Being men and women for others
Published: Monday, October 31, 2005
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
The Issue: Few understand the true mission What we think: Get to know what it means to be here
"Men and women for others" has become somewhat of a go-to statement at Boston College.
Why do so many students volunteer in the community? Because that is what men and women for others do. How come Pedro Arrupe trips are so popular? Because students, being the men and women for others that they are, want the opportunity to work abroad for social justice. Why do people decide to live and work at Boston College? That's simple. They believe in and want to emulate the University's mission of producing community members that are men and women for others.
But what does that mean? Why does that motto get thrown around so much?
Often times the phrase "men and women for others" is taken out of context. The quote, which was spoken by the late Father General of the Society of Jesus, Rev. Pedro Arrupe, S.J., is: "Today our prime educational objective must be to form men and women for others; men and women who will live not for themselves but for God and his Christ - for the God-man who lived and died for all the world; men and women who cannot even conceive of love of God which does not include love for the least of their neighbors; men and women completely convinced that love of God which does not issue in justice for others is a farce."
To be sure, the fact that the saying is often reduced to five short words doesn't mean that those at BC aren't staying true to Arrupe's educational and service-focused mission. But it shows that we all need a reminder of the statement if we hope to better understand what our goal as an institution and a vehicle for change should be.
St. Ignatius of Loyola once challenged his students to "think about what they were going to do with the unique gifts and personalities God had given them," according to What Are We?, a fantastic University resource examining BC's spiritual purpose.
It's in utilizing those gifts that we become true men and women for others. It's in partaking in activities that require every available ounce of intellect, in helping those that have been marginalized, and in impacting the community - whether it is on a local or even global scale - that we stop living for ourselves and start living for others.
BC has a distinctive and unique spirituality that manifests itself in a variety of ways. It's visible in the way students spend their spring break involved in immersion programs and Appalachian service trips. It's seen in the faces of friends who work toward deeper relationships. It's in the actions of alumni who leave Chestnut Hill to work in areas that allow them to focus on faith and justice.
Our mission drives us to take part in programs that "put [us] into contact with people who simply do not participate in the kind of life that we take for granted," as written in What Are We?.
All universities have students that are bright and ambitious. That's nothing unique to BC. The teachings of Ignatius and the beliefs of the Jesuit order, however, encourage BC students to take that knowledge and drive and use them to make a difference.
Starting today, and over the next three Mondays, The Heights will publish a series of articles examining the role that the Jesuit tradition plays at the University and how it impacts the BC community. The newspaper thinks it's important that everyone have a better understanding of what it means to be involved with BC and how the spirit of a Jesuit education plays into the development and actions of the institution.
Yes, it's important for the University to encourage its members to be "men and women for others." But just using the motto as some sort of catchphrase - and everyone, from the University President to newspaper itself is, guilty of it - dilutes the importance and meaning of that commitment. It's important that we understand the mission so that we may more easily live it.