Giving Thanks and Giving Back
November 21, 2017
Dear Loyola Community,
Thanksgiving in America offers us a precious opportunity to pause, gather with friends and family, and reflect with gratitude on all that we have received. It is a special time in which attention is paid to God’s bounty and blessings, to sustenance and shelter, to our loving bonds and deep relationships, and to remembering those less fortunate.
It is a chance to step back and reflect, appreciatively, on the work we do. I hope that every day at Loyola is one where we can be grateful for our vibrant community: talented students of many backgrounds, dedicated faculty and staff, Jesuits who enrich our intellectual and spiritual lives, and the supporters, donors, and friends whose shared commitment to our mission enlivens our work.
We are grateful to be here, and to be here at this time in history. We give thanks for this vibrant learning environment that includes our global city, for our places of work and study, for the challenges that require our passion and attention. We are grateful for our colleagues and the ways they manifest the values and character of this institution: curiosity and collaboration, civil discourse among disparate views, and a steadfast dedication to insight, healing, and social justice along with faith. We are grateful for the space to reflect upon the greater good and to have opportunities to serve it, our neighbors, and each other.
Gratitude is the basis of Ignatian spirituality. The first step of the Daily Examen is giving thanks: What am I especially grateful for today? Then the Examen asks us to look outward. As we remember that for which we are grateful, we remember others, as in this Jesuit prayer:
O God, when I have food,
help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work,
help me to remember the jobless;
When I have a home,
help me to remember those who have no home at all;
When I am without pain,
help me to remember those who suffer,
help me to destroy my complacency;
bestir my compassion,
and be concerned enough to help;
By word and deed,
those who cry out for what we take for granted.
These values of empathy and compassionate action—of being “women and men for others”—resonate across the many faith and secular traditions in our diverse community. In the past year over 3,000 students from across all disciplines at Loyola participated in more than 102,000 hours of community-based service learning in neighborhoods across Chicagoland. This month, as part of Ignatian Heritage Month, our campuses collected thousands of food items that will be distributed to food pantries and families across the region.
At Loyola, gratitude is about giving thanks and giving back. As we move into the holiday season, we are excited to partner, once again, with Catholic Charities for our Loyola Gives program. Each year this program offers critical support to help hundreds of families in Chicago obtain winter clothing and other vital necessities. Information on the program, and how you can contribute, is available on the Loyola Gives webpage.
I am deeply grateful for all that you do day in and day out for Loyola University Chicago and for others, and I wish you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving.
Dr. Jo Ann Rooney