Rev. Thomas P. Looney: Wilkes-Barre and King’s College keep reminding me


Wilkes-Barre and King’s College are places that keep reminding me. I was first assigned to King’s by the Congregation of the Holy Cross 36 years ago to teach part-time at King’s and serve as a deacon at St. Nicholas Parish. After two years of teaching as a new priest, I was sent to doctoral studies. After earning a doctorate in theology, I was called back to teach full-time at King’s and to help out in local parishes, a blessing that lasted for a dozen years. I transferred to Stonehill College in 2007, then served as Provincial Superior before being called back again in 2012. I am so grateful to be called back again and again.

As President of King’s, I often feel “remembered” to immerse myself in the great founding mission of our institution – the education of the sons of coal miners – and to imagine how that great mission meets the needs of the students of ‘today. Happy to be at the premiere of “Agnes” at the FM Kirby Center, I found myself caught up in the stories of courage and determination that rebuilt this incredible community after the flood. It reminded me that King’s has, since its founding, been deeply rooted in the heart and soul of this community and shares the same spirit of courage and determination.

On my way back to campus after the premiere, I passed the sites of the old Ramada Hotel, the Spring Brook Water Company, and the Times Leader buildings. The restoration of these downtown buildings in the Alley Center for Health Sciences, the Mulligan Center for Engineering, and the soon-to-be-renovated site of our first doctoral program spoke to me a lot about the college’s commitment to Wilkes-Barre. , while providing exceptional educational opportunities. to our students and a great economic impact for the city.

The next day, as I passed O’Hara Hall – remembering the dilapidated buildings it had replaced – to celebrate Mass in the new Chapel of Christ the King – the site of the former Memorial Presbyterian Church – I am again reminded of the college’s commitment to Wilkes-Barre while providing exceptional academic, residential, and spiritual experiences for our students.

At King’s, our students are at the center of everything we do. Much like Wilkes-Barre in 1972, I was amazed at their courage and determination over the past two years to persevere despite such an act of God – this time, a pandemic. Our student government leadership, led by its president Christian Hernandez, inspired the work of the college with two great slogans that called us to be the best we can be. Last year’s “Better Together” challenged us all to fully re-engage with the King experience. Sports competitions, extracurricular events, friends hanging out and studying together have returned to revitalize our campus and downtown. This year, the student government proposed “Monarchs in Action” calling on us to serve each other and our local community. Our students continue to remind us to be the community living the vision of our

founding president to teach students not just how to make a living, but how to live. We must be and act together to truly live.

The college’s incredible faculty, staff, and administration are constantly at work to guide our students in this vision, working closely with them, providing the educational and formative experiences that prepare them for great careers and to be great citizens. contributing to the common good. Whether it’s a professor meeting a student for coffee at Pour to discuss a research project in the lab, a coach modeling a student-athlete’s teamwork in the field, or from a staff member accompanying students on a SERVE immersion experience with a local nonprofit organization, it is the relationships our students engage with our mentors that transform their lives.

Other great relationships that support our students and strengthen the local community are the extensive and rich internship opportunities with local businesses and non-profit organizations. Our students learn so much from the rich talents of Northeastern Pennsylvania, and their education is deeply enhanced by the many excellent relationships we share not only with great alumni, but also with so many others in our business, civic and nuns.

Yes, King’s College and Wilkes-Barre keep reminding me, but I guess that’s just the people I owe it to. We say of the education of a King in the Holy Cross tradition that our education “transforms minds and hearts with zeal into communities of hope”. Community transforms us, and it is community that keeps reminding me.

The Reverend Thomas P. Looney, CSC, Ph.D., is President of King’s College.

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