Agape Latte: Reflecting the Jesuit tradition

By Jesse Prieto
News Editor

Thanks to Eric Walsh ‘17, Canisius College has found a new way to impart the tradition of selfward reflection that is so emphasized by the Society of Jesus – Agape Latte. Inspired by Boston College, a Jesuit “sister-school,” this lecture series is unique in that it steps away from the academic detail and background needed, and instead speaks to the broader yet more personal concerns found in the common person’s day to day life.

On Thursday 16 Oct., the Commuter Student Association hosted Father Casey Beaumier, a young Jesuit from Boston College to be the first of four Agape Latte speakers this academic year. Walsh explained that Beaumier’s visit was “unique” because the majority of lecturers will be brought from on-campus faculty and staff positions such as last semester’s talks by Dr. Melissa Wanzer and now-retired Director of Public Safety Gary Everett

After attending a lecture at the 2014 National Jesuit Student Leadership Conference, Walsh was inspired.

“The reason I was mostly interested in going to [the lecture] is that it had a speaker talking about something not academic [but instead] something more meaningful and personal for your life…and also because of my love for coffee,” Walsh explained.

These words rung true at the College’s third Agape Latte lecture where Beaumier discussed his experience as a Novice, going through “experiments” over two years to help him discern if the life of a Jesuit was best for him. However, his story was not a shameless plug for males in the audience to enter seminary, rather it was a presentation of himself and how he has come to understand his own identity.

Beaumier related to the audience, explaining how he grew closer to God while traveling the country in search of Maya Angelou , an influential figure whose writing had directed his path. He then tied his own life experience into the need of people to “know who they are.” While the hour long discussion took many turns, Beaumier’s takeaway was that we should be conscious of the difference between joy and happiness; joy being a sense of grounding rooted in a God-found identity, while happiness is an emotion that wavers with each passing day.

According to Walsh, Boston College was eager to assist in sharing the program’s best practices, all the while emphasizing the need for each college to individualize the speakers lists bureaucratic support. Walsh reiterated the advice given by Boston College student Karen Keefer who explained that “it’s going to be different at every school” and that “it’s up to you to figure out how to make it work where you are because everyone is going to have a different situation.”

Boston College supported the initial programming by covering the expenses of advertising across campus in the form of t-shirts, flyers, and chocolate covered espresso beans. As co-president of Canisius’ Commuter Student Association, Walsh was in prime position to add the new program to the Spring 2015 budget. “Although it was funded through CSA, it wasn’t necessarily worked through the Commuter Student Association,” said Walsh. He continued to explain that while the bulk of budgetary needs were handled through CSA, staffing support came in large part from Campus Ministry and was passionately advised by Director of Campus Ministry Mike Hayes.

Since then the Undergraduate Student Association has footed the bill, which is remarkably cheap seeing as the speakers come voluntarily leaving only advertising and coffee as billable items. Even Beaumier travelled from Boston incurring no fee for Canisius College, further spotlighting the service mentality on which the program rests.

Having already set a strong precedent, Agape Latte will be moving forward with several major changes in the near future, not least of which will be the transfer of leadership from Eric Walsh to Campus Ministry’s Sophomore Spiritual Intern Daphne Sietz who has taken on a supportive role since the beginning. With this will come the transfer of institutional hosts, moving from CSA into the hands of Campus Ministry as a permanent responsibility of present and future Spiritual Interns.

Embracing Jesuit values in an impactful way, and having already broken through the infancy stage of a new-borne project, Agape Latte is moving forward as a new pillar supporting the modern-day interpretation of Jesuit values for faculty and students alike.

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