My retreat weekend coincided with the NCAA Final Four basketball game and presented a bit of a dilemma. My alma mater had made it to the Final Four. Would I skip out on the Saturday evening retreat session to join our alumni chapter at a nearby bar or would I stay and pray? Basketball or prayer?
I decided to stay for the evening session and pray for the team. Perhaps my prayers helped; Villanova won and moved on to the Championship game.
The retreat was called The Transforming Potential of Grief. The Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) provided the scriptural context and John Schneider’s model for transforming grief was the structure we used to reflect on our journeys of loss and grief.
Sunday of the retreat marked four years since my friend Jim died; three other friends have died since, including Ted, who died in January.
As I reflected on these friendships, I realized that I knew both Jim and Ted from Villanova. Ted and I met in 1985 (the last time Villanova won the National Championship); he was in his third year of law school, and I worked at the law school during the day and attended graduate classes at night. A year later, I met Jim in one of my graduate classes.
Attending Villanova had a huge impact on my life.
After working at the FBI for eight and a half years in a variety of clerical roles, I had decided to get a degree and become an agent. Quitting full-time work and entering college as a full-time student was a bit daunting.
My situation was complicated when the grant I had been promised fell through. I was twenty-seven years old, had no job and not enough money to cover Villanova’s tuition.
Father Driscoll, then President of Villanova, remedied my dilemma by giving me a Presidential Scholarship—a full-ride. His generosity overwhelmed me; I think I became a loyal daughter of Villanova that day. During my years at Villanova (I earned a B.A and M.A), the generosity Father Driscoll showed me was replicated in a many other situations. Villanova became home and family; it was and still is holy ground for me.
It also provided most of my adult friendships.
Living close to the University until three years ago, I had many opportunities to take advantage of all the school offers to alums and the community. And, like many things we have at our fingertips, I think I took it for granted.
Now, living six hundred miles away, my Villanova connections are more precious and my gratitude is even deeper. One of the first things I did when I moved to Michigan was to connect with the alumni chapter, and I help with a golf outing to raise scholarship money for kids from our area who go to Villanova. It is the least I can do to give back.
Reflecting on my Villanova connections reminded me how I blessed I am; I’m glad I decided to stay and pray.