By Deanna Howes Spiro, Director of Communications, AJCU


In this month’s issue of Connections, we focus on the Jesuits in their twenties and thirties who are contributing toward the formation of students on our campuses. You will meet the scholastics of Saint Louis University’s Bellarmine House and Boston College’s St. Peter Faber Jesuit Community. You will be inspired by a story shared by the dean of student success at Arrupe College of Loyola University Chicago, an institution that serves minority and low-income students in and around Chicago, IL.

You will also learn about two editorial platforms that teach the public about Jesuit education and Ignatian spirituality: Conversations on Jesuit Higher Education and The Jesuit Post. Mr. Lucas Sharma, S.J., an editor of both publications, explains how they contribute toward the greater good as a service of young Jesuits who are currently in formation. And, you will learn how the Jesuit provinces identify opportunities for young men who are interested in pursuing careers as teachers and administrators in Jesuit higher education. Rev. James Miracky, S.J. shares his perspective as Provincial Assistant for Higher Education of both the Maryland and Northeast Provinces of the Society of Jesus.

Finally, you will read the latest Federal Relations report from AJCU’s Vice President for Federal Relations, Cyndy Littlefield, who provides a status update on the DACA program. This remains an issue of utmost priority for our Association, and we have created a resource page ( that features a call-to-action tool to contact members of Congress, and stories of advocacy from Jesuit institutions.

We hope that your new year is off to a great start, and wish you all the best for a successful spring semester.

By Cynthia Littlefield, Vice President for Federal Relations, AJCU


Clock is Ticking to Save the Dreamers
On September 5, 2017, President Trump rescinded the Obama-initiated Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protection program for undocumented individuals (known as Dreamers). He announced that Congress would have six months (until March 5) to resolve this issue. The majority in both chambers gave priority to passing a tax bill at the end of last session, leaving little time to focus on DACA and other critical issues such as the year-end budget agreement (fiscal year 2018 appropriations). While Democrats continued the rallying cry to resolve DACA, appropriations demanded attention in order to prevent a government shutdown before the holidays. The House and Senate passed a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the federal government open (signed into effect on December 22), but it did not include a resolution for DACA.

Last Friday (January 19), the CR expired and the government was temporarily shut down. On Monday, January 22, Congress enacted a stopgap bill that will fund the government through February 8; the President later signed it into law. Over the next few weeks, both Republicans and Democrats from the House and Senate will continue to negotiate terms for a resolution on DACA.

In recent months, the higher education community, including AJCU, has lobbied extensively on DACA. We have conducted targeted strategies and provided resources on our websites, including talking points to continue raising awareness of the plight of our students who fear the life-changing consequences and uncertainty surrounding DACA’s expiration. Many Dreamers are students, service members or workers whose permits are expiring but make important contributions to society. They know no other country than the United States, and it would be unjust to send them back to countries they left as children through no decision or fault of their own.

AJCU institutions have a long-standing commitment to our DACA students, which follows the Jesuit tradition of educating people from under-served communities. To that end, AJCU continues updating our DACA resource page to share their stories and recent developments in Congress:

AJCU is encouraging Jesuit institutions to continue their advocacy efforts and to show a groundswell of support. DACA remains a leading priority for AJCU, and we will continue working for and championing Dreamers until a resolution for these deserving individuals is finally resolved.

Tax Bill Races to Completion
Before the Christmas recess, both houses of Congress passed H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which lowered rates for corporations and high wage earners. Despite early versions of the bill proposing to eliminate tax benefits for students and institutions, higher education fared better than expected.

One key priority for our institutions was saving Section 117(d), tuition remission for employees at Jesuit institutions. Fortunately, we were successful in this effort. Section 127 was also saved: this covers employer assistance to employees.

The higher education community also fought to save student benefits such as the Student Loan Interest Deduction (SLID), the American Opportunity Tax Credit, and graduate assistance payments without taxation. Fortunately, graduate, medical and law students prevailed over uncertain outcomes in the final package. Institutions were also relieved that the private activity bonds used to fund infrastructure projects on nonprofit campuses were saved.

Unfortunately, the tax bill established a new precedent by taxing non-profit institutions with an excise endowment tax of 1.4 percent. The tax affects institutions with at least 500 students and endowments with assets of more than $500K for each full-time undergraduate student. We are also concerned that the alteration of the standardized deduction may limit future charitable donations from individuals to colleges and universities.

While the full impact of this tax bill is still unknown, the higher education community is relieved thus far to maintain critical tax credits for students.

By Molly Daily, Graduate Assistant for the Office of Marketing and Communication at Saint Louis University

Jesuit scholastics enjoy dinner together at Bellarmine House (photo courtesy of Saint Louis University)
Jesuit scholastics enjoy dinner together at Bellarmine House (photo courtesy of Saint Louis University)


At 6:00 PM on an ordinary Friday evening, twenty-seven young men gather in a spacious living room. They talk about their days, introduce themselves to guests, and joke about how no one will take the last pizza roll at dinner. Within moments, they will be called into the house next door to dine together at seven family-style tables.

This is the every day scene at Bellarmine House, just north of the Saint Louis University (SLU) main campus in St. Louis, MO, where the Jesuit community gathers daily for Mass, socialization and dinner. One of three sites for Jesuit scholastics in the United States to complete First Studies, Bellarmine House is home to young men who are learning to live their mission – in the home, in the classroom, and in their lives.

It’s a Home.

At Bellarmine House, Jesuit scholastics live in community – but their space looks and feels like a home, not a dorm.

Comprised of a row of five traditional houses, Bellarmine’s physical space makes all the difference in creating a homey feeling. “What that space fosters is a life with each other,” said Michael Mohr, S.J., a third-year scholastic. “A familial atmosphere is created, because you’re living in what normal people live in.”

Johnathan Pennacchia, S.J., a first-year scholastic, recognizes the grace and consolation in that familial setting. He said, “Often I’ll sit at the dinner table and think, ‘If I weren’t a Jesuit, I’d never be sitting with all these guys.'” The “common spirituality and common call” unites the brothers and brings them into a community whose deepest purpose is to serve God.

The residents of Bellarmine House take community seriously. Every evening, residents of the house gather for Mass, social time and a meal. In a vivid description of the sacramental nature of this time, Pennacchia said, “To break bread together in the Chapel, and then to process to the dining house and break bread again: That two-hour block sums up Bellarmine House and the Jesuit community life.”

Though the community is not a domestic family, its members recognize the threads of family life that bring them together. Patrick Hyland, S.J., a third year scholastic, says community life reminds him of growing up with siblings. “We get to know each other pretty well, whether we like it or not,” he said. And while spending that much time with one another can cause disagreements, it also compels the men to take seriously the Jesuit call to see living in community as part of the mission.

“Acknowledging the community as a mission means we don’t clock in and out,” explained Hyland. “The people we live with, too, we are called to grow closer to, and love and minister to.”

 A young Jesuit on campus at Saint Louis University (photo by Saint Louis University)

A young Jesuit on campus at Saint Louis University (photo by Saint Louis University)

 Young Jesuits in community at Bellarmine House (photo by Saint Louis University)

Young Jesuits in community at Bellarmine House (photo by Saint Louis University)

 A young Jesuit on campus at Saint Louis University (photo by Saint Louis University)

A young Jesuit on campus at Saint Louis University (photo by Saint Louis University)

 A young Jesuit on campus at Saint Louis University (photo by Saint Louis University)

A young Jesuit on campus at Saint Louis University (photo by Saint Louis University)

 Young Jesuits volunteering in St. Louis, MO (photo by Saint Louis University)

Young Jesuits volunteering in St. Louis, MO (photo by Saint Louis University)

 Young Jesuits in community at Mass in St. Louis, MO (photo by Saint Louis University)

Young Jesuits in community at Mass in St. Louis, MO (photo by Saint Louis University)

It’s the Mission.

The mission of community life moves with scholastics into the life of the University. For faculty, the mission is clear. Ronny O’Dwyer, S.J., asserted that “Catholic education began on the Sea of Galilee” – so when he steps into the classroom, he’s emulating Christ.

For the scholastics, the mission is to learn – and to form others in that learning through their unique role on campus. “We’re Jesuits, not just other students,” said Hyland. “We’re called to be models of what Jesuit education is supposed to be.”

In the classroom, scholastics model SLU’s mission of a higher purpose, beyond grades and graduation. Take Pennacchia, who enters his philosophy classes ready to reexamine and understand the world. “The Society of Jesus wants to make sure we can tackle big questions not just from a philosophical standpoint, but so we can step back and look at the whole picture,” and answer those questions in a fully Catholic way.

“It is noticeable that there are Jesuits in the classes,” said Pennacchia. So when they bring in questions on social justice and outside experiences from their own formation, students notice. Mohr recalls how his memory of a demonstration in Nicaragua colored his study of machismo in a Spanish course. “You try to integrate those things you’ve learned and apply it to a context relevant to the mission and the Society of Jesus,” said Mohr.

SLU is a place where that integration is welcomed. From its establishment 200 years ago as the first institution of higher learning west of the Mississippi River, to its sponsorship of the Land O’Lakes agreement on Catholic higher education, Saint Louis University is a place whose history is inarguably intertwined with the history of the Society of Jesus. In that atmosphere, Mohr feels comfortable bringing the mission to class because “the Jesuit name means something to the professors.”

It’s their lives.

Scholastics at SLU are called to move beyond the classroom, clearly applying what they have learned to the way they live their lives.

Residents of Bellarmine House commit to weekly community service – whether by tutoring, volunteering at a hospital, or serving in a high-need area. Whatever they do, these young men bring the questions of the classroom with them, and live their pastoral experiences in light of what they learn – a process that culminates in the third-year capstone, in which scholastics must articulate how they have integrated their pastoral and academic experiences at SLU.

But pastoral formation occurs on campus too. Feeling like he “couldn’t just be on a college campus again and be going to classes,” Hyland wanted to do something to mark the uniqueness of SLU as a home for scholastics. To fulfill his desire to make the scholastic community visible and accessible for students who might not share a classroom with Jesuits, Hyland took over Java with the Jesuits: a weekly program at SLU’s clock tower in which students can stop for a cup of coffee and a conversation with the Jesuit scholastics – no strings attached.

Java with the Jesuits has become a centerpiece of Hyland’s experience at SLU, something he sees as “a space at the crossroads of campus” where Jesuits, students and members of the University community can connect. And it’s all rooted in what Hyland sees as his purpose at SLU: “To integrate the spiritual, academic, intellectual and community parts of our lives.”

That purpose sums up the mission of SLU’s scholastic community: A space where young men live out their mission, and see how that mission becomes part of their lives.

Molly Daily is a candidate for a Master of Arts in Communication at Saint Louis University (expected in 2018).

By Rev. James J. Miracky, S.J., Provincial Assistant for Higher Education (Maryland and USA Northeast Provinces of the Society of Jesus)

Photo courtesy of Rev. James J. Miracky, S.J.
Photo courtesy of Rev. James J. Miracky, S.J.


Rev. Adolfo Nicolas, S.J., the former Superior General of the Society of Jesus, once wrote that “the intellectual dimension is part of all our ministries.” In whatever field, “the Jesuit mode of involvement in apostolic life… requires openness to intellectual reflection,” including reflection “on the social, economic and political context and on the anthropological questions of our time.”

Of course, this call to the intellectual apostolate is at the heart of the Jesuit mission in higher education. In my role as Provincial Assistant for Higher Education in the Maryland and USA Northeast Provinces of the Society, I have the privilege of helping to promote our continued commitment to the intellectual dimension of our work in the twelve Jesuit colleges and universities on the East Coast, and to encourage younger Jesuits to take up the challenge of the intellectual apostolate to establish, in the words of Fr. Nicolas, “a bridge of dialogue between Gospel and culture, between sciences and religious traditions.”

When I assumed my position in 2014, having served for nearly twenty years as a professor and administrator at the College of the Holy Cross and Loyola University Maryland, I knew from first-hand experience that, to be perfectly frank, we Jesuits have not always been proactive in helping younger Jesuits in the process of discernment and preparation for the ministry of higher education. Given the fewer numbers of Jesuits in formation, as well as their higher median age upon entrance, it is imperative that we become more intentional and strategic in working with young Jesuits who have the passion and abilities for ministry in higher education so that they are ready for a rich apostolic life with our lay colleagues in the schools. With that in mind, I set out to think holistically about how someone in my position could help develop the next generation of Jesuits in higher education, with the following results.

As the seeds of discernment can never be sown too soon, I have made it a practice to visit our novitiate in Syracuse and our house of first studies at Fordham University at least every other year to speak of the Society’s call to the intellectual apostolate and to gently invite the novices and scholastics to consider whether they have the desire and abilities to serve in higher education. While trying to avoid a qualitative comparison with other ministries or make a “hard sell,” I share with these men the joys and challenges of work in the colleges and universities and stress the importance of the intellectual apostolate not only in our past but also as a current priority of Pope Francis and our current Superior General, Rev. Arturo Sosa, S.J.

When a young Jesuit is identified as a candidate for ministry in higher education, we begin an informal mentoring relationship to consider ways in which he might prepare for such ministry without impeding the focus on and integrity of his Jesuit formation. This may include such things as, for those who anticipate being in academic ministry, pursuing language acquisition, getting some teaching experience or keeping a hand in research. Or, for those who are drawn to student life or campus ministry, training in counseling or spiritual direction.

Although some Jesuits in formation come to the Society of Jesus with a terminal degree, most Jesuits who go on to work in one of our schools do their graduate work after they have completed the course of formation. This period of further or “special” studies is preceded by a period of discernment in which the Jesuit writes a proposal for graduate studies that not only lays out the applicant’s desired field of study and the schools to which he plans to apply, but also includes a prayerful reflection on how the proposed course of study will support the Society’s mission of laboring with and for the poor, being prophetic, and dialoguing with culture and other religions. The proposal would also explain how graduate studies will prepare him better to collaborate with lay and Jesuit colleagues in our schools.

Once a Jesuit is missioned to graduate studies, we engage in a more formal mentoring relationship that includes regular communication and an annual visit, in which we discuss his progress toward obtaining the degree and strategize about preparing for comprehensive exams, writing a dissertation/thesis proposal, and setting up goals and a timeline for research and writing the dissertation. Looking ahead to the job market process, we also discuss ways in which the Jesuit can set himself up to be a strong candidate for searches, such as getting appropriate teaching experience, giving papers at conferences, and submitting articles for publication. In the final year of the degree program, we work on preparing materials for the AJCU job search process for Jesuits, discerning (in consultation with the Jesuit’s Provincial) which invitations from interested schools to pursue, and discussing effective approaches for job interviews and presentations. The process, we hope, leads to a successful conclusion, but it does not end there – in future years, I continue conversations with the Jesuit as he transitions into ministry in his new apostolate, and offer further guidance as he pursues tenure or continues to develop in pastoral or administrative work.

In my annual visits to our schools, one of the greatest challenges I face is when I end a conversation with the President, Board Chair, or other administrators by asking, “How else can I be of help?” The primary answer is, “Send us more Jesuits.” While my regretful response usually includes a throwaway line such as, “I’m afraid the pool isn’t too deep,” or “I wish I had more of a bench to draw from,” I can also say that one of my greatest hopes is found in the future ministry of the impressive younger Jesuits I help mentor. Though smaller in number, these men who are preparing to serve in our schools as teacher-scholars, pastoral ministers, and administrators will be every bit as committed and inspiring in this important ministry as their predecessors.

By Mr. Lucas Sharma, S.J., Jesuit Scholastic, Jesuits West Province of the Society of Jesus

Photo courtesy of Mr. Lucas Sharma, S.J.
Photo courtesy of Mr. Lucas Sharma, S.J.


As a graduate of three Jesuit universities, I say with deep gratitude that Jesuit higher education has been transformative in how I view myself, my relationship with God, with others, and the world. I was a newcomer to both the Society of Jesus and to Jesuit education when I began as a freshman at Gonzaga University in 2005. Gonzaga opened me to a faith that does justice and led me down a path of many Jesuit institutions toward a vocation with the Jesuits West Province. Now working at Seattle University, I have been blessed to have the opportunity to work on two publications associated with the Jesuits: Conversations on Jesuit Higher Education and The Jesuit Post. Each respectively, I believe, provide both formation opportunities for young Jesuits and resources for each of us working in Jesuit higher education.

Sponsored by the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) and the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, Conversations on Jesuit Higher Education is a publication that releases two volumes per year, corresponding to the start of the fall and spring semesters. Each volume highlights a given theme or concern related to Jesuit education today. Articles are written by faculty, staff, students and alumni across the AJCU network, and reviewed by the members of the National Seminar on Jesuit Higher Education.

Our last issue, “Sanctuary for Truth and Justice,” highlighted the work that people are doing to promote the message that Jesuit colleges and universities stand on the side of a faith that does justice and against the current climate of political instability. The current issue, “University Engaging Its Location,” asks questions about the relationship between Jesuit mission and neighborhood location. In addition to the print publication, the Conversations website features additional articles, videos, book reviews and news from various Jesuit colleges and universities.

Each fall and spring semester, when the print copies are distributed, many Jesuit colleges and universities use the magazine to engage faculty and staff in further mission and identity formation. For example, Seattle University recently used an article by noted racial justice scholar and theologian, Rev. Bryan Massingale of Fordham University, for a lunch discussion. Discussants reflected on their own roles at the University, and described the consolations and desolations observed in its efforts to combat racism. Table conversation followed, prompting attendees to reflect on their own sentiments in racial justice work and how that connects to the mission of Jesuit education. The newest issue will hopefully prompt faculty and staff to examine critically their roles and relationships with the neighborhoods of which they are members.

In 2012, at about the time I concluded a degree program at Loyola University Chicago, several young Jesuits-in-Formation came up with a creative venture to engage young people online: The Jesuit Post (TJP). Through articles written by young Jesuits on topics of popular culture, sports, current events and spirituality, TJP aims to help young Jesuits communicate with the public in an informal way, similar to how people in our peer group might talk to each other in person. TJP also shapes the Jesuits-in-Formation themselves, as they learn how to work on a team and write in concise ways as members of the Society of Jesus.

The Jesuit Post’s diversity of writers and topics offers resources for personal reflection as well as classroom and co-curricular content for students at Jesuit institutions. For example, last summer, TJP ran a series called “Letters for the Weary” in which five authors recalled how teaching inside the classroom and going on immersion trips helped them to discern critical issues of our time: race, privilege and solidarity. Other recent articles include a review of Sam Smith’s latest album and a reflection on the struggles of making new friends when we move.

Our Jesuit colleges and universities face pressures to compete in the market of higher education, and are often torn between answering neoliberal concerns and standing behind the core mission of Jesuit education – to form women and men for and with others, dedicated to the common good and the greater glory of God. In a recent article for the Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits, the legendary Jesuit historian, Rev. John W. O’Malley, S.J., argued that we fulfill this mission when our students are able to “escape from the bondage of unexamined assumptions and prejudices,” thus asking questions about what it means to be a human person engaged in the world. Publications like Conversations and The Jesuit Post serve as important tools for each of us as we grapple with how we might form in this very mission. And for us Jesuits-in-Formation, we are made better Jesuits when in relationship with our lay colleagues.

Mr. Lucas Sharma, S.J. is a Jesuit-in-Formation of the Jesuits West Province. He has received a Bachelor’s degree from Gonzaga University (2009), a Master’s in Sociology from Loyola University Chicago (2012), and a Master’s in Philosophy from Fordham University (2017). Lucas currently works as a Lecturer in Sociology at Seattle University, where he also serves as a Research Fellow in the Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture. Lucas is the Web Editor for Conversations in Jesuit Higher Education and the Pop Culture Editor for The Jesuit Post.

By Rev. Eric Immel, S.J., Associate Dean for Student Success, Arrupe College of Loyola University Chicago

Photo courtesy of Rev. Eric Immel, S.J.
Photo courtesy of Rev. Eric Immel, S.J.


The day ran long, and the streetlight just outside my window shone brightly. As I made my way through my email inbox, I paused to rub my eyes. Then I opened them wide for a moment, feeling them bulge and tear up, like being hit in the face by a gust of wind. I shook my head, refocused on the screen, and went back to the keyboard. It wasn’t time to go home just yet.

Half an hour later, I packed Tupperware into my backpack, ripe with residue from last night’s turkey chili. I had just begun contemplating whether my late night in the office warranted an Uber home, when a student walked in and dropped onto the couch. She stretched out her legs, looked at me, and smiled.

“Hey, Dean Eric – you got a minute?” I smiled back. As if I had a choice.

I work at Arrupe College, a groundbreaking program at Loyola University Chicago that seeks to dramatically reimagine how we offer and execute Jesuit, liberal arts education. For one reason or another, our students weren’t able to start their college careers in what we might call the ‘traditional way’ of Jesuit higher education. They don’t live on campus and they don’t stay for four years.

Rather, Arrupe seeks to help young people build a bridge toward valuable avenues of greater success and opportunity; after completing an Associate’s degree, our students pursue either entrance into Bachelor’s degree programs or meaningful employment. I’ve been there now a year and a half, and in that time, I’ve learned that if my door is open, someone is coming in.

The student started slow, sharing a bit about her romantic relationship, her schoolwork, and the ways she was struggling in both. Then, I asked about her family. She told me about her grandmothers and how she’d walk between their houses as a little girl. She told me about how she got homesick, and thought about moving back to her old neighborhood. She knew it was better for her to live away from there; the distance gave her a chance to focus and take care of herself. But still, she felt a responsibility to her siblings, and she didn’t really know where the path she was walking – the learned path – was leading her. She was lost. Emotion welled up in her, and I slid a tissue box across my desk.

As her tears subsided, she took a deep breath, looked at me and said, “Eric – I’m sorry for being such a burden.”

What could have prompted such a statement from her? As a Jesuit who works too much, who has no partner or children, and who has the support of a healthy community, there is nothing keeping me from being in that exact moment with her, and there is little more important in my life. After opening up her broken heart before me and inviting me to take a look around with her, what would make her claim to be a bother, a burden, a waste of my time?

The answer is no secret: she feels like one. And not just to me, but to the whole educational world she lives in. I’m sure that, without meaning to, we have made her feel that way.

When she entered the pool of potential college students, she was immediately characterized as three things: first-generation, low income, student of color. And sadly, while these three characteristics are true ways to describe her on paper, they are rooted in the perspective of socialized consumers of traditional higher education who, as it stands, are not generally first-generation, low income, or students of color. And, to our mind, these characteristics create a deficit; her identity as a first-generation, low income student of color immediately creates a forced narrative by which she must rise up, face the tremendous adversity in her life, and persist no matter what.

And perhaps, in the pressure she feels to persist, she realizes how we see her and feels defeated. She realizes that when people talk about her, they talk about the problems she faces, and not the gifts she brings. All they see is a first-generation, low income, student of color.

What if we saw things differently? What if we saw her differently? What if, when she walked through our doors, we didn’t think of first-generation, low income, students of color as in deficit, but rather, as bearing tremendous wealth? What if we saw her experiences, her way of thinking, her way of communicating, her very way of being, as full of gifts and potential? Truly, what could be more in line with the Gospel of Jesus? To welcome people as they are and see them as a child of God, perfectly made and deserving of everything good the world can offer.

This way of thinking about students is, I believe, vital to our success at Arrupe College. I’m learning that the hard way as a second-generation, economically stable white man. I have made many, many mistakes in my thinking and approach with our students. In our schools, we will continue to make these mistakes and fail our students unless we have a dramatic change of heart and see each of them as abundantly blessed and worthy. I want to be better for her.

I don’t believe I have a choice. My deepest desire is for any student to walk into my office and know that they are not a burden. My hope is that she knows what I know: that she is a child of God, perfectly made and entitled to everything good the world can offer.

 Arrupe College commencement ceremony (photo courtesy of Loyola University Chicago's Office of Marketing and Communications)

Arrupe College commencement ceremony (photo courtesy of Loyola University Chicago’s Office of Marketing and Communications)

 Arrupe College commencement ceremony (photo courtesy of Loyola University Chicago's Office of Marketing and Communications)

Arrupe College commencement ceremony (photo courtesy of Loyola University Chicago’s Office of Marketing and Communications)

 Arrupe College alumni reunion (photo courtesy of Loyola University Chicago's Office of Marketing and Communications)

Arrupe College alumni reunion (photo courtesy of Loyola University Chicago’s Office of Marketing and Communications)

 Arrupe College alumni reunion (photo courtesy of Loyola University Chicago's Office of Marketing and Communications)

Arrupe College alumni reunion (photo courtesy of Loyola University Chicago’s Office of Marketing and Communications)

 Arrupe College alumni reunion (photo courtesy of Loyola University Chicago's Office of Marketing and Communications)

Arrupe College alumni reunion (photo courtesy of Loyola University Chicago’s Office of Marketing and Communications)

By Rev. Mr. Patrick Nolan, S.J., Graduate Student at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry

Photo courtesy of Rev. Mr. Patrick Nolan, S.J.
Photo courtesy of Rev. Mr. Patrick Nolan, S.J.


During my undergraduate years at Loyola University Maryland, I was inspired by the Jesuits on campus and how they were engaged across many aspects of the University: in the classroom, on retreats, at Sunday Mass, with student organizations, in the residence halls, and around campus. Their versatility in feeling at home with different people in all of these different places is part of what inspired me to consider becoming a Jesuit. As I begin my final semester of preparation for the priesthood, I feel ever more connected to the global Society of Jesus here at Boston College (BC).

Throughout my ten years of Jesuit formation, which includes a two-year assignment teaching in the Pacific Islands of Micronesia, no experience has given me a greater immersion into the global Society of Jesus than my time living, working and studying at BC. In my small, off-campus Jesuit house alone, we hail from Hong Kong, Tanzania, the Congo, Spain, Chile, India, and even exotic places like Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Long Island and Boston!

My house is part of the larger St. Peter Faber Jesuit Community, which is home to seventy or so young Jesuits representing thirty different countries whose primary mission is to study in preparation for ordination and other ministries. Although this mission takes up the vast majority of their time, many have also committed to serving in a variety of ways on campus.

When I first arrived at BC, I was inspired by a young Portuguese Jesuit, Rev. Francisco Mota, S.J., who served as chaplain to the men’s soccer team and to the students of Gonzaga Hall on Upper Campus. He could have easily spent his time focusing solely on his studies, having completed an advanced degree on Just War Studies. But instead, Fr. Mota dedicated his free time to hosting open houses for the students in his building and celebrating the 10:00 PM Candlelight Mass during the week, as well as Sunday Masses in St. Joseph’s Chapel. When he wasn’t saying Mass here at BC, he would often spend his time in nearby Dorchester, celebrating Mass in Portuguese, Spanish and English, or helping with BC retreats.

Fr. Mota was particularly adept at recruiting other Faber Jesuits to get more involved on campus, which was over and above their academic work and their ministries at local parishes, schools, jails and hospitals. To continue his good work, this past summer, Rev. Jack Butler, S.J. (BC’s Vice President for University Mission and Ministry) and Rev. Jim Gartland, S.J. (Rector of the Faber Jesuit Community) asked me to serve as a liaison between the University, particularly campus ministry, and the Faber Jesuit Community. As a diverse group of young Jesuits-in-training, we have become deeply involved in student Masses, residence hall programs, and retreats of all kinds, propelling the mission of the Society of Jesus and of Boston College into the future with zeal, energy and hope.

Our group includes Rev. Joe Simmons, S.J. and Rev. Michael Rossmann, S.J., who hail from Wisconsin and Iowa respectively, and were ordained together last year along with ten other Jesuits. They both spent their summers serving at Spanish-speaking parishes in Chicago and Milwaukee before coming back here to complete their studies. They are young priests (only in their 30s!), and were on the rotation celebrating the Sunday evening student Masses this past fall before completing their studies.

Every Wednesday at 9:45 PM, the Ignatian Society student group hosts the Examen (St. Ignatius’ prayer of reflection) on campus. There, in addition to upwards of 40 undergraduate students, you’ll see Ramesh and Ignatius Idoko from Nigeria. You’ll also meet Adam Rosinski from Philadelphia, who came to BC after teaching, coaching and organizing a huge gathering of students from 42 Jesuit high schools across North America for Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia in 2015. These are just a few of the many inspiring stories of Jesuits here at BC, living either at the St. Mary’s community on campus or with me at the St. Peter Faber Community off-campus.

Throughout my time at BC, I have been inspired by Rev. Casey Beaumier, S.J., Director of the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies. Fr. Casey is known by the 30-40 regulars with whom he celebrates daily Mass in St. Joseph’s Chapel. Newly ordained deacons (myself included) have assisted alongside him at these Masses, receiving on-the-job training and feedback for preaching and sacramental work. Fr. Casey also provides a wonderful service to the young men at Loyola House and to the men who are part of a monthly discernment group, all considering a Jesuit or priestly vocation. As if this weren’t already enough, Fr. Casey also helps train young Jesuits in formation to give weekend retreats to hundreds of people at Jesuit retreat houses all across the country. Thanks to him, young Jesuits like Ramesh Richards, a Malaysian who entered the Jesuits in Australia, and Rodrigo Espinoza from Mexico, are being trained as the next generation of preachers of The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola.

Boston College is home to Jesuits from all over the planet–literally. Indeed, the global Society of Jesus meets right here at BC, which creates an opportunity that is utterly unique. I hope that BC students, faculty and staff continue to discover and enjoy this diversity as much as I do. I know I speak for all of my Jesuit brothers when I say that we love to meet members of the BC community and introduce them to our Society. I hope that students at Boston College find encouragement and inspiration from our community, and that some may even discover a desire to join us!

The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) sponsors over 30 conferences (affinity groups) within the AJCU Network. The conferences provide a forum for the exchange of ideas, information and best practices; support the professional development of their members; and present opportunities for AJCU representatives to discuss collaboration and challenges in Jesuit higher education.

Most of the AJCU conferences host meetings at least once a year, and many of them facilitate regular communication among members through listservs. The following conferences and affiliated Jesuit programs and events will be held this winter and spring:

Conference of Registrars in Jesuit Education (CORe)
March 24, 2018, Orlando, FL (held in conjunction with annual meeting of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers
Chair: Robert Bromfield, University of San Francisco
(415) 422-2786,

Chief Academic Officers
April 7, 2018, Chicago, IL (location TBD)
Chair: Dr. Stephen Freedman, Fordham University
(718) 817-3043,

Jesuit Graduate Enrollment Management Professionals (JGAP)
April 11, 2018, Loyola University New Orleans (held prior to annual meeting of the Association for Graduate Enrollment Management)
President: Maureen Faux, Loyola University Maryland
(410) 617-5817,

Education Deans
April 12, 2018, Fordham University
President: Dr. Vincent C. Alfonso, Gonzaga University
(509) 313-3594,

Facilities, Public Safety & Sustainability
April 16-18, 2018, University of Scranton
Contact: James Caffrey, University of Scranton
(570) 941-6267,

National Seminar on Jesuit Higher Education
April 20-21, 2018, Gonzaga University
Chiar: Rev. Patrick Howell, S.J., Seattle University
(206) 437-4537,

Chief Finance Officers
April 24-27, 2018, Gonzaga University (held in conjunction with AJCU General Counsels)
Contact: Joe Smith, Gonzaga University
(509) 313-6801,

General Counsels
April 24-27, 2018, Gonzaga University (held in conjunction with AJCU Chief Finance Officers)
Contact: Maureen McGuire, Gonzaga University
(509) 313-6137,

International Education
May 28, 2018, Philadelphia, PA (venue TBD; held in conjunction with annual meeting of NAFSA (Association of International Educators)
Chair: René Padilla, Creighton University
(402) 280-4745,

National Seminar on Jesuit Higher Education
January 26-27, 2018, University of San Francisco
Chair: Rev. Patrick Howell, S.J., Seattle University
(206) 437-4537,

AJCU Board Meeting
February 2-3, 2018, Washington, D.C.
Contact: Michael Wieczorek, AJCU
(202) 862-9893,

Pastoral, Theological & Ministerial Education
February 18-19, 2018, Orlando, FL (held in conjunction with annual meeting of the Association of Graduate Programs in Ministry)
Chair: Dr. Brian Schmisek, Loyola University Chicago
(312) 915-7463,

Jesuit Association of Student Personnel Administrators (JASPA) Senior Student Affairs Officers
March 3, 2018, Saint Joseph’s University
President: Jeanne Rosenberger, Santa Clara University
(408) 554-4366,

Jesuit Conference on Rhetoric & Composition (JCRC)
March 17, 2018, Kansas City, MO (held in conjunction with annual meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication)
President: Ann Green, Saint Joseph’s University
(610) 660-1889,

Conference & Event Professionals Conference
March 17, 2018, Marriott City Center, Minneapolis, MN (held in conjunction with annual meeting of the Association of Collegiate Conference and Events Directors-International)
Patricia Carlson, Loyola Marymount University
(310) 338-2975,

Library Deans
March 18-21, 2018, Loyola Marymount University
Chair: Charles E. Kratz, Jr., University of Scranton
(570) 941-4008,

Campus Ministry Directors
March 20-23, 2018, Franciscan Renewal Center (Scottsdale, AZ)
Chair: Mary Sue Callan-Farley, Marquette University
(414) 288-0524,

Honors Programs
March 23-24, 2018, Creighton University
Chair: Dr. Naomi Yavneh Klos, Loyola University New Orleans
(504) 864-7330,

This winter, many Jesuit alumni events will be taking place across the country. Below is a full list that will be updated over the next few months. Questions or suggestions? Please contact AJCU’s director of communications, Deanna Howes Spiro: or (202) 862-9893.


Jesuit Connections: An Evening with Rev. Stephen Katsouros, S.J. (Dean & Executive Director of Arrupe College of Loyola University Chicago)
Tuesday, January 23, 2018, The Stretch
Click here to register online.

Loyola Club of Washington, D.C. Winter Luncheon
Guest Speaker: Rev. Michael J. Sheeran, S.J. (President, AJCU)
Thursday, February 8, 2018, University Club
Click here to register online.

Loyola Club of Cleveland Winter Luncheon
Guest Speaker: Heather Lennox (Partner-in-Charge, Cleveland Office of Jones Day)
Thursday, February 8, 2018, Westin Cleveland Downtown
Click here to register online.

Friends of Ignatius Speaker Series (San Francisco, CA)
Guest Speaker: Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J. (Director of the Vatican Observatory)
Saturday, February 10, 2018, St. Ignatius Church
Click here to register online.

Jesuit Alumni & Friends of Detroit Winter Luncheon
Guest Speaker: Rev. Thomas McClain, S.J. (General Treasurer of the Society of Jesus at the Jesuit Curia in Rome)
Tuesday, February 13, 2018, Detroit Athletic Club
Click here to register online.

Jesuit Leadership Series
Keynote Speaker: Rev. Michael J. Sheeran, S.J. (President, AJCU)
Wednesday, May 2, 2018, St. Louis, MO (venue and registration link TBD)