I am a huge proponent of Jesuit education, and I wholeheartedly believe in the value and worth of all its facets. I have read Father Kolvenbach’s address in many classes covering multiple academic disciplines. I believe that the Jesuit values are not only alive, but thriving on Loyola’s campus. And though I have not spent much time at other Jesuit institutions, I think Loyola must be one of the best at fulfilling the Jesuit mission of “the service of faith and promotion of justice”. With this being said, I still grapple with what seems to be the most hypocritical point of Jesuit higher education: it’s cost.
The fee to attend a Jesuit college or university, especially one like Loyola, is astronomical. Father Kolvenbach mentions that Jesuit universities offer scholarships and financial aid, but most times, what they offer is not nearly enough to relieve the financial burden. These thoughts weighed on my mind heavily as I began to read this speech again tonight. I had many questions, and I was looking for answers. Maybe it was guidance from the Holy Spirit or St. Ignatius himself, but for some reason, as I read through Father Kolvenbach’s words, I began to see them from a new perspective.
As I was reading, I was particularly struck by Father Ignacio Ellacuría. Regarding the prestige of Christian universities, Father Ignacio says, “the university should [not] abdicate its mission of academic excellence-excellence [is] needed to solve complex problems” (30). The excellence Father Ignacio is referring to is the Jesuit University’s commitment to be the best it can be. And maybe excellence comes at a high price, but it is through this excellence that we can be better men and women for and with others. Because we are privileged enough to experience this excellence, we are empowered by it, and compelled to share it with everyone we encounter. It is this excellence that will propel us forward as adults, and make us the compassionate, empathetic, intelligent, well-equipped people the worlds needs us to be. Jesuit excellence is expensive, but why settle for any less?