Jesuits on campus talk about Lenten season experiences

By Alex Nemec, marketing communication specialist in the Office of University Relations

Amid the shared Lenten journeys on campus, the Marquette community has individually celebrated and observed the season, reflecting on how sacrifices or promises of generosity can help oneself or those in need.

To help draw our campus community together, Marquette Today asked two Jesuits on campus, Rev. Ryan Duns, S.J., and Rev. Ron Bieganowski, S.J., about how they are observing Lent, as well as to share any advice for those still trying to find purpose during this special season.

Rev. Ryan Duns, S.J.

One of the graces of moving into Marquette’s Jesuit community is that I get to live with Father Zepps. Father Zepps is a talented gardener and every year, early in March, he turns the “Project Room” into a mini greenhouse where he plants tomato seeds. I’m always amazed at how the great summer harvest of fresh fruits and vegetables begins so humbly.

Thanks to Father Zepps, my Lenten practice has become “planting and watching.” Every night, before I go to bed, I check the plants. In the first weeks, there is little progress. Night after night, I find trays of brown earth. And then, after many empty days, green shoots break the surface.

Lent is a time for preparing our hearts, for planting and tending seeds. I never know when new life will appear, but I know that prayerful patience and perseverance are rewarded with a great harvest.

Rev. Ron Bieganowski, S.J.

How does one observe Lent?

The first scripture reading for Ash Wednesday Mass begins, “The Lord said, ‘Return to me with your whole heart.’” Lent becomes a journey of one’s heart, remembering the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. How might one proceed with such a journey?

A traditional Lenten prayer recognizes the implications of such a journey: “As we recall the great events that gave us new life in Christ, you bring the image of your Son to perfection within us.”

To illustrate:

A prince had a crooked back that kept him from being the kind of prince he wanted to be. One day the king had a sculptor make a statue that portrayed the prince with a straight back. He placed it in the garden. When the prince saw it, he meditated on it and desired to be like it. Soon people began to say, “The prince’s back is getting straighter.” When the prince heard this, he began to spend hours meditating on the statue. Then one day he stood as straight as the statue. That story is a parable of you and me.

Born to be a princess or a prince, defects keep us from being what we are meant to be. God sent Jesus to show us how we can become what we were meant to be.

Read the Gospel of Mark, asking Jesus to reveal himself to you.

For more prayers and reflections throughout the year, visit