Father Michael McCarthy reflects upon the nature of Catholic education while remembering the death of Ignatio Ellacuria in the New York Times.
At the age of 19 I left college at Stanford to become a Jesuit. It’s not that I didn’t love being a student there; I did. But somehow it wasn’t enough. By contrast, the Jesuit high school I attended in San Francisco stressed a very clear educational objective: to form men and women for others. We learned, among other things, that an education not oriented toward justice for others was a farce. Despite Stanford’s extraordinary resources and possibilities, I missed the clarity of purpose. I left to enter the Jesuit order. Never have I regretted the decision.
That was in 1983. Since then I have spent most of my life in higher education. But as much as I love teaching and scholarship, my relationship with academia has been an awkward one. In many respects I find academic culture to have the same flaw that Catholic clerical culture does: the tendency to turn in on itself and guard its privileges rather than spend its energies in humbly serving the world.