Joseph B. Modica, University Chaplain
University Chaplain Joseph B. Modica believes that he didn’t choose Eastern; he says Eastern chose him. He often quips to students: “One day I couldn’t spell the word ‘chaplain,’ then the next day, I became one.” Now in his 27th academic year at Eastern, Dr. Modica says that he simply can’t think of doing anything else. “For me,” he explains, “these years that a student spends with us is one of great identity formation—discovering their calling, choosing a vocation, learning how to live in adulthood, and be a person of integrity. You could live to 90, but these four years, you’ll look back and marvel at how formational they were.”
For Eastern University, that formational experience is rooted in faith. Much like the parable of the farmer who plants seeds on good, fertile soil, the University plants seeds of faith in its students—and helps them grow.
That transformation doesn’t always happen during their years at the University. “I used to think it could be quantifiable,” Dr. Modica explains. “But it doesn’t work that way. We’re committed to planting seeds on good soil, but not all students can be harvested the same way.”
Eastern University remains as committed as ever to spiritual formation, celebrating the unique journey each student embarks on. “At Eastern University,” Dr. Modica says, “you belong before you believe…We’re firmly centered on Jesus Christ, and want to welcome people to Jesus Christ, offering them a Christian tradition without impenetrable borders or barriers.”
“The University’s message to all its students, current, present, or future, is that they are welcome here,” continues Dr. Modica. “It’s in our DNA. You belong here. We’re on a journey, and we’re moving towards Jesus.” This sentiment, he says, is clearly reflected in the University’s current transitional plan. “The first imperative in the plan,” Dr. Modica explains, “is about our Christian identity. Certainly, we’re a Christian University for everyone: you don’t have to profess your Christian faith to be here. Be who you are.”
For Eastern University, it’s not just about giving students a degree and sending them on their way. “I feel I have a very small part in helping shape a generation,” Dr. Modica says. “Our core values of faith, reason, and justice are rooted in helping students discover a calling, and preparing them to make a difference in the world.”
“Also,” he says, “it’s just a lot of fun.”