College of Arts and Sciences



Most students have gone home, final exams are nearly complete, and many of us have left campus for the last time in 2020. A time of departures, it seems.

And yet today I find myself thinking of arrivals.

The arrival first of the new year itself, to banish 2020.

Consider too the vaccines, whose arrival promise the beginning of this dread pandemic’s end.

Then our newly elected government leaders and representatives, who—for some—cannot take up their offices too soon.

The weeks ahead may also occasion your own long-anticipated arrival at the home of loved ones—appropriately masked and quarantined, of course. They will for me.

So too we watch expectantly for the arrival of Xavier’s next president, to be announced after months of careful discernment by our colleagues and trustees. I look forward to welcoming them, and to our shared future.  

Today, on the feast day of St. Francis Xavier (d. 1552), I am also imagining the many arrivals that characterized the life of the Basque Jesuit who spent many years so far from home.

Take, for example, his arrival at Goa. I wonder: encumbered by the baggage of his time and culture, how did Xavier appear to the island’s indigenous people? As a hapless, perhaps unwelcome interloper, painfully ignorant of local customs? Or also—even simultaneously—as a harbinger of a culture of encounter?

And finally, some of us celebrate this week the start of Advent, and that great Arrival from which the season takes its name. O come, o come, Emmanuel.

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