Father General in Detroit, in the footsteps of Fr. Marquette

Br. Jim Boynton, SJ, is the 30th President of University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy. With almost four decades of teaching and leadership experience, 15 years at U of D, he has a unique perspective of the connectedness of the worldwide Society of Jesus. He hosted Father General during his recent visit in Detroit.

By James J. Boynton, SJ | University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy

Fr. Jacques Marquette, SJ, founded my hometown of St. Ignace, Michigan in 1671, and he and other Jesuits wrote letters to their superiors in France describing their lives and ministry. As a student of history, I was impressed how connected the world-wide Jesuit order was, and how their mission had a global vision. My own great-uncle, Fr. William Goudreau, SJ, deepened this connection when he wrote to my family from his mission in Patna, Bihar, India.


Br. James J. Boynton, SJ with Father General.

As a novice my realization of becoming part of something much greater than just myself came into focus upon experiencing the connections between Jesuits, graduates of our schools, and the many dedicated people who minister with us throughout the world. When the then-Superior General, Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, SJ, visited our novitiate, my classmates and I were inspired to hear about our global mission. It was humbling to comprehend that we were now part of it. Over the course of my Jesuit life I have been gifted to have many extended experiences in Jesuit ministries outside my own culture. Time spent in India, Mexico, Haiti, and even Rome has had a profound impact on how I view our global mission. Furthermore, living and studying with international Jesuits and our colleagues has broadened my vision.

Currently I am at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy, founded in 1877 by John Baptist Miège, SJ, a French Jesuit. Our chapel is dedicated to the Jesuit martyrs of North America, and was constructed the same year they were canonized, 1930. We have a long history of graduates who have joined the Jesuit order, including a novice brother, three scholastics, and three priests before final vows. Our historical and current connections to the wider Jesuit world are strong.


So just like Marquette’s mission of St. Ignace was part of a greater picture, it was also unique and different from other missions. It was a mixture of Anishinaabe, Huron, and other nations, and a center for the study of their language and culture. It was in the crux of the North American fur trade, battling the unjust sale of alcohol to Native Americans, and starting point for Jesuit explorations and mapping of the Mississippi River. Likewise, what makes U of D Jesuit High School stand out from the other 90+ Jesuit high schools in North America? Most importantly, we have nearly 150 years in the City of Detroit. At one point our city was over 2 million people, but with the racial riots of 1967 and urban flight, the city is now under 700,000. All the Catholic high schools in existence before the riots either closed or moved out of the city... all except U of D Jesuit, who not only stayed but grew in 1973 by opening the Academy to middle school boys. Our discernment to stay in the city was influenced by Pedro Arrupe, who felt we should stay where we were needed. Today our school is a beacon in the city, and reflects the geographic, ethnic, economic, and religious diversity of our surrounding area. Our “Men for Others” are immersed in service, involved in retreats, and academically strong.

Now, as we have just welcomed Father General Arturo Sosa to our school, we are in a better position to strengthen the ties to our global mission. For today more than even, we are connected.

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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