Showing posts from 2006

No Place Like Home for the Holidays

As it is my custom, whenever I come home to Cleveland I prefer to stay at the four-star "Chez Hagan" B&B, also known as Grandma Hagan's house. In these delux accomodations I have cable, a big bed, my own bathroom, and 24/7 laundry service. In fact, Grandma Hagan's charism seems to be doing the laundry: I can throw anything down into the basement and then, several hours later, it will re-appear folded and clean! If I believed in House Elves, I would suspect that my grandmother had help but, since I know better, I have to marvel at her laundering skill. I mean, I bet I could take all of my just-delivered clothes and throw them up into the air, wrinkle them up, and then throw them back downstairs and, by the time I wake up tomorrow, they'll be clean and folded!

As a novice, we prepared for Christmas with a Triduum retreat. Mirroring the pattern of the three-day Triduum, the Duns family celebrates Christmas with three days of festivities. On Christmas Eve my Uncl…

Name Change

After fielding a host of questions concerning the name of my blog, I have decided to change it to "A Jesuit's Journey." I chose the name "Wounded Knower" almost two years ago when I began a more in-depth study of the history of Christian mysticism and became enchanted by the concept of one who, through an encounter with the risen Christ, bore forever the wounds of knowledge, the wound of knowing the Lord.

So, while the content will stay the same, I figure a name change to start the new year would be a good idea.

I wish a Merry Christmas to all. Please hold in prayer our friends and family members who are no longer with this. I remember particularly John Beebe, father of Richard Beebe, nSJ who died after his battle with cancer. Our prayers are united with Rich as he mourns the loss of his father.


Just a quick note: posts will probably be few as I am now at home and have less direct access to a computer. When I come to Cleveland, I stay at my Grandma Hagan's house in Rocky River - and Grandma does not have the internet. In case I don't post again before Christmas, please let me extend my sincere and prayerful wishes for all my readers. I wish you a Merry and joy-filled Christmas and a grace and peaceful New Year!

Companions Reflection

The Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus - a geographic area covering Michigan and most of Ohio - publishes a supplement to Company Magazine entitled Companions. The Fall edition carries reflections offered by me and two of my classmates on the occasion of the profession of our first vows. Below is my reflection:

I learned to play Irish music by imitating the great masters of the tradition. Sitting at their feet, I would watch how they breathed, how they kept time, how they expressed themselves through their tunes. Over time, I found my own voice in the tradition and realized that I, too, had something to contribute; I realized that what I had received from those who had come before me demanded that I respond by passing down our musical heritage to the next generation.

Professing vows mirrors my experience with music. Having come to know God through the love shown to me by my family and friends, and particularly through the influence of my Jesuit teachers and mentors, I felt deep w…

Few New Things

I just want to advert your attention to several new links on the site. "Nunsuch" is a blog recently started by Sister Sandy Yost, CSJ who is a professor at the University of Detroit-Mercy. "A Nun's Life" is the blog of Sister Julie Vieira, IHM of Loyola Press. Finally, we have added "Meditations from Carmel" (Not the delicious butter and sugar 'caramel' but Mt. Carmel, of Elijah vs. Baal fame and the birthplace of the Carmelite religious order. Come to think of it, if I ever write my cookbook "Dessert Mysticism" I might have to include a section on "Caramelite Spirituality"). This site is similar to pray-as-you-go and has short reflections drawn from the rich spiritual heritage of the Carmelites. As one who has a deep love of the 16th-century Carmelite mystics (Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross) I'm quite glad to include this site here!

Oh! One more thing:

Happy Birthday to Jane Dryden!!

Deep River

Years ago, I read a marvelous book by ShusakoEndo entitled "Deep River". If you ever get a chance, I would suggest picking it up.

Throughout the novel, there is a recurring passage of Scripture taken from Isaiah 53. Using the King James version (it sounds nicer this way) it reads:

He hath no form or comeliness; and when we shall see him,
there is no beauty that we should desire him.
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and
acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our
faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows:
yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was
bruised for our iniquities…

Intro to the Irish Tin Whistle

I'm only going to post this first video on here (the rest will be stored on the YouTube group I've dedicated to the whistle) just to show the shape of the course I'm going to teach. I'm very excited about using the internet to teach Irish music and I think that this will open up a host of opportunities both for musical education and for evangelization (why should the two be separate?).

Day of Leisure

Yeah, I'm pretty much that guy: I finished my papers and, since I feel pretty confident for the one final I have on Monday, I've decided to spend the next few days concerned with leisurely pursuits. So today I had a leisurely breakfast, read for a spell, then I went to the Metropolitan Museum where I saw "Glitter and Doom: German Portraits from the 192o's" and "Louis Comfort Tiffany and Laurelton Hall - An Artist's Country Estate". I also learned a new word that I would like to share:

Demimonde - a noun describing the class of women considered to be of doubtful morality and social upstanding.

I encountered the word as associated with the "Glitter and Doom" exhibit (it was used, I think, three times) and as a lover of fun words, I wrote it down and looked it up in the dictionary. I don't know how I'd ever incorporate that into my quotidian lexicon (Read: day-to-day speech) but I thought it a fun sounding word nonetheless.

Following the…

Open House

As it has now become the custom, we will be hosting the Duns Family Open House on Tuesday, December 26th. If you will be in the Cleveland area, please put this date on your calendar - the past two years have been great fun and I believe that this year we will have a good Jesuit representation (Drew and Adam and, hopefully, their mothers!). There will be food, there will be music, and there will be good cheer - please consider attending!

It's been a very busy week. In addition to the tin whistle course I'm teaching next term, I am also running two independent studies on the history of Irish music. I'll also be taking four courses: St. Augustine, Fundamental Moral Theology, Christology, and Philosophy and Contemporary Theology. It'll be a busy term, to be sure, but I'm excited for my courses.

The consequence of my first round through graduate school is that I learned, due to a heavy travel schedule, how to manage my time efficiently. So I'm proud to say that I have…

Better Late than Never!

Another photo from vows!

Ryan the Anne Hall

Quick Update

First off, thank you for holding my mother in prayer these last few days. Her surgery went very well and she is now at home recovering. After twenty-seven years of wondering, I now have definitive proof: my mother does, in fact, have a heart.

Second, my sister Torrey has returned from Japan.

Third, the second point wouldn't be wholly news-worthy if, upon Torrey's return, her boyfriend didn't propose to her!

Yep, Torrey is getting married to Brian Halloran!!!!!

This is really great news in our house. Brian, originally from New Jersey, is now teaching in Chicago. He is an exceptionally accomplished Irish musician (flute, whistle, pipes) and I am so joyful that he will be joining the clan.

Request for Prayers

It has been a VERY busy Post-Oireachtas week. Hence the dearth of posts on the site.

I would ask, however, for prayers for my mother Mary Michele Duns. Mom is having heart surgery today and I know she and my whole family would appreciate it if you held her in prayer.


**IF I can find the time by Sunday, I would like to share my Advent reflection with you. I had time while playing for Irish dancers this weekend to reflect on the Advent season, and I have a feeling that it might be helpful to some**

Uploading Sort of Day

Apart from having to read a few articles, I've had time enough to play with my computer today. I've put a bunch of new videos up on YouTube - if you follow the link on the right, you'll find your way to them.

Please say a prayer for safe travels for of those Irish dancers and their families who will be competing at their regional championships this weekend.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I Will Take My Worry to the Harp

So for my 301st post, this is a video from the same concert shown below. This is Fr. Robert Scullin, SJ, the provincial of the Detroit Province. This was the release of his CD "And It's So Clear", the benefits from which go to support Jesuit Refugee Services. I like the tin whistle interlude. The acoustics weren't too hot, though.

300th Post!!!

I just realized that this is my 300th post. Hooray!

So here's my first "speaking video" to be posted. I had to edit it a little bit because I risked violating HIPAA protocol. Nevertheless, you'll get the gist of it. This is a talk I gave as part of series at my alma mater, St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, Ohio. We were asked to reflect on how our time at Ignatius had influenced us on our journey. Obviously, I couldn't resist throwing a little Irish music into the mix.

Discernment of Spirits

Playing Clerics (Ryan and Jim)

I think it speaks for itself! Taken October 29th, 2005 in Detroit at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral.

Weekend Update

I can't believe it's been a week since I last posted! Time sure is flying by.

It really has been a busy week. I've been trying to get a lot of work done before I head off to Chicago this weekend for the Mid-American Oireachtas. I'm amazed that I'm not more nervous than I am - I guess I'm getting used to playing "high pressured" gigs again. I've also been busy teaching my one-on-one music students and preparing to teach my "Intro to the Irish Tin Whistle" course next semester (as of Friday, I have 19 students registered and the sophomores and first years still have to sign up for classes). I'm also going to direct a student in the Irish Studies program as she does research into the tin whistle.

Happy 17th Birthday to Michael English. His birthday is on the 15th so I hope he accepts this belated greeting.

Things are going pretty well otherwise. I'll probably not post anything new until after I come back next week, so please don'…

Two Old Favorites

Per a request by Meghan McNamara, I have posted two tunes that I've been playing for many years. The first one is a lovely reel "The Golden Keyboard" and the second one was my party-piece when I was in the 8th and it's called "The Flogging Reel."

Matters of Faith

One of the best things about maintaining a blog is that every now and again, someone stumbles upon what you've written and something you've said touches a nerve or strikes an inner chord. This week I had the good fortune of beginning a thoughtful conversation with a young man who has agreed to allow me to use his question as the beginning of this post. He writes:

One of the problems that I have with faith has to do with prayer actually, and I was wondering your opinion. When I go to mass on Sundays, I feel like I am just sitting through a recited hour of prayer . When people say the creed and when they say the Our Father, there doesn't seem to be any emotion or any meaning behind what they are saying. It all seems like a routine where we say what we are told to say, and that we are not really saying what we believe, but we are just repeating what others say that they believe and that we are not actually saying it for ourselves...I am not saying in any way that church is obs…

Sore Finger

A local feis (Irish dancing competition) contacted me early last week in need of a musician. I agreed and, with Kerry Oster, drove out to Long Island yesterday to do the feis. It was a long day, starting at 9:00 and, with but a short break in which I consumed two slices of pizza, I didn't finish playing until 8:00. Needless to say, eleven hours of accordion playing is pretty rough and I needed the full night of sleep I got last night in order to recover.

The only problem, save for a sore back, is that my hands are awfully sore today. My "Pointing Finger" (in adult language, my index finger) in particular is quite sore. Typing with it is hard, so I'm not using it which makes this whole process of blogging very difficult, so we'll let this serve as a brief update.


New Videos

Because I had a request to do so, I put two more videos up on YouTube today. They are two jigs - Tobin's and Out on the Ocean. Neither one is a tune I play on the whistle frequently, but I thought I'd record them if they'd be of interest or help to anyone.

Theological Suggestion

In addition to being a lover of Irish music, I also love the study of theology. I often feel anomalous in that my study of theology is geared toward making the tenets of faith understandable and relevant to people's lives. I think that is why my favorite topic is prayer - it is something we can all do, we can all improve upon, and is the source of all good theological reflection.

In recent years, a disturbing trend has been documented. Many adult Catholics have a very difficult time understanding the concept of transubstantiation (say it three times really fast!), let alone understanding the meaning of the Eucharist at Sunday Mass. Indeed, at the "Three Cheers for Catholicism" group last night, this was one of the issues we discussed, how many Catholics just "go through the motions" and have no idea about what is actually happening.

One of my favorite theologians is James Alison. Alison appropriated the mimetic theory of Rene Girard and fused it with his own theo…

Technical Difficulty

I don't usually read my own blog, so I didn't notice that the "child abuse" post had gone up three times. As you can now see, I've remedied that! As irritated as I was/am, I don't know that people need to read my complaining three times...once is more than enough.

Child Abuse

In honor of Halloween, some of us decided to take in the riveting epic Saw IIIlast night. If you have seen any of the movies in this series, you'll know that they are extremely violent and intended for a (theoretically) mature audience.

So imagine my shock last night when a young family showed up, including a four-year old little girl. And she was not the only child there - although my seat did not give me the best vantage point, I could count at least six children under the age of twelve. In a movie where putrified hog corpses are liquified in order to drown a judge and a young man is "crucified" in an apparatus that twists his body so as to force his bones through his skin, I don't know that this is quite in line with Winne the Pooh or Spongebob or whatever is popular with children today.

Having worked in a hospital and having been present to many traumas in the ER, I thought I was accustomed to the noises and sights of medical instruments whirring and blood. I am gr…

Musical Vocation

I'm in a bit of a writing mood this evening, so I thought I'd put down something of my musical vocation story. Since I started posting videos on YouTube and on here as well, my site has seen an ENORMOUS surge in traffic, much of it due to people's interest in Irish music.

Since I do not have children of my own, I often wonder what it would be like to hold my own son or daughter. I wonder what kind of dreams I would have for him. I've never asked him this, but I have taken to wondering what my own father and mother dreamt for me when I was a baby. Did they want me to be a baseball player? A doctor? A teacher? Rich? It's just so amazing to think that a parent holds a lifetime of potential is her arms, a potential that will be so shaped and molded by the parents' love and care.

So when I was little I did the things most kids did, I guess. I played 'hot stove' baseball, softball with the parish, and flag football. By the time I was in the second grade, my …

Picture and a Shot Out

First off, thanks to the English family for their thoughtful birthday present. They know me well enough to have sent Malley's Chocolate Covered Pretzels and some awesome Aero bars. They also included a copy of the 10/12/2006 edition of the Edsman which carried a nice story about Mike's trip to Ireland. Great story!

Second, the above picture is none other than Howard Gray, SJ. For those of you who read often, you'll know that I reference Howard often. I cannot put into words how important this man has been in my life. I will offer this as a testament to his role in my formation: he is the man who taught me how to pray.

You have to admit, he does look like Yoda! The only difference: Father Gray doesn't need a light saber to defeat evil.

Willie Coleman's, Wheels of the World, The Rainy Day

My weekly submission to YouTube.

In keeping with a request, I will submit my musical vocation story sometime this week - I just need to find time to write it!

The 27th Year

So I mark today the 27th year of my birth. I watched the series finale of "OZ" - the prison show we began watching last year in the novitiate. I also had dinner with Archbishop Joseph Pittau, SJ. Archbishop Pittau has played an enormously important role in the history of the Society and it was a great treat to recieve his birthday blessing and to listen to him share some of his stories at our community meeting. Now I'm off to watch the latest episode of Smallville before retiring for the night; I have to get up early as we're off to the gym at 7:45.


I now have a Facebook account, so if you have one please look for me and "poke" me. I'll add you to my friends list.

Also, I received a birthday e-card from my mother. Funny, I seem to remember celebrating my birthday every year on the 19th, not the 18th. Somebody is slipping, mother!

Yes, tomorrow is my 27th birthday. Maybe I'll write something with the vantage point of 27 years of wisdom, but that will depend on how much work I get done early in the day.

Drew and Ryan at St Ignatius High School

Yeah, it's an ugly vest. It was very cold and I needed something warm, but I certainly do acknowledge that it's not very fashionable! I'll never wear it again. Thanks to Pat Fairbanks, SJ for the picture. Pat is the new vocations director for the Chicago Province. In the background of this picture, you'll also see Br Jim Boynton, the vocations director for the Detroit Province.

Father General

Here is the promised picture featuring Drew Marquard, Father General Peter-Hans Kolvenbach (the superior general of the Society of Jesus, and Ryan Duns.


I had a request for something "mellow" so I recorded this tune. I realized, in wracking my brain for tunes, that I don't play very many "mellow" pieces...which means I ought to learn some!

This piece was a pain to record - I think it took eight tries with various incursions wrecking each take (phone calls, dog parking, car horns...possibly a gunshot).

Trio of Tunes: Tim the Velvet, Toss the Feathers, Martin Wynne's #3

Three old favorites!

Technical Difficulties

I've never given any pretense to being possesed of great technical skill. Truth be told, I often have a hard time figuring out how to turn on the televisions in the house (due, in part, to the fact that we've three remotes per tv and I haven't a clue as to what any of them do). So my recent foray into YouTube and my ability both to record and to post videos has been astonishing. Now that I have posted my ninth short video, I'm looking to make my recordings longer and, hopefully, to add some sweet sound effects (not for any other reason than this: I can!).

Yet I am having a very difficult time partitioning videos to put them online. What I need to figure out is how to take the DVD I have with our vocation talks on them and get them into my iMovie program. I may have some time this weekend so, with any luck, I'll figure it out.

My other goal this weekend is to start to record short instructional videos on how to play the whistle. I figure I can distill the lessons in…

Oireachtas, Revisited

After a very fine weekend of playing, I have consulted with my superiors and we've decided that I will, after all, play this year's Mid-American Oireachtas over Thanksgiving weekend. As some of you remember, I cancelled out on doing it earlier this semester but, considering they hadn't replaced me and seeing as I really do miss playing, it's not a bad idea for me to play.

I often wonder what difference I make, whether it be on the internet (although I'm building a nice base of viewers on YouTube!) or as a minister. But it seems to me that, after this weekend, my involvement with Irish dancing has a great deal of potential. To be sure, I don't spend much time directly with the kids...I just sit and play music for them and, sadly, most of them don't think I'm a human! To them, I'm a balding juke box who plays the accordion. That's fine - they're kids! But with the sheer volume of Irish dancers in America, I realize that the potential to make a …

Surviving Another Feis Weekend

As I face a whole day off of school, I want quickly to update my site, for I have much work to do today!

The feiseanna went pretty well this weekend. To be sure, there were a number of points where my joints were popping and my muscles were aching, but I'm glad to say that I think I played pretty well. I used to have so much more endurance for such long days! The playing aside, it was awesome to spend time with a great group of adjudicators who were a lot of fun to hang out with.

When I was at JCU for graduate school, I think I flourished in large part because I was so busy. I never had weekends to work, so I was forced to do as much work as possible during the week. While I thought that I would enjoy a more leisurely pace of study, I find that I miss the activity of my former life and that playing this weekend was very helpful in reminding me that I do work well under pressure.

Check YouTube later today and this week as I make an effort to put a bunch of Jesuit videos online. I…

The Week to Come

Ahead is one of those weeks which remind me of my pre-Jesuit life. I have class tomorrow and on Tuesday morning and then, Tuesday afternoon, Drew and I are flying to Cleveland. Father General Peter Hans-Kolvenbach, SJ will be visiting the Detroit Province and we will be going to meet with him. This is very exciting and I am really looking forward to meeting Father General. If I get a picture with him, you can be sure that it will appear here soon after! We return late Thursday night and I have two classes on Friday...and then I fly out with Kerry Oster to go to Pittsburgh for the feis...and then I come back on Sunday night. I love being busy!

A quick request for prayers. My mother had to have her appendix removed today - apparently it was something of an emergency. I found at, as it is the custom to pass information to me in odd ways - via a text message whilst I was grocery shopping. My mom has been having several health issues and I'm sure your prayers (and mine!) would mean a lo…

Odds and Ends

First off, I would like to thank my friend Eric Abercrombie for his generous gift and lovely card. Eric (AKA: Enyak, "Token Protestant Friend", father of the child-who-should-be-named-Rahner) and I did our MA's together from 2002-2004. United by Spirit and common enemies, we laughed our way through our time of studies. My best memories of graduate school seem to involve Abba Enyak as we tried to process Process theology, struggled with Rahner, learned of Abba Antony despite the blither of Brother V, and ate more pizzas and drank more coffee than I care to think about! Eric is grand scholar, a fine representative of the great state of West Virginia, and I am honored to call him my friend.

In his honor I include this picture. First, it shows that I do and can work (Recall: I do manualia as a Jesuit). Second, it commemorates the day Eric and I cleaned the backyard of Joan "The Boss" Nuth, a faculty member at John Caroll University. This was, as I recall, after the …

Recipes Site

I'm giving serious consideration to dropping "Jesuit Recipes" as a site. Sadly, I don't cook nearly enough to work up new recipes or even to discover recipes that I like. Unlike the novitiate where I had ample opportunity to be in the kitchen, I have only to cook one dinner and one appetizer (for a Thursday night social) each semester. What I would do, though, is post any recipe that I come up with on this site rather than having the two different sites.

The Cat's Meow!

I can't help myself - I'm in love with playing with the recording abilities of my computer.

One More Tune

To round it out to three, I thought I'd include this tune. It's called "The Lament for Fred Finn" and it's the aire I played at my Grandpa Hagan's funeral.

Over the Moor to Maggie

I thought I'd try a reel yesterday, so I recorded this nice tune. I'm going to go into the city today for Mass (St Francis Xavier Parish in Manhattan) but when I return I have hopes to put down a few sets of tunes. As a teacher of music, this may be the best teaching tool I've yet found - I can record a set of tunes and then send them to my students...or post it on the 'net for anyone who is interested!

Just as a "religious life" moment: part of my intent in posting (I am a man of many intents!) these videos is to show that entering religious life *does not* mean that I've had to give up what is truly important and life-giving to me. Truth be told, I don't travel like I used to before I entered. But I've played in nursing homes and at funerals, for bishops and fundraisers, in each case using my music to enter into the lives and experiences of others.

Several months ago I posted this, reflecting how much my spirituality and the way that I have come…

Yeah for YouTube!

So I had some time this afternoon and recorded a jig with iSight video camera. It's not the best quality of playing that I'm capable of, but it'll do for a first effort. I'll try and record a bunch of these and put them online in hopes that someone will stumble upon my playing and offer me a recording contract!

Yeah, I'm a Nerd

Now that I've discovered a new form of technology, I'm going to exploit it completely. I found this little clip a few days ago and I think it's pretty impressive. To be honest, I'd probably have added a ton of cool Ignatian-themed dialogue but, to the extent that it's two seminarians dueling with lightsabers, it's quite good.

From YouTube:

Watch St. Louis seminarians Michael Grosch and Edward Nemeth battle for the eminent position as Camp Director of Kenrick-Glennon Days summer camp, hosted at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary by St. Louis seminarians and the St. Louis Office of Vocations. Mike and Ed's performances are spectacular in this film produced by Jeff Geerling.

Jesuit Music Video

In an effort to be technologically sophisticated, I'm trying this as my first effort to link to the YouTube website. If this works, I have some nice suprises in the future!

**Now that I see it does work, let me ask: who said that Jesuits don't have a sense of humor?!?!***

Shameless Self-Promotion

Dr. John Shea sent me a link today along with a message that I'm to post this to my blog. Failure to do so, he threatens, will result in him sending an email to everyone he knows containing the same information. Because I think it's hysterical, I will include it:

Follow this link, look for professors whose last names begin with "D" and scroll down - see that red thing next to my name? That's a chili pepper. It means that a student thought/thinks that

I'm Hot!!!

Near as I can tell, I've never been told that I'm hot before. I guess it's pretty meaningless as I've taken a vow of chastity, but I think it's funny nonetheless. Sadly, I guess I harbor some fears about just who may have posted it....ah well, I'll take any (admittedly cheap) compliment I can get!

My new Pet

In honor of my new pet, I'm typing this post entirely in green.

When I was a kid, I really wanted a Chia pet. My parents insist that they bought me one, but I don't remember it at yet another instance of my being deprived as a child.

So several weeks ago I downloaded a digital Chia-Pet for my iMac computer. I love him! He's growing quite nicely and I think I'm going to have to download some trimming program so I can make him look like a bonsai or a poodle or something. I will admit that my first one "died" when I went home to Cleveland due to lack of "digital watering" (I was traumatized to see his upturned corpse on my computer screen)...which means that out of love I will be tethered to "Herb" the Chia-Pet.

Now, let me be fair to my parents. When I was home last week, my father didn't anticipate that I would be returning to Cleveland again until after my birthday. So, after a lovely steak dinner, didn't Big Bob Duns shock u…

A Birthday Greeting

I would be TOTALLY remiss if I did not give a huge

Happy Birthday!!!

to my dear friend Anne Hall.

For those of you who don't know her, Anne is an accomplished teacher and adjudicator of Irish dancing and she lives in Denver. It was also Anne who began this blog over two years ago, so in a way she's the mother of my ramblings these last few years.

So please join me in wishing Anne a very happy birthday. Anne, thank you so much for being such a good've taught me more about love and friendship than you'll ever know and I am a better man for having known you.

My favorite Anne Hall birthday story (well, my only one): Several years ago Anne's birthday coincided with the Baltimore feis. Well, due to horrible weather the building where the feis was to be held was totally without power and a number of the stages had to be moved outdoors. Sitting outside under an umbrella is not my idea of a fun day...even if I'm at the beach...and by the end of the day I was pre…

Yet another development

When I went to John Carroll University to do my MA in Religious Studies, I naively entered into studies thinking that I would dedicate myself wholly and unreservedly to my studies. I was totally wrong. I played for feiseanna pretty much every weekend of the year - including my own graduation weekend!

So why would I assume that I'd dedicate myself solely to studies here at Fordham? Yesterday, the feast of St. Robert Bellarmine (my vow name and the patron of catechists) I began to assemble my thoughts in regard to my latest project: I will be working with a small group of students (along with Kyle Gautreau, SJ) on what has been titled "Three Cheers for Catholicism." This seminar-style course will (hopefully) make use of Robert Barron's wonderful "And Now I See...A Theology of Transformation" as well as another small text.

So here's my basic approach: the first thing we will work on is learning to recognize that God is actively at work in our day-to-day liv…

Professor of Traditional Irish Music Studies

I received final word today that my course "Introduction to the Tin Whistle" will be offered this Spring at Fordham. So each Tuesday from 4:30-5:30 I'll be instructing a whole new generation of college students on how to hold, blow, and make sense of my favorite instrument (favorite, that is, next to the oboe). At this rate, I've taught at three Jesuit colleges: JCU, UD-Mercy, and soon it will be Fordham. I think I'll attempt a record at the number of colleges I can teach something at!


I often tell people that I have a bad memory. It's no exaggeration -- for some reason, I can usually recall minute details about some obscure topic, but I'll handily forget the important which car I drove to the grocery store or whether I've eaten breakfast on a particular day.

What I cannot forget, however, is the shower I took five years ago (please, control your imaginations). As I washed my (more ample but still receding) hair, the morning radio show hosts announced that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. Given that these two bloviating fools often made outlandish claims, I reached out of the shower and turned off the radio...I have a strange sense of humor, but such a statement I did not find amusing.

Several minutes later I began to boil water for my tea and oatmeal and I turned on the television. Instead of being greeted by Katie Couric on the Today show, I met the awful and tragic images of two planes slamming into buildings and the real…

Two Photos

I often get asked to show more pictures of my family. On the left you have me and my Grandma Hagan and on the right you have my father BBD (Big Bob Duns) and my mother Michele.

Flickr Update

If you're interested: I posted about 15 more pictures to Flickr today, which you can access by clicking on the photo montage at the right of the screen.

Poverty of Words

About a week ago, another Jesuit (Props to Kyle!) and I discussed the blog forum. He encouraged me to be more controversial, to stir things up a bit. And, to be honest, there's a great part of me that does indeed wish to tackle some of the more contentious issues that face the Church and the modern believer/disbeliever today.

My desires stated, however, I am faced with the all-too-real knowledge that, regardless of what I say or don't say, not only I but the Society of Jesus will be judged for what I write. It is often very difficult to separate "a" speaker from an entire organization...critics of the Society of Jesus (since I'm most familiar with these critiques) will often hold up one particular Jesuit who says something that displeases them and then extrapolate his words and paint the whole of the Society with his brush. Not only is this not fair, but it is not charitable.

These websites can be a great tool for evangelization. I should like to think that other…

Looking toward the future

It's funny that the school year isn't but a few days old and I'm already making plans for the way I'll spend next summer. One of the great aspects of the Society of Jesus is that there is really an unlimited array of choices for spending one's summer. If you follow this link: Summer Opportunities you'll get a sense of what I'm talking about. Indeed, this list is certainly not exhaustive and the horizon of opportunity extends to the far reaches of the individual imagination.

One of the lessons I learned during my time at Loyola Medical Center is the importance of being a companion to other's during their times of need. Since I won't have enough German to go abroad this summer (Next year!) I began looking into various spiritual direction programs throughout the country. While I have little aspiration to spend my apostolic life in a retreat house (it'd be too quiet) I would truly love to be engaged in the ministry of spiritual direction throughout m…

A Lesson in Humility

One of the more poignant scenes from the life of St Ignatius Loyola is recounted in his biography. His dreams of working in Jerusalem thwarted, he felt that the better way to help souls was to begin studies. In order to do this, however, the thirty-something Ignatius had to go back and learn the fundamentals of, among other things, Latin which necessitated his sitting in class with children.

This week opened with a similar experience. The majority of the students in my German 101 course are 1st years and, while only eight years separates us, I can attest that eight years is a lifetime in many ways. I could extol what I feel is the benefit of affective maturation, but that would obscure the point of this post: I am by no means going to learn German with any great ease!

This language is tough! I thought Spanish was difficult, but this is enormously more challenging. I feel like a baby learning to pronounce words again, learning to count, learning how to say hello. Everyone around me see…

A Vow Day Gift

A dear friend - Marilyn Madigan - gave me this picture at our vow vigil. She used her great knowledge of Photo Shop to create this eery portrait...and I thank God white is not my color (or lack of color).

"Where there's Death, there's Hope! Vote Ryan for Pope!"

Even my own father found this to be an enormously amusing picture and I thought some of you might find it entertaining, too. Marilyn was able to see the Holy Father back in February and she actually in the pictures - glasses, second from the left, in the gray and black striped shirt. Her cousin, a nun, assisted in this masterpiece.

Sorry I can't get the dang thing to look right - I can't figure out why it won't turn for me.

German and a Trip Into the City

Fordham University's classes began yesterday and, at 9:30 in the morning, I could have been found in German 1001 (aka Baby German). After a summer spent working on my Spanish, this was a jarring transition - the words are harder to spell and I've no sense of how to pronounce anything. As a help to readers, particularly those who are fans of "The Sound of Music" a great lie has been perpetrated for many years: the proper pronunciation of "Frauline Maria" is not "Froy-line Maria" but is, instead, "Frowline Maria." It's not a big deal, I guess, but it's what I learned yesterday.

After class Drew and I spent the day in Manhattan. We walked a lot and saw many of the touristy sites. Indeed, we ran across huge crowds gathered for tonight's VMA's (Video Music Awards). It was so refreshing to see such a thriving city with so many people speaking so many different languages. Our day's trip ended with dinner with Father Karl Kais…

I've been Tagged!

It's an idle evening, so I thought I'd surf the 'net for a little bit. Reading Joe's website Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam I see that I've been tagged. I really don't know what this means, but I suspect that I have to answer some questions. So, copying the questions from his site, here are my responses:

1. A book that changed your life.

In the Gloaming by Alice Elliot Dark. I read this collection of short stories in graduate school for a class on narrative and spirituality. The title of the book is the name of the lead-off short story, about a young man who returns home to die of AIDS. It's a powerful narrative of the transformative power of hospitality, of love, and of reconciliation.

2. A book you've read more than once.
I wish I could say that I'd read some deep theological treatise several times over (and for enjoyment, not for my inability to understand it on the first attempt). I cannot. I have read The Little Prince many times and find that, with eac…


I've set up a Flickr account (see the cool flash-driven picture box on the right? Click it!!) so that people can see pictures of vows.

On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!

I'm just back from a weekend spent at the Jogues Retreat house in Cornwall, NY. There the Ciszek Hall community was able to gather in order to have time for faith sharing and socializing. I'm deeply honored to be counted among such a talented pool of men and I look forward to spending the next few years here at Ciszek.

Now, let's start: Kudos to Michael and Brian English who will be returning today from their first trip to Ireland. The boys represented (well, I might add) the USA at the Fleadh this past weekend. Although neither returns with a medal (this year) I'm at a loss for words to express how proud I am of each of them. Medals are nice, but they collect dust; memories, which they have many, last forever and will nourish their music in ways unimaginable. So boys, welcome home and get to've school in the morning!

Speaking of school, my own classes begin this week. I'll be taking Plato, Aristotle, Theological Anthropology, and German. I'm defini…

On-Line at Fordham

So I'm now fairly settled in my (rather spacious) room at Ciszek Hall here at Fordham. Later today I'll meet with my academic advisor and we'll try to piece together something of a schedule of courses - all I know is that I'm going to take Aristotle and Plato and, I hope, begin a study of the German language.

The transition has been relatively easy thus far. For those who are interested, my new aol screenname is ryandunssj and I'll try to leave it on most of the time. In addition, my computer has a kickin' web cam so you can see me if you are so inclined.

I'd ask for prayers this weekend: Michael and Brian English will be representing the USA at the Fleadh in Ireland. It's a great honor to qualify to compete at the "Olympics of Irish Music" (as one might think of them) and I know that they will be bolstered by your thoughts and prayers.

Classes begin next Wednesday so I'm sure that I"ll have just loads of things to write about then. I s…

The Wounded Knower

The Wounded Knower

Today marks the two-year anniversary of my entrance into the Society of Jesus. It's been a wild ride in so very many ways!

I fly to NYC tomorrow and will (hopefully) settle quickly into my new digs at Ciszek Hall at Fordham. Look for more posts later this week!


This is just a quick post as I unpack from my holiday in Toronto and prepare to return to Canada via Windsor for tomorrow's feis.

Brother John Moriconi, SJ, has put together a website for podcasts. For those of you who know how to do such things (I must confess that I do not yet know how, really, but have great hopes of learning in the very near future) you are able to download his reflections on scripture and listen to them on your iPod.

If you are so inclined, do stop by and have a listen! The link to his site is located on the right hand side of the page.

CPE Group Photo

Ruth, Patrick, Ryan, and Paula -- all alums of Loyola Medical Center's CPE Program.

First Pic

A picture from the reception. These are two of my cousins, Owen and Coleman Hagan.

Vow Day!

So today I dropped the "n" from "nSJ" and I've become officially "Ryan G. Duns, SJ". Today's ceremony was beautiful and I hope to post pictures of it on here very soon...just like I still want to post pictures from my trip to Cuzco!

The best part of the weekend was being able to spend time with those who are so important to me. Anne Hall came in after doing a feis and my friend Greg drove in after a wedding in Buffalo; Jeff and Nick came in from Cleveland and scores of family members made their way in to Detroit. The love and support I experienced these last two days is really only an indication of what a wonderful group of people I have in my life and, in no small way, the vows I pledged today will incarnate themselves in ways highly contoured and nuanced due to their influences.

Of special note: The SMMSJ (Society of Mothers of Members of the Society of Jesus) was particularly active - from Mother Nancy Loren I received an AUTOGRAPHED copy of Giad…

Regarding Gifts for Vows

I hate to be guache, but I'd like to say a word about gifts as I've received several emails asking about them.

The short answer: a card is nice, but don't send money (unless it is in off-shore accounts) or cheques or gift cards or my grandfather's dentures (or some other strange personal item!!). If a gift is given, it has to be turned over to the community. This being said, donations can be made to the Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus (which I'm quite sure they'll take with much gratitude). Truthfully, the best gift you can offer is to remember me in your prayers.

So that's that. I'm off to pray!

Few and Far Between

So I'm beginning my pre-vow Triduum retreat out here at the Colombiere Center in Clarkston, MI. This retreat begins three months after my 8-day retreat began back on May 8th. In that time I've been to Chicago, Cincy, LA, Lima, Cuzco, Omena, and Detroit! A lot of travel to be sure.

The next few days will be spent preparing spiritually and psychologically for vows. Following the vow ceremony on Sunday, I'll be off to Toronto and then on to Fordham so I will probably not be posting again until after the 22nd of August. Check back, though, as I may find time to put some pictures up on the net.

Peace and Prayers,



I'm on Vacation until the 12th so there will be no new posts until then.


¡Vamos a Cuzco!

We´re heading off to Cuzco tomorrow morning, which means that I´ll be away from the internet for a week.

For those in the States - stay cool! I hear it has been sweltering in parts of the country.

Not even a month until vows - crazy, huh? Please keep me and my classmates in your prayers and know that you are in mine (really - I pray generically for those who read my blog and for all those others I forget to mention by´s a handy catch-all to pray for the whole world!)


Morning Musings

Two weeks from today and I´ll be back home in (hopefully) sunny Detroit. While it is true that six weeks will have passed by - a scant amount when one really thinks about it - it is enough time to have had a deep and lasting effect on my spirit.

As I type this, I look through grime-covered windows out onto a busy street where dogs roam freely and men seem to take every occasion to relieve themselves against the wall directly across the street. Because Lima is situated in a desert and it hardly ever rains, there is no drainage so to speak so the urine pools on the side of the road and, even when it has evaporated, the stench does not dissipate. Poor children and their mothers beg me to buy gum and sweets and old persons in wheelchairs beg at the side of the road. Horns blare each night and with a dearth of traffic lights crossing the road can be a perilous adventure.

The grime, the cloudiness, the pollution, the noise, the poverty...

If I lived here, I think I´d be miserable.

And yet, th…