Faith Is Action

Thomas J. Purcell III

I cannot imagine teaching anywhere else but Creighton University. It has been part of my Jesuit education since 1963, when I entered Creighton Preparatory School as a freshman. During formative years there, I was steadily aware of Magis, the importance of excellence, of accepting people for who they are as fellow children of God. When the opportunity arose to join the Creighton University faculty, I could not resist. This has been my professional, and spiritual, home for most of my adult life.

I take seriously the responsibility of helping my students and colleagues explore their spirituality and find their way as God calls them. I start each class with a prayer or reflection loosely based on Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises. Most of my classes include service-learning projects as requirements. I serve as an adviser, challenging student groups to focus their activities on community service. In addition, I challenge my fellow faculty members to explore and integrate our common Ignatian values in their teaching, research, and service. Over the years, as my understanding of the call by Fr. Pedro Arrupe to give a preferential option to the poor has grown, I have encouraged students to become involved with groups they might not otherwise consider.

Faith is action. A faith committed to justice is one that seeks first to understand the needs of all and then works for the good of all—especially those whom our society least respects. When I read of the good works done by our students, faculty members, and administrative staff, both individually and collectively, I am humbled and I rejoice. We strive in many and various ways to make the world a better place, and those efforts have real impact. I cannot think of a finer achievement for an individual, or a more meaningful accomplishment for a university, than to have moved the world closer to the kingdom of heaven on Earth.

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