Of Manresa and Midterms

Being a Manresa Scholar was tough. The Shared Expectations, the Manresa seminar, the extracurricular programs—certainly not a walk in the park. But would I have wanted my freshman year to go any other way? Not a chance. And I suspect, by the end of this year, neither will anyone from the Manresa Class of 2021.

I remember sitting in the O’Keefe Study Commons on the eve of Dean Parmach’s philosophy mid-term. A sprawl of handouts and notes covered the table before me. I had inhaled so much Philosophy that I felt about 99% confident. I got up to finally call it a night, but something stopped me—that 1% of uncertainty: What if that’s one of the questions? What if that’s what the entire test is on? The possibility haunted me and I had to choose: sleep or certainty. And though I tried my best, certainty won out. I studied, skimmed, and searched that last concept until I couldn’t keep my eyes open.

The next morning, I sat in my desk with a glint of sleep deprivation and determination in my eye. Dean Parmach placed a test in front of me and I began to read. And guess what: That 1% I studied an extra hour for? That small, specific piece of knowledge I dissected so carefully? Nowhere on the test. Zero mention. Suffice it to say, I was a tad peeved, but it was a good thing I had prepared the other 99% of knowledge. It turned out just fine.

It takes a special type of relentless perseverance to thrive in Manresa: a meticulous work ethic paired with an unslakable sense of curiosity. It’s that very drive that propelled you to apply to and ultimately be accepted into the program; resolve and resourcefulness define Manresa Scholars. The Manresa Scholars Program imbues within you an endless pursuit of knowledge; “almost” will hardly be enough, and excellence will become your earmark.McCarthy Dinner Immersion.jpg

Though occasionally the work is intense and the sleep scarce, nothing prepares you better for a fruitful college experience than Manresa. The lessons I gleaned from Manresa last year—both academic and personal—continue to shape the course of my Fordham career. As a Manresa Scholar, I learned that my words and actions have the power to affect a change; I learned to think and speak concisely, making every word forcible and meaningful.

The very hallmark of a Manresa Scholar resides in their ability to be men and women for others. This year, I get a chance to put that adage into effect in a personal way; I was afforded the opportunity to work as Dean Parmach’s Faculty Advisor Student Assistant (FASA) for the same class I took last year. As a FASA, I aim to help this batch of unsuspecting interlocutors. I provide insight into the academic experience and help to guide the freshmen through the maze of first-year uncertainties. I see it as my way to give back to a program and class that empowered and inspired me.

Now, I know how rigorous these classes are, but I know that you’re in Manresa because of your desire for rigor. As a former Manresa Scholar and FASA, I’ll be accessible if you need help with learning that 99%. But that last 1%? Well—I couldn’t stop you if I tried.

Rafael Saplala, FCRH 2020
Manresa Scholar, 2016-2017

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Manresa Staff Spotlight: Rev. Lito Salazar, S.J.

In his third year with the Manresa Scholars Program, Fr. Lito Salazar, S.J. continues to bring an important essence to the character and values of this living-learning community. He says, “My presence to the Manresa community is that of an adult witness to genuine human living and loving. In particular, it is that of a vowed religious man, a Jesuit and priest.”

As the as the House Master and Executive Director of Campus Ministry, Fr. Lito defines his Manresa identity as “simply a pLito_280_2_for_website.jpgriest or minister who leads Manresa participants in prayer, preaches in Church, gives talks on Jesuit history and Ignatian spirituality, helps RAs and RDs plan and execute programs and service projects, or is available for consultation and advice on matters of faith and reason, personal and academic.” On top of this, he is an essential voice in our Reflecting programs within the Shared Expectations model. Keep an eye out for a few of his programs in the fall such as “Reflection in the Botanical Gardens,” or “Spirituality and Dreams.”

Additionally, Fr. Lito holds weekly Mass in Loyola Hall’s St. Ignatius Chapel on Thursdays at 9:00pm with an optional social gathering afterwards in his own apartment. He explains, “To those who seek more than a passing engagement, those who enter into conversations of depth in Loyola 302, I hope to embody for them the personal and inter-personal meaningfulness of life, where success and achievement are compatible with suffering and disappointment because it is oriented to something bigger than ourselves, more loving and more forgiving than we can ever imagine. That meaningfulness translates directly into a life of generous service and of trying to make a difference to a broken world and a suffering human community.”

In welcoming the Class of 2021 Scholars to the Manresa Program, Fr. Lito says, “My great desire is for Manresa Scholars to experience something of what Ignatius of Loyola experienced during his less than a year sojourn in that small Catalan town: a totally transformative experience, the beginning of a new life, a turning point. I want to see the Manresa residential program become a staging point for their lives to be marked by depth of thinking and imagination (intellectual, affective), passionate living (virtuous, disciplined), and always being in love (committed, self-sacrificing).”

Lindsey Register, FCRH 2020
Manresa Programming & Marketing Fellow, 2017-2018

Loyola Celebrates a Year of Community

Now in the final days of the school year, Manresa gathered on the porch of Loyola Hall for an end-of-year picnic. With the warm weather and beginning of final exams, the picnic was a much-needed break for students to relax. Manresa hosted a Welcome Picnic during the first week of the fall semester, and it is truly amazing to think of all the friendships, personal growth, and knowledge that Manresa Scholars have gained over the year.

Manresa fosters a close-knit community, where students support each other. During the picnic, students made plans for finals study groups and reminisced on shared experiences as Manresa Scholars. Although students will move-out of Loyola next week, the community will remain connected as Manresa Scholars, and will take with them the friendships and lessons they’ve gained over their freshman year.

Anja Asato, FCRH 2018
Manresa Programming & Marketing Fellow, 2016-2017

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Dignity: What Does It Mean?

According to many understandings of human rights, all people are born free and with dignity. We often speak of dignity as something that should be protected and respected. However, when prompted, you’ll be hard-pressed to come up with a true definition of dignity. What is dignity? Does everyone have the same amount of dignity? Can someone ever do something to lose their dignity?

These are just a few of the difficult questions that students tackled during last week’s Keyword Colloquium on “Dignity” led by Dr. Bryan Pilkington, interdisciplinary philosopher and Director of Academic Programs at Fordham’s Center for Ethics Education.

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Dr. Pilkington (2nd from left) leads an engaging colloquium on “Dignity” with Manresa Scholars.

Dr. Pilkington described the hypothetical case of a patient suffering from cardiac issues who is then also diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Without taking these medications, the patient would almost certainly suffer a fatal cardiac event soon after stopping them.

The patient could potentially stop taking his or her heart medicine to avoid living an “undignified” life with dementia. Dr. Pilkington got Manresa Scholars thinking by posing the question — is it morally acceptable to seek your own death, and by doing so are you acting with or without dignity?

He discussed the three viewpoints. The first view is that someone should stop taking the heart medicine and seek death to avoid falling into an “undignified” dementia. The second view is that one should continue to take the heart medicine because seeking your own death is a violation of dignity. The third group provides what Dr. Pilkington considered the best answer: allow the patient to make his or her own decision about what they feel is right for their life and body; that is, “dignity” is relative to individual patients.

Manresa Scholars split into small groups to discuss similar cases and attempt to create a working definition of “dignity.” Some Scholars suggested that people can never lose their dignity while others argued that dignity can be taken away by outside circumstances outside of one’s control.

While there were no definitive conclusions by the end of the dinner-colloquium, Manresa Scholars grappled with some difficult questions and utilized the critical thinking skills they’ve been developing all year.

Anja Asato, FCRH 2018
Manresa Programming & Marketing Fellow, 2016-2017

Reflecting on an Ethical Dilemma

Fordham’s President, Fr. McShane, says that Fordham students are bothered by the world around them. Manresa Scholars share this trait, and are challenged to question their beliefs and the world around them, struggling with ethical and moral dilemmas. Manresa Scholar Emma Budd, who took “Representations of China & the West” as her Manresa Seminar, shares how a Reflecting program offered in collaboration with Fordham’s Campus Ministry helped her to resolve an ethical dilemma.


Among the Manresa programs that I attended this semester, I can definitively say that Dean Parmach and Fr. Lito’s “Unpacking the Millenial Digitized Mind” colloquium ethically bothered me the most. This colloquium was centered on the concept of the millennial generation – what we are known for, both the good and the bad. Millennials are commonly recognized as lazy, technology-obsessed, and self-absorbed. I attended this colloquium expecting it to assert those very ideas – that as a generation, we need to improve ourselves. Although I do not entirely disagree with the conclusion that my generation is more self-absorbed than some of our predecessors’, I think it is incredibly unfair for other generations to assume that nothing good can come of us.

Thus, I was pleasantly surprised when Fr. Lito addressed the positive attributes of the millennial generation by stating that we have logged far more volunteer hours than other generations, showing that millennials have a prominent interest in charity work. Hearing this was refreshing, and I was excited about it until my peer raised her hand and brought up the following point: millennials may be logging more volunteer hours simply because we need them now more than ever for the college application process.

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Manresa Scholars clean up Bartow-Pell Park in the Bronx as part of a fall service project.

This point brought up the question of whether or not anything we do can truly be considered selfless. This is an ethical dilemma with which I have struggled in the past, and considering it in the context of my generation only heightened my worries that perhaps I did not enjoy helping people as much as I thought I did. I turned this thought over in my head for the remainder of the colloquium, and came to the conclusion that although volunteering did add to my resume, I do love helping people. I also decided that from now on, I should take the time to consider why I choose to help others before doing so.

If anything, this colloquium served to make me more aware of the ethics behind the choices I make when it comes to helping others.


Imagining and Discovering College Life

In the Manresa Scholars Program, we reflect on how Ignatian principles like imagination and discovery impact our day to day lives. Such concepts are essential to scholarly inquiry, as well. In “Introduction to Behavioral Health,” we explore research methods that are used to answer questions in psychology and medicine. This learning is then applied in our class project. Last year, Manresa Scholars devised a study on the association between well-being and healthy lifestyle engagement in college.

We found that exercise and healthy eating were indeed intertwined with happiness and stress. It was exciting to see data to espouse the importance of considering mind-body interactions as we discuss in class and more broadly see embraced in Manresa. These findings were presented as a poster at Fordham’s Undergraduate Research Symposium and we are now preparing an abstract submission to the Eastern Psychological Association annual meeting.

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This year’s Scholars chose to continue investigating well-being among college students. Specifically, our class project will focus on links between social connectedness and quality of life. This topic also reflects being a part of Manresa and the strong ties to the program and Loyola community that cultivate a deep sense of connectedness. In developing these studies, we excitingly can use our imagination for discovery of answers to questions that have been sparked by our new experiences.

Rachel Annunziato, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychology

Manresa Program Faculty Member (2015-2016 and 2016-2017)

An Ignatian Call to Attention

St. Ignatius of Loyola teaches us to find God in all things, to listen with a discerning heart, and to live for the greater glory of God’s name.

May we reflect on God’s presence in our lives as a community of lifelong learners of mind, heart, and spirit.

…And let us pray:

Almighty God, creator of breath and bread of life and all that nourishes it,

We give You thanks and ask for the courage to be responsive to Your call.

A call to find love in all things; A call to use the gifts of knowledge, patience, and insight for righteousness while working to dissolve the bonds of injustice in our world. 

We pray that we reciprocate the call of love that our parents, family, teachers, friends, and Fordham community instill in us to make us better people in Your service.

For this we pray, now and forever.

AMEN.

– Prayer by FCRH Freshman Dean, Dr. Robert Parmach

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