Of the several important topics discussed in the first semester senior theology class Christian Manhood none is more important than that of love. We look at the ideas presented by C.S. Lewis in his classic little book The Four Loves
and try to relate these different loves to situations in our own lives.
One of those loves is very much essential to life at Saint Ignatius: storge
, or love of your group. This group can be your family, your neighborhood, your state, your country, etc. We hope that our students will feel a love for their Alma Mater such that they see it as a uniting force, especially in great moments of their lives. Such a moment will be upon us this weekend as the Wildcat basketball team travels to Dayton for their second Final Four appearance in a row.
But, as anyone who has feelings of storge
for a team knows, great moments can be heartbreaking.
Yet, even when great moments fulfill our dreams they can elicit in us a sense of joy that produces tears or what looks to the outside world as sadness. Near the end of the film Chariots of Fire
Harold Abrahams sits alone in the locker room, head down, silent. Minutes earlier he had become the fastest man in the world as he won the Gold Medal in the 100 meter dash. As his best friend rushes toward him with a glass of champagne another runner stops him, saying, “Leave him be,” giving for his reason that Harold had won “and it’s pretty difficult to swallow.”
And so are those great moments where storge
Last Thursday I was graced with the opportunity to participate in a great moment. It was an expression of storge
that has been almost fifty years in the making. It was a gathering of about a dozen or so members of the Class of 1977 (and the beloved Chuck Kyle ‘69) in an almost spur of the moment “reunion” in the basement of the Conway brothers’ establishment in Ohio City. Our Harold Abrahams that evening was Mike Ginley ‘77, and our great moment was the ability to spend some quality time together with Mike as he goes through his battle with pancreatic cancer.
In the fall of 1973, I sat two seats behind Mike in every class - homerooms stayed together all day back then - and one day, early on, we had a chat about our families. It turned out that his dad and my dad both graduated in the Class of 1952 and that our moms had also gone to school together at Marymount High School in Garfield Heights.
Throughout our high school years Mike and I spent a lot of time in class together, and also socialized upon occasion - we double-dated to the Homecoming Dance our senior year (side note: I married my date).
Mike was the archetypal scholar-athlete, and after taking his many talents to Kenyon College, he came back home and showed himself to be a true chip off the old block by following in his dad’s footsteps as a prominent member of the Alumni Association. He also helped out the Wildcats by honing the athletic skills of a number of future stars with his work as a CYO coach. In so many ways Mike is the poster child for what it means to be an “Ignatius man forever”, and the phrase “Ignatius man forever” is our way of saying storge
As each classmate came down the stairs at Great Lakes he was received by a big cheer and a bunch of handshakes and hugs. We had certainly changed in appearance since our first gathering in August of 1973, but the years melted away and we told stories as if they had happened in class that day. But even more importantly, amidst all of that camaraderie, each of us shared moments of silence where our being together was beyond any spoken words.
Marty Berry ’77, who along with Dave Presley ’77 made this evening happen, offered us some heartfelt words fitting of such an occasion, and then Mike was given several Ignatius gifts courtesy of Don Isabella of our Advancement Department, including a special AMDG cross that he had blessed by Fr. Guiao, S.J. ’82.
The final gift, courtesy of Brad Ganor and Rory Fitzpatrick ’88 in the Athletic Department, was a blue #54 Wildcat football jersey. The depth of the moment was lost on no one in the room. The contrast between the young men who wear those jerseys and a group of alumni on the verge of their 45th reunion is stark. The contrast between healthy bodies at their peak and the difficulties that come with age was literally the reason for our gathering. The image, taken by Jim Lentz ’77, of Mike holding up his jersey, said what a thousand words could never say.
Before we exchanged our final good nights and promised to see each other at the reunion this summer we asked our server to take a group shot of our Ignatius Men Forever. It, like my photo of Mike, his dad, my dad, and me from our 25th reunion and our dads’ 50th is awash in storge
, is literally a picture of love: love of our family, of our friends, of our classmates, and of our “famed Alma Mater.”