New Student Orientation (NSO) 2020 was unprecedented. The COVID-19 pandemic meant that the annual Georgetown tradition, including the marquee event, the Jesuit Values Panel would be held online this year.
But, what makes Georgetown, Georgetown when we cannot be physically together? What makes the Hilltop what it is?
Campus Ministry staff writer, Jordan Brown (C’21) watched the Jesuit Values Panel this year and discovered the answer lies in the foundational tenets of our University, our Jesuit values, the Spirit of Georgetown. Watch the entire panel or read Jordan’s summary below.
The NSO Jesuit Values Panel is an interreligious dialogue lead by Campus Ministry chaplains. The intent of the panel is to introduce the incoming class to Georgetown’s Jesuit values and invite them to engage the values through their own identities, traditions, and experiences.
This year’s panel was moderated by Rimpal Bajwa (SFS ‘22), who spoke about the values as a basis for activism, closing with words by the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia), “You have a moral obligation, a mission, and a mandate to get out there and leave this little piece leave this little planet a little greener, a little cleaner, and a little more peaceful for generations yet unborn.”
Following Rimpal’s introduction, a chaplain from each of Campus Ministry’s six chaplaincies — Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Dharmic (Buddhist, Jain, Sikh, Hindu) —spoke about one of the 10 Jesuit values and its connection to their faith and what it means to care for others and our common home.
Fr. Gregory Schenden, S.J., Director for Campus Ministry, kicked off the panel with Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam, or “For the Greater Glory of God.” He highlighted that this value does not say “the greatest,” but “the greater” and asked students to think about this difference and to recognize that this value is not asking for perfection for the greater glory of God, but for our best effort.
Rev. Ebony Grisom, the Interim Director for Protestant Ministry. Rev. Grisom spoke about Contemplation in Action and the careful reflection and discernment about where God is calling all of us to act. She said that “contemplation sustains our action for the greater glory of God,” and that careful thought moves us forward in creating a more just world.
Rabbi Rachel Gartner, Director for Jewish Life, discussed People for Others adding that for her, this value means people for and with others. “We must work tirelessly for social healing not reliant on social homogeneity; that’s what it means to be a person for and with others,” said Rabbi. She included a quote from Rabbi Hillel, which says: “If I am not for myself, who will stand for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I?”
Imam Yahya Hendi, Director for Muslim Life, weighed in on Interreligious Understanding. He reassured students that differing beliefs are not inherently contentious, but rather that “the clash of ideas is the sound of freedom” and that our challenge is to find ways to coexist with our differences.
V. Rev. David Pratt, Director for Orthodox Christian Life, spoke about Community in Diversity and said that his mission as a chaplain is to “convert you towards compassion,” and that compassion is essential to having a great experience on the Hilltop.
Brahmachari Sharan, Director for Dharmic Life and Hindu Spiritual Advisor, discussed our newest Jesuit value: Care for Our Common Home. He said it is a timely and important value because it concerns protecting our environment for generations to come. “We must care compassionately for our [common] home, in our every action: this is true Karma Yoga or the path to Oneness through Mindful Action – because, if not us, dear Hoyas, who else will?”
Ultimately, Georgetown is a community that embraces diversity and enables learning. As Fr. Pratt said, “Over the next four years, you will learn a lot, but you will also grow a lot.” This is the spirit of Georgetown: growing your knowledge of the world around you, not only through textbooks and classes but also through interactions with your Hilltop community.
Campus Ministry’s chaplains and staff are here for all students, no matter your religious identity. You can find out more about them and all the Campus Ministry has to offer on the Campus Ministry website.
Jordan Brown is a senior at Georgetown studying Justice and Peace Studies, Disability + African American Studies, and a staff writer for Campus Ministry.