Marc Reeves, S.J., was recently named director of Campus Ministry. LMU This Week had a conversation with him about Campus Ministry, what he hopes to accomplish as a leader, and lessons we can learn from the pandemic.
LMU This Week: What do you think Campus Ministry means to LMU?
Marc Reeves, S.J.: Campus Ministry and Sacred Heart Chapel are the heart and center of LMU. There are many ways in which we live out our mission here at LMU: Campus Ministry serves students; it is explicit about the service of faith, the promotion of justice and the interrelatedness between the two. Campus Ministry provides the scaffolding to create the world in which we want to live. It gives force to it, substantial force. I think it’s something that the entire university should celebrate. Because of our identity, questions can arise for us as we pursue student formation, forming students to create the world in which we want to live in. And that is informed by, certainly, the Gospel of course, and our Catholic, Jesuit, Marymount, and St. Joseph traditions.
LMUTW: What do you hope students experience when they come into Campus Ministry?
MR: Faith is important. I converted to the Catholic faith as a young person and I benefited greatly from that. Not only did it change my life, but it has shaped me in such a positive way. I had a profound experience of God and God’s love, and want to share that with others. I want Campus Ministry to provide students with an opportunity at a wonderful time in their lives to consider transcendence, to consider the possibility of God, to ask faith questions. What Campus Ministry offers is that explicit faith-based, service-learning experience where transformations take place. And we’re not just serving card-carrying Catholics, we’re looking for all students because we’re at the service of all students. We want students to think, “Who am I? What kind of gifts and talents do I have? What can I offer the world?” We believe that God invites us or is part of that conversation as one is discovering the possibilities of moving into one’s future, creating the world in which we want to live.
LMUTW: How do you imagine Campus Ministry will grow under your leadership?
MR: Under my leadership, my goal is to inspire, to invite, and enhance our efforts as Campus Ministry to go out to the margins of our student population, and by extension, continue to do that in our service opportunities, to reach students who we haven’t reached before. We have a responsibility to be in those spaces, to be present in those spaces, but also to offer wonderful opportunities. I do not want Campus Ministry to be the best-kept secret at LMU. I also want to specifically focus on our Social Justice program, to enhance those programming options or opportunities and to strengthen them.
LMUTW: How will having Jewish and Muslim staff impact Campus Ministry?
MR: We will be more inclusive. Rabbi Zachary Zysman will be able to reach populations that, as part of Campus Ministry, we haven’t reached before. Kienan Taweil will able to reach Muslim populations in a way that we have not been able to reach before. This is a good thing. And again, all of us working together, inviting students to consider questions of transcendence, considering a relationship with God or just simply a deepening of that relationship.
LMUTW: How does having a Jesuit as director of Campus Ministry benefit our students?
MR: The Society of Jesus is about justice, reconciliation and inclusivity. The Jesuits desired to be companions of Jesus, who Himself goes to the margins, and Jesuits do that as well. I’m so grateful for the training and the experiences that the Jesuits have provided for me, and has shaped me for this particular role and others. And this is our moment, this is our moment of celebrating our unity within our rich tapestry of diversity, of coupling this with the open-mindedness of the Jesuit who is told and formed that your monastery is the world, be engaged in the world and in history as things are unfolding! Don’t hide behind the walls of the monastery, let the world impact your prayer, and discover and seek the presence of God at work in the midst of it.
LMUTW: What lessons can we take away from this pandemic?
MR: St. Ignatius of Loyola developed the Spiritual Exercises during a pandemic when he was in Manresa, during that tumultuous but also beautiful year in spiritual discovery when he began to translate his notes into the Spiritual Exercises. We say “finding God in all things.” Well, it goes right back to Ignatius. In the middle of a pandemic, he gives to the world, he gives to the Church and to successive generations, the book that helps us meet the times with great faith, hope, and transforming love.