With Poetry, Purpose & Prayer

Fr. Hendrickson Announces Initiatives

The Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, S.J., announced two initiatives in his inaugural address: the Creighton Global Initiative and the Catholic Social Teaching Fund. Read more about the initiatives here

‘I Say More’

Watch the video produced for the inaugural, in which members of the Creighton community bring life to Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem “As Kingfishers Catch Fire, Dragonflies Draw Flame,” the inaugural theme.

With Poetry, Purpose & Prayer

By Cindy Murphy McMahon, BA’74

The Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, S.J., is officially installed as the 25th president of Creighton University

The imagery-rich words of a 19th century Jesuit poet resonated across the decades to inspire those gathered for the inauguration of Creighton University’s 25th president.

“I say more,” British poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J., wrote in his poem “As Kingfishers Catch Fire, Dragonflies Draw Flame,” which the new president, the Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, S.J., had chosen as a theme for the installation ceremony.

Fr. Hendrickson stated in his inaugural address that Hopkins “simply says of any one of us, ‘I say more.’ It is something Creighton has always said.”

The Fremont, Neb., native, who previously has been affiliated with Creighton as a student, teacher and trustee, said it was clear to him that, “Creighton keeps saying, ‘I say more,’ and today, in my new role, and as your new president, I do likewise.”

Other inaugural events included the Missioning Mass at St. John’s Church, which while solemn and uplifting, had its lighthearted moments as well. Fr. Hendrickson’s identical twin brother, the Rev. D. Scott Hendrickson, S.J., associate professor of modern languages and literatures at Loyola Chicago University, began his homily by saying that when his brother asked him to give the missioning homily, he thought, “Boy, I could have some fun with this.”

Nearly 2,000 gathered for the Oct. 2 installation. Among those were two past presidents of Creighton, the Rev. John P. Schlegel, S.J., who served Creighton from 2000 to 2011, and the Rev. Timothy R. Lannon, S.J., president from 2011 to January 2015.

For the Creighton community, it was not only historic but also emotional to witness all three presidents on the same stage. Frs. Schlegel and Lannon placed the presidential chain of office around Fr. Hendrickson’s neck in a powerful, symbolic act of transition.

Fr. Hendrickson recognized the former leaders by saying, “Fr. Schlegel, Fr. Lannon — John and Tim — thank you for your service to a place so close to your heart, thank you for giving your life to the apostolate of Jesuit education, thank you for your fraternity in our shared life, and thank you for being here today.”

Speakers included Church and elected leaders, delegates from other institutions and representatives of the many facets of the Creighton community, including faculty, staff, alumni and students. The Most Rev. William Dendinger, bishop emeritus of Grand Island, Neb., and a cousin of Fr. Hendrickson’s mother, Mary, prayed in the invocation that the new president be granted “the strength of Samson, the fiery rhetoric of Jeremiah, the wisdom of Isaiah, the listening heart of Jonah and a heart for the Beatitudes of Jesus.”

Many of the speakers, in the tradition of higher education presidential installations, offered “charges” to Fr. Hendrickson, with words of congratulations, advice and support.

Mayor Jean Stothert of Omaha, in her charge, noted that, “The neighborhoods around the campus are changing and growing into places of innovation, entrepreneurship and urban living,” and told Fr. Hendrickson, “We value your leadership and partnership in this transformation.”

Fr. Hendrickson told the crowd that when he thinks of the impact of Jesuit education, he goes back to 1989 and recalls three important realities during his first year in Jesuit higher education.

The events that made an impression upon him as a freshman at Marquette University included reading the biographies of the four Jesuit finalists for the open position of president of Marquette. “Of each of them, I sensed depth and breadth,” Fr. Hendrickson said. “The university made a great choice, and our new president brought fresh perspective and great energy.

“And in the midst of this, in that same first semester, on another Jesuit campus in a different country, at the University of Central America in San Salvador, El Salvador, a different Jesuit president and his Jesuit colleagues — for the work they were doing in Jesuit higher education — were killed. The assassination of six Jesuits and two women shocked us, and what I was learning about Jesuits and my own Jesuit university was placed in new perspective.

“To a new student, suddenly, Jesuit higher learning was global; its pedagogy was even more powerful; and its mission to transform people and places was now prophetic.”

The third event Fr. Hendrickson recalled was that same semester’s Mass of the Holy Spirit. “In the church of Gesu, with the chanting of Veni Sancta Spiritus and through clouds of incense, Jesuits streamed in from all sides. In procession with lay collaborators, and in an over-packed university church, I was impacted by an experience I can still see, hear and smell, and I immediately knew that Jesuit education was part of a bigger, grander reality, and I wanted to be part of it.”

He also alluded to three people he called “wisdom figures,” each of whom were present at the installation: the Rev. Albert DiUlio, S.J., the former president of Marquette University he had spoken of; the Rev. William Leahy, S.J., the president of Boston College since 1996 and the chaplain of Fr. Hendrickson’s freshman residence hall; and Megan Laverty, Ph.D., associate professor of philosophy and education at Teachers College Columbia University in New York, and his dissertation sponsor at Columbia.

He invoked the Rev. Matteo Ricci, S.J., who, in 16th century China, personified the global scope of Jesuit ministry; and the Rev. Pedro Arrupe, S.J., the mid-20th century superior general, who challenged Jesuit educators to be agents of change.

“Ricci and Arrupe are both and at once roots and revolution,” Fr. Hendrickson said, as he tied the two Jesuits’ vision and legacies to the announcement of two initiatives (sidebar at right).

“As I ponder American higher education today, and think of the role of the Jesuit university in particular, Ricci and Arrupe are helpful. The need for us today to study the landscapes of our own lives is prescient, and the need for understanding the conditions and realities of those around us is just as urgent. At an institution like ours, with nine colleges, with programs of expertise in a broad range of health sciences, law, business and the humanities, we are poised to meet such needs.”

He emphasized that the humanities — philosophy, theology, history, language and literature — are essential to Creighton, ensuring that “Creighton educates experts and professionals with sound souls and strong hearts.”


Fr. Hendrickson Announces Global Initiative,
Catholic Social Teaching Fund

The Creighton Global Initiative (CGI) — the first of the two initiatives the Rev. Daniel Hendrickson, S.J., announced in his inaugural address — is an effort to animate, enrich and embrace the global focus of the Creighton community.

International education and service are especially imperative to Fr. Hendrickson, who frequently alludes to his own transformative experiences in some 23 countries on nearly every continent.

The CGI is a seed-funding program that creates opportunities for faculty, staff and students to explore global perspectives, embracing Jesuit higher education’s long tradition for building global networks and outreach. Creighton has a remarkable international track record, currently sponsoring 21 academic, service, research, internship and volunteer programs in 17 countries.

Fr. Hendrickson revealed that Creighton alumni and friends have generously given nearly $4 million to the CGI, and more fundraising is underway. Awards will be granted to faculty, staff and students to pursue projects with an intentional global focus that meet established criteria. To learn more about the CGI, visit creighton.edu/office-president/creighton-global-initiative.

The second initiative involves the Catholic Social Teaching Fund, an endowment made possible by two anonymous alumni donors. The effort will fund programs to educate “not just our campus, nor just our city, but a regional sphere of influence in and around the Midwest,” Fr. Hendrickson said, adding that the programs funded will ensure that Creighton continues its leadership in promoting human dignity in its many forms, “thereby strengthening our Jesuit, Catholic mission.”


‘I Say More’ – Inauguration Video