Fr. Buckley Assumes New Canisius Chair

$2.5 million gift for Jesuit Institute

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

The University has received a $2.5 million gift that will endow the new Peter Canisius Chair at the Jesuit Institute and provide funds for the institute's operating expenses.

Jesuit Institute Director Michael J. Buckley, SJ, has been named the inaugural holder of the Canisius Chair.

The gift, from an anonymous donor, includes $2 million to endow the chair and $500,000, which - together with a matching amount to be raised by the University - will be added to the institute's endowment. Income from this $1 million will be used for the institute's operating expenses.

Named by the University for the 16th-century Jesuit educator, writer and theologian Peter Canisius, the chair will be held by an accomplished scholar whose academic interests and influence will further the institute's efforts to foster the Jesuit and Catholic nature of Boston College.

"The religious character of Catholic universities is never the fulfillment of an a priori definition but always a creative task to be accomplished," said University Chancellor J. Donald Monan, SJ, who during his presidential administration played a key role in the institute's establishment. "Every Catholic university in America has been exploring ways to effect the fusion of its intellectual aspirations and its religious commitments.
Michael Buckley, SJ

"The Jesuit Institute," Fr. Monan continued, "thanks to the vision of its leadership and the active involvement of our faculty, has proven one of the most effective programs in accomplishing that purpose. It is undoubtedly the institute's powerful idea and the importance of intellectual leadership, such as Fr. Buckley provides, that motivated establishment of the Peter Canisius Chair."

The Canisius Professor will be the director of, or closely affiliated with, the institute, said Fr. Buckley, who began the permanent appointment this summer. This arrangement will strengthen the institute financially, he said, as it endeavors to relate Christian faith to the formative elements of human culture through sponsorship of interdisciplinary research, seminars and other activities.

"At a time when all Catholic universities are attempting to articulate and strengthen the religious identity and vitality of Catholicism within the academic world," Fr. Buckley said, "I believe the Jesuit Institute has created a formula that has proven itself to be genuinely effective. The establishment of this chair will enable its recipient to focus more upon the research, lecture and writing that are essential to the scholarly commitments of his academic life and leadership in the institute."

The naming of the chair after Peter Canisius, Fr. Buckley added, reflects the distinctive mission of both the institute and Boston College as a whole.

"Peter Canisius was among the Jesuits' first distinguished theologians," he said. "He dedicated his intellectual vision, his genius and deep religious commitments to assist the Church, and founded a number of universities. He also had an abiding interest in the relationship between religion and culture, a topic which is the basis for much reflection and conversation at the Jesuit Institute."

Fr. Buckley, who is also a professor in the Theology Department, became institute director in 1992. Prior to his appointment, he was a professor of systematic and philosophical theology at the University of Notre Dame. Fr. Buckley also served as rector and professor at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, Calif. from 1969 to 1986, and was a delegate to the 34th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus held in Rome last year.

The recent gift and the University's contribution doubles the endowment of the Jesuit Institute, which was founded in 1988 through a $1.5 million endowment from Boston College's Jesuit Community that was matched by gifts to the University of an equal amount.

The institute works in cooperation with existing schools, programs and faculties, primarily but not exclusively, at Boston College. It has provided support for interdisciplinary seminars exploring such issues as AIDS and the Church, the intersection of religious faith and scientific inquiry and the relationship between the Catholic community and public education. One institute seminar provided the basis for Religion and the Arts , a quarterly journal located at the University which began publishing this year.

The Jesuit Institute also offers annual visiting fellowships for distinguished scholars, who, in advancing their research, contribute to the intellectual exchange and inquiry throughout the University. In addition, the institute funds visiting lecturers whose work complements that in a particular department, and sponsors visiting scholars who conduct academic retreats for faculty.

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