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In this, the fiftieth year of the Society of Jesus' Fairfield commitment, we, the Jesuit Community members serving at Fairfield University, believe it timely and appropriate to articulate our vision of the University's mission and to express our hopes and aspirations for its future. Fairfield was founded on a vision deeply rooted in Jesuit tradition and throughout the past half century members of the University family have labored together to mold its present identity.
We Jesuits are proud of Fairfield University's progress since its founding. A small regional liberal arts college for men has evolved into a nationally ranked, multifaceted, coeducational university. With that growth has come a greater acceptance of diverse opinions in society, within the Catholic Church and within Fairfield's educational community. As enunciated in its Mission Statement, Fairfield "welcomes those of all beliefs and traditions" and "values the diversity which their membership brings to the university community."
Openness to such diversity has always been the hallmark of any Jesuit enterprise, yet we must also observe that many American universities, founded under the auspices of particular religious denominations, find themselves today completely secular in character. Fairfield must now ponder means to preserve its identity, in the light of the diminishing number of Jesuit personnel and the increase in new colleagues unfamiliar with Catholicism or with Jesuit education. While Fairfield is autonomous in the sense of being independent of direct ecclesiastical jurisdiction and control, we strongly believe that the distinctive Catholic and Jesuit character of the University, both in tradition and in spirit, is integral to the University's identity.
We believe that Fairfield University, by remaining faithful to its heritage, can meet the intellectual and spiritual challenges of the contemporary and future academic world. We believe that by working creatively with all colleagues, we can forge a vision of what Fairfield can be as a Catholic and Jesuit university for the twenty first century.
The following Vision Statement attempts to crystallize our critical self understanding of the University's mission. We hope that it will serve as a catalyst for an ongoing dialogue with our colleagues as we discern together the Catholic and Jesuit dimensions of Fairfield University's future.
We Fairfield Jesuits envision the work of the Fairfield University academic community as a collaboration in the ongoing mission of the Church and in the educational apostolate of the Society of Jesus. Fairfield's success emerged from and continues to depend upon its unique identity firmly rooted in Jesuit tradition and embedded in the declarations of Fairfield's Mission Statement approved by the General Faculty and the Board of Trustees. That statement emphasizes the pursuit of academic excellence, the fostering of ethical and religious values, and the developing of a sense of social responsibility. It confronts us all with a dramatic challenge reminding us that "Jesuit Education, which began in 1547, is committed today to the service of faith, of which the promotion of justice is an absolute requirement. "
While we enthusiastically confirm and praise Fairfield's commitment to academic excellence, we believe that Fairfield University's mission transcends the limits of the merely academic. Inspired by St. Ignatius Loyola, we hold that education is not an end in itself, but rather a means to help a person to think and to make decisions about ultimate values: one's relationship with God, one's personal goals and one's commitment to others. Ignatius saw in each person an innate desire for God that we recognize is not limited to any single expression of religious faith. His innovative genius in education was rooted in the Spiritual Exercises, an experience of the mystery of God's unconditional, faithful love for every person --an experience which can influence every aspect of one's life. For Ignatius the greatest freedom is choosing to be a companion of Jesus, living in loving service to others. Jesuit education has always sought to share this Ignatian vision.
Along with many of our colleagues, we Jesuits seek to serve the University's goals by continually pursuing academic excellence, by participating in the formation of our students as persons "for others" and by striving to respond to God in our daily lives, in worship and in service. We aspire to bear witness to the gospel of Christ and the power of God's grace in all aspects of our lives: our teaching, counseling, preaching, publishing and example.
We believe that the responsibility for defining this institution as Catholic and Jesuit is not only that of the Jesuit community or individual departments or particular divisions of the University Community. Every member of the University community has God given gifts which contribute to Fairfield's ongoing mission. Full use of these gifts includes participation in the ongoing process of defining the goals and developing and executing practical strategies for their achievement. We believe it imperative that the University foster the collaborative efforts of all those who share these values and this vision.
We believe that Fairfield University will remain faithful to its mission insofar as the members of the University community strive to pursue that mission in their individual and communal lives.
The University seeks to reflect and express to all who come here the Second Vatican Council's understanding of our contemporary Church tradition as pastoral, pluralistic and open to whatever is recognized as best in intellectual and cultural achievement. Through its scholarship and pastoral ministry the University provides the Church a distinctive service wherein the study and explanation of the Catholic tradition are encouraged. The University also provides its members with a vibrant liturgical life as well as a faith perspective which motivates them to serve the marginalized. We hope that each person will come to recognize the link between the intellectual study of unjust structures and practical action for the liberation of the oppressed.
We believe that this vision will be realized when members of the University community collaborate in this commitment and enter into a dialogue that seeks a deeper critical understanding of the Catholic and Jesuit tradition that characterizes the mission of Fairfield University.
The University will preserve its unique identity only as long as faculty and students, administrators and trustees are faithful to that mission . Fairfield's future as an institution which can continue to call itself" Jesuit and Catholic" depends upon that fidelity.
The Fairfield Jesuit Community
BACK TO: The Fairfield Jesuit Community
Activities of the Fairfield Jesuit CommunityTwelve portraits of our past Jesuit communities (Not all are present.)
The Resident Jesuit role in the residence halls
A Jesuit Vision of the Mission of Fairfield University
Fairfield Preparatory School
Parish Support and Pastoral Care
320 pictures of deceased New England Jesuits (1991-2001)
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