Wheeling Jesuit University, the youngest of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States, will kick off its 60th anniversary celebration Feb. 11 with Founder's Day.
Founder's Day 2014 begins at 4:15 p.m. in the Chapel of Mary & Joseph with a Mass honoring the late Bishop John J. Swint. Rev. Brian O'Donnell, S.J., Jesuit superior at WJU will preside over the Mass with WJU President Rev. James Fleming, S.J., speaking on the significance of the Jesuit presence in Wheeling and around the globe.
At 7 p.m., Rev. John Padberg, S.J., director and general editor of the Institute of Jesuit Sources, will give a free public lecture titled, "The Jesuits Are Still at It: 200 Years of Restoration and Renewal, 1814-2014," in the Robert C. Byrd National Technology Transfer Center auditorium. The lecture marks the 200-year anniversary of the restoration of the Society of Jesus (a.k.a. "the Jesuits").
"Many people are unaware that, in 1773, Pope Clement XIV put the Jesuits ‘out of existence,'" said Jamey Brogan, WJU director of campus ministry, mission & identity. "Over 700 Jesuit schools were shut down, and 22,000 men could no longer live as Jesuits, except in Russia. And then in 1814, after 43 years, the Jesuits were restored as a religious order in the Catholic Church.
"We are very excited to host Fr. Padberg, an expert on Jesuit history and spirituality, to tell this story and explain how these events have impacted the Jesuits to this day," said Brogan. "With a Jesuit Pope, this lecture is even timelier."
Fr. Padberg, WJU director of campus ministry, mission & identity will detail the significant role of Joseph Pignatelli, the patron saint of Wheeling Jesuit University, keeping the remnants of the society together during this period.
Wheeling College was incorporated on Sept. 25, 1954, by the Most Rev. John J. Swint, Bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling from 1922-1962, and the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus.
WJU Founder's Day celebrates Bishop Swint's role in founding Wheeling College and marks the date in 1957 when Swint handed over the property deed to Rev. Lawrence R. McHugh, S.J., first president of Wheeling College. The land where WJU sits was purchased by Bishop Swint from the Mount de Chantal Visitation community. Bishop Swint turned over the deed to the property and three original buildings to the college corporation in the name of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus.
Look for more news and events surrounding WJU's 60th Anniversary all month long on www.wju.edu, on Twitter by following @WheelingJesuitand liking the university's page on Facebook by logging onto www.facebook.com/wheelingjesuit.
All upcoming events are free and open to the public. For more information, call 304-243-2385.