"I tell them 'Just keep breathing,'" laughs Fr. Bezuszka, who has been a mathematics teacher and department administrator at the University since 1939.
(L-R) Reverends Stanley Bezuszka, SJ, Francis Nicholson, SJ, and Francis Clooney, SJ, were among members of the Boston College Jesuit Community marking milestones in their vocations. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)
Fr. Leahy marked 25 years since his ordination, along with Rev. Francis X. Clooney, SJ, a professor of theology [see accompanying article], and Rev. Robert Ver Eecke, SJ, pastor of St. Ignatius Church and the University's artist-in-residence.
Vice President for University Mission and Ministry Joseph A. Appleyard, SJ, commemorated his 50th year as a Jesuit, as did Rev. Richard T. Cleary, SJ, a former University chaplain, and Rev. Charles J. Healy, SJ, a professor of theology at Blessed Pope John XXIII Seminary.
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of their ordinations were Rev. Francis J. Nicholson, SJ, former Law School professor, and Rev. William Richardson, SJ, a professor of philosophy.
Each jubilarian has blended decades of priestly service with a professional career as a scholar, teacher or administrator.
Fr. Nicholson typifies this Jesuit lifetime of scholarship and service. He graduated from Boston College in 1942, followed with degrees from Georgetown and Harvard Law schools and was ordained a priest on June 20, 1953.
As a professor in the Boston College Law School, Fr. Nicholson taught courses in international law, conflicts of law and jurisprudence from 1958 through 1999. He also served as the rector of the University's Jesuit Community from 1971 through 1978 and has been assistant rector since 1987. In the 1960s he was a dormitory prefect in BC's upper campus residence halls.
In addition to those multiple roles as teacher, administrator and mentor, Fr. Nicholson found time to say the daily 6 a.m. Mass at St. Mary's Chapel for 25 years - from 1958 through 1993.
Born in Poland and raised in Lowell, Fr. Bezuszka came to Boston College as a Jesuit scholastic in 1939, and with the exception of time spent in doctoral study, has been a member of the University faculty ever since. He will celebrate his 90th birthday in January.
In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Fr. Bezuszka founded the Boston College Mathematics Institute, an innovative component of the national effort to improve American math and science education programs in response to the Soviet Union's launch of space satellites in the late 1950s. Under Fr. Bezuszka's leadership, the institute continues to flourish.
Beyond his world of complex theories and multiple equations, Fr. Bezuszka forged a special bond with his students. "This was not a dormitory college when I first started teaching here," he said. "After about three in the afternoon, BC would just about shut down, except for the laboratories.
"We would get some coffee and cake from the cafeteria, and have those students come and sit around. That's how you got to know them. It was a very close association."
He has officiated at the marriages of dozens of his former pupils.
Today's high-tech campus doesn't always foster those close teacher-student friendships, Fr. Bezuszka says. "Students will e-mail you with a question, and teachers will give their assignments and academic help on e-mail.
"The worst thing now is you might get an e-mail from a student who says 'I won't be in class because my father died.' I would love to have him come in and talk to me to see if I could help in any way.
"It's just a different world," he says.
For years, Fr. Bezuszka has tended a flower garden in the southeast corner of St. Mary's Hall. As a tribute to his long service as teacher and priest, a group of his former students have donated a bench located in front of that garden.
The inscription on the bench reads simply: "Thanks, Father B."
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