Restoring and adapting

The 2014-2015 academic year is a special one for the Jesuits because we are celebrating the 200th anniversary of the restoration of the Society of Jesus. The order, which was founded by Saint Ignatius of Loyola and approved by Pope Paul III in 1540, was suppressed by Pope Clement XIV in 1773. The suppression resulted from pressure by European monarchies attempting to centralize and secularize political power. They thought the Jesuits were too international, too strongly allied to the papacy, and too autonomous. Forty-one years later, Pius VII restored the Society on Aug. 7, 1814. It’s important to celebrate this anniversary because the restoration allowed for the growth and development of Jesuit education in the United States.

Before 1773, large numbers of Jesuits lived in Europe and Latin America. After 1814, Jesuit presence grew in regions of the world such as Africa and Australia. In the United States, Jesuits encountered fertile ground to champion a new mission, and subsequently the order grew from just a few shortly after 1814 to about 8,000 by the mid-1960s. Bishop John Carroll (1735-1815), the University’s namesake and a suppressed Jesuit, was one of those few.

When the Society was restored, it had to adapt to new circumstances and consider its place in and relationship to the modern world. Adaptation was something Ignatius of Loyola understood and insisted on when founding the order. As an example, the Spiritual Exercises can be given in a way that meets individuals where they are with God. Also, Jesuit missionaries adapted themselves to, and learned from, local cultures – in China, for example, where Fr. Matteo Ricci, S.J., began a mission where almost 1,000 Jesuits had served from 1552 to 1800.

Much like the aforementioned adaptations, education at John Carroll must innovate in a constantly changing world while remaining true to the Jesuit tradition of academic excellence. As such, our new core curriculum, which will be implemented next fall semester, empowers students to see opportunities, solve complex problems, and serve others. The Carroll core aims to prepare students not only to excel as talented professionals, but also live a commitment to social justice. The core will challenge students to look beyond the usual approaches and prepare them to explore and analyze issues from different perspectives. Engaging others with differing viewpoints has become particularly crucial in a global society in need of more dialogue and collaboration.

Collaboration also is key as the University develops academic programs that reflect the changing needs of society. Three of our new health-and-wellness-related programs illustrate the importance of these relationships. Our healthcare information technology major includes partnerships with the Cleveland Clinic and Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. These connections enable our students to interface with leaders in the healthcare IT industry and benefit from valuable experience through conferences and internships.

Our professional healthcare preparation minor and certificate help students explore career options and learn to become compassionate professionals. Through our partnerships in Northeast Ohio and throughout the world, students in the program can participate in job shadowing, service, research, and internships. These opportunities help future caregivers develop perspectives about their potential in the rapidly evolving healthcare field.

Our new sports studies program, established through the generosity of Mike Cleary ’56 and named in his honor, brings together courses in communications, business, psychology, ethics, and other disciplines. This interdisciplinary approach gives our students a unique perspective and a solid foundation as they pursue sports-related careers.

Celebrating the bicentennial of the Jesuit restoration allows the Society and the broader John Carroll community to renew our commitment to spirituality and answer the call to adapt to the modern world. The restoration’s anniversary also encourages us to reflect on our past in ways that inform our future – one that looks bright considering the classes of Carroll graduates who leave campus and enter the world to make a difference.

Yours in Christ,

Robert L. Niehoff, S.J.

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