By John Bookser Feister
Fifty years ago, Jesuit priests in Roman collars walked the campus, working as the primary faculty and serving as an outward sign of the Catholicity of the University. Students were required to attend Mass and at least one spiritual retreat a year. They were handed cards, and if they weren’t stamped with proof of their attendance by the end of the year, they risked not being able to graduate. It was a different era.
Today, the “Jesuit Tradition” banners hanging along the academic mall and the striking gilded sculpture of Ignatius Loyola standing behind Bellarmine Chapel provide symbolic, outward signs of the University’s Catholic, Jesuit identity. But Mass and retreats are no longer required of students, and seeing a priest in a collar on campus is a rarity. Dressed in sport coats and, occasionally, ties, they’re hard to distinguish from other faculty.Continued