MISSION AND MINISTRY | Dino Entac is assistant director of Residence Life at Loyola Marymount University, and chair of the Ignatian Heritage Month Committee. He spoke with LMU This Week about the upcoming Ignatian Heritage Month. More information about events celebrating Ignatian Heritage Month can be found on the IHM website.
LMU This Week: Tell me about Ignatian Heritage Month and what it means to you and to LMU?
Dino Entac: I would say Ignatian Heritage Month connects us to the wider mission of the Society of Jesus, right? We are an Ignatian school, Loyola founded by the Society of Jesus, Marymount founded by the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary. Both of which have strong connections to St. Ignatius and Ignatian spirituality. In many of our Jesuit sister schools, brother schools, whichever one we want to call it, they have a celebration of their Jesuit Heritage. And when I got here, I recognized, oh, well, we can’t just talk about our Jesuit heritage, right?
It’s important to put it in that broader context that we are part of the Ignatian family. As a school, there are so many more schools that are in the Ignatian family, just besides the 27 Jesuit colleges and universities, because there are lots of schools that can connect to Ignatian spirituality. For instance, the Ignatian Solidarity Network, as you know, they have a draw of parishes, high schools, colleges, universities, much broader than just the Jesuit Heritage network. So, that’s why we have branded it Ignatian Heritage Month because it really is about our connection to sacred Ignatius and Ignatian spirituality.
LMUTW: And how has it grown, from what it started to what it is now? It seems like it’s different.
DE: I do think it has grown and I think it’s a little more focused. It really started with housing and Campus Ministry, really just trying to have intentional programming that helped students, primarily students, but also faculty and staff understand the connections of what we do here at LMU to Ignatian spirituality. And I think how we’ve grown is we’ve focused ourselves to really have faculty staff and students understand, not just our connection to mission, but how that mission is lived out day to day in our work, in our study, in our free time, that it is both curricular in what we study, but extracurricular in how we live out being a lion every day. Right? So, it’s understanding our particular vocabulary.
I hope students hear what the words cura personalis mean, at some point in the years that they’re here at LMU, because that care of the person is particular to how LMU does its work of education and formation. It is particular to how Ignatian spirituality works its way into our daily life, right? Things like cura personalis, magis, ad majorem Dei gloriam, discernment: all of these phrases, for those of us who are connected to Ignatian spirituality and our heritage, we often use them. But we wanted to make sure that we were helping faculty, staff and students understand how these are part and parcel, they really cannot be separated. The words, the values, all of this content can’t be separated from how we do the work of education and formation.
So what I always would tell my students, when I taught Ignatian spirituality a few years here. It’s not just about being a great accountant. It’s about being a great accountant who chooses to change the world through accounting, to make the world a better place through the work that they do. If you’re going to be in education, be an educator, but make the world a better place through education. You’re going to be an actor, a screenwriter, an engineer, whatever it is you’re going to be, make the world better.
LMUTW: How would you describe Ignatian Spirituality?
DE: How would I describe Ignatian Spirituality? Part of the genius of Ignatian Spirituality is to recognize that God loves us in a way that God wants us to be in direct relationship, right? So often we feel like relationships, especially with the divine, especially with a spirit, if you’re spiritual, you think it has to be mediated, OK. But Ignatius’ genius is saying, ‘Wait, God loves us so much that God wants to be absolutely intimately connected to your day to day, wants to be in what you’re doing so that you can share your joys, your excitements, your hopes, and your pains, and your suffering, because God wants to be right here with us.’
Ignatian spirituality allows us to understand Jesus as brother, not only Jesus as Lord, but Jesus as brother. That’s the most religious, Catholic way of understanding Ignatian spirituality. But really it is that broader understanding of the world is created for Ignatius. The world is created so that we can be better in touch with the best of who I am created to be. And that’s what Ignatius would ask each of us to work on. Who am I called to be? How do I get to be that best version of myself and how can that best version of myself help the world to be its best?
Ignatian spirituality is so flexible. Ignatius was a man of his time. And he was in a particular historical context of Western Catholicism in Western Europe in 16th century, right. But the genius of his spirituality is that it can be adapted. It’s flexible enough for anyone to understand that our everyday world needs to be better. And I have a role to play in that. I have something that I can offer to help make myself better, and at the same time, make the world better by how I bring my best version of myself.
LMUTW: I’m sure there’s a bunch of different activities to celebrate the month. What are you most excited about?
DE: I think one of the big things that I’m really excited about is what Father Eddie announced: We’re doing reflection groups on “The Spirituality of Racial Justice,” and here’s an opportunity to engage resident ministry, Campus Ministry, the Jesuit Community, Center for Ignatian Spirituality, and Mission and Ministry. Lots of people are connected because we recognize this is a moment in our history that we have to bring our Catholic Jesuit understanding to this conversation of racial justice. We are doing so much to become an anti-racist university.
And I think we’re taking great strides to move ourselves in the right direction. And we cannot forget that the spirituality must accompany, has to accompany that journey of racial justice, right? If we believe that this is the morally right thing to do, which it is, if we believe that this is the morally right thing to do, to be an anti-racist university, we must not just understand but promote a spirituality that supports racial justice.
I think this book allows us to start this conversation that involves the work many of us are doing. How does this affect my prayer? How does this affect what I ask of God and what God asks of me in my daily life? Because I can’t just do the work without being supported by God, who wants to show this love for those who have been suffering this oppression of racial injustice. If I’m going to do the work, which many of us are already doing, beautiful. Now, let’s support the work with our prayer, in a way that we are intentionally bringing this spirituality to our community, in a way that it supports the work of anti-racism.