Gerry Turcotte

Gerry Turcotte

Gerry Turcotte is the president at St. Mary's University in Calgary.

Today’s social media world has made abbreviations seem more ubiquitous than ever.

St. Mary’s University in Calgary is situated on a sprawling 35-acre property adjacent to Fish Creek Park, the largest urban provincial park in Canada. As a result, our campus is often teaming with wildlife, and here I don’t just mean student parties.

How would aliens reconstruct skulls that they discovered here on Earth?

The opening to Luis Bunuel’s Un Chien Andalou is predictably impossible to watch. An eye is open, observing the viewer, and then a razor blade is sliced across its surface. Few could watch this without blinking or looking away, something the director depended on as he “cut” from a human to a cow’s eye. And yet, as I lay on the operating table, with a mask covering my entire face except for my exposed right eye, I remember thinking, as I watched the scalpel move towards me, and then felt it press on and into my eye, that this was one of the most beautiful sights I’d ever seen. I hoped it wouldn’t be my last.

Our world is filled with positive and negative spaces — cracks and openings, fissures and holes. It is human nature to want to fill these spaces, whether through words into silence or action into stillness. How often have we seen someone babbling to fill in an uncomfortable silence, unable to let the stillness take hold?

Last year Pope Francis delivered his traditional Christmas message from the Hall of Benediction of St. Peter’s Basilica, rather than from the usual window where popes more traditionally appear before tens of thousands of the faithful. Just as his place of delivery reflected the grim reality of COVID, so too did his message focus on the responsibilities we — and the wealthier nations especially — have towards those in need.

Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. Actually, it was Plato who argued that “our need will be the real creator,” a comment that eventually morphed into our more familiar adage.

The Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education has estimated that the total number of Catholic higher education institutions around the world is over 1,300.

There is an old joke that asks what the difference is between a liturgist and a terrorist. The punchline: You can negotiate with a terrorist.

In the Book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar summons the magicians, enchanters and sorcerers of his kingdom to explain a troubling dream he has had. In a test of their ability, he declines to tell them what he dreamt, but instead insists that they reveal it to him and put it into context. The Chaldeans respond that no one could do such a thing “except the gods,” prompting the king to issue a decree that all wise men be executed.

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