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Fr. O'Keefe to Direct Center for Ignatian Spirituality

Joseph O'Keefe, SJ. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

By Ed Hayward | Chronicle Staff

Published: Jan. 17, 2013

Lynch School of Education Professor Joseph M. O’Keefe, SJ, an experienced administrator and a leading scholar of Catholic education, has been appointed interim director of the Center for Ignatian Spirituality.

Established in 1997 by the University and the Boston College Jesuit Community, the center’s mission is to develop programs that provide a basic understanding of Jesuit education and Ignatian spirituality; help faculty and staff to integrate Ignatian values in their professional or personal lives; and encourage those wishing to lead this process in their areas of the University.

“I think this is a great moment to do this and I’m excited and enthusiastic about the possibilities,” Fr. O’Keefe said. “As a faculty member, this is a terrific opportunity to be able to enhance the spiritual life of our community.”
Fr. O’Keefe replaces Michael Boughton, SJ, who left the center last summer to direct formation for the Society of Jesus New England-New York-Maryland Province.

The center offers retreats, lectures, and workshops to help members of the campus community reflect on the University’s Jesuit mission and the teachings and spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order.
Vice President for University Mission and Ministry Jack Butler, SJ, said Fr. O’Keefe’s experiences give him a unique perspective as an interim leader of the center.

“Joe will have the ability to assess and evaluate the Center for Ignatian Spirituality as we begin to restructure some of its programming and its mission as it begins a new era,” said Fr. Butler. “Joe’s vast experience as an academic both within the classroom and as a dean, in addition to being one of the leading scholars in Catholic education, will broaden the perspective and the profile of the center to the larger University community.”

Fr. O’Keefe served as dean of the Lynch School of Education from 2005 until 2011 and as associate dean from 2001-2003. He has been a member of the Lynch School faculty since 1991.

Fr. O’Keefe said he plans to spend the next few months listening to faculty, staff and administrators in conversations about how the center can serve as the most effective resource. In particular, Fr. O’Keefe wants to look at how the center can engage with faculty about Ignatian pedagogy, the relationship between research and spirituality, and work-life balance.

“What I hope to do is listen to an array of voices from the campus community as well as external constituencies and hear from them what they see as the possibilities for the center,” said Fr. O’Keefe. “Likewise, I’ll look at best practices at other universities and institutions to develop the best possible venue for the exchange of ideas about Ignatian spirituality.”

Throughout the course of his academic career, Fr. O’Keefe has coordinated the educational administration graduate program and the Catholic School Leadership Program, as well as the Spiritual Growth Leadership Seminar and Selected Programs for Improving Catholic Education (SPICE) initiative. As dean, he played a pivotal role in the formation of the Roche Center for Catholic Education.

As a scholar, Fr. O’Keefe studies faith-based educational institutions, especially Catholic schools that provide opportunities for underserved populations.  He is the co-editor of The International Handbook of Catholic Education and last year was appointed by US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to a four-year term on the National Assessment Governing Board.