As a community, Loyola gathered on August 19, 2016 to welcome our newest members. The Class of 2020 took their seats and the stage party processed down the aisle of Holy Name of Jesus Church; it was both an exhilarating and profound moment. Every year, faculty, staff and University leaders meet in that inspiring space, along with first year students, to greet and challenge one another to live out our Jesuit mission. This year, I chose to write my own prayer for First Year Convocation and this is what I shared:
Let us pause for a moment and ask God’s blessing for those affected by the devastating flood waters just 45 miles away from us.
Let us also pray for the victims and their families who suffered the horrific tragedies that took place in Orlando, Nice, Baton Rouge, and Syria.
God of New Beginnings, we gather in this place to start anew—we gather as a community committed to the Jesuit ideal of being the people of God, with and for others.
Help open our eyes in new ways to see what that ideal means at Loyola.
God, give us the courage to Step Up when we see someone in trouble;
Give us the courage to Step In when we have the power to protect and give assistance.
Lord, remind us: Reaching out isn’t weak. It’s strong.
God of New Beginnings, lift up Loyola. Amen.
In this space, I want to reiterate to all who call Loyola their “home away from home,” that when in need, reach out to a friend, colleague, or family member. The word “home” doesn’t always mean the place that you grew up. As the daughter of an Army Colonel, my family moved almost every three years. Home wasn’t necessarily a house, it became the places that I felt safe and secure to share my deepest thoughts, fears and successes. Sometimes “home” was my neighbor’s kitchen table, sometimes it was with my sorority sister in a coffee house, sometimes it was at my college lifeguarding job at Florida State University. The pool was “home” to me, and the folks that worked there took time to listen to a young girl’s dreams.
No one is immune from needing; I thank God for so many that have given me so much, including their time and their prayers.
Here is a reminder of where hope and help can be found when the stresses of life seem hard to handle: