the Jesuit who serves as president.
Worldwide, the number of Jesuits in higher education is in decline-their order now counts fewer than 3,000 in the United States, a third of them of retirement age.
This is especially evident at schools like John Carroll, where a graying group of 11 Jesuits is turning to lay parishioners to preserve traditions."Not long ago, I was out with some students practicing a little of what they call 'pub theology,'" says Fr. Howard Gray, the school's rector.
"I had to go home to bed, and I wished there was a young priest who could have taken my place."
"It might seem kind of strange that they pride themselves on being a Jesuit school when there are so few Jesuits left, but their influence is still very strong."
The Jesuit spirit of engagement emphasizes service. Sure, there are parties, says one student, but serious community service goes on, too. Every Friday night, student groups make sandwiches for the homeless; other nights, they volunteer at the Catholic work house. Spring break sometimes means Cancún, but it can involve housing projects in Nicaragua or hurricane relief on the Gulf Coast, as well.
The school's academic focus also reflects the realities of life off campus. There are programs in applied ethics and social justice, for example, and others on teaching literacy to schoolchildren. John Carroll has just inaugurated a "Poverty and Solidarity" program, designed to teach students about the causes and impacts of poverty. Ohio, in particular the northeastern part of the state, has seen better economic times. It has been a goal of schools in the region to concentrate on entrepreneurship as a means to both educate their students and help the region out of the doldrums. "Regional engagement was not always a focus in John Carroll's history," says Niehoff. "We now see that as a duty and a focus."
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