Have the Jesuits Faded Away?

by Kate Vanskike, Editor, Gonzaga Magazine

When magazine editors receive letters via postal delivery, the contents are often complaints. Thus, I opened the envelope with hesitation.

“It is with great sadness that I write this,” a 1980 grad wrote, confirming my suspicion. “Though the articles describe what could be interpreted as Christian values and two minor instances mention ‘Jesuit,’ witness to a specific denomination is unclear, much less so to the role of Jesuits in [Gonzaga’s] history.”

“Have the Jesuits pitched their tents and faded away?” she asked.

We receive similar letters and questions a few times a year, so it’s a topic I take seriously. I am not an alum, so I don’t have personal stories of theology classes taken at Gonzaga, or life-changing conversations with Jesuits in the COG. But in my short 18 months occupying an office in the basement of the old Administration Building, I can say that I have very  much experienced Gonzaga’s Catholic, Jesuit foundation. From day one, actually, during orientation as a new employee. It wasn’t that I had to listen to “some priest” talk about the heritage of his religious order. No, it was that I got to have dialogue with multiple Jesuits who fascinated me with their varying styles of discussion and prayer. In visits to the chapel, lunchtime walks across campus, meeting people from dozens of departments and – even in staff meetings – I have personally encountered this thing we call “being Jesuit.”

I often think about something Gerri Craves, a GU trustee, recently said in an interview. I had asked her what she says to people who suggest that Gonzaga is no longer Jesuit.

“It’s up to all of us to be Jesuit,” she replied.

Not every issue of Gonzaga Magazine will contain explicitly Catholic or Jesuit articles. But Ignatian spirituality itself is rooted in “finding God in all things,” and you will see that spirit in the stories of our faculty, our students, our alumni, and yes, the Jesuits themselves, who diligently work to see where God is working and join Him.

Have the Jesuits faded away? I don’t believe so. I hope you’ll read President McCulloh’s letter and a feature in this issue that speak to Gonzaga’s efforts and commitment to invite new men from the Society to join our campus.

Can we do more to keep the Jesuit experience alive? Of course, and it’s up to all of us.

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