It all began nearly 500 years ago, when a young knight, Ignatius of Loyola, had a run-in with a cannonball. Ignatius was defending the honor of the Spanish king when he was injured in battle. He was brought back to his family’s castle and had to remain in bed for six months. There he did a lot of reflecting about his past and his dreams for the future. He gradually realized that he was looking for something more in his life, beyond the riches, honors, and fame he was pursuing in the king’s service. He found that meaning in a life devoted to the service of God and others. Leaving his family’s castle, he wandered around Europe, studying, teaching, and ministering to anyone who came his way. He eventually established an order of like-minded men, which he called the Society of Jesus, more commonly known as the Jesuits.
Ignatius was a man of passion, and so he exhorted his young Jesuits to think boldly, to imagine creatively, to love enthusiastically, to labor tirelessly, and to give generously. We must meet people where they are, he said, in the midst of their daily lives. It is there that we find God. This is the spirit that animated every school and college the Jesuits founded.
That vision persists today even amid the hectic pace of the Bronx and New York City where students from all different backgrounds and faith traditions gather at Fordham to learn and live. The lessons here are timeless ones. We are not about just dishing out diplomas. As a Jesuit university, we invite both teachers and students to find God in all things: amid our studies, work, and recreation. In the encounter with truth, beauty, and goodness, we discern the fingerprints of God. At Fordham, we seek to revel in creation and celebrate it with an undying gratitude and humility.
Every person who walks on our campuses is more than just a number. As Ignatius always insisted, each person is uniquely loved by God, an image of the divine. In keeping with this ideal, we at Fordham are committed to caring for the whole person, mind, body, and soul. We invite students to cultivate excellence in all they do: whether in the classroom or residence hall, in the chapel or on the playing field. We strive for excellence, not just for our own benefit, but because we have a privileged duty to cultivate the gifts God has lavished upon us. We offer these gifts in service to a world so in need, a world that cries out for greater justice. Imitating the example of Jesus Christ, we seek to put words of love into action, to allow for our education to make a difference in the world. We aspire to be men and women for others.
A Fordham education is not all about filling resumes. It’s about learning how to live with integrity and character. Success here is measured by the kind of person you become. A Jesuit education is about asking the big questions about enduring values and life’s deeper meaning. In this questioning, we look to our immense Catholic and intellectual tradition to guide us. We hope that our students leave with more questions than when they started; for learning is a lifelong process.
Learn more about this most important of journey of the mind and heart. Your destination may be as unknown as it was for Ignatius, but your starting point is clear: right here at Fordham, with other pilgrims, both young and old, who seek a life marked by learning, service, and faith!