Monday, November 2, 2009

Jesuits In Old Main

It used to be when you walked along the first-floor corridor of Old Main, portraits of the 22 ex-presidents of Canisius College followed you with their gaze. They were all Jesuits, the early ones German, later Irish, Italian and Polish-Americans. Their stern visages reminded us of the “Magis”—the call to go above and beyond.

When Old Main was renovated at the turn of the 21st century, the Jesuit presidents were unceremoniously moved, and now hang cramped, shoulder- to-shoulder, in the north end of the corridor where no one ever goes. Father Vincent Cooke’s likeness will soon join them to keep lonely exile there.

John Hurley has been named president of Canisius by the trustees, and the community is rightly pleased. But Hurley is a layman, and with his accession to the presidency, Buffalo’s two major Jesuit institutions — Canisius High School and Canisius College –find themselves with not one Jesuit in a top administrative post. People in Buffalo and Western New York need to know that this situation could lead to an exodus of the remaining members of the Society of Jesus from our area.

The Jesuit order has suffered a substantial decrease in vocations, and is facing the real possibility of not being able to keep a presence in all its historical ministries and institutions. There are 28 colleges and universities and 49 secondary schools vying for a declining number of Jesuits to fill administrative and faculty positions. It seems almost inevitable that since Buffalo has not been able to attract and keep Jesuit administrators, that the other Jesuits here will gravitate toward places where their order is still in control.

Link (here) to the full opinion piece by Michael J. Gent in the Buffalo News

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