#JesuitEducated – A Reflection from Carmel Galasso ’79

For nearly 500 years, millions of people across the world have experienced the power of a Jesuit education, including Pope Francis. In honor of the Pope’s upcoming historic trip to the United States this September, Saint Peter’s University has partnered with the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) and the other 27 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States to explore what it means to be #JesuitEducated. Carmel Galasso ’79, director of housing service for the United Way of Hudson County and member of the Saint Peter’s University Board of Regents, has shared her reflection on what Jesuit education means to her. Join in on the conversation and share what Jesuit education means to you by using the hashtag #JesuitEducated.

In the book Go Forth and Teach – The Characteristics of Jesuit Education it states “Jesuit education acknowledges God as the author of all reality. All truth and all knowledge. God is present and working in all of creation: in nature, in history and in persons. Jesuit education, therefore, affirms the radical good of the world ‘charged with the grandeur of God.’ And it regards every element of creation as worthy of study and contemplation, capable of endless exploration.”

A Jesuit education is an education that develops the hearts and minds of men and women to help them to become leaders.  Through Jesuit education, there is a development through learning how to live, how to be grown-up men and women. Jesuit education teaches us Magnanimity:  The virtue of great and small, great hearts, minds and ideals. The response of what God asks for us and those little things that open our heart to others. This education helps us to develop human virtues: loyalty, faithfulness and dedication.

Another great component of Jesuit education is service — to be open to others — especially the poorest and neediest. We are challenged by how we can improve the world we live in by using our gifts and talents as men and women for others. Through Jesuit education, there is a lifelong commitment to service and academics. It is not a profession but an attitude. In my experience, both as a student and alumna of Jesuit institutions (Saint Peter’s and Regis Universities), there is a great relationship for Jesuit and lay associates to grow in friendship and mission. Through the many Jesuits and lay professors, there has always been a seamless thread in all classes of ethical values. And a sense of dedication that will assist students, perplexed if you will, to discover a genuine purpose in life.

A Jesuit education is about a response of Christian justice and how it operates in a world of crisis and computers. At Saint Peter’s University, as in all the Jesuits institutions, there continues the quest for human meaning, the search for the sacred and the profane in our human condition. As a student, the education I received, through Saint Peter’s, then College, now University, was provided in a very nurturing environment. I always felt welcome and that I belonged to something. As an alumna of the University, I feel that I belong to something bigger than the small world in which I work and live. My college experience prepared me to be effective and conscientious, to work hard and to obtain results. I learned to interact with others and to manage. Today, for me, and in my interaction with the students that continue to seek this education, it is the same.  The visages of students are different, but they are the same type of students, anxious to learn to make their place in the world.

For me personally, service has been a priority in my careers as a teacher, campus minister and social worker. The values that I learned through my Jesuit education have led me to my career in service for others. Currently, as Director of Housing Service for the United Way of Hudson County, I have been instrumental in working to house homeless individuals who otherwise would be on the streets. I believe in and have embraced the ideals of Jesuit education within my career, my life and in my church.

Jesuit education may well be summed up in Ignatian “Mirar Arriba” — “To look up towards spiritual ideals to sustain us through times of change.”