LMU this Week

MISSION AND MINISTRY | Just a few short months ago, I had the great pleasure to join LMU as vice president for mission and ministry, succeeding our dear colleague Bob Caro, S.J., who, following a 41-year career at LMU, will be taking some time off before returning to the classroom to teach first-year students. I am delighted to be among a community where the encouragement of learning, the education of the whole person, and the service of faith and promotion of justice authentically define who we are.

I thought I would take the opportunity of the inaugural installment of LMU this Week to tell you a little more about myself. I grew up in Nutley, New Jersey, and attended Georgetown University as an undergraduate and master’s degree student before earning my Ph.D. in medieval studies from Cornell University. My scholarship focuses on the development of lay spirituality in English religious drama, devotional poetry, and mystical writings of the 14th and 15th centuries, and I serve as one of the general editors of “The Broadview Anthology of Medieval Drama.” I’ve also written on other topics, from how to teach the legend of King Arthur to how the bodies of the dead are rendered in a video game based on Dante’s “Inferno.”

I come to LMU from Loyola University New Orleans, where I spent 13 years as a faculty member in the English department, teaching courses on medieval literature from Viking Age Iceland to Heian Japan. I also held a variety of administrative positions at Loyola, including terms as deputy director of the University Honors Program, director of the Medieval Studies Program, director of the Common Curriculum, and vice president for mission and ministry. During my tenure in New Orleans, I founded the Ignatian Faculty Fellows Program, which helps faculty make explicit connections to mission in the classroom. Indeed, much of my initial interest in LMU comes from the opportunity I will have here to continue working with faculty to help them deepen their understanding and appreciation of LMU’s Catholic, Jesuit, and Marymount identity. What spare time I had was spent singing with the Ignatius Chapel Choir, the Symphony Chorus of New Orleans, and the New Orleans Vocal Arts Chorale. Last fall, I even had the chance to sing with the Loyola Chorale at Carnegie Hall! I relocated to Los Angeles in June with my wife, Heather Mack, who I actually met on a silent retreat sponsored by Loyola. (Feel free to ask me about that story when you see me on campus. It’s a good one!)

In the future we will use this space to inform the LMU community about how students, staff, faculty, and alumni are living out our mission and values and to share information about upcoming events and programs. For now, I want to close by inviting everyone to join us in celebrating the Mass of the Holy Spirit in Sacred Heart Chapel on Thursday, Sept. 14, at noon. The Mass of the Holy Spirit is an academic tradition that dates back to the first Jesuit school founded in Messina, Sicily, in 1548. It is an occasion for celebrating the start of a new academic year and for inviting God as Spirit to descend upon us and bless us with the gift of wisdom in all of our endeavors. All members of the LMU community of all faith traditions, or of no faith tradition, are invited to join us in beginning a new year with prayer, song, and celebration of God’s enduring love for LMU.

May God bless you as we look forward to a new year on the bluff.

Sincerely,

John Sebastian Signature
John Sebastian
Vice President for Mission and Ministry

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