Though the path is not always perfect, there is always a joy in the journey. William J. Byron, SJ, has been a Jesuit for more than fifty-five years. While readily admitting that there have been some difficult, even painful, days during this period, Fr. Byron is quick to add that he has never experienced a “fundamentally unhappy” day as a Jesuit. In this revised edition of Jesuit Saturdays, Byron shares with great joy and openness the stories and experiences of his more than five decades of Jesuit ministry, offering us the chance to see what it really is that inspires and motivates Jesuits to do what they do.
Through Fr. Byron’s reflections, you’ll learn why Jesuits are so heavily involved in education; what it truly means to “live a life for others”; what life qualities define and differentiate Jesuits; and much more. This warmly written work is ideal for anyone who desires a better understanding of the Jesuit way of thinking and living.
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William J. Byron, SJ, is University Professor of Business and Society at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia. He served as Distinguished Professor of the Practice of Ethics in the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, rector of the Georgetown Jesuit community (1994–2000), president of the Catholic University of America (1982–1992), president of the University of Scranton (1975–1982), and dean of arts and sciences at Loyola University of New Orleans (1973–1975). He has held faculty positions at Scranton Preparatory School, Loyola College in Maryland, and Woodstock College. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1950, was ordained to the priesthood in 1961, and received a doctorate in economics from the University of Maryland in 1969.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
General Congregations for Jesuits are both important—they are the highest legislative body—and infrequent; since 1540 there have been only thirty-four of them. There is an obvious need for one when the superior general dies and a new one has to be elected. Such was the case for twenty-six of these congregations. On only eight occasions was the congregation summoned for “matters of greater moment.” This was true of the Thirty-Fourth General Congregation (GC 34) in 1995, which reflected carefully and prayerfully on the life of the Society from 1965 to 1995, a truly momentous period in the life of the Church and of society in general. The main thrust, however, was to the future and to setting out those orientations needed by all Jesuits as they enter a new century.
A key document of GC 34 entitled “Cooperation with the Laity in Mission” went to the heart of the Society’s apostolic action: “Cooperation with the laity is both a constitutive element of our way of proceeding and a grace calling for individual, communal, and institutional renewal. It invites us to service of the ministry of lay people, partnership with them in mission, and openness to creative ways of future cooperation” (decree 13, no. 26). Such a document, written for a worldwide group, had to be broad enough to cover widely divergent situations. This created a pressing need for someone to spell out the implications of this document for the local scene. What does “partnership with the laity in mission” mean in the United States? It is precisely to this felt need that Father Bill Byron responds in his engaging and delightful book, which will be of great use to lay colleagues who are associated with Jesuits in so many different endeavors.
I am thinking particularly of our Jesuit educational institutions so caught up in discussions of Jesuit mission and identity, and how this book will be of great help to trustees, faculty, administrators, and staff, as well as to students and alumni. We Jesuits have been negligent in communicating to the many laypeople associated with us in a host of activities in schools, parishes, retreat houses, social centers, publishing houses, research centers, etc., who we are, what we do, and what people can expect of us. We need to explain what we mean by our expression our way of proceeding if we expect others to enter into a partnership with us.
In a style that is personal and enlightening as well as inviting to discussion and conversation, Father Byron shares with us a vision of Jesuit life today as seen and lived by a man of uncommonly rich experience. This book will appeal to a large and varied audience, but the two chapters on higher and secondary education will have a special appeal for those involved in educational institutions. This is the type of book that administrators, especially those concerned with the vital topic of Jesuit mission and identity, will want to make available to many people in their institutions. It will provide a natural basis for discussion and conversation. Jesuits will enjoy it and will want to share it with their colleagues as they work toward a partnership in mission. I would find it an excellent reference for young men interested in learning more about Jesuit life.
The publication of this volume will be a fitting way for Father Bill Byron to celebrate his golden jubilee as a member of the Society of Jesus during the great Jubilee Year of the Church. Vincent T. O’Keefe, SJ
Superior of the Jesuit Community
at America House in New York City
General Assistant to
Superior General Pedro Arrupe, SJ, 1965–83
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