Jacqueline Peterson, vice president for student affairs and dean of students, with Kenya children in 2006.
“My conviction, given the chance to answer the call to give more of myself to the service of faith and promotion of justice, has never been stronger.” – Jacqueline Peterson, vice president for student affairs and dean of students
In an article for the Winter/Spring issue of Connections, a publication of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, Jacqueline Peterson, vice president for student affairs and dean of students at the College of the Holy Cross, reflected on her immersion experiences in Kenya, Spain, Italy and El Salvador—experiences she says had a profound impact on her personal and professional development.
“When Rev. Peter Hans Kolvenbach, SJ, delivered his famous speech, ‘The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice in American Jesuit Higher Education,’ at Santa Clara University in 2000, I was there,” she began. “I didn’t know it then, but it was a defining moment in my personal and professional development—a moment that set in motion a transformation in how I think about learning, faith, justice and my role in the world. Yet, I may never have realized how truly important a moment it was, if not for immersion experiences that came later and gave meaning to Fr. Kolvenbach’s words.”
Recalling poignant moments from her first immersion trip with a group of Holy Cross students and chaplains to Kenya, she explained how the experience—“life-altering” on its own—was made more meaningful after a pilgrimage years later to sites in Spain and Italy that were important in the life of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. The pilgrimage, she said, also served as a critical foundation for understanding and processing her other experiences, including a trip to El Salvador through the Ignatian Colleagues Program last year.
“Today, each of my immersion experiences continues to shape me,” she wrote. “Personally, they helped me overcome breast cancer in 2011… Professionally, I have become more reflective about my own faith and talents, and the connection with my roles as an educator and a leader in fostering the Jesuit mission of Holy Cross… My conviction, given the chance to answer the call to give more of myself to the service of faith and promotion of justice, has never been stronger.”
She continued, “My immersion experiences have made me even more committed to finding God in all situations and striving to bring about real change in the lives of others, for the common good, particularly in the face of injustice. That, I now know, is what Jesuit education is meant to do.”
This “Holy Cross in the News” item by Kristine Maloney.