When I first got to Georgetown, someone much older and wiser told me, “If you go through Georgetown without getting to know a Jesuit, you really haven’t been to Georgetown at all.” At first, I thought this meant that I should go to a mass or two, have class with a Jesuit, or simply smile at the Jesuits as they walked by me on campus. As I approach my final months at Georgetown, I have realized that I was entirely wrong.

I came to Georgetown for many reasons – the outstanding academic reputation, the campus location and the people. Having gone to a Catholic high school, I liked the fact that Georgetown was a Jesuit institution and had a religious influence, yet I didn’t fully understand how different and unique the Jesuits are and the impact they have on Georgetown until I spent some time here.

At first, it was hard for me to think of the Jesuits as “real people.” Instead, they were always just priests who seemed to have a great love for learning and educating students. However, sophomore year, I had my first class with a Jesuit, Father Sara. I remember thinking how great it was to finally have this type of interaction with a Jesuit. Although he was just like every other one of my professors, except for the small fact that he wore the same outfit to class every day, it was still hard for me to think of him as anything but a priest. Then one day, as I was walked onto the tennis courts at Yates to hit some balls with some friends, I looked over to the next court and realized Father Sara was playing tennis with a friend. At that moment, I realized that Jesuits really were just like us – “real people.”

As my years at Georgetown progressed, I stopped watching the Jesuits from a distance and became part of their activities. Now, rather than simply thinking of them as “real people” doing “real things,” I also began to consider them my friends. At my Freshman Convocation, former university president, Fr. Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J. told us that the mission of the Jesuits was to challenge us, to make us think in new ways and to expand our knowledge. When I met my friend Fr. Maher, I realized he took this mission to heart – helping students to learn and expand each day, not only in the classroom, but in society as well. Each experience we have together, whether it be playing a game of Trivial Pursuit with a group of friends, eating dinner at the Jes Res or seeing a play at the Kennedy Center, challenges me by teaching me new things and causing me to meet new people, following the Jesuit philosophy of educating the whole person, even in a fun and social setting.

When I became a member of the Jesuit Heritage Week planning committee, I sat in the meetings realizing that although I may know Jesuits, I don’t fully know the complete story of their heritage. This is exactly why I was interested in the idea of Jesuits for Dummies, because, although I have some Jesuit friends, I was still just a dummy who needed more information about the tradition of the Jesuits and what they are all about. As a Georgetown graduate, I want to enter the real world being able to tell others about the Jesuits and their philosophy. I want to share with them the knowledge and experiences I acquired both from the Jesuits and about them during my years at Georgetown. I think Georgetown is a very special place for many reasons, yet I know that my experience here would not be the same without my experiences with the Jesuits – both in the things I have learned and the friends I have made. So, whether you know a Jesuit or not, I would encourage you to participate in the events of Jesuit Heritage Week and get to know a Jesuit and learn more about their tradition. As my experiences shows, it really is worth it.

Erin McMullen is a senior in the College. She is a member of the Jesuit Heritage Week planning committee.

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