Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Settling in at SICP.

This is my first post of the new year, so it seems appropriate to begin by writing about a new experience: the first day of my Long Experiment at St. Ignatius College Prep, which was today. I spent most of the school day meeting with faculty and administrators, reading handbooks, filling out forms, touring the building and generally getting to know SICP a bit better. Having met with the principal and various department heads, I have a somewhat clearer idea of what I'll be doing at the school. It looks like I'll be dividing my time between the departments of social studies, pastoral ministry, community service and student activities. In practical terms, this will mean a combination of observing (and perhaps later teaching) some classes, helping out with Kairos and other retreats, and assisting some of SICP's many student organizations. The administrators, faculty and students I met today were friendly and seemed eager to help me feel at home. Discovering that I was a Domer, some commiserated with me over Notre Dame's loss to Ohio State yesterday in the Fiesta Bowl. Though it may be too soon to know for sure, SICP seems to be more of a Cubs rather than a White Sox school; as noted in this March post, the Cubs are my Chicago team of choice - notwithstanding Nomar's departure for the Dodgers.

Though I still haven't unpacked all my clothes and personal effects, I've settled into the rhythms of life at the St. Ignatius Jesuit Residence. Like the staff and students at the school, the dozen or so Jesuits in community here have given me a gracious welcome. The Jesuits here are a diverse group, about evenly split between men working at SICP and others involved in diverse apostolates including hospital and prison chaplaincy, parish work and ministry to people with HIV. A majority of the Jesuits here are over the age of 65, and I'm the youngest in the community by almost twenty years. Nonetheless, the generation gap is much less significant than you might suppose -I'm blessed to be in a friendly and generous multigenerational community, and even if many of my brothers at St. Ignatius are close to one another (and far from me) in terms of age, each is unique in background, interests and personality. Being in Chicago, I also have access to other Jesuit communities, such as the one at LUC. I'm also living a stone's throw away from my brother novice Ben Krause, who is doing his Long Experiment at St. Procopius Church a few blocks south of SICP. From the standpoint of Jesuit community, I'd say I'm pretty well-situated.

Rounding out this post, I should say something about my physical location. My room at the St. Ignatius community affords a breathtaking view of the Chicago skyline; I can actually see the Sears Tower from my bed. My room also looks out on trendy Taylor Street, which includes a cosmopolitan array of ethnic restaurants as well as the remains of Chicago's Little Italy (represented mainly by a few cafes and bakeries). SICP is basically surrounded by the University of Illinois at Chicago campus, with university-owned buildings next door to and across the street from the school and the Jesuit community. The neighborhood around St. Ignatius is also saturated with historic Catholic churches, each serving very different worshipping communities. Right next to SICP is Holy Family, one of only a handful of buildings to survive the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and the mother church of the Chicago Province; once a very Irish parish with tens of thousands of registered parishioners, Holy Family now serves a small and predominantly African American congregation. Just down Roosevelt Road from SICP is St. Francis of Assisi, an important presence in Chicago's Latino community for over eight decades. Notre Dame de Chicago a few blocks north of Roosevelt is another of Chicago's oldest parishes and, I'm told, one of its most diverse. Then there's the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii, a reminder of the neighborhood's days as an Italian enclave and still home to a strongly Italian faith community. While I'm here I hope to visit each of these churches and perhaps report on them on this blog.

In my last post I suggested I might say something about Peter Jackson's new remake of King Kong. To put it briefly, the film's greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. King Kong is full of rich and stunning visuals, including carefully detailed recreations of 1932 Manhattan and some of the most realistic computer animation I've yet seen on the big screen. However, the creators of the new King Kong seem to have been some impressed with the tools at their disposal that they got carried away with them. The filmmakers' indulgence comes out especially in King Kong's overlong and over-the-top fight scenes; sequences in which the title ape battles three dinosaurs simultaneously or swats biplanes from the sky are suitably impressive, but they also drag on a lot longer than they have to and involve increasingly tedious choreography. King Kong proves that even visually dazzling films can wear out their welcome. In many ways, King Kong is worth seeing. However, whether this film is worth three hours of one's life is a prudential judgment each viewer will have to make. AMDG.


At January 05, 2006 7:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jos-The new assignment sounds really challenging, and the location, very interesting. I'm sure you'll make the most of both...and they are exceedingly lucky to have you!

At January 07, 2006 8:55 AM, Blogger Lisa said...

If I recall correctly from my visit to Chicago, you must also be not so far from Holy Name Cathedral. I had an opportunity while there to visit the UIC-Water Tower Bldg (Needing a restroom provided a good opportunity :). For me, that part of Chicago was very familiar, New Yorky as I would consider it with the glamour of the main shopping thoroughfare and the depression of surrounding areas co-existing side by side. A good place for ministry to all types of people seeking I would estimate.


At January 07, 2006 5:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're in my prayers Koko.



At February 16, 2006 3:23 PM, Blogger Joe said...

Just a short note to say I am pleased to have found your blog. I'm not exactly all that sure of HOW I found it, but that I found it is surely Providential.

If my semi-annual schleps to Chicago have taught me anything, I think SIPC is pretty close to one of the very best Italian (as opposed to Italian-American) restaurants in the USA...Francesca on Taylor. My advice? Do not pass up any invitation to dine there.

As the happy product of a Jesuit education, I am pleased to see guys such as you responding to your calling and, in particular, joining the Company. I pray for you (and all the others on the same track).




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