To many students they are friends; to others, spiritual mentors. Since Georgetown University’s founding, their intellectual and spiritual tradition has been intertwined with the institution’s mission and today they play vital roles as professors and leaders on campus.

Regardless of faith, all students can benefit from meeting the Jesuits. Take it from us: One of us is a devout Catholic, while the other is not. But we both know from firsthand experience the value that relationships with Georgetown’s Jesuit community can hold for students of every background, race, gender and creed.

A new program launching this month, the Jesuit Wednesdays initiative, aims to offer students of all backgrounds the opportunity to sit down and get to know a Jesuit. Throughout the spring semester, members of the Jesuit community will invite student groups and organizations for dinner every week into their on-campus home, Wolfington Hall.

All Georgetown students, Catholic or not, should embrace the opportunity that the invitation presents. Many Catholic students already immerse themselves in Jesuit life on campus to enrich their faith, but all students have something to gain from forming meaningful relationships with the Jesuit community.

These dinners are valuable opportunities because the Jesuits who currently call the Hilltop home — more than 30 of them altogether — play vital and vibrant roles on campus that students can benefit from engaging with. While they no longer teach nearly every class or lead almost every administrative department as they once did, it would be a mistake to think of Jesuits as relics of the school’s past. Today, Jesuits are professors, researchers and administrators. They advise members of Congress, multinational companies and student organizations. Civic-minded students can learn from the Jesuits’ campus leadership and engagement.

Moreover, the Jesuits are fascinating people. They have hundreds of years of wisdom and worldly experiences between them, with backgrounds as rich and varied as any. They know history, government, business and languages. Some are doctors, others psychotherapists and chaplains. Many have traveled the world. More than a few have lived and breathed Georgetown for decades. Their backgrounds can be captivating to students who are curious to engage with a community whose values are so integral to our university’s identity.

Organizations can request invitations for their members through the Jesuit Wednesdays Facebook page or by email. More than 40 clubs of all kinds have already signed on to express their interest — including Innovo Consulting Group, the Muslim Student Association, Latin American Student Association and Students of Georgetown, Inc. Students can also sign up to request their own invitations, individually or with friends.

The program hopes to extend beyond just a free bite to eat and a lively chat. These dinners will serve as an introduction to the Jesuit community and an opportunity for students of all backgrounds to build ties with the Jesuits that may continue to develop over time.

The Jesuit Wednesdays program also hopes to bridge a gap in the Georgetown community. Unfortunately, to many of our peers, the Jesuits are essentially strangers. Many students are interested in connecting with the Hilltop’s Jesuit community but don’t know how, while others aren’t sure who the Jesuits are or what they do.

The two of us are second-semester juniors, now well into the waning years of our college lives. We’ve spent a fair share of the last few months searching for how to make the most of our time here. One answer we have found helped lead us to Jesuit Wednesdays: Don’t graduate without getting to know your university. Georgetown’s Jesuit identity can mean something to you no matter your faith or lack thereof. As students, we can’t truly appreciate Georgetown without looking to its roots.

So add another New Year’s resolution to your list — one that will be easy to keep. Spark a relationship with the Jesuit community by signing up yourself, your friends or your club for dinner with a Jesuit. Our Jesuit friends have changed us with their wisdom and care in more ways than we can count. We have learned about faith, family, life and love. And by getting in touch with a part of Georgetown we didn’t know before, we’ve inherited a deeper appreciation for the place we call home.

Victor Gamas and Alexandre Kleitman are juniors in the School of Foreign Service.

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