Forming Community

Dear Students (and your families),

Community is the heart and soul of Saint John’s University. Community is what distinguishes Saint John's from virtually every other school. Community is why I’m here—so taken was I by the “community” that I discovered, I entered the monastery a year after graduating from the university. Community may prove to be the most enduring aspect of your education in Collegeville.

Pardon me for not beginning this letter with a formal word of welcome. I did so deliberately, however, for it is my hope that you will remember, not my rudeness for failing to greet you, but rather that the first word I shared with you was “community.”

What do I mean by “community”?
I mean the manner in which we—students, faculty and staff—relate to each other: living creatively and learning together; the delight we take in getting to know one another; the respect and concern we have for others; and the way we listen to each other and to the voice of God speaking to our hearts and guiding our lives. All of this within the context of a liberal arts education on a remarkably beautiful part of the earth.

If you are anything like the freshmen of recent years, then, about the end of Christmas vacation, when announcing that you are returning to school, you might say, “I’m going home” (meaning to Saint John’s). Mothers weep at these words, but Admission counselors smile broadly, for they know that with such a comment, you’ve become another statistic in our retention rate (among the highest in the country)—and more than a statistic: you’ve become part of the Saint John’s community!

By the way, in emphasizing the importance of community, I am not merely repeating the latest marketing line. If graduating seniors are to be believed, then the community bonds—the time spent with those of us who live with you in the residence halls, the friendships made while at Saint John’s—are at the heart of a Saint John’s education. For some years now, in surveys of graduating seniors, students have listed community and their residential life experiences among the top two or three most significant aspects of their college lives.

Allow me to close this letter where it should have begun: Welcome! We look forward to your arrival in August, at which time, together, we will begin building community.

Respectfully yours,

Bro. Robin Pierzina, O.S.B. 3rd Floor Mary Faculty Resident