Dec. 20, 2020 – As the sun sets on 2020, we wanted to take an opportunity to highlight some of the most notable events from the past year. Despite the challenges and losses of 2020 due to the coronavirus, there were still signs of hope; reminders that God was with us even during the times of darkness. We have gathered some of the top Jesuit stories from the past 12 months to share with you.
Earlier this spring, Fr. Daniel Lahart, SJ, president of Regis High School asked one of the school’s notable alumni, Dr. Anthony Fauci, class of ’58, to record a video for the Jesuit graduates of 2020. Dr. Fauci has been a familiar face during the coronavirus pandemic because of his role as the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. In addition to being a Regis graduate, Dr. Fauci is also an alumnus of the College of the Holy Cross, class of ‘62. “I became immersed in the intellectual rigor of a Jesuit education,” said Dr. Facui in the video. “Importantly, certain tenets of the Jesuit tradition have sustained me throughout my life and career.
Among those we lost during 2020 was Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, SJ, 30th Superior General of the Society of Jesus. Fr. Nicolás died May 20, 2020, in Tokyo, Japan, from non-covid related causes. Fr. Nicolás, 84, was a member of the Jesuit community of Loyola House in Kamishakujii and had been ill for a number of years. He was deeply mourned by the Jesuits of Japan and Asia Pacific, his family and friends in Spain, and by Jesuits and friends around the world.
On July 31, 2020 (the Feast of St. Ignatius Loyola), the Maryland and USA Northeast Provinces of the Society of Jesus canonically came together to form a new, single province—the USA East Province of the Society of Jesus. It is the largest province in the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, comprising more than 600 Jesuits, 11 colleges and universities, 26 middle and high schools, 17 parishes, 6 retreat centers and 2 international schools.
Four Jesuit novices of the USA East Province pronounced social distanced first vows on August 7, 2020 at the cathedral in Syracuse, N.Y. They are (pictured from left to right) Andrew Milewski, SJ, Trevor Kelly, SJ, David Said, SJ, and Michael Petro, SJ. Prayer, study and apostolic service all helped them to build a stronger relationship with Jesus—a companionship—that has empowered each of these young men through grace and courage to kneel before the Eucharist and pronounce perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
The ongoing uncertainty of a global pandemic could not keep our four Jesuit scholastics from being ordained to the priesthood in August. Although dates and schedules had to be moved and rearranged, Fr. James Ferus, SJ, (pictured with Seán Cardinal O’Malley, OFM) was ordained in Boston on August 1 with the seminarians from the archdiocese, and on August 8, Frs. Kevin Hughes, SJ, Jason Downer, SJ, and Douglas Ray, SJ, (pictured from left to right between Archbishop Nelson Perez of Philadelphia and Provincial Fr. Joseph O’Keefe, SJ) were ordained at the Saint Joseph’s University Chapel in Philadelphia.
Author and editor of America magazine, Fr. James Martin, SJ, was invited delivered a closing benediction at the Democratic National Convention on August 27. The prayer itself was easy to write, since I knew what I wanted to say,” said Fr. Martin. “I wanted to invite people to pray for a country where all lives had dignity, all people were loved, and all were welcome.”
This year marked the 50th anniversary of four USA East Jesuits who entered the Society of Jesus in 1970: Fr. Michael Boughton, SJ; Fr. James Keenan, SJ; Fr. Thomas McMurray, SJ; and Fr. William Rickle, SJ. We were able congratulate these Jesuits who have served the Church and the people of God for half a century. There were in good company with some Jesuits celebrating more than seven decades in the Society in 2020.
From Sept. 8 through 22, the USA East Province held its first Virtual Friends of the Jesuits Golf Outing Auction and Raffle. Due to the continuing challenges presented by COVID-19, the Friends of the Jesuits Golf committee made the difficult decision to hold this year’s outing as an online-only event. Over the past eleven years, the Friends of the Jesuits Golf Outing has raised more than $2.7 million to support men in formation and senior Jesuits.
For the past few years, friends of the Society and Jesuit alumni on the east coast would gather for the annual Jesuit Friends and Alumni Sunday Masses. It was a way of bringing together alumni of Jesuit schools and friends of the Jesuits across generations to rekindle their connection with the Society of Jesus and each other. Due to the coronavirus, this year’s in-person alumni Sunday could not happen. However, thanks to the ingenuity and creativity of the province staff, the 2020 Alumni Sunday mass was able to take place as an all-virtual event. Attendees were able to join together virtually to watch the video of the Mass, celebrated by Fr. Joseph O’Keefe, SJ, provincial of the USA East Province, and Fr. Adam Rosinski, SJ, assistant director of vocations.