Dean Brackley: LMU Mission Day 2005

The Jesuit University in a Broken World

January 25, 2005

Dean Brackley, S.J.
Universidad Centroamericana José Simeón Cañas
San Salvador


Like many of our contemporaries, we who work and study at universities like this one are concerned about our mission and the quality of our service. What does excellence and what do Jesuit and Catholic identity mean today? Ignatius of Loyola says that our mission is to "help souls," that is, help others progress in life's journey, and advance God's work in the world. At a university we do that in a particular way. We are now trying to do it in times of dramatic, even scary, change. War, violence, poverty and environmental destruction are spreading. In the South Brong during the 1080s, I watched neighborhoods, families and egos crumble. Now, as I walk the streets of San Salvador and talk to people from other countries, it feels like the South Bronx has globalized. Many are apprehensive about the future. September 11, 2001 marked the globalization of insecurity and an alarming drift by the U.S. government into lawlessness.

If I were in college today, I would be tempted to put my head down and work on a personal survival kit -- a secure job with plenty of income -- to shelter me in the storms of the 21st century. It is doubtful that this strategy will make anyone really secure, though, to say nothing of more human. We are meant for more. We know education has to be more. We also know it is more than filling heads. In a Christian university, especially, we want to help our students prepare themselves to transform an unjust world, not function comfortably within it...