It's always interesting to hear what the secular media makes of Jesuit education. Here's a great piece by Amy Sullivan of Time on University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy (fondly known as U of D High). It focuses primarily on the school's commitment to educating youth in inner-city Detroit, but also calls attention to the school's Jesuit heritage and Christian values. I love the end, where the writer and students reflect on Pedro Arrupe's ideal of "men for others." (Now, in most of our co-ed schools, called "men and women for others.") It's honest and touching.
Students are told hundreds of times during their education at U of D that they are training to become community leaders, what the Jesuits call "men for others." The phrase comes up in nearly every conversation with current and former students. "It's kinda corny," says Keith Ellison, class of 1981 and a Democratic Congressman from Minnesota, "but that motto really made me think about service. And it set a course for what I'm doing with my life now."
The Jesuit ideal can also be found in more recent graduates like Will Ahee and Tom Howe. Both grew up in tony communities — Grosse Pointe and Birmingham — that may be geographically close to Detroit but are worlds away culturally. Through U of D, they volunteered with Earthworks, an urban garden project that is reclaiming for sustainable agriculture some of the thousands of acres of abandoned lots in Detroit. When they graduated a few years ago, Ahee and Howe could have had their pick of universities. They chose to stay in Detroit and attend Wayne State University, where they study comprehensive food systems. How do these college kids spend their weekends? Working in a community garden they started near Elmwood Park, nine miles from U of D.
And, for those who are interested, Father Arrupe's landmark address, from Valencia, Spain, in 1973: "Men for Others."
James Martin, SJ