Mission and Identity for Trustees

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Spiritual Leadership: On Being a Contemplative in Action

Gary Robinette: Although outlined almost a half century ago, Ignatian spirituality is quite modern. In the midst of our full and fast-paced life, we are invited to pause and reflect on our day; to ask ourselves the questions:

• What am I thankful for today?
• When did I feel closest to God?
• What have I learned about myself today?
• How do I want to BE tomorrow?
• What do I look forward to in my day tomorrow?

This spiritual process of feeding our active life with contemplation and informing our contemplative life with activity -- is why the Jesuits find delight in being called 'contemplatives in action.' Theirs is a spirituality and a decision-making practice for busy people - for today's leaders.


Barbara Howard: In October of 2013, Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J., the Superior General of the Society of Jesus met with the board chairs of the 28 Jesuit universities in Chicago. I was fortunate to have been there. At the meeting, he asked all of us, as trustees and university leaders, to animate this modern Ignatian way of being and proceeding. Fr. Nicolás called on us to be heroic spiritual leaders.

He underscored the point that we can "only make good decisions for our universities when 4 prerequisites are present."

- The first is a community committed to shared values. By this, of course, he did not mean we should think alike. In fact, he recognized that this would be detrimental to effective decision-making. Rather, it is essential that we affirm the University's mission, vision and values.

- The second is freedom - which is fostered through Ignatian communal discernment; a process in which we express our ideas and trust that they will be heard.

- The third is generosity. Ignatius would invite us to "put our gifts and talents to the service of God."

- And the fourth necessity is selflessness. Fr. Nicolas described this as "a humble altruism that surrenders our own preferences to a greater good."

Gary Robinette: Jesuit theologian, Fr. Walter Burghardt SJ, describes Ignatian spirituality and contemplative prayer as "a long, loving look at the real." Thus, to be a spiritual leader of this Jesuit Catholic educational institution is to take a long loving look at the real of Xavier University - it's students and community we serve - with shared values, freedom, generosity, and selflessness.