AJCU President Celebrates 60th Anniversary of Entrance Into Society of Jesus

Rev. Michael J. Sheeran, S.J. (fourth from right) concelebrated the Saint Louis University Bicentennial Mass in St. Louis, MO on September 23, 2017 (photo by USA Central and Southern Province)

Rev. Michael J. Sheeran, S.J. (fourth from right) concelebrated the Saint Louis University Bicentennial Mass in St. Louis, MO on September 23, 2017 (photo by USA Central and Southern Province)

Sixty years ago, Rev. Michael J. Sheeran, S.J., president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU), entered the Society of Jesus as a novice of the USA Central and Southern Province, formerly known as the Missouri Province. Since then, his life as a Jesuit has led him from teaching at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, MO, to serving as president of Regis University in Denver, CO, to his current role as president of AJCU in Washington, D.C.

On the occasion of his 60th Jubilee, Fr. Sheeran concelebrated Mass at St. Louis University High School on Sunday, September 24th, just one day after serving as a concelebrant for the Saint Louis University Bicentennial Mass, held underneath the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. He shared his reflections on the occasion with the Province, an excerpt of which follows:

Vatican II happened in the 1960s, when I was in Jesuit training. Although there were no changes of doctrine, there was a huge shift from directives and rules to a Catholicism which provides a strong framework of beliefs, then trusts people to make up their own minds about how to handle most concrete situations.

But there was a down side. Reacting against the heady days of the Council, lots of bishops and cardinals tried to keep the control Vatican II had turned away from. For priests like me, and for many laypeople, these were hard years. We were sometimes dismissed as a hidden threat lurking inside the Church.

In my prayer, I told God that it was pretty tedious waiting for Him to finally implement Vatican II. I wondered whether I would die before He decided it was finally time.

Then came Francis, the Jesuit Pope. Suddenly, here was a Pope who didn’t change official teaching, but did change the Church’s style. Suddenly, we saw what it’s like to have a Church that invites rather than commands, that trusts listeners to think for themselves. My own new job of reinforcing American Jesuit universities has a huge burst of optimism, but also a growing realization of how serious is the Jesuit mission to teach our students to embrace core Catholic wisdom as they consider the ever-changing challenges of their lives.

How grateful I am that I’ve seen Vatican II come into its own.
— USA Central and Southern Province

Earlier this year, Fr. Sheeran received the Hesburgh Award from the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU) in recognition of his decades of service to Catholic higher education. The following tribute video was produced by ACCU in partnership with Regis University:

The staff of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities wish to thank Fr. Sheeran for his decades of service to Jesuit higher education, and congratulate him on his 60th Jubilee!

To learn more about Fr. Sheeran, please click here.