Archived Letters from Interim Director Fr. Howell, SJ

Season of Mellow Fruitfulness

Posted by Patrick J. Howell, S.J. on Tuesday, October 2, 2018 at 4:08 PM PDT

Classes have finally started. And the Upper Mall is now bustling with students walking to and fro, enjoying the crisp, colorful autumn air. Keats had it right in his “Ode to Autumn”—“season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.” Enjoy the splendor of falling leaves.

One of the major challenges for the Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture this year will be helping to address the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church with specific critiques of the power structures and clericalism which failed for so many years to adequately address the issue. We are in the process of partnering with experts and wisdom figures to create forums for discussions. Recently I spoke with Andrew Prevot of Boston College, our first speaker in the Catholic Heritage Lecture Series on October 25, he has agreed to shift his lecture somewhat and to suggest the spiritual and intellectual resources available to help with the reforms needed.

For now let me offer some links for some excellent material already being generated by our sister Jesuit universities and a letter of the Jesuit Superior General Arturo Sosa calling the church and society to reform.

Georgetown University – Crisis of Faith: Scandal, Pope Francis, the Synod, and Young People (9/17 gathering)
Georgetown University - Confronting a Moral Catastrophe (9/25 Forum)
Loyola Chicago - Integrity and Accountability in The Catholic Church (10/11 event)
Canisius College president calls for stronger role of women in Catholic Church (Buffalo News)
Santa Clara Resource page
Superior General Fr. Arturo Sosa, SJ, on Sharing the Suffering of Abuse Victims, Fostering Culture of Protection

The goal of ICTC remains the same: to continue to break open and mine the rich heritage of the Catholic intellectual tradition and how it offers a healing, curative lens for so many of the conflicts that our society currently endures. 

Towards the end of September, Seattle U lost one of its most esteemed and creative colleagues Professor Gary Chamberlain, who worked at SU from 1979 to 2009. His contributions were widespread and enduring. Along with others, he provided forums in 1987-1989 for critiquing the abuse of power in the Catholic Church, which resulted in the collected essays Empowering Authority, eds. Patrick Howell SJ and Gary Chamberlain (Sheed & Ward). He was a mover in having the University embrace the Jesuit mission of a faith that does justice, and throughout his life he was an advocate for Catholic Social Teaching. His last book, published just before he died, was Because Water is Life: Catholic Social Teaching Confronts Earth’s Water Crisis. He has a dear friend, hiking companion, and comrade in arms on many of the reforms we tried to address together. 

The Seattle rains have returned, and so now finally I feel that I’m home again after having spent last year in the verdant desert of Orange County as Interim Director of the Loyola Institute for Spirituality. People don’t think of it as a desert because everything is irrigated by water drawn from the Colorado and Sacramento rivers, but all of last year we had only 2” of rain. The good news is that the Loyola Institute for Spirituality in Orange, CA is now in excellent hands with its new director Lori Stanley, who just started last week. Mission accomplished. They too can enjoy a season of mellow fruitfulness—without the mists. See 

Patrick Howell, S.J., interim director

Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture