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Feast of St. Ignatius Loyola

The following message was sent to the Georgetown Prep community from Rev. James R. Van Dyke, S.J., on the Feast of St. Ignatius Loyola, the Founder of the Society of Jesus.

Dear Members of the Georgetown Prep Community:

We celebrate today the Feast of St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus. While this feast is obviously significant to Jesuits the world over, it is also special to all of us here at Georgetown Prep. Ignatius' call, which he experienced in his conversion in the 1520s and wrote about in the Spiritual Exercises, was "to know God more clearly, that I might love Him more and follow Him more closely." When he began his journey from being a soldier of the emperor to becoming a soldier for Christ, he had no idea that one day a vast, world-wide network of schools would take inspiration from his life and spirituality. Today, these include 380 secondary schools (some 60 of which are in the United States), 190 colleges and universities (28 of which are in the U.S.), 14 Nativity Schools, and over 1,000 Fe y Alegria schools, all of which are committed to serving the needs of God's people for the "greater glory of His name."

In this vast network, Prep holds a unique place, not only as the first Jesuit school in the U.S. and as the nation's only Jesuit boarding school. For it was established along side our nation, and is at the very foundation of Catholic and Christian culture here. Our founder, Archbishop John Carroll, wrote of this singular place, "On this Academy is built all my hope for the permanent success of our holy religion in the United States." As a community where values and good faith continue to hold a place of high honor in a world that often forgets them, Prep students and alumni shine not only in their intellectual and athletic accomplishments, in college placements and success beyond, but even more importantly in a resolute commitment to reflection and service as "men for others" ad maiorem Dei gloriam.

Furthermore, Prep is unique among Jesuit secondary schools as a truly and committedly international apostolate of the Society of Jesus, with alumni and current students representing all the six habitable continents. Here it is our intent to welcome the world in our residential students and their families, and to receive the gifts they bring by way of culture and outlook, knowing that we all benefit from a diversity which is not for the sake of cultural fashion but because we have, with Ignatius, a deep understanding that in God's love for each person and for all humanity we find our truest selves. We come to know God's will for us not in isolation or in our little circle, but as Ignatius did, seeing the vast expanse of creation and the human race and noting how God labors in each creature and in each person and in each moment, drawing us always closer to His love for us.

So we, too, with Ignatius are called as individuals and as a community "to know God more clearly, that we might love Him more and follow Him more closely." This is the gift of Ignatius to us, and of God to us through Ignatius. It is a wonderful thing to know that God loves us so much that He calls us and gives us through the calling a purpose in our world. It is a gift for which we can be grateful.

As I complete my first month as president of this wonderful school, please know that I am particularly grateful for the gift that so many of our community have already been for me. I know that I am joined by Fr. Sauter and all the Jesuits in thanking you all—students and alumni, faculty and staff, families and friends—for the many ways you bring St. Ignatius' vision and Archbishop Carroll's dream to fulfillment, both here at Prep and in the wider world.

With great gratitude and many prayers,

Rev. James R. Van Dyke, S.J.