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Letters to Loyola

Letters to Loyola is a weekly email series on a variety of topics or questions for the Loyola community to consider together. Faculty, staff, and students are automatically subscribed; others may sign up here.

As Loyola Week draws to a close, today we take time to honor those who serve our country in the armed forces. As we celebrate Veterans Day, I encourage us all to find a way to thank those who have served and continue to serve our country.

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Last Friday, I was having lunch with a few faculty members and our conversation turned to things that academics love to talk about–teaching, research, our students, and of course the challenges they face as they continue to navigate the post-pandemic world. What struck me about these conversations was that in spite of the challenges our faculty face, the sense of purpose they find in being at Loyola and teaching our students makes it a different experience than being at another institution. The passion with which they talked about our students and the promise of a Loyola education reminded me that being an educator is not what we do, it is who we are. This sense of purpose is of course not unique to Loyola, but I believe that it takes a new meaning at Loyola.

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I recently heard a remarkable story from Mr. Jordan Jones, S.J., philosophy professor here at Loyola. In 1940, Jesuit priest Fr. Vładisław Lohn returned to his community house in Krakow, Poland to find that the Gestapo had arrested all of his Jesuit brothers and taken them to Auschwitz. So Fr. Lohn did something remarkable: he broke into Auschwitz. He didn’t break out; he broke in because he wanted to be with his brothers. When the Commandant of the prison camp discovered him, he was so impressed by his courage that he simply kicked him out.

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Imagine this: Down 2, no time left on the clock, at the line shooting three free throws for a chance to win the National Championship. Athletes dream about being in situations like this and often act it out when given the chance. Anyone who watches sports might wonder how athletes can maintain their composure in times of heightened pressure. For me, I learned the value of meditation and reflection to keep me centered in athletics.

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