Loyola University Chicago

Office of the President

Our Confident Hope

December 22, 2020

Dear Loyolans,

As I sat down to compose this Christmas message to you, during a time of the year typically marked by celebrations and happy gatherings, competing thoughts filled my mind and my heart.

The year 2020 has been filled with much suffering and despair, from illness and death caused by a worldwide pandemic to growing unemployment and business closures, long lines of hungry people at food distribution sites, families losing their homes, political vitriol from every direction, climate catastrophes of a magnitude not experienced before, and racial injustices witnessed all too often. The dissonance of these realities with our culture’s often commercialized and sugary approach to the birth of Jesus is jarring.

Despite the hardships experienced in 2020, I still have confident hope drawn from my faith and because of what so many of you have shown in your professional and personal actions throughout the year.

I have seen faculty and staff across our campuses balance caring for their own families and friends while attending to the needs of our students and their co-workers. I have watched students strive to make the most of the virtual learning environment and persevere to stay on track in their degree programs—even as they volunteer service hours in person and online. I have seen our researchers spend their waking hours developing tests and therapeutics to combat the coronavirus. Our own health care providers, clinical faculty, and students stand at the front line, putting themselves in harm’s way to care for others. For all of this and more, I am grateful and hopeful, and pray that you are as well.

I would suggest that hope is rewarded, though perhaps not always as we expect. The birth of Jesus as an impoverished infant in a stable because no one had enough compassion to open a room for a woman about to give birth is not the scenario people imagined when thinking about God becoming human. Perhaps the key to being hopeful is to let God reveal the plan and not have expectations or pre-conceived notions of what will come to be. Jesuit spirituality tells us that God is in all things, not where we tell God to be.

One of the themes developed for the celebration of Loyola’s 150th anniversary is that we are called to inspire hope in the world. So many of you inspire hope in me. In that spirit, allow me to wish you and yours a sincere Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and hope-filled New Year.

Jo Ann Rooney, JD, LLM, EdD

P.S. You are invited to join us for Christmas Day Mass by the Loyola Jesuit Community livestreamed from Madonna della Strada Chapel on Friday, December 25 at 10:00 a.m. Here is a direct link to the livestream: https://youtu.be/Bvml4y-avXg