Welcome back to another academic year! I hope and pray that the summer was a good one and that you had the chance to rest and relax a bit. Having recently passed the half-century mark in life, I feel almost dizzy with the quick passage of time.
For the past two weeks, folks in Facilities Operations have been working very hard to get the campus ready for a new year. I am so grateful to Carl Petchik and all his staff for a wonderful job. The place looks better than ever!
Employees in our academic offices as well as the Division of Student Life and Campus Ministry have been busy training their student staffs to guide and lead their peers on campus. I am grateful to all who have been involved in the process of gearing up.
As we welcome new and returning employees — administrators, faculty and staff — as well as new and returning students, it is my fervent hope and prayer that the year ahead will be a good one, a prosperous and successful one for all the members of the university community — a year characterized by hard work but also by renewed civility and respect for one another. We are, after all, a university community rooted in the Christian message, which is one of charity.
There is a quote often attributed to Blessed Pope John XXIII that actually has its origin in the writings of St. Vincent de Paul: “Proceed quietly, pray a great deal and act together.” To me, this exhortation captures some of the ways that “charity” works within an organization or community. Of course, each phrase can be dissected and interpreted many different ways — per modem recipientis as St. Thomas wrote — but I believe that the core meaning has value for all of us as a community.
To “proceed quietly” does not mean that our thoughts and voices are not expressed to or heard by others but, rather, that they are not needlessly disruptive or hurtful. When I was a dean years ago I used to say to people, “remember: there is a human being on the other end of that phone call, that memo, that e-mail, that comment.” Civility is such an underrated virtue, especially in the academic world.
To “pray a great deal” is simply an admission of reliance on someone far greater than any one or all of us together and that person is our loving God. God should never be absent from our minds or hearts at a Catholic university, regardless of our job or discipline … or even far from them, for that matter.
To “act together,” or with a sense of the “common good,” means that we may have to sacrifice something, perhaps even something important to us individually, for the sake of the community. Never easy, to be sure!
With all that we do here at CUA, with all that we need to do, I am hoping that 2005-06 will be a “year of renewed civility” within our community and that we all can, indeed, “proceed quietly, pray a great deal and act together.”
The CUA Web site (indexed to include the academic and university calendar) and the electronic publications This Week @ CUA (weekly) and Inside CUA (monthly during the academic year) will continue to be the university’s official sources for important information impacting the university community. Please consult them or contribute to them as indicated in those publications. The CUA Web site also includes an indexed reference to university policies and procedures.
On Sept. 1, 2005, the opening Mass of the new academic year will be celebrated in the Crypt Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at 12:10 p.m. Classes are cancelled for everyone during that Mass. Cardinal McCarrick will preside and I will give the homily. Dr. Convey, provost, will forward specific information about attendance and class cancellation.
At 3:30 p.m. that same afternoon, Dr. Convey will introduce new faculty at a special convocation. Although I will not be present for that event, I want to express a special word of welcome to our newest faculty members and to the new dean of the Columbus School of Law, Veryl Miles, and to the new dean of the School of Theology and Religious Studies, Monsignor Kevin Irwin.
To the newly appointed members of the administrative and professional staffs of the university, I likewise extend greetings and gratitude for your generous acceptance of our invitation to serve at CUA.
All indications are that the year ahead will be a great one for us! Let’s work hard and enjoy being together at CUA!
With my prayerful, best wishes, I am
Father O’Connell, President