Examining Our Jesuit, Catholic Identity

inside St. Aloysius Church, full with people
(Photo: Amanda Ford)

November 15, 2019

Over the course of the 2018-19 academic year, Gonzaga continued to place intentional focus on its Jesuit, Catholic, humanistic identity and practice – but in an important new way. One significant achievement was completion of the Mission Priority Examen, a new process required of all Jesuit colleges and universities, to explore areas of strength and weakness in the life of their mission. Faculty, staff and students in every area had the opportunity to provide input, and then peer reviewers from other institutions evaluated our findings.

This Examen experience led to the identification of four institutional priorities, including a Work Values project, a comprehensive Jesuit Identity Initiative, a reaffirmed mission-based commitment to Diversity, Equity and Cultural Fluency, and Administrative Restructuring to support the vitality and viability of our institution, in service to its mission.

The final Mission Priority Examen report reaffirmed the importance of a shared commitment to mission among all areas of university life. It also identified gaps in current programs and infrastructure where we will put intentional focus:

  • Clarity and accountability in decision-making, resource allocation and priorities
  • Hiring for Mission
  • Formation and education about the Society of Jesus, the Catholic tradition, Ignatian spirituality, Jesuit pedagogy and contemporary mission leadership
  • Integration of mission identity in curricula across disciplines and all areas of university life
  • Jesuit engagement.

While collecting and pondering the feedback received during that process, Gonzaga continued the work of deepening its mission offerings in many ways. We merged University Ministry and the Office of Mission into one, Office of Mission and Ministry, to reflect our conviction that in a Jesuit context, “mission” and “ministry” are ultimately connected. That team offered a Catholic Identity Series and other opportunities for intellectual engagement and reflection throughout the academic year.

Amid these efforts, President McCulloh appointed a Commission on University Response to the Catholic Sexual Abuse Crisis to engage with the greater Gonzaga community. Goals include discovering how best to stand in solidarity with victim-survivors of abuse; to heal and repair the harm inflicted by abuse; and to address systemic institutional and social failures. Learn more at gonzaga.edu/commission.