Cover Story

‘A Fire that Kindles Other Fires’: The Inauguration of Rev. Joseph G. Marina, S.J.

The sun shone on the Rev. Joseph G. Marina, S.J., as he strolled up the Commons in full academic regalia, waving to students on the way to his Inauguration as the 29th president of The University of Scranton in the Byron Recreation Complex on Sept. 24.

‘A Fire that Kindles Other Fires’: The Inauguration of Rev. Joseph G. Marina, S.J. banner image

"A Pastor and a Leader"

The sun shone on the Rev. Joseph G. Marina, S.J., as he strolled up the Commons in full academic regalia, waving to students on the way to his Inauguration as the 29th president of The University of Scranton in the Byron Recreation Complex on Sept. 24.

It is the students, Fr. Marina promised in his Inaugural Address, who will be his priority during his tenure, which began mid-pandemic.

“There is nothing more important than the pastoral care of our students,” he said. “This most certainly includes our graduate and doctoral students as well, along with the rest of our community. And I promise you that, with the help of God’s grace, I will work very hard to live up to your expectations on this.”

“A Faith That Burned at Our Beginnings”

The Inauguration took place during the Ignatian Year, marking the 500th anniversary of the conversion of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Fr. Marina, ordained to the priesthood in 2012, connected the crowd of nearly 1,500 students, faculty, administrators, staff, alumni and friends to the University’s Catholic and Jesuit roots by asking them to find inspiration in the life story of St. Ignatius during this special year. And, relying on a phrase from the second decree of 35th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, he called the University “a fire that kindles other fires.”

“Our future will be stoked by the fire of the Holy Spirit for decades to come. This triune reality makes our community open to all, not despite their differences but precisely because of them. We are made stronger by our diversity and by our love for one another,” he said.

In fact, demanding that “diversity be a priority as we build an inclusive community and campus culture” is just one goal outlined in the Strategic Plan, adopted in 2020 during the tenure of the late Scott R. Pilarz, S.J. H’15, the University’s 24th and 27th president. The remaining four goals are: to emphasize the humanities as a pathway to understanding the human experience; to help students explore their faith, discern their purpose and pursue their passion as they work to create a more just and sustainable world; to advance the University through innovation in ways that are creative, affordable and relevant; and to invite and inspire partnerships in our mission.

"The entire world will feel the fire of this great Catholic and Jesuit university."

- Rev. Joseph G. Marina, S.J.

The challenges to higher education are “quite real at Scranton and throughout the nation,” said Fr. Marina in his address. The Strategic Plan takes the issues facing higher education into account and will “form the cornerstone” of his vision during his tenure along with the four Universal Apostolic

Preferences calling upon all Jesuit works to “focus on the Spiritual Exercises and discernment; walk with the excluded; accompanying young people in the creation of a hope-filled future; and care for our global environment.”

He addressed access and affordability and the need for more programs to serve non-traditional student populations. He aims to collaborate with the other area Catholic colleges and universities and tap into the networks of both Jesuit and non-Jesuit colleges to improve the quality of education for all.

“Through all of this, we will be able to prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s jobs,” he said, “while preserving and enhancing our deeply-rooted commitment to a liberal arts education.”

Despite the challenges, he remains hopeful that “the entire world will feel the fire of this great Catholic and Jesuit University.”

“We have a magnificent Strategic Plan to guide us. We have the four Universal Apostolic Preferences of the Society of Jesus to inspire us,” he said. “We have alumni, benefactors and friends who have supported and sustained us since our founding. We have each other … and we have our faith, a faith that burned at our beginnings and is still going strong. A faith that focuses on students and advances academic excellence, cura personalis, service and justice for the poor and the oppressed, a passionate commitment to the magis and to finding of God in all things. May it always be so.”

“A Fire That Kindles Other Fires”

Prior to beginning his work as Scranton’s 29th president on June 14, 2021, Fr. Marina served as provost and vice president for academic affairs and professor of education at Le Moyne College from 2016 through the spring of 2021. His responsibilities included overseeing the Jesuit college’s three academic schools, honors program, library, campus life, student housing, conduct and Title IX compliance, diversity and inclusion programming, global education, student success and support services, disability services and several other areas.

From December 2020 to February 2021, Fr. Marina served as acting president at Le Moyne while the college’s president, Linda M. LeMura, Ph.D., participated as a Chancellor’s Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Syracuse University.

In her remarks at Inauguration, LeMura extolled Fr. Marina’s leadership abilities.

“What we need at this moment in higher education are leaders capable of distinguishing between the inevitable and the possible,” she said. “Leaders with enough creativity and originality to write a new script for the future. And that, University of Scranton, is just one of the ways in which you are so blessed to have Joe Marina as your president.”

installationofpresident-47101.jpgBefore he worked alongside LeMura at Le Moyne, Fr. Marina served as the dean of the School of Continuing Education at Providence College, assistant dean for the College of Science and Mathematics at Montclair State University, and assistant dean for Metropolitan College at St. John’s University. In addition, he taught religious studies at Providence College and mathematics at St. John’s University. He served as pastor of the Church of St. Francis Xavier and as associate pastor of the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, both in New York City. He also served as a trustee on the boards of several colleges.

Fr. Marina holds a Doctor of Philosophy in administration and supervision from Fordham University, of which Joseph M. McShane, S.J., is president. McShane was the 23rd president of Scranton and spoke directly to Fr. Marina in his remarks at the Inauguration.

“Joe, I cannot tell you how thrilled I am that our beloved University, aka ‘The U,’ has been placed in your loving, wise and pastoral care,” said Fr. McShane. He referred to Fr. Pilarz’s much-loved metaphor for Scranton: “The University really is a miracle.”

Fr. Marina agreed that the University is indeed a miracle, paying tribute to Fr. Pilarz’s description from his first inaugural by offering a new metaphor to describe the transformative effect of the University.

“The University might also be considered a ‘vineyard in the valley,’” he suggested. “The credit goes to our wonderful students, our amazing faculty and staff, loyal trustees, alumni and benefactors who, year after year, have cultivated the soil of this vineyard to make it rich and nurturing.”

John D. Dionne ’86 and Jacquelyn Dionne ’89 are two such benefactors. Fr. Marina announced at Inauguration a $1,000,000 gift from the couple to support two programs of excellence in the Kania School of Management: the Frank P. Corcione Business Honors Program and the Robert L. McKeage Business Leadership Honors Program.

In his remarks, Fr. Marina continued to offer credit to and appreciation for members of the University community and the leaders who preceded him, which is perhaps indicative of his own leadership style. How might he “bring us into a future of promise and opportunity,” despite the challenges facing higher education? To Fr. Marina, it seems the answer does not lie with him but with an entire community, which is the University’s “tactical and sacred” advantage.

“Will you please join me as we carry our mission forward, or, more rightly, may I join you?” he asked at the conclusion of his Inaugural Address. “So that, together, we can cultivate this wonderful vineyard in the valley and be that ‘fire that kindles other fires?’”

Heard at Inauguration

Celebrating the day alongside Fr. Marina were many delegates, dignitaries, alumni, faculty, staff and guests who spoke at Inauguration. Here is what some of them had to say.

“The University really is a miracle. It is a place in point of fact where miracles are commonplace; where dreams are nurtured; where hope is born in every generation; where the students have a friendship and a genius for loyalty, and therefore a place where friendships are strong and lifelong; where character is formed; where God is discovered, wrestled with, praised and served; where generosity is a way of life.”

— Rev. Joseph McShane, S.J., the 23rd president of The University of Scranton and current president of Fordham University

“We have already noticed Fr. Marina’s genuine commitment to students and remain excited about the legacy he will leave on this University long after many of us have graduated.”

— Adrianna O. Smith ’22, president of Student Government

“More so than any other person I know, Joe has a stunningly acute sacramental vision. What I mean by that is that he sees clearly what is before him, but he also looks through those things, people, relationships, objects, impasses. He looks beyond them to see possibilities and newness. He sees the best of what can be and ultimately he sees how the finger of God is at work in all of it and in all of us.”

 Rev. Peter Folan, S.J., assistant professor of theology and religious studies at Georgetown University, in the introduction of the president

“At its core, the University continues to fulfill its original vision, rooted in the life of the church as a Catholic and Jesuit university animated by the spiritual vision and tradition of excellence characteristic of the Society of Jesus and those who share its way of proceeding.”

 Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L., bishop of Scranton

Scroll to Top