What do you get when you mix a dorm filled with undergraduate students and a Jesuit-in-residence? An opportunity for Ignatian spirituality. At Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Jesuits-in-residence serve as mentors to students. For instance, Jesuit Father David Collins, one of the university’s Jesuits who lives in a student dorm, holds open houses every week so that students can stop by to talk.
"It’s an unstructured way for students to come up and, in fact, raise issues that they want to talk about," Fr. Collins said. "The advantage of putting so much emphasis on an unstructured open house is that it allows themes to be set by students."
Fr. Collins, a history professor, said the experience of living in a residence hall allows faculty to interact with students they might never otherwise meet.
Jesuit Father Dan Madigan, from Australia, is in his first year as a Jesuit-in-residence on campus, and for him the experience offers a chance to broaden his understanding of American college life.
"I was very interested to meet resident assistants — that was an eye-opener, because I didn’t go to a school like this," Fr. Madigan said. "I went to undergrad in Australia, and we always go to state university as commuters, so we don’t have the sense of 24/7 residential contact."
Like Fr. Collins, Fr. Madigan likes that he can meet a more diverse group of undergraduates — and give students the opportunity to get to know a Jesuit.
"We make a lot of the fact that this is a Jesuit university, but many students never get to meet a Jesuit," Fr. Madigan said.
Jesuit Father Matthew Carnes is a chaplain-in-residence for the first time at Georgetown this year, but he has previously been a Jesuit-in-residence at Santa Clara University in California, and he has big plans.
"I’m going to lead a secret Jesuit tour," Fr. Carnes said. "Essentially, at nine at night we go with flashlights to different historical sites, get keys to see secret places around campus and finish up with ice cream at my apartment."
The Jesuits say that dorm life is no more chaotic than is typical for a college community.
"Other than when the Yankees won the World Series, I’ve never been kept up at night," Fr. Collins said. Read more about the Jesuits-in-residence at The Hoya website.