Dear Members of the Georgetown Prep Community,
This morning we rejoice at the start of a new academic year, the 230th since Archbishop John Carroll opened the doors of his Academy. Watching our young men walk across our Quad this morning (a few of them were skittering to make it before the bell), I am reminded how blessed and honored I am to be entrusted with the care of this, our nation's oldest Catholic and only Jesuit boarding school. I am also reminded what a wonderful work we endeavor here: forming young men to be men of competence, conscience, compassion, and courage; men of faith and men for others. Our shared mission is renewed with the start of this new school year.
On a personal note, I would like thank all who attended last evening's Installation Mass and Reception. I would especially like to extend my gratitude to the Very Reverend Robert Hussey, S.J., Provincial of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus for missioning me as Georgetown Prep's Director of the Work, for celebrating Mass for our community, and for renewing our Sponsorship Agreement with the Society of Jesus in which is recognized our value and centrality as a Jesuit Apostolate of the Church. Not least among the highlights for me was the opportunity to meet so many members of the Georgetown Prep Community. I look forward to meeting many more of you in the coming weeks.
In our Strategic Plan of 2015, one of the stated goals was to identify a theme for each academic year and to implement a plan for articulating, exploring, and to celebrate that theme. Building from last year's theme of Reconciliation, in which we considered among other things our own legacy in the nation's sad history of slavery, today I announce that our theme for the 2018-2019 academic year will be Discernment. In my conversations with our Director of Mission and Ministry and Headmaster, Mr. John Krambuhl and Mr. John Glennon, we agreed that it will not do to close the door on last year's exploration but that now we must ask ourselves the practical questions: What have we learned from this hard lesson from our past and where does God ask us to go with it now? Working with Mr. Krambuhl and Mr. Glennon, we have established an advisory committee from across our community, including students and teachers and administrators, parents and coaches and Trustees, to help us plan and execute the Year of Discernment.
The other day, speaking to the incoming freshmen and their parents, I noted that one of the great secrets of Georgetown Prep is that for as old as we are, each year we take on the intentional task of beginning the wonderful story of our school afresh; that each time a student, each time a class of young men takes up the labor of embracing the values we hold here, the learning and play that are the glue of our school, the ethos of brotherhood and service that mark our shared labors, the love of God and country that have been the hallmark of this unique place from its earliest days—each time a group of young men take up this endeavor, the vision of John Carroll is born again.
I would ask you all then to keep our young men in your prayers during these precious days, and their teachers and our staff as well. We have begun a wonderful work anew.
Rev. James R. Van Dyke, S.J.