Where are they now? Featuring Br Peter Bray FSC, EdD.
Since 2008, Br Peter Bray has been working in Bethlehem helping to transform lives, sustain faith and energize mission at Bethlehem University. Br Peter shares his story below.
As Vice Chancellor of Bethlehem University, I am the Chief Executive Officer of the University, charged with directing its academic, administrative, financial and support affairs and activities and with putting into effect the policies and regulations adopted by the International Board of Regents. Obviously, I don’t do all those things, so I work with the various Vice Presidents to ensure the work of the University is carried out in an efficient and productive way. There are four Vice Presidents: VP for Academic Affairs, VP for Finance, VC for Human Resources and the Executive Vice President who is responsible for student affairs, quality assurance, communication and marketing etc., and represents me at the Council of Higher Education with the Ministry of Higher Education. He is also the person who stands in for me when I am away from campus.
Back in 2019 I was asked to send “A Letter from Bethlehem” to ONE, a magazine of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA). It was an attempt to put Bethlehem University in front of people who support CNEWA, who in turn support Bethlehem University. The link to that letter is: https://issuu.com/cnewa/docs/one-45-3-2019-issuu, with the story starting on page 24.
My time here at Bethlehem University since the end of 2008 has been an extraordinarily enriching experience with challenges that have stretched me and enabled me to grow in all sorts of ways. I have found the position here the most difficult job I have ever had. The complexity of the political, financial, social and environmental situation on one side and then the complexity of the University itself make for some significant challenges. Add to that the unpredictable nature of life here and the restrictions we are working around and which are continually changing certainly make aspects of life here major challenges. However, I have never worked in a place where it is so obvious that what we are doing is worthwhile!
I recently had the opportunity in Dublin to have lunch with a graduate of Bethlehem University who was valedictorian some four years ago. After graduation here, she studied at University College Dublin for a Master’s degree and is now working with IBM in Dublin as she explores opportunities for a doctorate. I sat and listened to her talk about her experience at Bethlehem University and the way that it has influenced her since she graduated. As I listened, I was filled with pride and a sense of being part of something much bigger than myself. This was the sort of person emerging from Bethlehem University and as that experience happens time and again in engaging with students and graduates, I am so conscious of how worthwhile our mission here is. When I experience that I can then put up with all the other things that are part of being here. This is God’s work we are about and my experience leads me to trust God’s Spirit to lead and guide our work here through all the challenges that come our way.
We have some extraordinary students here who inspire me and make me so grateful to be here. There are students who really treasure the opportunity to be here and value their education. I was speaking to one student some years ago shortly after his family home had been demolished by the Israeli military for the second time. He said: “They have taken my home, they have taken my land, they have taken my freedom, but they cannot take my education!” Hearing him say that and experiencing the value he attached to the opportunity he had with Bethlehem University leads me to want to make the best possible opportunity available for our students.
Working to do what Jesus came to do, that is, help people live life as fully as they can, is the core mission of Bethlehem University. I find it incredibly satisfying to see students taking advantage of the opportunity they have here and growing into young adults who are confident, knowledgeable, articulate, engaging and a delight to be with! I feel I have been amazingly blessed to have the opportunity to be here and I am so grateful for that!
Click HERE to view the short talk Br Peter gave to the Pope during the last session of the World Congress of Education.