rev david
Category: Faculty, Georgetown Magazine, Spring 2022

Title:Father David Pratt, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Endowed Orthodox Chaplain, on forming values that last

Over 30 years ago, I found myself at a pleasant juncture. I was newly ordained, but my assignment had not been finalized. I suddenly had two semesters for myself, so I decided to increase my theological education. I enrolled at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley for a licentiate in sacred theology, a Roman diploma, not the usual course of study for an Eastern Orthodox cleric. Soon I was in classes with Jesuits from America, Africa, and Asia, and alongside laypeople from all walks of life. The environ- ment was stimulating, to say the least, yet it was always friendly and professional.

My understanding of Jesuit educational values was so limited when I arrived, as my focus was on books and papers, and becoming an academic. However, the interac- tions in the courses, the thoroughness of the welcoming (what we call accompaniment nowadays) touched my affections and my thinking followed suit. I recall two Jesuits who were unabashedly scholarly, the sort of minds that could get lost in thought, though they always kept our attention on the less fortunate. Their experience in missions certainly informed their teaching, but they also served the poor locally, without fanfare. They modeled the values of the education they were offering us. I had enrolled at the Jesuit School for a diploma, but came away with a formation in values.

I remain hopeful that Georgetown students will acquire the Jesuit values of education and be changed. Academia can touch people for the better.

What values? For me, the most resonant today is surely the dignity of the human person. A quick glance at world news shows so much inattention and inability to care about people. The statistics on human trafficking, for instance, are staggering. So much to do in this area. I mention this grave sin in order to ground my remarks in God’s poor and to fully admit that I fail to do enough for them. I remain hopeful that Georgetown students will acquire the Jesuit values of education and be changed. Academia can touch people for the better. I still believe that.

I’m now full circle, having joined Georgetown’s Campus Ministry team. I saw this as an opportunity to repay for an unexpected Jesuit formation. It is my turn to speak for values that last.

Father David Pratt, pictured above in the newly renovated Copley Crypt, directs the Orthodox Christian Chaplaincy. In Fall 2021, Michael Psaros (B’89) and his family announced a $3 million gift to endow the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Orthodox Chaplaincy at Georgetown. The chaplaincy endowment is the first fully endowed chaplain’s position in the university’s Campus Ministry program.

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