Fordham's Jesuit affiliation is no secret. We are clearly a school with no shortage of religion. But, for as obvious as the Jesuits' presence is on campus, I think there is a lot about the religious order that remains a mystery to students. That's where Father Michael Tueth, S.J. comes into the picture: Fr. Tueth has been a Jesuit for 53 years and has been at Fordham since 1995. He currently teaches in Fordham’s Communication and Media Studies Department. I asked Fr. Tueth to clarify some things about the Jesuits on campus. This is the first part of his interview.
1) What makes Jesuits different from other religious orders?
Well, for starters, the Jesuit order is the largest order of religious men in the world and has the largest number of priests in mission territory. Basically, with our spirituality of "finding God in all things," we engage in any work that can bring the love of Christ to people, whether it be education, writing and publishing, parish work, scientific studies, social analysis, and retreats (especially following the guidelines of our founder, St. Ignatius Loyola's spiritual masterpiece, The Spiritual Exercises.) We remain involved in the world, rather than remove ourselves from it as monastic orders do, so there are Jesuit doctors, therapists, artists, actors, theater directors, labor organizers, social workers, etc. We are required to do a lot of studying in our training, so we have become known as more intellectual in general (not in every individual case) than the typical priest. In the United States, we have created a large network of educational institutions: 28 colleges and universities, more than fifty high schools, and about a dozen middle schools around the country.
2) What role do Jesuits play on the Fordham campus?
This is one of the things I like most about being a Jesuit at Fordham. We are everywhere. Fordham has Jesuit administrators: the President, the dean at Lincoln Center, an assistant dean at Rose Hill and another one at Lincoln Center, campus ministers on both campuses and one for the alum, and a bunch of professors (about 15 of them) scattered in different departments. We hear confessions and say Mass every day. Some of us live in the dorms, give retreats, and serve as chaplains for teams and student clubs. So there are all sorts of ways that Jesuits interact with students and faculty.
3) What do you do at Fordham?
I have been teaching courses in film and television studies in the Communications and Media Studies department. I offer Mass and hear confessions. I have presided a whole lot of weddings of graduates.
4) How many Jesuits currently live at Fordham? How many currently teach?
There are a lot of Jesuits who live on the Rose Hill campus: Jesuits who actively reach and administrate (Spellman), retired Jesuits (Loyola Hall), Jesuits in poor health ( Murray-Weigel Hall), the Jesuits who teach at Fordham Prep (Kohlmann Hall), and young Jesuits in training (Ciszek Hall)-- more than 150 in total.
Check back next week for Part Two of Father Tueth's interview!