Associate Campus Minister
Coordinator of Retreats
This Advent seems a perfect time to consider how I live the magis as Advent, to me, has always meant a time of waiting and preparation. It is a time to consider what can be: a time of universal peace; to change hearts, to make amends, to try again to be better. It is also a time to consider what will be: as a woman of faith I know whatever will be, for me, will be with God.
As I look to the future and the twists and turns that it holds, I recall Fr. Bob Pecoraro, S.J.’s talk at the Vocations Dinner a few weeks ago. He talked about how, when St. Ignatius faced a turn in the road, he accepted an attitude of “What’s Next?” I love that, as it absolutely defines my life to date. And I know, in faith, that it will also do so in the future. That attitude can change obstacles to opportunities if I am tuned in to the Spirit. It can make all the difference in how I lead my life! I’m blessed here at Canisius as my “vocation” has been to help people, particularly students, have an opportunity to meet God in a very personal way. It’s a rare and beautiful privilege to witness these connections on retreats.
This is where the magis comes in. In being open to the adventure of “What’s Next?,” I am also praying about what I want to do, what I can do, and what I love to do. I am praying about what God’s dream is for me, and how I fit into God’s dream for the world as my life takes on the inevitable twists and turns.
Advent reminds us all that God’s dream for us comes again and again in the hope and love that Jesus brings to us. My magis is to walk that talk.
Rita A. Capezzi, Ph.D. Associate Professor, English Transfer Advocate
I try to smile more, even when events around me suggest that there is nothing about which to smile. Smiling helps me tap into a sense of wonder about the world and of gratitude for life and my place in its midst. Smiling takes me out of the small-mindedness and mean-heartedness that sometimes plague me. Many times, people smile back. But even when they don't, smiling still connects me more closely to all those others with whom I share the mystery and beauty of living. And laughing -- that's good, too!
Sr. Patricia Brady, S.S.M.N.
Director, Community-Based Learning
Magis is a call and a challenge to stretch my spirit, my heart and my efforts to be and do all that I can to help recreate our world, our community and our lives. It doesn’t at all imply overdoing or stressing oneself in the attempt to stretch. It’s more like a reaching out to others, an opening wide the doors of my heart to see who can come in, a belief that doing something for others and for God is worth doing with my whole heart.
Community-Based Learning lends itself very well to living out the Jesuit cornerstone of magis.It is all about connecting educational efforts to community engagement in order to become transformed by the whole experience. I cannot be involved personally with the many community partners we have, but I feel I can be involved with them through the students who generously give of their time and talents to make a difference in our community and help to bring about more social justice.
The professors who engage their classes in this educational method are also involved in the magis experience because none of it would be possible without their collaboration. They, too, help to widen the doors of many hearts, and make it possible for the Buffalo community to enter in and find a home at Canisius.
Nancy Wellenzohn Associate Dean School of Education and Human Services
“It’s never too late to be who you might have been.” I use this quote by George Eliot as part of my e-mail signature to remind myself and others that learning is the path to growth and that this path is never-ending.
I hope that my professional actions inspire and motivate others not only to work hard but also to see that the past does not have to predict the future. It is never too late to change direction to something new or circle back to old, familiar ground. The journey itself has value.
I sometimes have the opportunity to counsel those at a crossroads, and oftentimes they are upset because of perceived failure. I tell them that as long as they keep moving, there is no failure, only learning. I also hope that this quote inspires others not to settle for less than they want. Opportunities come when they come, but you’ll only see them if you are looking, living, working, and growing.
Michael H. Wood Assistant Professor, Physics
Magis is exemplified by a quote from the 1981 film, Chariots of Fire. The character Eric Liddell explains why he has postponed his missionary work in China to compete in the 1924 Olympics by stating, "I believe that God made me for a purpose. But He also made me fast; and when I run, I feel His pleasure."
I also believe that God made me for a purpose and that is to love Him. But he also made me fast. My speed is in the field of Physics. Not just regular Physics, but Nuclear Physics. Every day I feel the excitement of trying to unwrap the mystery of the particles at the core of every atom. I am amazed at the skills and intelligence that God has bestowed upon me not only to ask the questions about subatomic dynamics but also that I am able to find the answers. I feel a thrill when I apply mathematics to a problem and the result makes so much sense that it is poetic.
Every person has one purpose, God’s love, and all people have something that makes us fast: their talents, skills, and intelligence. Canisius College is a place for magis. Every day the students, faculty, and staff become a little bit faster.
Karen Schmid Adjunct Professor, Fine Arts Music-Piano
I ask God’s help every day to bring music to my students. It is a privilege to share my love of music, and I am so grateful that I can serve others by giving them this lifelong gift. I consider music an aspect of divinity and I know that it can help us work through the pains and pleasures of mortal life.
I tell my students that music will never let them down, that music surely nourishes our souls. My magis is the edifying and happy task of leading students to the delights and struggles of mastering the piano. My hope is this will open students’ lives to sheer beauty, where notes are the allegorical reference to our humanness. Learning an instrument teaches them a different discipline, at times a welcome change from other study. It is my hope that it enhances all the aspects of their humanity for the rest of their lives.
Robert J. Butler Professor, English Department
As a teacher, magis always begins with, but is never restricted to, formal academics. It is critically important for me to spend more and more of my time preparing classes and studying my field so that I may offer stimulating, challenging courses. But it is even more important for me to work hard outside of class with my students so that they can meet these challenges and get the full academic benefits of these courses. This involves working with them on an individual basis and also making available to them trips to local, regional, and national museums, art galleries, and theatres. Extra work? Yes – but the rewards are incalculable.
But the Jesuit concept of magis extends well beyond conventional academics, demanding that we apply our knowledge and skills to meet the needs of marginalized and underserved people who populate the world beyond the academy. This has led me to teach regularly for the Consortium of the Niagara Frontier, a degree-granting program offered in area prisons. The Consortium has been jointly sponsored for nearly forty years by Canisius, Niagara, and Daemen. In prison classrooms, education becomes much more than a mechanical process of accumulating grades and securing a diploma – it becomes a transformative experience for both students and teachers. Last year alone, 15 Consortium students earned life-changing associate and bachelor degrees from Canisius. I am proud to be a faculty member at a college that has given such staunch support to such an extra-ordinary program.
The commitment to magis can be seen at Canisius in so many other ways as well. Campus Ministry and several other college organizations have for many years offered a broad range of social service activities which do, indeed, ask us for more than our formal academic work requires. But these activities make our learning humanly meaningful by using it to serve others. When our students tutor inner-city children or sacrifice vacation time to take service trips to Appalachia, the South Bronx, Central America, and India, they learn that providing more for others enables them to make their education a living experience rather than a mere routine. They then discover the powerful connection between the concepts of magis and cura personalis. For in giving more of themselves, they become whole, caring persons who can truly make a difference in our troubled world.
Andrew Genco ‘14, Special Education, SEHS
Campus Ministry Spiritual Intern
For me, living the magis at Canisius means never settling for less than the best.
I am doing pre-student teaching at PS 99 Stanley M. Makowski Early Childhood Center. One thing the school tries to instill in the students is the necessity to be “active learners.” That means they should be giving their very best effort to the task they are being asked to complete, whether it is listening to directions, or reading a story.
The magis to me relates very much to this concept. But instead of being defined for strictly when I am in the classroom, it goes beyond this into all aspects of my life. Of course, I must be an active learner in the classroom, but I must also be an active learner in my relationships with God, others, and myself.
To be an active learner in my relationship with God, I must truly listen to what He says to me, and do what I feel He would want from me all of the time. Active learners don’t have selective hearing; they do exactly as they know they should, when they know they should do it.
To be an active learner in my relationships with others, I must have a spirit that is open to whatever they need, whenever they need it. I must be accepting of the presence of friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers in my life, and provide them with the love and support that they need in order to flourish.
Finally, I must be an active learner with my relationship with myself. There is always a lot going on in the outside world, and I often forget that I must take care of what I need before I can take care of others. I must not ignore my own needs; because when I do, I am prohibiting myself from being my best.
Ashleigh Maciejewski, ‘15
Justice Intern, Campus Ministry
J.U.S.T.I.C.E. Chair, U.S.A.
Frisch Hall Resident Assistant
Magis is magnifying! It is our responsibility to take advantage of every opportunity to reflect, learn, grow and become inspired. Every opportunity helps us to identify our talents and passions that help us determine how we can best serve the world.
Canisius is full of faculty, staff, administrators, and students who go above and beyond in their roles. These people have used their gifts and insights to encourage me to be a better person. Thanks to them, I’ve been given countless opportunities to work toward fulfilling my potential. These opportunities have allowed me to grow as an individual and serve the community simultaneously.
Classes challenge and inform me, so that I can challenge and inform others. Campus Ministry introduces me to social justice issues, so that I can educate others about social justice. Residence Life offers me guidance and support, so that I can offer guidance and support to my residents. My fellow Undergraduate Student Association officers work tirelessly for the student body, so that together we can work to execute justice-themed programs for the student body. My involvement with organizations and individuals in the Canisius community has taught me how to live the magis.
Simply put, living the magis requires making a commitment to better myself for the sake of bettering others. There is nothing more rewarding. I am forever indebted to Canisius for introducing me to the magis. The only way to repay such a debt is to introduce the magis to others.
Director, International Student Programs
Living the magis is at the very heart of my professional work daily.
Working with the international students who attend Canisius is a constant reminder that there is a world out there that is far bigger than just our campus community. With each new student, I learn valuable lessons that expand my own knowledge of our global community. Getting to know the students’ backgrounds and cultures leaves me wanting to learn more.
I recently asked the new students who arrived in August why they chose to attend Canisius. The answers varied. What I strive for is to play a role, no matter how large or small, in each of their experiences while they are here. It is my hope that by serving them during their time here, they will return to their home country or wherever life takes them and then serve others.
Regardless of the reasons why they chose to attend, I hope the outcomes of their experiences are great ones. There is no better feeling than that of hearing from international alums who share with us how their experiences at Canisius have helped to lead them on their life path.
Director, Campus Ministry
“More” she signed. Or at least that’s what I thought she wanted. Maria Delores, a young orphan in Nicaragua seemed to be asking for more arroz con pollo, even though she hadn’t started eating what was already in front of her.
I was on a mission trip to Nicaragua and I was given the task of getting Maria Delores, not simply to eat her lunch, but also, to feed herself. She had cerebral palsy and had done extensive physical therapy to try to help her regain some use of her hand that was badly clawed.
I told her, “No” and placed the spoon in her hand and hoped that would be good enough to get her to begin her meal. That spoon became a flying object seconds later and landed half-way across the room.
I sighed, and then I caught sight of one of the kitchen workers laughing at my failure.
“Oh, can you do any better?” I bellowed nastily back at her.
“Si! Claro!” she replied. Challenge accepted!
She went into the kitchen and returned with two more forks and a bowl. She placed one fork in front of Maria Delores and the bowl and a second fork in front of me.
Maria Delores simply took half of her meal and spooned it into my bowl. The more she wanted was for me to be fed as well. She would not eat until all was served.
Here I was looking to serve her needs and instead a child who appeared to have nothing, gave me more. Much more. In fact, what little she had has fed my soul for some twenty years now.
Some days when I get down on myself because I don’t think I have what it takes to make a difference in the lives of our students, I am reminded of this small child, Maria Delores. When the finances are low, and the odds seem overwhelming, I remember that she gave me enough to last a lifetime. Magis, more…is simply giving all that we have and then maybe a little more and turning that into something life-changing.
We are all more than enough for others. We are magis. Nothing more but more importantly, nothing less.
Campus Ministry Spiritual Intern
President Hurley stares out at a crowd of prospective students, hands braced on the podium, as he greets teenagers and parents alike. The light catches his Canisius blue and gold tie as he begins his address, “We often hear how a college must be a good ‘fit’ for you.” He pauses, surveying the audience of students both bewitched and bored. Finishing he announces, “At Canisius, you will do more than just ‘fit’--you will thrive.”
Looking back, this was President Hurley’s way of introducing how Canisius embodied the Jesuit idea of magis, of more. As a student and member of the Canisius community, magis permeates my life here. To me, magis is a call to do, be, and love more. It is a call to go beyond what is expected of us. It is a word of love, an action of peace, a thought of showing God’s presence and prevalence in our lives, acting so that we transcend the faults of our own humanity to become more, to redefine ourselves as a force for good in the world. Magis is that step between ordinary and extraordinary. It is that extra layer of love in a person’s life. It is a leap of faith. It is the act of caring both for those you know and those you don’t. It is the more--the magis--that makes a leader.
In high school, I sort of wandered into leadership, but I never understood it. I never said that, “I lead this” or “I lead that.” Instead, I said that I was “in charge.” I never said that I was a leader. Transitioning into college, I decided leadership was an attribute I wanted to possess. But more than that, I wished to grow into it. For me it was a desire to be more than a person of authority; rather, it was an aspiration to be trusted, to be depended on, to be that person who looks at another and says, “Everything is going to be fine.” More than that, it was to be that person and to be believed. I aim to be more than the person in charge. I aim to be a leader, and my collegiate career has been focused on that goal: professionally, extracurricularly, and personally.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” -John Quincy Adams
Dr. Sandra Estanek
Professor, Graduate Education and Leadership
I teach college student personnel administration to master’s students here at Canisius. What does magis mean to me as I prepare my students to work as student affairs professionals? What more will they bring to the field because they graduated from Canisius? I believe the answer is love.
What does love mean? In the spirit of our new pope…a Jesuit who took the name of the founder of the Franciscans…I think we can turn to the Dominican St. Thomas Aquinas for the answer. Aquinas reminds us that love is not an emotion…it is the structure of our being in the world. He defined love as “to seek the good of the other.” I would argue that, given this definition, Student Affairs is always about love. When we advise our students in terms of their academics or to help them prepare for their careers, we seek their good; when we provide opportunities for leadership and even fun, we seek their good; when we connect them with new ideas and new people with different backgrounds and perspectives, we seek their good; when we get to know them and share their hopes and dreams, we seek their good.
St. Paul wrote in his letter about love addressed to the community at Corinth: “If I speak in human and angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing symbol. And if I have the gift of prophesy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.” St. Paul could be writing to us today. This is what it means to be a graduate of a Jesuit institution. This is what magis means to me.
Assistant Softball Coach
Each day I strive to live magis and represent Canisius College and our softball program by leading a genuine, authentic life. I work each day to deepen my understanding of myself and the people around me through open communication and personal reflection. I read the examen each day as a reminder to give thanks for the blessings in my life, to set personal and professional goals, to remember to be compassionate towards others, and always to maintain hope for a better tomorrow.
In my job as assistant softball coach at Canisius, I have the unique experience of being able to focus my energy on a group of seventeen amazing young women. My players are thoughtful, intuitive, driven student-athletes who challenge me each day to be the best coach and mentor possible. I enjoy facilitating community service events such as Special Olympics Softball and Basketball, service at the South Buffalo Community Table, and Girls and Women in Sports Day. I also facilitate a program called Golden Griffin Challenge.
The GGC is designed to test team members physically, mentally, and emotionally through activity-based learning. The players are put in situations that challenge them to focus on each other’s strengths, work on their communication, and persevere through difficulty. After each challenge players are given the opportunity to reflect on their experiences and share with the group. These challenges have helped us to deepen our understanding of each other, learn to be compassionate and understanding of each other’s differences, and to trust in each other.
Through our service to others and team challenge events, it is my goal to demonstrate to these seventeen young women there is more to life than school and softball.
Michael F. Tunney, S.J.
Director, Mission & Identity
Professor, Fine Arts Department
Everything for Ignatius was about people and our labors on their behalf. It’s about our personal and collective salvation, “the end for which we are created,” as Ignatius writes at the close of his First Principle and Foundation. I believe the magis is a means to that end, a way of looking at and being in the world, especially when it comes to finding God in all things within and around me in our world.
I’ve said it before and I still think it’s the case: I recognize the magis best when I stop to examine my day and days. When I engage the examen and recognize, as in a rear view mirror or around a corner, a glimpse of Jesus’ spirit prompting me forward into greater engagement with my life and its people. Or around and away from all the things that can diminish me and get in the way of my flourishing. Not surprisingly, I find magis is interwoven with gratitude, that great Ignatian interior disposition and outward expression that makes my body and soul smile the way it’s made to do.
I live and work at Canisius, in Buffalo and in our local diocese, in my Jesuit province and communities. In all these places I am with people, colleagues, my fellow Jesuits, brothers and sisters in Christ, my friends and family and beloveds. These people help my thoughts, words and deeds grow in magnanimity, the kin of magis, from annotation 5 in The Spiritual Exercises. Magnanimity is my great desire in a single, large, generous, Ignatian word. Magis is my way.