Monday, November 07, 2011

A Jesuit philosopher reflects.

This story from the (New Orleans) Times-Picayune is two months old, but it's still relatively new to me as I discovered it last week on the U.S. Jesuit Assistancy news blog. In a profile marking his fiftieth year as a Jesuit, Loyola University New Orleans philosophy professor Father Stephen Rowntree, S.J. explains how he found his vocation:
The Rev. 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 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.
I can relate to Father Rowntree's explanation of how he found his vocation, as my own discernment followed similar lines: I felt called to be both a priest and a professor, and I knew that life as a Jesuit offered an opportunity to combine those two callings. I was also attracted to the international dimension of the Society of Jesus, something that Father Rowntree has also experienced firsthand:
. . . From 1994 to 2001, [Rowntree] 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 [Jesuit] 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.

When he returned to Loyola, Rowntree gained an enhanced appreciation for free markets and the capitalist economic model. Many of his more recent writings have centered on law and economics focusing on the moral aspect of economics.

He said he hopes to continue teaching for many years. Although Rowntree, who was born in Massachusetts, has traveled the world and worked with students from every walk of life, he is struck by what people have in common.

"My overwhelming experience over the 35 years of teaching is that we're all human beings. We all have a similar developmental process of maybe maturing one day. I think the continuities have always struck me as being more obvious then the discontinuities," he said.
To read the rest of the profile, click here. To learn more about Arrupe College in Harare, visit the AC website. AMDG.


At 11/07/2011 7:56 AM, Blogger Robin said...

"We all have a similar developmental process of maybe maturing one day."

That's wonderful.


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