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Passing on our values

Gavin T. Murphy keeps a weekly blog on and he looks to Ignatian Spirituality for strength and inspiration.

“Men and women for others” – Pedro Arrupe SJ

I was educated by the Jesuits who taught me to be a man for others. At school, I reached out through charity work, welcoming the new student, and sacrificing myself on the running field. At university abroad, I cared for the Irish students, worked for the church, and helped friends to run better. Afterwards, I volunteered at an orphanage and a hospital, before becoming ill and returning to Ireland. When I got better, I worked with asylum seeking children and school children. However, my health continued to suffer and I slowly learned to take care of myself. Now, I manage to integrate this value through my commitment to this blog and maintaining a balanced mood for a balanced life.

A quality educator

I pondered from the perspective of an educator this week as I had to cover a story about my former principle who died. Paddy Crowe SJ spent his whole life working in schools and he knew the importance of values in the life of a student. At one school where he was teacher, prefect, rector, spiritual father, and headmaster, he said: “We think Clongowes is a good school and to it we are willing to give our time, our energy, our humanity, our life”. What gave him so much purpose and sense of mission? What values did he himself possess? “Educational value,” he said once, “is based largely on personal contact of good people with the young.” This is the kind of quality educator we want for our world. I can only begin to imagine the positive influence he has had on thousands of students.

“One cannot level one’s moral lance at every evil in the universe. There are just too many of them. But you can do something, and the difference between doing something and doing nothing is everything” – Daniel Berrigan SJ

While on the bus this week, a neighbour recognised me and asked me to help a lady find her hotel. I obeyed and between us we were able to recall it. We then spoke with another passenger who agreed to notify the lady of its whereabouts. The bus suddenly seemed to come alive with a sense of community as there was a bit of banter between us. My neighbour and I left the bus and the lady waved goodbye. In terms of values in romantic relationships, the Claddagh ring comes to mind. Created in County Galway, this traditional ring symbolises friendship in the form of joining hands; love in the form of the heart; and loyalty in the form of the crown. Many couples are known to wear these rings and I believe it touches on the theme of sacredness, similar to the bond of marriage.


I think that a lot of people have a value to help their neighbour and there is a lot of good will out there, for example, paying respects at a funeral, helping an elderly neighbour cross the road, and saying a friendly “hello”. But I think we find it harder ‘to help the stranger’: to be an active bystander at a road accident, to patiently give directions to a foreigner, and to volunteer at a soup kitchen for the homeless. Yes, we may do these things but I wonder if they are as a result of a deep-rooted value. For when we have anchored quality values, we are alive with life and love. It is experienced in our being and others can see it. Passing on values of great strength and worth may be the most important gift we can give to our world.

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