Posts Tagged ‘Loyola University New Orleans’

Jesuit Named to Stephen Duffy Endowed Chair at Loyola University New Orleans

The late Stephen Duffy, a former Loyola New Orleans religious studies professor, believed systematic theology to be immensely important, and that it should be kept at Loyola. This fall, his wish will be granted.

The two-year search for the Stephen Duffy Endowed Chair in the Religious Studies department has finally ended. Jesuit Father Edward Vacek will be assuming the chair in the fall semester.

“We had 40 applicants, and that’s a great turnout because this is a very high-level position, and there are few people qualified enough to take on this role,” said Denis Janz, religious studies professor and chairman of the search committee. “A person at this level has a great many options, and we’re very lucky to have someone of Fr. Vacek’s caliber. This is a victory for us.”

Vacek will teach systematic theology and give public lectures, as well as involve himself in the Loyola community.

“Systematic theology is organized critical thinking about God and Christian life,” Vacek said in an email. According to Vacek, it evolved naturally from theology as humans tried to account for what practices led them to a closer relationship with God and came to organize their thoughts.

Vacek taught at Boston College from 2008 to 2011 and spent last year working at the Woodstock Theological Center in Washington, D.C.

“I taught for 33 years in a pontifical seminary,” Vacek said. “A big part of my job was to do the research and writing that would help the church’s theology evolve. Furthermore, I have been very interested in issues of social justice, so a fight against racism and sexism deeply ingrained in me. All of that has prepared me well, I think, for making a significant contribution to Loyola.”

Janz said he is pleased to have Vacek in the position, “He is really one of the best in his field, so we’re lucky to have him.”

Vacek said he looks forward to his time at Loyola, “Loyola very ably serves important needs in the region and in the church. I consider it a real privilege to serve here. I love being a teacher, and I love being a Jesuit and I love being a priest. So here at Loyola I will get to do what I love. I wish everybody would be so fortunate to be able to pursue their deepest commitments.”

[The Maroon]

Loyola New Orleans professor is celebrating 50 years as a Jesuit

Jesuit Father Stephen Rowntree was 17 when he joined the Society of Jesus in 1961. He saw it as a chance to seamlessly pair his faith with his desire to be a college professor.

“The thought was, I can do what I want, which is to be a college teacher, and I could be a priest, which is what God wants,” he said. “My identity was set. I would reflect now that God wanted what I wanted most deeply, and that is why this has been such a charmed life for me.”

Fifty years later, the Loyola University New Orleans philosophy professor is celebrating a half-century as a Jesuit. Rowntree’s teaching style has been driven by his engaging and energetic personality during his 35 years in the classroom. He said he likes to try to “rattle students’ cages” a little bit, but he does so with a purpose…

Rowntree’s work has not just focused on undergrads. He also has worked extensively to teach philosophy and ethics to seminarians studying to be Jesuit priests. From 1994 to 2001, he helped found Arrupe College, a four-year integrated philosophy, religious studies and humanities program for English-speaking African Jesuit scholars in Harare, Zimbabwe. Before that, he taught seminarians at Loyola for 10 years.

“It was a great adventure. We started out with an empty field, and within a couple of years, we had a fully functioning campus,” he said about his time at Arrupe College.

Read more about Rowntree’s life as a Jesuit at

Jesuit to Serve New Orleans on Civil Service Commission

JJesuit Father Kevin Wildesesuit Father Kevin Wildes, president of Loyola University New Orleans, will be serving the city of New Orleans as the newest member of the Civil Service Commission, after his nomination was approved in July.

This appointment continues Fr. Wildes’ long-time record of service for the city. Following Hurricane Katrina, he played a key role in establishing the city’s Ethics Review Board and in setting up an independent Office of the Inspector General. Wildes currently sits on the Public Belt Railroad Commission.

“While I believe public service is always important, the challenges for post-Katrina New Orleans make public service even more vital today,” said Wildes. “New Orleans citizens are demanding, and rightly so, to live within a city government that functions transparently, efficiently and justly. I am honored to be able to assist in this effort.”

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu was supportive of Wildes’ nomination, explaining that reforming the civil service system is critical to improving the quality of service for the residents of New Orleans.

“Fr. Wildes has a distinguished record of service in the faith-based and academic communities and has taken on numerous positive reforms locally post-Katrina. I appreciate his willingness to help improve city government,” said Landrieu.

For more on Wildes’ new appointment, visit the Loyola University New Orleans website.

Jesuits Respond to BP Oil Spill in Gulf of Mexico

The New Orleans Province of the Society of Jesus has compiled a resource packet in response to the growing environmental catastrophe in the Gulf Coast region from the BP oil spill. It can be found at

The packet includes prayers, an oil spill policy brief and a study on the spill from the e-newsletter of the Jesuit Social Research Institute.

Also, the Jesuit school Loyola University New Orleans has created a website addressing the numerous efforts being made by its faculty and staff to respond to the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The site, Crude Awakening at, features a list of faculty experts who can speak authoritatively on oil spill topics; a blog compiling faculty and staff commentary regarding the spill; press releases and news about Loyola’s involvement; local and national news headlines; and ways to get involved.

In addition, Loyola’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has reached out to more than 1,000 affected small businesses in the area, offering them assistance in filing claims, counseling, and support since the spill began.

The SBDC’s director, Carmen Sunda, recently testified at a Senate hearing in Washington, D.C., on the oil spill’s impact on small businesses. In her written testimony, Sunda expressed the far-reaching devastation of the uncertainty of the spill and provided details about how the SBDC is helping affected businesses.

“The worst part is that it has no foreseeable ending. People can’t estimate the value of their long-term losses or the long-term impact, because they can’t define ‘long-term’–does it mean this season, a few years, a lifetime?” wrote Sunda.

Loyola’s SBDC has partnered with the Louisiana Small Business Administration (LSBA) to staff twelve Business Recovery Centers in seven parishes across coastal Louisiana. Each center is staffed with an LSBA and an SBDC consultant who help with the BP claims process and filling for loans.

“SBDC assists any business that feels that they have been impacted. Our consultants provide businesses with a free, independent, third party that they can speak with on a personal level,” said Sunda.