Dear Spectator staff,
You missed several important elements in your exposé of SU’s purchase of the Jesuit Beaver Lake property:
When you continually said home, you should have said property (as you rather luxuriously articulate at the beginning—which make the article sound like an exposé); the property is more significant than just the house.
You never seemed to consider that SU’s purchase of the property as a wise investment since property values continually rise. Even the price paid by the university in 2014 is much higher than what the Jesuits paid for it about 25 years ago.
Jesuit ownership of such retreat property is long-standing in the Society
of Jesus, going back possibly to its origins. Our founder, St. Ignatius, strongly desired that his companions not exhaust themselves in the hubbub of their labors, but should find a place away from their assignments to rest, pray, and find true spiritual restoration.
Seattle University Jesuits have long had such a spiritual retreat; the previous home sat on the west shore of Lake Sammamish until extensive urbanization squeezed out its quiet tranquility.
Your diction in speaking of Seattle University’s religious identity sounds distinctly secular and negative. You speak of “religiousness,” but you never state SU’s identity as specifically Catholic. It also speaks of “religious authority,” as if power preserves it and not its Catholic and Jesuit spirituality. Also, when you surmise that “Perhaps the purchases indicate the desire to grip onto our Jesuit identity” (my emphasis), you miss the point: Seattle University’s identity, linked to the Jesuits who founded it and continue to guide its religious identity, remains specifically Catholic—first and foremost a Catholic university run by Jesuits who seek to bring all our students to some degree of spiritual awakening through the education, activities, and general atmosphere they experience, in accord with the guidance given recently by Pope Francis. Our American culture may be secular; SU is intentionally Jesuit, religious, Catholic, even when large numbers of students who choose to come here are not.
The “fear of a diminishing piety” (you should have stated its Catholic spirituality, not just piety) has proven over time to be a very real threat to any religious educational institution. Are you aware that almost every major American university founded under some religious identity has drifted into secularity: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, William and Mary, Dartmouth, etc., Jesuits and other Catholic faculty and staff are determined not to let Seattle University drift into a secular status, and one means to do that lies in encouraging all our SU community to become involved in some form of Ignatian Spirituality. I even encourage you to do so, Tess; you might find yourself in so doing.
—A Seattle University Jesuit