View from the Pew
Jesuit school graduates stay connected
Humans always want to identify themselves by what they consider special about their life. Too often it's about what they own, the brand of their car or other possessions.
For some it's about how much bad stuff they've survived, or so you'd think if you listen to current music. It's true in the realm of faith: Name your religion, denomination or place of worship, and you are likely to be pegged by other people as right or wrong, or right or left, maybe interestingly offbeat or even desperately needing salvation.
Nowhere is the sorting more significant than in that question that one Hawaii resident invariably asks another: "Where did you go to school?"
The answer might signal the rigorous academic standard you met or could reveal a cultural rather than educational experience. Name that private high school, and it might bring a mental "ah" of acceptance from those with the same background.
That sort of instant categorization happens all over the planet when a person names a Jesuit school or university as alma mater. Georgetown, Fordham, Marquette, Santa Clara, Creighton, Gonzaga, Loyola here, Loyola there. Aha, that means you've had a broad liberal arts undergraduate education before you focused on being a physician, a banker, a lawyer, a journalist. You didn't escape with a diploma without wrestling with numerous philosophy courses and taking more history, literature and language classes than a public college student could fathom. You were expected to question and challenge, not just be a sponge.
You were given the opportunity for a spiritual experience, if nothing more than absorb the concept that everything you do in life can be "for the greater glory of God," from the smallest tasks and good deeds to grand accomplishments. Anyone educated at the hands of the Society of Jesus, a Catholic religious order of priests and brothers that has been operating schools since the 1500s, likely considers it a defining part of their life.
"I learned I had a responsibility to other people, you are responsible for the world you live in," said Michael Weaver, principal of Damien Memorial School, a Gonzaga University graduate. "To me that was a nice challenge. Everything about the teachers, the university, underlined what you were taught."
"They did set a spiritual tone for us besides giving us a good secular education," said Thomas Huber, retired attorney and bank executive, a Marquette University graduate. "Their sense of values was inculcated in us."
Honolulu Star-Bulletin editorial cartoonist Corky Trinidad, a graduate of Ateneo de Manila, said "Their philosophy is to make you a complete human being, physically, intellectually, morally."
The Newman Center Jesuits will sponsor an April 22 reception for Jesuit alumni at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii. Pupus will be served and a no-host bar will be open from 4 to 6 p.m. There is no admission charge for the event, but Monday is the deadline for people not already on the guest list to register by calling 988-6222.
"Jesuit schools produce some of the best saints and best sinners," said Trinidad. That's been under discussion for centuries and might make for party chat April 22, but it's way too big a subject to tackle in this column.