New Faculty Members Focus on the Life of St. Ignatius
By Danny Fitzpatrick ’09
Jesuit’s orientation for new faculty and staff members hinged on the week’s retreat, a highlight for participants as well as for directors Kathy Juhas and Jeremy Reuther ’01. The retreat began in the Holy Name of Jesus Chapel on the second floor, where the sounds of construction in the school’s 1926 wing couldn’t dampen the ardor of the Mass concelebrated by Frs. John Brown, S.J., and Jon Polce, S.J, the latter of whom is beginning his tenure as Jesuit’s chaplain. Nick Blair, S.J., Jesuit’s new regent, assisted on the altar. Reuther and Elizabeth Rizzo, new executive assistant to the president, led the faculty in the Greek, Latin, and Hebrew Mass parts sung at Jesuit’s student liturgies. Fr. Brown preached on the love between the God who sacrifices everything for his people and the people who, seeking to give themselves to God, find that it is always God who has gone ahead of them in giving good things, offering his very Son so that we can offer the Son back to the Father by participating in the Mass and offering up our daily labors on the altar of the Cross.
After Mass, retreatants enjoyed an introduction to the life of St. Ignatius via Word on Fire’s Pivotal Players series. (The episode devoted to Ignatius remains free for now on the Word on Fire website in honor of the Ignatian year, which officially concluded on July 31, Ignatius’ feast day.) In particular, the video gave participants an opportunity to reflect on the Ignatian phrase so familiar to the Jesuit community, Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, and to see in Ignatius’ motto an opportunity to be alive to the joy of knowing that with God, there is always more to give, more to know, more to love—that in seeking to serve God we open ourselves to the infinite wellspring of grace which makes all things new and renders even the most mundane tasks remarkable.
Back in the second-floor chapel, Reuther, drawing on the insights of spiritual masters ranging from St. Ignatius to Josef Pieper and C.S. Lewis, supplied an introduction to prayer in general and to Jesuit methodology in particular, highlighting meditation, contemplation, and the importance of discernment of spirits for each. Reuther then directed the retreatants in a contemplative prayer period based on Jesus’ call of St. Peter when the Lord steps into Peter’s boat to preach to the crowds on shore and then directs the fishermen to put out into deep water and lower their nets for a catch. The incoming faculty were asked to join with Peter and, by extension, Ignatius in likewise becoming fishers of men, gathering souls for Christ from the khaki waves rolling up and down the halls of Carrollton & Banks.
Before leaving the chapel, new faculty heard testimonies from two current Blue Jays, Jacques Broussard and Killian Lyons, who described the spiritual impact of teachers across the Jesuit curriculum. Whether in math, chemistry, or sacraments, they stressed that their teachers are not content merely to cover the subject matter; rather, by demonstrating the importance of faith in their own lives, Jesuit’s faculty help to form students who can not only solve equations and perform dimensional analysis but who can begin to respond to the questions about God and man that so keenly moved St. Ignatius.
Spiritually fortified, the retreatants concluded the day with dinner and fellowship at Theo’s—a fitting end, not least when we remember that the Greek root theo means God.