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Jesuit Presence

“The University values the presence, work, and witness of Jesuits on its campuses with its students, colleagues, and alumni.”

Fordham University wishes both to encourage and support the Jesuits in every way possible and in turn to make a claim on them corporately to assume greater responsibility as animators of the mission of the University.

Jesuits Active in the University as Faculty, Administrators, Campus Leaders, and Campus Ministers

Currently 28 Jesuits are active in Fordham’s administration and faculty, including the President, the Dean of Fordham College at Lincoln Center, the Vice President for Mission Integration and Planning, the Executive Director of Campus Ministry, and over a dozen tenured members of the faculty, in addition to other community members with various teaching and administrative responsibilities. Ten Jesuits currently serve as Jesuits-in-residence in various residence halls. At Ciszek Hall, there are 25 Jesuit scholastics in First Studies. Most of these are graduate students at the University in a range of departments and offer significant leaven to the Jesuit mission of the University. Many are actively engaged in various apostolates on campus such as Campus Ministry and are highly valued by the professional staff as excellent role models and pastoral counselors nearer to the age of both undergraduate and graduate students. Contiguous to campus there are two houses of senior Jesuits who also exercise significant influence by their example and availability to various works, especially sacramental, in the University. In addition, five Jesuits, who do not work at Fordham, serve as members of the Board of Trustees.

In addition to their normal work as teachers, scholars, and administrators, a high percentage of the Jesuits on campus contribute generously to the sacramental life of campus, through five daily Masses (between the Rose Hill and Lincoln Center campuses), regular confessions, help with retreats, spiritual direction and other service. In general, Jesuit faculty and staff members are highly regarded as good colleagues and hard workers.

Throughout our focus groups we very frequently heard a desire on the part of the wider community, however, to have the Jesuit community as such to exercise a greater influence as a community. Events in which larger scale hospitality is offered (such as the New Faculty Orientation) are deeply appreciated and contribute to our colleagues’ sense of what the Jesuit, Catholic mission of Fordham is. Yet we also frequently heard people say they had very little sense of who the Jesuit community, precisely as a corporate body, really is, and many expressed a desire for some appropriate forms of greater hospitality. Some expressed worry about the declining number of Jesuits working in the University, and the general aging of the community. Many too articulated a desire to encourage and support the Jesuits. Others mused over the possibility that Jesuits might sometimes feel alienated when treated as “tokens” or when certain key themes attributed to Jesuit education (such as cura personalis, magis, the promotion of faith and service of justice) are deracinated from the deeper religious texture and spiritual tradition that gives them meaning. And yet, again and again we heard the desire for the Jesuit community, as a corporate body and in a way that is appropriate, to assume greater responsibility as animators of the mission of the University.

Relationship with the Society of Jesus at the Local, Regional, National and International Levels

In respect to its relationship with larger groups in the Society of Jesus, Spellman Hall has been a locus of hospitality to many visiting Jesuits, and in the current year it is at full capacity with Jesuits normally assigned to other houses in New York City. In addition, all places for Jesuits in residence halls are filled. At the University, there is an increasing effort to form partnerships with other Jesuit apostolates in the area, most notably Fordham Prep and such institutions as Cristo Rey New York High School and America Media, so that collaborative efforts may accrue to the common good of the apostolates of the Society in the area. Beyond the local, there is a growing awareness of the need to plug into Jesuit apostolates internationally, such as the Jesuit Institute of South Africa in Johannesburg, and other institutions abroad. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine what exactly the mutual goals of such collaborations are, and yet the University enters into dialogue with members of the global Jesuit network with an eagerness to find connections.

We need to promote a broader and stronger relationship with our “Ignatian colleagues,” i.e., those who work alongside the Jesuits in the mission of the University. There are two reasons for this promotion. First, as already mentioned, there is a concern for the diminishing number of Jesuits, and we must ask who will advance this apostolic work. Many of our lay colleagues stand ready to take on this work. However, it is not merely a matter of numbers. These colleagues express a desire to contribute to the work of the Society as it enhances their own spiritual and professional work – for the greater glory of God.

Vocation Promotion

Since 1996, 16 men have entered the Society of Jesus through Fordham University. The Campus Ministry program holds regular meetings with those men and women who are considering religious vocations, and the Director of Vocations for the USA Northeast Province, Fr. Charles Frederico, S.J., makes an annual visit to the campus to meet with young men who are considering a Jesuit vocation. A crucial element in vocation promotion, of course, is the presence of a Jesuit house of formation with so many students at the University.

Conclusion

Consideration of Characteristic 6 leads the Steering Committee to recommend the following Mission Priority discussed at the end of this Examen.

  • Find ways both to support and make a claim on the Jesuit Community as animators of mission/identity (Mission Priority #3).