O’Donovan Praises ‘Passion of Ideas’ in Speech

Charles Nailen/The Hoya University President Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J., concluded Jesuit Heritage Week yesterday. In his address capping off the inaugural Jesuit Heritage Week, University President Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J., said that Jesuit heritage to him means a love for the mind and the community.

O’Donovan opened his speech by thanking everyone involved in organizing the week and then went on to joke about his speech, saying that he had “decided to turn it into a pep rally for tonight’s game.”

O’Donovan traced his own Jesuit heritage back to his days as a student at Georgetown. Originally wanting to be a doctor and then a psychologist, it was only in his junior year that he decided to drop his science classes, unsure whether that was the path he wanted to take. After graduating summa cum laude from Georgetown in 1956, he went to France on a Fulbright scholarship, where he realized his calling to the Jesuit priesthood.

O’Donovan said that his undergraduate years at Georgetown were when he, “first imagined a world to participate in” and said that Georgetown provided a place to find “deep life-long friendships” and “friends among faculty.”

One of the professors he cited having a big influence on him was the Rev. Joseph Durkin, S.J., who, at 98, still lives in the Jesuit residence. Though Durkin taught O’Donovan during his junior year, the most important lesson that O’Donovan learned from Durkin was during O’Donovan’s presidency.

Durkin once told O’Donovan “a passion for ideas” is what makes a good teacher. O’Donovan related this story to the audience adding that, “a passion is at the heart of all great universities.”

O’Donovan said that this passion for life is expressed in the words which are written on the walls of Gaston Hall: “Ad majorem dei gloriam in que hominum salutem” (which roughly translated means: passion to do great things for God and for the salvation of all humanity.)

When asked about new President John J. DeGioia, the first lay person to lead Georgetown, taking office, O’Donovan said he thinks the Jesuit aspect of Georgetown will continue to be very strong. O’Donovan said the fact that Georgetown is a Jesuit university is “a matter of paramount importance” to DeGioia. O’Donovan also said that many of the faculty who are not Christians feel they actually “have a freedom to talk about their religion” they would not have at secular schools.

O’Donovan ended his speech by reminding the audience that as a Jesuit university Georgetown must focus on “cultivating the mind” and helping one’s neighbors.

Jesuit Heritage Week was a week designed to celebrate Georgetown’s Jesuit heritage through keynote speeches, masses and events.

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