A Journey Like No Other

Santa Clara is looking for women and men with decades of experience to become part of a remarkable new program: the Ignatian Legacy Fellows

A Journey Like No Other
Building something new: Jesuit universities are teaming up to offer new experiences to those with experience. / Image courtesy SCU

There’s no substitute for experience, as the saying goes. Which is why Santa Clara University is joining with fellow Jesuit universities Loyola Chicago, Georgetown, and Boston College to launch a remarkable new program for SCU alumni and others. The Ignatian Legacy Fellows is looking for women and men with years of leadership work in all fields—and of all faith traditions—to embark on a year-long global journey to meet with Jesuit leaders in higher education and secondary education, healthcare, and social missions.

Along with meetings with SCU leaders, fellows will spend time in Chicago and Boston, Washington, D.C. and Peru, followed by a pilgrimage to Italy and Spain. It’s a journey of the mind and heart and spirit—exploring the opportunities that lie ahead. Given the year-long commitment, the program is designed for people in or nearing retirement. The 12-month journey begins September 2019.

The Fellows will spend four to five days on university campuses—including time at Santa Clara in November, which will include a theological reflection with incoming SCU President Kevin O’Brien, S.J. Participation is limited to 25 Fellows.

“There’s a focus on interiority as well as exteriority,” says Jim Briggs, “which focuses on the question of: ‘What’s next in my retirement? How can I continue to use the gifts that I have—especially knowledge and experience?’”

Briggs is helping coordinate work with the inaugural cohort. He’s no stranger to SCU; Briggs served more than 20 years in leadership posts on the SCU campus under presidents Paul Locatelli, S.J. ’60 and Michael Engh, S.J. And Briggs notes that the Ignatian Legacy Fellows program seems an ideal way for people to explore how they might be engaged with Jesuit ministry after they retire.

At the conclusion of the year-long program—including the pilgrimage to Italy and Spain in September 2020—Ignatian Legacy Fellows are invited to become members of the Society of Ignatian Fellows, a forum for ongoing exchange of ideas about the spirituality and mission of the Society of Jesus and its works.

Bronco Couple

The program is open to couples as well as individuals. Thalia Doherty ’79, MBA ’82 serves on SCU’s Board of Regents. She and husband Kelly Doherty ’78 were wed in the Mission Church and raised four kids. The couple, who now live in Playa del Rey in Southern California, will be part of the inaugural cohort.

It’s fair to say that Thalia Doherty has experience starting new ventures right back to her time at Santa Clara: She was one of the pioneers who helped take women’s soccer from an intramural sport to an intercollegiate club team in the 1970s. Later, of course, the team went on to become a perennial Division I powerhouse—for which daughter Kendall Doherty ’08 and younger daughter Cailin Doherty ’13 both played. Thalia and Kendall also became the first mother-daughter soccer legacy at Santa Clara. (Daughter Morgan Doherty ’11 made her mark on the volleyball court.)

Kelly Doherty played soccer at SCU as well—after playing a season of football first. He is CEO and president of Apperson Inc., involved with providing solutions for the education marketplace. Thalia is retired from Turner Broadcasting after a successful career in national advertising sales. And over the years the couple has also devoted time together to international service projects. The Ignatian Legacy Fellows takes that to another level.

Data Driven

John Dewan is someone whose name is known by anyone schooled in the facts and figures that shape today’s data-driven world of professional sports. Back in 1981, he founded STATS, Inc., in a spare bedroom in his home to wed his smarts when it came to computers and statistical analysis with his love for baseball—especially since he was raised on the Chicago’s South Side, a love for the White Sox. With him at the helm of STATS, the fledgling company went from serving a handful of teams to becoming the chief sports-data provider, period—tracking massive amounts of data in real-time.

Dewan sold that company in 2000 and then launched two new projects: the company Baseball Info Solutions, and the John & Susan Dewan Foundation. In their charitable work, the Dewans have supported projects to support education and combat homelessness, from Chicago to Honduras, South Dakota to Zambia.

So why become part of the first cohort of Ignatian Legacy Fellows? “I do not aspire to retire,” Dewan says. “I believe that you should continue to do the things that you love to do.” He’s just turned 65, and right now he devotes about 80 percent of his time to business and 20 percent to the foundation. But he would like to flip that figure.

Taking inspiration from a conversation with Fellows program co-director John Fontana, Dewan sees the year ahead posing this big question: “As you get into your retirement years, how can you become an ‘elder’ so that you can use all the expertise and all the things that you have learned—in your business career and your life’s experiences—to help to do what Jesuits do, which is service?”

Dewan knows how transformative education was in his life. His parents arrived in the United States two weeks before he was born. They had met and emigrated from England, but they had left home countries devastated by World War II: His mother was from Austria, and his father from a village in western Ukraine. With help from family already in the States, John and his two sisters were sent to Catholic schools. He knows how critical that help was; his parents couldn’t have done it alone.“My father had to work double shifts in the corrugated box factory in order to make ends meet,” Dewan says. “He worked 16 hours a day for our benefit.”

Dewan studied mathematics and computer science at Loyola University Chicago—the foundation for his work as an actuary for insurance, then for his work as an actuary for sports. In college, he also joined a Franciscan community called Third Order of Saint Francis. At a convention for members of the community, he heard an inspiring talk from a man who had just served with a mission in Honduras. Before beginning his first full-time job after college, Dewan decided he would spend three months there, too. “That was the other game changer for me,” he says. “I saw the lack of opportunity, and I saw what it took among the poorest of the poor to try to help them help themselves.”

The Ignatian Legacy Fellows program includes a visit to Antonio Ruiz de Montoya University in Peru—where Dewan’s son has also visited. His daughter has accompanied him to Africa to visit work the foundation supports. “I can already see the effect in their lives,” Dewan says. “And I’m looking to have this effect on the life of others.”

He cites as an example a school called the Chicago Jesuit Academy. It’s in a poor neighborhood on Chicago’s west side, plagued by violence. He sees the school model working; he’d like to see a girl’s school established. And, he wonders, how could the model be expanded? He thinks that the study visits to Santa Clara, Boston College, Georgetown, and more will offer some ideas for service that makes a profound difference. And he’s counting on getting a broad and deep education by the others making this journey. “These are people who have been leaders,” he says, “in the business community or educational community or whatever walks of life they’ve been in. But these are the leaders.”

Shaping the Future

For Jack O’Connell, an educator who lives in Sharon, Connecticut, one of the attractions of the program is that it’s brand new: The members of this cohort who will be shaping what comes next. O’Connell taught middle school for 35 years before retiring, so he has learned a thing or two about discovery—and patience. And he understands at the outset that it’s going to take a bit of a role reversal for a veteran teacher: First and foremost, he says, “You have to be someone who is able to listen.”

Another attraction is the diversity of the cohort—that he’ll be alongside doctors, lawyers, and CEOs. Then there’s the international dimension—the idea that parts of the program will take place in Peru, Spain, and Italy. New York born and bred, O’Connell studied at John Carroll University in Ohio for his undergraduate degree and Columbia for his master’s. But a couple of international experiences were clearly formative influences: a stint at Loyola University Chicago’s program in Rome, as well as a master’s degree in Irish literature in Dublin. For starters, time outside the United States taught him the basic lesson “that there is possibly a different way of looking at things.”

Years later, O’Connell served on the board for the Loyola program in Rome. There, as in stateside, one of the qualities he has valued about Jesuit education is the sense of being grounded in core values without being stuck in the past. “There’s always a forward-looking aspect,” he says, “discernment and a sense of pointedness.”

But if there’s discerning to do, that means there’s uncertainty ahead about what’s in store with this new program. “If we all knew exactly what this journey was going to be like, well what would be the point?” he says.

Now 70 years old, O’Connell is interested in learning from the models and other fellows about what he might bring to the work he wants to continue to do in education. “Am I inquisitive?” he says. “Yes, but I’m also, I would hope, patient enough to realize that very often questions are answered by the actions that take place.”

Find out more about the Ignatian Legacy Fellows and apply for the program here: https://www.luc.edu/ilf/

Put it on your calendar: Ignatian Legacy Fellows Inaugural Year 2019 – 2020 

September 16-20, 2019: Loyola University Chicago inaugural meeting

November 12-16, 2019: Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University

January 12-18, 2020: Lima, Peru, Antonio Ruiz de Montoya University

March 16-20, 2020: Boston College School of Theology and Ministry

May 4-8, 2020: Georgetown University

September 12-22, 2020: Pilgrimage to Spain and Italy