelli pointed out Jones to some media members before a practice last week and spoke about his scoring prowess, the first thought that came to mind was, "You've got to be kidding."

"This kid's got a big ticker," Martelli said after St. Joe's (2-0) won even though Holy Cross (0-2) dominated the boards, outrebounding the Hawks by 50-33. "His defense was suspect, but we can work on that. He's a guy who can put the ball in the basket."

Asked whether Jones is as calm as he appeared to be at crunch time, Martelli said: "He's nuts, really. He has a swagger that you would swear Bernard Hopkins just walked into the room. But he's got all that stuff. He's got those little floaters. He's a better foul shooter than he's shown. I expect him to make every free throw."

Jones employed all that "stuff" to score more than 2,000 points at Garfield Heights High in Ohio, averaging 25.0 points as a senior and 24.4 as a junior. He was the Northern Ohio Player of the Year last season.

Jones admitted to a case of the jitters in Friday's season-opening win over Drexel, but he said he was accustomed to playing against older, bigger players... (click title to continue...)

Jack puts on his game face, when not stealing my popcorn.

John Pergolin, long time SJU administrator and Catholic League
standout coach for Cardinal Dougherty, poses with Merion Mercy
basketball star Brigid Klarich, with her dad Tim and Fr. Toland.

Jesuit détente?

Thanks... been wondering!

With Chang McLaughlin, Joe Cabrey, and the jaywalker.

Permissible to post...

Happy #3 Claire!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

6th Man's grandfather

Requiescat in Pace

Thomas E. Curtis

beloved husband of 63 years to Nancy, (nee Deeney). Loving father to Mary Gill, Thomas J., John P. Nancy Caramanico, Theresa Roney. Also survived by 15 grandchildren; Jennifer Angelucci, John and Theresa Gill, Lauryn McGeever, Joan Marie, Stephanie and Tommy Curtis, Kevin, Rileyann and Casey Curtis, Julie Anne, Danny and Michael Caramanico, and Mae and Aidan Roney, and 5 great grandchildren. Tom was predeceased by 1 brother and 4 sisters.


Thursday, 7:00 PM to 9:30 PM / Friday, 9:30 AM - St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, Springfield, PA

Mass of Christian Burial:

Friday, 11:00 AM, St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, Springfield, PA


Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, 3301 West Cheltenham Ave, Philadelphia, PA

Tom served in WWII for the US Navy in the South Pacific. For many years he was a member of Most Blessed Sacrament parish in Philadelphia and was involved in many charitable functions in support of the parish. He was a dedicated 55 year member of the Knights of Columbus, serving in many offices such as Grand Knight of San Domingo Council and Trinity Chapter President and was a devoted Pro-life supporter.

Contributions may be made to either:

(Fr. John Deeney, SJ’s -Saint Miki School Fund)
P.O. Box 64818
Baltimore, MD 21264


in memory of Sr. John Mary, IHM
Camilla Hall
Immaculata, PA 19345

Education's 5 Big Lies....

Education's 5 Big Lies

AFTER 30 years of teaching, and 20 of talk radio and participating in dozens of education forums, I've heard "theories" of education from all over the spectrum - from the innovative to the idiotic. I've concluded that there are five big lies about schools and education that are widespread and damaging.

The grandaddy of the big lies says our schools are woefully underfunded. If only other interests in society that get adequate funding could be stopped, our schools could get the resources to perform magnificently. This position is summarized by the famous bumper sticker, "It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber."

In practical terms, this lie comes down to if only each kid had a laptop, each school an Olympic-size swimming pool and each cafeteria a five-star menu, then students would all be headed off to Princeton.

The truth is, we're spending more than ever. Jay P. Greene lays this out in his book, "Education Myths: What Special-Interest Groups Want You to Believe about Our Schools and Why It Isn't So." After adjusting for inflation, spending per pupil has more than doubled over the last 30 years. But scores on the National Assessment of Education Progress ("the nation's report card") have remained flat.

The lie that schools are under-funded is used to stop the idea that many public schools are failing students and an effective remedy would be to give parents a voucher to use to enroll their child in the private school of their choice. The defenders of the public-school monopoly roll out the lie that allowing vouchers would further drain the resources of the public schools.

They also unleash a type of hostage argument that says if you let parents who care have vouchers to escape the worst schools, all you'll have left will be the worst kids and their uncaring parents. Instead of offering solutions and instead of reversing academic decline, the only response edu-crats seem to have is to paint vouchers as the boogey man.

This lie says that class size is paramount in determining a child's ability to learn.

The National Education Association, the teachers' union, has often floated the notion that 15 students in a class is the highest effective number and having 30 is an impossible situation.

The Rand Corp. did one of the biggest studies of class size, analyzing the effects of California's spending $1 billion in the late '90s to cut class size in elementary schools. They found no link between the smaller classes and improvement in test scores.

My first three big lies all involve schools and education interests demanding more money to get better results.

My fourth big lie is one that rejects more pay for teachers. It's the lie that says the education process is so different from every other business and profession that couldn't possibly have a pay system for teachers based on merit rather than seniority.

It says there's no objective way to measure the all-star teacher versus the "pick up the paycheck" one. When the notion of objective testing of students is mentioned to measure progress, and possibly pay, the silly notion is advanced that if you start out with the worst students, how can you compete? The answer is that the measurement is to see how far you've taken students from their starting point.

I've shared my deep frustration over this lie on my show with Anita Summers, professor emeritus at the Wharton School.

She has devised a detailed system that can measure all aspects of teaching. My message to teachers: You will never truly have the public's confidence as long as you stifle the best teachers and defend the worst.

The media is often fed the last lie: that U.S. kids have too much homework, and that it's destroying family time. The homework curtailers and abolitionists even have some legislators considering homework restriction.

The research says this is crazy.

According to the Brown Center on Education Policy, the majority of students in all grades spend less than an hour a day on homework and after-school study. The Third International Math and Science Study found that among the students in 20 nations canvassed, high school seniors in the U.S. were near the bottom in time spent on homework.

I hope this helps take apart some of the big lies that pollute education-reform possibilities. We'll further debunk these individual lies in future columns.

Teacher-turned-talk-show-host Dom Giordano is heard on WPHT/1210 AM.

Dom writes for the Philadelphia Daily News and hosts his own program on WPHT - Philadelphia.

Contact him at

Monday, November 16, 2009

Kevin O'Brien, SJ interview

Georgetown Alumni Online: Q&A Father Kevin O'Brien, SJ

Rev. Kevin O’Brien, S.J., joined the Campus Ministry staff at Georgetown University in August 2008 as its executive director. A graduate of Georgetown University (C’88), he joined the Society of Jesus in 1996. He was ordained as a priest in 2006. Father O’Brien spoke with Georgetown Alumni Online about the university’s interfaith tradition, how Georgetown holds to its Catholic, Jesuit identity in today’s world and more.

You spent several years as a lawyer before entering the priesthood. What made you decide to become a priest?

When I came to Georgetown, My zeal for service grew, and I thought I would serve in government, so I went to law school and began a law practice with the intention of giving back as a public servant or elected official. In my 20s, with God’s grace and the help of a lot of people, I came to understand my call to service differently. I was called to serve as a Jesuit priest. I left my practice and taught in a Catholic high school for three years before becoming a Jesuit. So the call to service remains, but how I’m going about it is different.

I’m very happy to be back at this place which has meant so much to me. Before coming here, I served as associate pastor at Holy Trinity Church, just a block away from campus. Many of the skills I learned in a parish – as a teacher, as a priest, as an administrator – translate to my work here. But this is also a very different type of work, because it is a university and that’s very exciting.

It’s been just over a year since you became executive director of Campus Ministry. What were some highlights for you in the last year?

The best thing about working here is the people: the students God sends our way; the staff and other ministers I work with within Campus Ministry and my colleagues elsewhere in the university. They are thoughtful, inspiring, talented people, and they make coming to work a real joy.

I’ve found the interfaith ministry here most invigorating. I’m a Catholic priest and came from a Catholic parish. But at Georgetown, in my role, I’m responsible not simply for the pastoral and spiritual care of Roman Catholics, but for Muslims, Jews, Protestants, Orthodox Christians, Buddhists and Hindus – for people of all faith traditions. So I’m learning to be a pastor in a different way than in other work I’ve done.

Thirdly, saying Mass at Dahlgren Chapel is immensely consoling. For a priest, saying Mass is the heart of our life. To say Mass at Dahlgren Chapel means so much to me because it was a sacred place for me as an undergraduate.

In what ways has the interfaith tradition at Georgetown become stronger since you were a student?

Our commitment is greater simply because we have more people serving in Campus Ministry on the main campus and at the Law Center and Medical Center. We have a larger staff because, thankfully, there is a demand for the spiritual care we offer. For example, we have a full-time imam. We did not have and did not need one in the 1980s when I was a student, but we do now, given our growing number of devout Muslim students. We have more Protestant and Catholic chaplains as well. That the main offices of Campus Ministry are in the first floor of the Healy building in the heart of the campus is a sign that faith continues to be integral to the university’s mission. We’re the largest Campus Ministry in the country because we are so dedicated to caring for students from all religious traditions in creative, committed ways.

How has being an alumnus helped or shaped your approach to your work?

As an alumnus, I know and love this university, and that helps me feel deeply invested in what I do here. It truly is a calling, a vocation, for me to be here, and it’s a privilege. Ironically, as a student, I went to Mass regularly, but I wasn’t actively involved in Campus Ministry. God has a sense of humor!

Now, on so many evenings, I walk out of my office and down the steps of Healy Hall, and I look upon the statue of John Carroll, and I have to marvel at how generous God is in giving me this privileged opportunity to come back to my alma mater. I have an innate desire to give back to people and places that have given me much. My family taught me that, my faith teaches me that, and Georgetown taught me that. So it’s a great opportunity to give back to this place that has been so good to me.

Are the questions of faith today’s students ask the same as those asked by students when you were attending classes?

Though the historical context changes, college students present similar questions: Is there a God? If there is, who is this God for me and what difference does faith make in my life? Where do I find lasting meaning in my life? How can I love and serve? How can I grow into the person God calls me to be? How can I find true, lasting happiness in my life? We do our best to help young people find answers to those questions by sharing with them the wisdom of our religious tradition and the depth of Ignatian or Jesuit spirituality.

You’re one of a number of Jesuits or chaplains in-residence at Georgetown. How do you think that arrangement benefits the students and the clergy?

There are 25 chaplains who live in the residence halls. Nine of them are Jesuit priests; the others are ministers and lay men and women of different faith traditions. I live in Copley, which was the residence hall where I spent two years as a student.

I think the students benefit from our living in the residence halls because we offer an experienced, adult presence particularly in times of personal need. We also provide a spiritual presence and offer programs for students to learn how to pray and learn about other religions. And we serve a lot of food, which engenders lots of good conversation!

Living with students helps me understand them better. So I’m a better minister, priest and teacher because I’m living with students. It’s life-giving, too, because so many of our students are so full of life, interesting, and funny, and they ask wonderful questions and have so much to say.

What are the most successful programs your office oversees?

We offer vibrant religious services in various faith traditions. We offer worship services that are appealing to young people – in terms of the preaching, sermons, the music, and the sacred spaces – and we have a talented, exceptionally gifted staff of people to prepare and preside over these services.

We also offer excellent retreat opportunities for students to leave campus and reflect on their lives and what they’re learning and experiencing at Georgetown. The ESCAPE retreat for first-year students and transfers is by far our most popular retreat because it engages those really important questions like ‘Who am I now and what do I stand for?” ESCAPE also helps new students find community here on campus. We have found that ESCAPE serves as a gateway into specifically religious retreats offered by the various chaplaincies. I am also excited about our growing program in Ignatian retreats, which are prayer experiences based on Jesuit ways of praying.

The third area of our ministry I would highlight is our religious formation or education programs. We offer a variety of programs that teach students about their own faith tradition and those of other students. We serve at a university, so everything we do here has to be about teaching and working with our colleagues in academic departments to help our students grow intellectually as well as spiritually. In Jesuit education, we like to say that we care for the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. So in all we do here, we strive to nourish the mind and the heart, the intellect and the spirit.

Are you developing any new programs in response to student demand?

Students want to learn more about discernment – making decisions from a perspective of faith. Basically, they want help addressing the question ‘What does God want me to do with my life?’ That is the question every student asks here, particularly as they move toward graduation. So we try to teach people both traditional and modern practices of discernment, particularly in the Ignatian tradition.

Often students deepen or renew their faith commitments by working for social justice and engaging in direct service with the poor. We are working to develop some faith-based national and international service projects where students work with the materially poor and then return to campus and integrate that work with their academic and spiritual life.

Has Georgetown had to make significant adaptations in order to better achieve its mission as a Catholic institution in today’s world?

A hallmark of Jesuit education and Ignatian spirituality is adaptation because God works with each person so differently and labors in all times and in every part of our lives and our world. The challenge is for us to find God in all things and all people, and then respond in a way that makes this world a more just and gentle place. A twentieth-century Polish Jesuit wrote that a Jesuit university lives “on the borderline where the Church meets the world and the world meets the Church.” This is a very exciting, but also very complicated place to be – but it is where we need to be as a Jesuit university and this is where the Church sends us. Thus, a Jesuit university is a place where there is an animated dialogue between faith and reason, religion and culture. At Georgetown in particular, we assist the Church in engaging in thoughtful, meaningful interreligious dialog, which in the 21st Century is ever more important.

What remains the same on the Hilltop across generations is our commitment to the integration of learning, faith, and service.

What goals do you have for your office in the years ahead?

We want to strengthen our relationships with different academic departments in order to contribute to the teaching mission of the university. We want to expand our faith-based service programs and retreats, particularly Ignatian retreats.

But before we create or expand a program, we ask a very “Jesuit” question. One of the principles of the founding of the Society of Jesus was to meet the needs of the Church and the world that were not being met. In the same way, we are asking today – what needs are not being met for today’s young people? And we want to listen very carefully to their responses so that we can help them grow into the people God calls them to be.