Fr. Brad Reynolds , S.J. talks with students

What Does “Jesuit” Mean at Gonzaga University?

by Brad Reynolds, S.J.,
Associate Director of University Ministry

Gonzaga brands itself as Catholic, Jesuit and humanistic in nature. I’ve been asked to write a few words about what we mean when we say Gonzaga is Jesuit.

The easy and obvious answer is that Gonzaga University was founded by a Jesuit (Fr. Joseph Cataldo), run by the Jesuits (today there’s a Board of Trustees and our first non-Jesuit President to do the heavy lifting), and follows the traditions of Jesuit education (found in a very dense and mostly boring document written by Jesuits and called The Ratio Studiorum).

But how does that get translated into the day-to-day life on Gonzaga’s campus? And where the heck are all the Jesuits people keep talking about?

At the moment, there close to 30 Jesuits living and/or working on campus. One is the Rector (or Superior) of the Jesuit community. There are two Vice-Presidents, two who are students from other countries, one who isn’t yet ordained a priest, one who is a Jesuit Brother, and bunch who work as faculty and staff members. Some of us also work at the parish, St. Aloysius, and at Gonzaga Preparatory School. We range in age from 39 to 83.

There used to be a lot more of us on campus. I’d wager there were over sixty Jesuits living and working here at one time. But as everyone knows, vocations to religious life have declined. And attrition has done the rest.

So today, we Jesuits try to be the leaven. In addition to whatever classes we’re teaching or jobs we’re performing, we also talk a lot (and I mean A LOT!) about the whats, whys, and how we continue as a Jesuit school. And whenever possible – in classrooms, meetings and Masses – we remind people about Jesuit values and principles. We remind them about things like Being Women and Men for Others, working for the Greater Glory of God (A.M.D.G.), living the Magis, and Finding God in All Things. And we teach folks to use things like the Examen, the Contemplatio, and Ignatian Discernment. All of that gets poured into what we call Gonzaga’s Mission.

Does everyone on campus get it? I’m pretty sure not. Does everyone agree with it? I’d be surprised. Does everyone, at some time or other, get to hear about it? I’m pretty sure they do.

And I think that’s what the Jesuits here are all about. That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing – keeping that original vision alive, helping create an academic space where a community (students, faculty, staff, alumni and administration) can try to educate and foster the whole person – intellectually, physically, spiritually and culturally. And not just to benefit the individual, but to benefit the entire world.

If we graduate students whose only objectives are a fat bank account and a comfortable lifestyle, then we Jesuits consider that a failure. We want more for them and we want more from them.

What do the Jesuits at Gonzaga University do? We teach, we work, we pray and we keep insisting on recognizing what are the best, truest and most sacred things inside each one of us.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

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