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#JesuitEducated – A Reflection from Public Administration Professor Nicholas Chiaravalloti, J.D.

This week Nicholas A. Chiaravalloti, J.D., public administration professor and director of community engagement at Saint Peter’s University, shared his reflection on what Jesuit education means to him as part of the #JesuitEducated campaign in honor of Pope Francis’ visit to the United States this month. Join in on the conversation and share what Jesuit education means to you by using the hashtag #JesuitEducated.

As we prepare for the upcoming visit of Pope Francis to the United States, excitement is building among members of the American Jesuit community – lay and religious, American Catholics and for that matter all Americans. Pope Francis has brought a compassion, vitality and openness to the church that many of us who have studied or worked at Jesuit schools have yearned for from our church.

My relationship with the Jesuits began in high school at Saint Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, it continued in college at The Catholic University of American during the tenure of Rev. William J. Byron, S.J., as president, and continues today as an adjunct faculty member in the masters of public administration program and director of community engagement for Saint Peter’s University. I guess for me the Jesuits are like the line from the Godfather III, “Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in.”

In all seriousness, I believe there is something unique about being Jesuit educated and working at a Jesuit school. My passion and understanding of service and for civic engagement were fostered and encouraged by my Jesuit education. Each and every day, administrators, staff and faculty members attempt to instill this same passion in today’s students.

In the MPA program at Saint Peter’s, we talk a lot about service. Many of our students are already working in or have a desire to work in the nonprofit and government sectors. They have exhibited a commitment to creating a better, safer and healthier world. As faculty members, we hope to fuel this passion and provide some of the knowledge and skills needed to tackle the many challenges facing society.

This call for action is moored in an expression often used by the Jesuits’ founder, Saint Ignatius, “ite, inflammate omnia” or “go, set the world on fire.” Similarly, Pope Francis has set an agenda for the Church that focuses on a “culture of encounter.” In the same way he called on priests to leave the sanctuary of the rectory and minister in the streets of Buenos Aires, he is calling on us to find love in ourselves, our neighbors and to start working on solutions to the problems facing our communities.

For many American Catholics, especially those of us involved with Jesuit universities, Pope Francis has captured this call to action and extended it beyond Jesuits and beyond the 1.2 billion Catholics in the world. And this is important because urban schools like Saint Peter’s continue to serve a diverse student body of many cultures and religions. Regardless of one’s faith, the message remains the same and can be summed up in the Jesuits’ former “Father General,” Fr. Pedro Arrupe’s challenge: “our prime educational objective must be to form men and women for others.”