Jesuit Jubilarians

13 campus Jesuits are marking major milestones in the priesthood and order this year

By Mark Sullivan
Staff Writer

He has had an august career as a scholar and university administrator, but Vice President and Special Assistant to the President William B. Neenan, SJ, still recalls how humble he felt the day he entered the novitiate of the Missouri Province of the Society of Jesus in August of 1948.

"We were supposed to arrive by 5 o'clock," said Fr. Neenan, chuckling at the memory. "I walked up to the door at quarter to five, and the director of novices said, 'Welcome, William.' I was very pleased this important person recognized me. But he went on to say: 'The reason I know your name is because you are the last to arrive.'"

Campus Jesuits marking jubilees this year gathered for a photograph following a Nov. 13 Mass in their honor. Seated, left to right, are: Finance Department Advisor John Collins, SJ; former History Professor and band Moderator Joseph Glavin, SJ; Prof. Emeritus Stanley Bezuszka (Mathematics); and former Humanities Series Director Francis Sweeney, SJ. Standing, from left, are: College of Advancing Studies Dean James Woods, SJ; Prof. Joseph Flanagan, SJ (Philosophy); St. Mary's Chapel Prefect James O'Brien, SJ; Center for Ignatian Sprituality Director Howard Gray, SJ; Adj. Prof. Francis Sullivan, SJ (Theology); College of Arts and Sciences Dean J. Robert Barth, SJ; Vice President and Special Assistant to the President William B. Neenan, SJ; and Prof. Francis Parker, SJ (CSOM).

A half-century later, Fr. Neenan, a member of what is now the Wisconsin Province, says he looks back with "an incredible sense of gratitude" on his years in the Society of Jesus. "Every good thing that has happened to me - the friends I've had, the professional accomplishments, the couples I've married - have come to me because I am a Jesuit," he said.

On Nov. 13, singing a prayer by St. Ignatius Loyola - "Receive, Lord, my liberty ... and my will. All that I am and have is yours" - Fr. Neenan and a dozen other Boston College Jesuits marked jubilees in the Society of Jesus at a Mass in St. Mary's Chapel. The liturgy was followed by a Jesuit Community dinner in St. Mary's Hall.

"It was a great occasion to celebrate the fidelity of our brothers and the many graces and gifts we've received from them," said Jesuit Community Rector Assoc. Prof. Francis R. Herrmann, SJ (Law). "Each one of them is a gift."

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of their entry into the Society of Jesus are some of the University's most prominent Jesuit administrators and faculty, including Fr. Neenan; College of Arts and Sciences Dean J. Robert Barth, SJ; Prof. Joseph Flanagan, SJ (Philosophy), director of the Lonergan Institute; Center for Ignatian Spirituality Director Howard Gray, SJ; St. Mary's Chapel Prefect James O'Brien, SJ; and College of Advancing Studies Dean James A. Woods, SJ.

Others in the BC Jesuit community are marking even longer periods of service in the order. Finance Department Advisor John Collins, SJ, and Prof. Emeritus Stanley J. Bezuszka, SJ (Mathematics), are marking their 65th year in the Society of Jesus, while Adj. Prof. Francis A. Sullivan, SJ (Theology), celebrates his 60th.

A few are noting the golden or silver anniversaries of their ordination as priests, which takes place a number of years after entering the Jesuit order. Joseph F. Quane, SJ, a retired professor of ethics who currently resides at the Campion Center in Weston, is marking his 60th year as a priest. Joseph A. Glavin, SJ, a former history professor and band moderator, and retired Humanities Series Director Francis W. Sweeney, SJ, are observing their 50th year in the priesthood, and Prof. Francis J. Parker, SJ (CSOM), his 25th.

New England Province member Fr. Flanagan said he feels "extraordinarily blessed" to have been called to enter the Jesuit order 50 years ago. "When you reflect back, you realize what gratuities vocations are," he said. "My vocation came in an instant and I was fortunate in recognizing it was a gift. It wasn't something you initiated - it was something you responded to."

Fr. Flanagan and Fr. Woods entered the Shadowbrook Novitiate in Lenox, Mass., on the same day in August of 1948. "Our desks touched each other," recalled Fr. Woods. "Fifty years later, we're still together here at BC."

Fr. Barth, of the New York Province, said he still summons the Latin he used as a Jesuit novice to recite certain prayers, such as the Anima Christi or the Suscipe of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

"The society has been my family for 50 years and has been the center of my life," he said. "With all the ups and downs of life through 50 years, the society has been for me a way of finding God, with a sense of abiding inner peace and joy."

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