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home : from the bishop : from the bishop January 22, 2019

Homily for Inauguration Mass of President Joseph Marbach

Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M.

Georgian Court University
October 16, 2015

I remember as though it were yesterday, sitting at my own presidential installation Mass at The Catholic University of America 17 years ago.  I can recall thinking to myself in the midst of it all “what have I gotten myself into?” 

Like President Marbach, I had a few months lead time before the ceremony to “get my feet wet,” “to get a taste of what was to come” so to speak.  I watched the beautiful procession at Mass in the Basilica, listened carefully to the sermon delivered, and placed my faith in the Lord. 

It worked out, Joseph, and so I advise you to sit back and enjoy these historic and unforgettable moments.  On the heels of the Holy Father’s visit to the United States, the World Meeting of Families and, now, the Synod of Bishops discussing marriage and family, I hope that your honeymoon here at Georgian Court University lasts a long time!

Our Scriptures today speak of “faith” and “courage,” two important virtues for the Christian and for anyone who is about to begin a new adventure.  In the first reading from the Letter to the Romans St. Paul wrote “Abraham believed and it was credited to him as righteousness.”  So, too, with David, his descendant, both before and apart from any works they were to do.  It all begins with “faith” and with “belief.”  Righteousness, justice and grace follow.  Begin your service with faith, Joseph, firm faith in God and place your life and service in his hands.  Likewise, I encourage this community of learning to do the same as a new chapter begins for you.

Our Gospel from St. Luke today reminds us that “nothing is concealed that will not be revealed … that what is said in the darkness will come to light, that what is whispered will be proclaimed from the housetops.”  At first blush, that could seem a little disconcerting given all that it takes to be a university president these days and all that will cross your desk.  Don’t let those words rattle you. As you commit yourself in faith to your responsibilities, “do not be afraid” for, as Jesus says, “you are worth more than many sparrows” and so is the task that faces you and all those who surround you here in this community.

Father Theodore Hesburgh, the legendary president of Notre Dame, once said “the very essence of leadership is vision.”  These beginning days of your presidency are the time for you to develop your vision for the future of Georgian Court University.  A vision, however, cannot be formed or fashioned in isolation. A good leader looks first before he leaps; a good leader listens first before he speaks; a good leader learns first before he teaches.  Look, listen and learn first and your vision as a good leader will follow and deepen and grow for the community you seek to lead and your vision will also become theirs as well.  The faith and courage that the scriptures today suggest -- and that are God’s gifts to you -- will be transformed into the grace that will sustain you and your vision for the years that lie ahead.  Take all these things and be the kind of leader who is a servant of those we ask you, today, to lead at this Catholic university.  Never fear that identity; never apologize for or compromise it; never turn your back on what it demands of you and this university. 

Pope St. John Paul II wrote in his apostolic constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae a quarter-century ago, “It is the honor and responsibility of a Catholic university to consecrate itself without reserve to the cause of truth.  This is its way of serving at one and the same time booth the dignity of man and the good of the Church (ECC, art 4).” 

President Marcbach, invite this Catholic university, lead this Catholic university, to seek, to know and to lift truth high so that Georgian Court University might be for all who teach here, for all who work here, for all who study here “a lamp of learning and a light of faith.”


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