New pope excites leader, students at Loyola Academy
Argentina's Jorge Bergoglio, elected Pope Francis I, appears on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican after being elected the 266th pope of the Roman Catholic Church. | Vincenzo Pinto/Getty Images
Updated: April 22, 2013 10:05AM
WILMETTE — The selection of Argentine Cardinal Jose Mario Bergoglio as the newest Roman Catholic pope marks not only the first time the Bishop of Rome has come from the Americas, but the first time he has come from the Jesuit order.
And that, Father Patrick McGrath said Wednesday, could bring the traditions of intellectual vigor and “world-affirming spirituality” first proclaimed by Jesuit founder St. Ignatius of Loyola to the new Pontiff’s decisions.
McGrath, president of Loyola Academy in Wilmette, is a Jesuit priest as well as the head of the college prep high school administered by his order. He said the group, formally known as the Society of Jesus, melds a world view that sees God everywhere and a belief that education helps people find, know and serve God well.
“(Jesuits celebrate) this positive, world-affirming spirituality that believes God is to be experienced in the marketplace of life,” McGrath said. Using education as a tool is also core to the Jesuit philosophy he added, noting that there are 3,700 Jesuit schools globally.
He called the election of the first Jesuit pope “pretty neat,” and a decision that would be good for the church.
At their best, all popes see their job as caring for the entire church, he said, “but I suspect you’ll see in him a way of proceeding that, for people who know Jesuits and Jesuit tradition, is very Jesuit – a very critical and intellectual bearing brought to questions he’s deciding.”
“It’s definitely going to be fun to watch,” he said.
McGrath isn’t the only one at Loyola who marked the new Pope’s provenance. Students, too, were impressed, he said.
“I was standing at the front doors after school and I was really taken aback at how excited they were. They had this great sense of pride that because they go to a Jesuit school, they had some sort of claim on this guy,” he laughed. “In a way, it was charming.”
Deerfield resident Gavin Sullivan is a Loyola senior and co-editor of the school newspaper. He said Wednesday the news was significant to students because they respect and admire Jesuit traditions of social justice and because the order has, at times, been ostracized by other segments of the Church.
Sullivan said students were already excited about who could become pope; when they learned he was Jesuit, “everyone was trying to get to their computer to find out as much as possible about him.
“We were supposed to be studying for a calculus test, but this was a lot more exciting.”