At the beginning of the year, Mr. Earsing and Mr. Garrison reflected on their own prayer services to start this year at Jesuit. Instead of focusing on one of the six profiles of the graduate, like they did in the past, the administration looked to focus on the idea of “gathering our companions,” as we transition into a more normal school year.
While interviewing Mr. Garrison and Mr. Earsing, they gave a more detailed response on how they think this theme can be implemented this year.
How did you pick this theme?
“In the past, we used to pick pieces of the profile, so last year was ‘Committed to Justice’. The year before that was loving, we had physically fit before, and we worked our way through the profile for the last six years or so and we were looking for something this year.
We thought we would start the profile over again, so we were going to go with intellectually competent which is important but because of the way last year ended and I mean just the way last year was with COVID and the pandemic we felt like people were separated from each other.
A lot of the activities we normally would have done was harder to do so our thought this year and it’s just as much for our student parents as it is for our students because we didn’t have any parent meetings on campus last year. Because of you know distancing and all that, games were restricted admission like basketball games we hardly had any students there so I thought this year was we want to bring people back together and that’s where the idea came from, was trying to bring people back. So we were thinking like welcome back or coming home or something like that.
The other layer of this is the 500th anniversary of Saint Ignatius. Hit by the cannonball, he worked his way eventually to the University of Paris, and that’s where he met his friends, his companions and that’s when the work started. You guys are here to get started on the work, and a way to do that is first gathering your companions.”
“A lot of reasons, so I think one is we have been talking about gathering our companions, the theme for the year. How do you define companions? Are they just people that you know well, but that’s not really talking about Ignatius; he was talking about like-minded individuals. When we find our companions, we want to find like-minded men who can help push us in the right direction and not pull us or push us in the wrong direction.”
How do you think the theme will affect the student body and affect the rest of the year?
“My hope is that people will just have it in the back of their minds and be thinking about it in those moments when they feel alone or when they see someone who’s alone. There’s a tendency to think that everybody else has it better than [us], but the truth is, that’s not always true.
It is always helpful to have a theme because there are lots of things fighting for [our] attention. If we don’t have something to center us, [we] just end up chasing everything; [we] just end up going down these random holes. So when I get to a place where I need to focus on something, I have the theme of gathering my companions. I can look at an issue or a problem or a challenge through that lens and usually come up with a direction to go.”
Something we’re going to continue is the thread of how we work together to keep [the school] safe and healthy. [We will] keep doing the things we’re doing…and try to maximize our time together. Everything we do towards that is sort of the focus. So it’s like, I hate wearing masks, but if it helps us stay together, it’s a good thing.
Yes, I believe in vaccinations. I hope everybody… gets [vaccinated]. Yes, I made all the employees of the school get [vaccinated]. Why? Because we don’t want them to be an impediment to [the students] staying healthy. I want you to stay in school because a lot of us realized how much we missed being present to each other. [We want] to do anything we can to keep [us] together.
My plan is that we are going to gather our companions and hopefully stay together in person and not virtually.”
After learning about both Mr. Earsing’s and Mr. Garrison’s thoughts on the prayer service, we should remember to gather companions when we feel alone. Especially in the beginning of the year, this theme is important as new students enter with a need for new companions. I hope at Jesuit I can listen to God and my companions, learning to be inclusive to all members of the Jesuit community.