06/06/2018

Teaching at a Jesuit University: The Ripple Effect

A stone tossed into a pond creates a splash at the site of entry and consequential ripples of water moving away from the splash at a distance relative to the stone’s intensity of impact.

When God touches our open hearts with a calling, the impact of his mercy and grace causes a ripple effect in our lives as well as the others in the pond.  Some Christians recall the precise moment or “splash” when they accepted God as their Lord and Savior. Other Christians experience “God moments” of miracles, awe, love and wonder.  Still others experience moments of being tossed into a pond to “sink or swim” and see God’s perfect plan for them to live a life with and for others only after thoughtful reflection on the resulting ripples.

Arriving at Loyola University New Orleans

In 2003, God gently tossed me into the Loyola University New Orleans pond, as a visiting faculty member from the University of Wisconsin.  Called to a journey of discernment (a.k.a., midlife crisis), I moved my heart, mind and body through the door God had opened for me.

Soon I discovered:

1) the label of Protestant,

2) not all Catholics walked the same walk in the same way,

3) Jesuit spiritually offers me a journey of personal potential engaging my whole person.

After two years as a visiting professor, I accepted a full time faculty position in spring of 2005, leading to a “God moment” in being part of Loyola’s and the Gulf Coast’s rebirth from the waters of Katrina.  In 2010, Loyola offered Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises for lay people and tossed a stone into my pond with a big splash with ripples of a richer and more complex relationship with God and an overt and more heart-felt relationship with Jesus. Fr. Jim Caime, S.J. challenged me to talk with God in new ways, and I experienced new depths of both joy and pain.

Opened to experience God in all things, Fr. Ted Dziak, S.J. led me to a faculty and staff  enculturation trip to Belize that set my spirit on fire as I experienced a beauty in a very different world on another side of the Gulf of Mexico.  

After the blessing with a sabbatical, “splash”, my Dean tossed me into teaching “Business Ethics” without the flotation device of philosophical training.  From that point on, I saw in every management course I taught a greater appreciation of all things great and small with respect to a College of Business in a Jesuit University.  Loyola provides a business education based on 200+ year old values of service, justice, community, love, and sustainability of all God’s creations with and for others.

The Ripple Effect

With my faculty colleagues in New Orleans, I completed Loyola’s Ignatian Faculty Fellows program that allows fellowship in understating and growing in Ignatian knowledge and spirituality in the context of the University.  Together our ripples reach further distances and more others, particularly our students.

Last summer I travelled with Loyola alumni and friends through Spain on an Ignatius’ pilgrimage from his birth in Castile, through his spiritual conversion in Loyola’s castle, and to his suffering and awaking in the Montserrat monastery and Manresa cave.  In the room of conversion God’s spirit filled my companions with such compassion, I felt a tidal wave of gratitude.

Today I stand on the edge of the Ignatian Colleagues Program, a national platform to educate college faculty and administrators in Jesuit and Catholic traditions.  I plan to jump-in and follow the ripples on God’s great journey for me on earth, inspired by the Ignatian Spirituality at Loyola University New Orleans.

In the spirit of Ignatius Loyola, whether you dip your toe in the water or jump-in cannon-ball style, the ripples you create share your gifts, your purpose, your calling . . with and for others.

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Dr. Kendra Reed is the Barry and Teresa LeBlanc Professor in Business Ethics and Associate Professor of Management in Loyola’s College of Business.  She has travelled to Belize, Central America five times with students and faculty/staff through Mission & Ministry’s Jesuit Global Initiatives.

 

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