The Jesuit University: Are We Jesuit or Are We University?
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Lawrence RafulProfessor and former dean, Creighton U. School of LawHeartland IIIMay 23, 2000I guess I believe in miracles. Fifty-five years ago today, my mother was lying in a hospital bed in Volary, Czechoslovakia, fighting for her life. She had barely survived the Ravensbruch and Frieburg concentration camps, and my mom, jailed and tortured simply because of her faith, was one of about 100 people of the 1200 who started on the infamous Helmsbrecht death march. And now her son has been asked to stand here today to discuss with you that same faith. I am very proud to be here with you to represent the faith of my mother.Thank you so much for inviting me to speak today. I know people say that all the time, but I am very honored to speak to this wonderful group. My colleague Kate Mahern, who as usual was brilliant, talked about the Jesuit University and the external mission, while I am going to focus on the University and the internal mission. At the outset, I want to thank my good friends Joan Lanahan and Father Jack Zuercher of the Society of Jesus, for their inspiration and urging to seek greater insight.I am not exactly sure why Maureen Waldron asked me to speak, but I have an idea that it is because she once heard me tell a story during a lunchtime discussion about Mission. The story went something like this:A few years ago, while I was dean at Creighton Law School, we had a very energetic and compassionate student body president. During his term, he organized a number of service type events, including a monthly dinner at the local homeless shelter, located a few blocks from the Law School. The students would set a menu of spaghetti or stew or some other meal that serves many, and they would collect the food from volunteer faculty and students. They would organize groups to prepare the , to serve the meal, and to clean the kitchen afterwards.One day, I went over to see what was happening there. I was very proud of the kids, and I wanted to encourage them and thank them. They seemed to throw themselves into the spirit of the work, and the students had good camaraderie and fun. The next day, I happened to see two of the students standing in line ahead of me at our Law School cafeteria. Now during that year, the cashier at the Law School cafeteria was a pretty sad little lady. She wasn't very smart and did not have much dexterity on the cash register. She would get rattled easily, and sometimes the line would bog down when she had trouble. That was the case on this day, and the two fellows ahead of me in line spoke to her in a very rough manner, showing their annoyance and treating her disrespectfully. They stormed off with their food, before I had a chance to speak to them about their behavior. At that point, it occurred to me that they had not really made the connection between the service the night before and their behavior that day. No, let me rephrase that - neither their parents, their teachers, or I had pointed out to them the connection between their service the night before and their behavior on that day.