Celebrating Our Mission Transforming Lives

Mission and Identity

May was moving month on Franklin Street. And television crews and print reporters were on-hand, because this wasn’t just any move. An enormous 67-year-old Spanish Colonial Revival style house was lifted from its foundations and, over the course of several hours, hauled down the street—from 644 Franklin up to the 800 block.

Why the change of address? The move both makes room for a future business school building, and it allows the house, which has served as a Jesuit residence in the past, to become a central part of the new Jesuit residence. The new residence takes its architectural style from the historic house, is structurally more open to the community and, in the sense of space it creates, embodies the increasingly collaborative work done by Jesuits with essential lay partners.

“We’re building a building, but it’s really about animating spirit,” says Gerdenio “Sonny” Manuel, S.J., rector of the Jesuit community on campus. “It’s a building for not only the Jesuit community, but for the community that is Jesuit—which really includes the whole University.”

Mission and Identity

With his youthful looks, his jeans and SCU polo shirt which he wears on some days, Sonny Manuel looks more like a fresh-faced graduate student than rector of the Jesuit community. True, he has only served as rector since 2004. But he came to the University 20 years ago and, along with Frs. Dan Germann and Steve Privett, founded the Eastside Project—now the Arrupe Partnerships for Community-based Learning, part of the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education.

“We wanted to come to a place that would allow us to introduce this idea of community-based learning,” Manuel says. “Santa Clara was willing to allow us to come as faculty with special responsibilities of building this program.”

The goal of the partnership is “education for reality,” which means coming to understand the experiences of the poor and marginalized—who constitute the majority of the people in the world. “It was really to broaden, in a sense, the boundaries of the University by involving it in the community where it was probably most needed,” Manuel says.

The project set out to establish a partnership between the University and the Eastside neighborhood of San Jose. Two decades on, this partnership has yielded community-based learning sites at schools, parishes, and agencies across Silicon Valley. Students who participate in these programs contribute their work and interact face-to-face with members of the community.

“Jesuits are attracted to the values of this University as they have been lived out in real programs and an innovative curriculum,” Manuel says. As examples that embody these values, he cites the work of the Ignatian Center and Markkula Center; the diversity of the law school, and the involvement of the engineering school in international development work, also draw Jesuits to the University. The attraction is strong enough that the community is one of the few in the entire United States that is actually growing.

And what role do the priests, brothers, and scholars who comprise the Jesuit community play at the University? As rector, Manuel describes his responsibility so: “Focus, animate, and advance the mission and identity of the University, insofar as it is rooted in its own Jesuit tradition and legacy…. It’s not about the past; it’s about how the Society of Jesus hopes to shape higher education today.”

Want to make a donation to the Campaign for Santa Clara? Whether it’s to recognize the impact Jesuits have had on the school, or to contribute to the building of the new business school, every single dollar matters, and every person who makes a gift will be recognized as a part of Santa Clara’s history.

post-image Don't try this at home. Movers haul a historic Santa Clara house down the street to take its place at the center of the new Jesuit Residence. Photo: Charles Barry
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