Remembering Fr. Rick Curry, S.J.


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It was a typical Sunday evening in Dahlgren Chapel, the Chapel Choir was busy rehearsing for the 9:30pm Mass, and student coordinators were preparing for the liturgy. As I was directing the rehearsal of the anthem, I glanced to my left and saw Fr. Rick Curry, S.J. sitting in the front row of the side transept, vested and ready to go. Surprised at how early he was ready, I immediately thought he must need something…maybe there was a problem or question…he must want to talk to me. But no, Fr. Curry was fine and there were no questions. He just wanted to listen. He smiled and listened to the choir sing, loving the harmony of the student’s voices.

When Fr. Curry died in late December, his death was followed by a flood of tributes extolling the many accomplishments of an amazing Jesuit Brother and Priest who overcame many obstacles and achieved much. From the Funeral Mass, to the University Memorial, to the articles in the Washington Post and New York Times, Fr. Curry was remembered as a man for others, as one who constantly worked to build up the lives of others.

And yet, in the midst of recalling his tremendous work, we also remember Fr. Curry as a pastor and friend. Those who attended the 9:30pm Mass will remember his call to serve others with the admonition to “wash each other’s feet”. The Chapel Choir students will remember him as their “No. 1 Fan”. I will remember a friend, whose encouragement and support helped me grow in my understanding of who I am as a minister to our students.

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At Georgetown University we focus on how we live out our Jesuit values, from being women and men for others to being contemplatives in action. To me, Rick Curry lived out those values every day, but I will most remember him for his love – his love for the students, his love for the veterans and people in need, his love for those with whom he worked, and yes, his love for me. I remember sitting next to him at a faculty meeting when Rick had just returned to work following one of his health scares. I asked him if he would be teaching the next semester, and he said yes, that he could not imagine not being with his students. That is how I will remember Rick Curry.

As the Spring semester has gone on these past weeks, I still look over to my left from time to time, and I still expect to see Rick sitting there, vested in priestly garb, smiling at the beauty of the students voices. Sometimes it makes me sad, but mostly it makes me remember. And so after glancing to the side, I look back at the students in front of me, and try to show them the same love that Fr. Curry showed me.

Written by Dr. Jim Wickman, Director of Liturgy, Music, and Catholic Life at Georgetown University.

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When Things Come Up: Part of the “As This Jesuit Sees It” Series

Written by Rev. Matthew Carnes S.J., an associate professor of Government and Director of the Center for Latin American Studies. This article originally appeared on March 14th, 201, in the Hoya and can be found online here. “As This Jesuit Sees It” appears every other Tuesday in the Hoya.

Many of us have received that phone call, or that text or email: the one that comes unexpectedly and bears news that we did not want to hear.

The illness, or even the death, of a loved one. The loss of a job by a parent or sibling, or concerns about how shifting government policies will affect them. The end of a relationship in which we had invested our hearts.

The news goes straight to our core, and it leaves us feeling a combination of emptiness, confusion and sadness.

In recent years, I have received that call on more than one occasion. One time it was about a family member’s diagnosis. Another time, just in the last couple of weeks, it was from a former student and dear friend whose mother had just passed away.

Each time, it comes as a surprise, but is not, to be honest, unique. These things actually happen in the background of our lives all the time, and are happening to people around us every day. But often in our driven culture at a place like Georgetown, we overlook them — or try to — as we race on to our next test or class, and we hesitate to give them the space and respect they need.

I am not sure where we get the idea, but we often think that these things, when they come up, need to be kept secret, or they need to be suppressed so that we can stay focused on “important” things like classes and grades. We can see them as an intrusion on our professional and academic activities, and we create an artificial separation between “life” and our work. We often feel alone in facing them. We avoid telling professors, coaches, deans or even roommates, out of some kind of fear that they will think that we are weak or asking for special treatment.

Over my years as a Jesuit and a priest, I have slowly started to realize how sacred the moments are when “things come up.” They are raw times, times when we are vulnerable, but also times when we are most open to being touched at the center of who we are.

They are times we must be present and pay attention to the feelings that we find moving through us: sadness, memory, concern, loss, and surprisingly, even hope and gratitude. In these moments, it is important to recognize that feeling distracted is an integral part of the process, for it shows us just how meaningful our experience is.

It is appropriate, and even necessary, to lose some time in our emotions, lingering with our own sense of incompleteness. In those distractions, we may just find ourselves silently held and cared for by the love of God and the community.

Indeed, these moments are times when we do well to let others in, to share at least with a few friends and trusted people what we are going through. Their support and gentle care can sustain and support us. We do not ever need to be alone when things come up, especially on this campus, even if holing up alone is our first instinct.

In taking the risk to open up, we find an opportunity to be connected with others, and to find life and hope and encouragement in them. We often discover, much to our surprise, that they, too, are facing similar issues and challenges.

And what is true of losses, is also true of so many other things that “come up” in our lives: a sick roommate we had to take to the hospital, a bout of emotions and depression that make us feel paralyzed, an attachment or addiction that has a hold on us, the hurt we have suffered in a relationship or conversation. This is real life, and the time spent addressing it is anything but wasted.

For the true task of our time here at Georgetown is not the grades we achieve or the resumes we compile, but the human beings we become. That becoming happens often when “things come up,” unbidden and unchosen, and when we find ourselves at a loss for words or direction. We lean on one another, and we lean on our God, and together we are lifted up and strengthened. Cura personalis is not just something we extend to others; it is something we often need to receive ourselves.

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Finding Nachas at the Jewish Life Retreat

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Something we love talking about here at Georgetown is “cura personalis,” or care of the whole person. What exactly does this mean? For some, it refers to self-care: taking time to see friends, eating a well-balanced meal, writing in a journal. For others, it is caring about friends, family, colleagues in the emotional, physical, and spiritual realms. For me, cura personalis has taken on new meaning in my sophomore year. Freshman year, I did not embody cura personalis; I simply spent a lot of time obsessed with my grades and working alone towards that elusive 4.0. Now, my cura personalis is all about balance, working to fulfill myself emotionally and spiritually both alone and through interaction with friends, family, and staff.

One place I see cura personalis nurtured is on retreat. Georgetown’s retreat program is thriving, and I am grateful to be a part of it both as an ESCAPE leader and as a participant on our semi-annual Jewish retreat. There is something magical about being at the beautiful Calcagnini Contemplative Center (hats off to the architect, because it is photogenic as heck) surrounded on the outside by silence and stars and on the inside by a roaring fire and good conversation, that keeps people coming back.

We must be doing a good job because this spring because we had our biggest Jewish retreat yet; we had to add more spots because 40+ people wanted to go. This was proof that Jewish Life here is thriving.  As a GUish intern whose main goals are student engagement and community building, seeing a bus bursting at the seams filled me with nachas — a Yiddish word meaning pride or gratification.

However, a more cynical part of me wondered: Would such a large retreat change the dynamic? Bigger could mean more cliquish — definitely not the vibe we hope to give off. And so I waited.

If I take anything from that overnight, it is the memory of around 30 of us sitting in a giant circle in the McKenna dining room, slamming on tables and singing at the top of our lungs all of the Jewish songs we know. Shaked and Ronit were sitting next to each other discussing what to sing next, Ari joined in every time because he knows the entire repertoire, Rabbi tried to delegate different vocal parts to actual good singers, and the rest of us sat clapping away and singing when we could. The circle continued to grow as more and more people came in: an impromptu sing-a-long. The sea of smiles conjured up an oddly familiar feeling — oh right, nachas.

Sometimes, the great things are not planned and obsessed over. They happen naturally, organically.  It is up to us to seize these moments, to see them as cura personalis, and to realize how lucky we are to have the chance to stretch both our minds and our hearts everywhere we turn.

Written by Janine Karo, C’19.

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Manresa: A Time of Recharge, Reflection and Retreat

“In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.”

I can’t help but feel a rush of joy when my dark, lifeless phone suddenly comes to life while charging. I stare at it impatiently hoping that in any second it while finally lighten up.

Michelle, our retreat director on the new Manresa Junior Retreat, noted that we can be a lot like our phones that need to be re-charged. We can often let ourselves reach the point of zero energy, filling up our schedules with internships and clubs and studying for exams until the wee hours of the morning, all while trying to maintain an enjoyable and social college experience.  We sometimes rarely allow ourselves time for the necessary reboot- a time of silence and stillness in order to lighten up again.

I found myself falling into this busy-ness culture at Georgetown.  I looked around and saw all of my friends thriving. They too worked hard at all hours, yet they also seemed to maintain a social life, exercise, and explore DC. I, on the other hand, couldn’t afford to go a whole day without opening my school bag because I felt guilty for not working exceptionally hard. This hard-working lifestyle with little breaks seemed both sustainable and productive. I felt I was moving forward towards progress. Yet, I couldn’t have been more wrong. How could I ever think that I was different than a phone in serious need of a recharge? My napping sprees and lazy Sunday mornings, while nice reminders of relaxation, served more like an extra shot of espresso rather than a true chance to recharge.

The Manresa Junior Retreat could not have come at a better time. After a tough week of midterms, where I let myself get dangerously close to 0%, the time came to power off and be silent. I quite literally turned off my own phone, and gave us both some time to recharge.

The retreat experience was one I knew I needed but didn’t realize how much. Yes, it was exactly the recharging experience one might expect. I was quiet, rested and still. Yet, the real recharge didn’t come from the fact that for once I wasn’t moving 13974 miles per hour.

Instead, to my surprise and delight, my approach to life was rejuvenated. Resting, in the physical sense, is fairly easy, but allowing my mind to rest and reflect on my lifestyle was not as easy.  Allowing myself to be on retreat granted me the opportunity to sit back and reexamine my life.  Am I doing what I love? Am I happy?  What happened to me on retreat was a much deeper level of recharging that allowed me to move forward productively with my life and studies.

During Manresa, I reexamined my perspectives, goals and relationship with God. I realized there was a difference between having a great work ethic and being a workaholic. I enjoy learning new things and challenging myself, but I also enjoy being stress-free and happy. My time on retreat helped get me off the conveyor belt that Georgetown can sometimes be and back in touch with my authentic self.

I now plan to continue this Manresa mindset and live out my next year and a half on the hilltop with a new recharged and reshaped outlook. I want to make my Georgetown experience as great and memorable as it can be, and that would not have been possible without this retreat. I now can truly say that I am better able to understand my world after stepping away from it briefly.

Written by Anna Hallahan, C’18.

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Ash Wednesday: A Reminder of Beauty and Tension

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Repent, and believe in the Gospel. The words burrow their way into my mind as Fr. Greg Schenden, S.J. imposes ash across my forehead. It feels auspicious sitting alongside my Protestant and Catholic colleagues at our first ecumenical Ash Wednesday service here at Georgetown University, and I am struck by the significance that we are observing this particular service together.

Ash Wednesday is complicated. It is a service in which we literally smear ashes across our foreheads, remembering who we are and to whom we belong. The ashes act as a reminder that we are sinners, all with limits and limitations, and yet we proclaim the Gospel in the same breath. Inherent in our practice is the tension between sinner and saved, a reminder that our hold on life is frightfully thin, and that despite our claims to faith and obedience, we continue to fall short of the faith we claim. We treat people as things, and things as though they are more valuable than people.

And yet, even as we are all sinners together, we are also participants in the Gospel of Christ Jesus together. I found the beauty and tension in this truth especially highlighted by the ecumenical nature of the service unfolding around me. We do not share a common table, but we do share the positions of both sinner and saved. Along with Dr. Jim Wickman’s invitation to examine our interior selves, so too in this holy season we are reminded that all are created in the image of Christ, and invited to participate in God’s design for the world. Even as sin clings as closely as the smudge of ash on our foreheads, we embrace the mercy that surrounds us and draws us into service with one another and to Jesus Christ. Remember. Repent.

Written by Rev. Olivia Lane, Protestant Chaplain and Chaplain-in-Residence at Pedro Arrupe, S.J. Hall

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