Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Remembering Our Mission, Imagining Our Future

The Jesuits of Saint Louis University have organized a Jesuit Mission Series for the SLU community.  The three-part series begins on Thursday, February 28, at 4 pm, in the ballroom of the College Church (lower level).  Fr. Joseph Tetlow, SJ, will speak about our “Catholic and Jesuit Heritage.”

Here at the Heithaus Haven, we would like to provide a space in the comments section for continued conversation following each presentation – conversation that we hope will inspire us to action. 

Please join us in the comments section, following Fr. Tetlow’s presentation. Or, if you are so inspired, send us a reflection for publication as a blog post.

Update (03.01):  More information and resources are available at

Update (03.23):  The text of Fr. Tetlow's presentation is available here.

For an introduction to the series from Fr. Patrick Quinn, SJ, read on… (Thank you, Fr. Quinn, for sharing these remarks.)

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Heithaus Homily: February 11, 1944

The report on the Homily in
the St. Louis Globe Democrat
“Startled students of St. Louis University at the regular students’ mass heard Rev. Claude Herman Heithaus, S.J., make an impassioned plea yesterday for them to rid themselves of race prejudice and make a pledge ‘never again to have any part’ in the wrongs white men have done to Negroes.” So began the St. Louis Globe-Democrat’s brief report on the Heithaus Homily, published on Saturday, February 12, 1944. And students were not the only ones startled: university faculty and administration, together with civic and church leaders across St. Louis, were also caught off-guard by this dramatic intervention in the tense debates surrounding racial segregation in the city and the state. “I’m surprised Father Heithaus spoke publically on his personal opinion in the matter at this time,” said Saint Louis University President, Rev. Patrick J. Holloran, S.J., that same Saturday in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I told Father Heithaus so.” Yet Claude Heithaus’ brave and forthright call for the SLU community to embody the ideals of its Catholic, Jesuit identity – to match words with deeds – led directly to the admission of one African-American woman and four African-American men for the 1944 summer session, making Saint Louis University the first historically-white university in a former slave state to admit African-American students.

The report on the Homily in
the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
In 1944, racial segregation in public institutions of education was mandated by law in the state of Missouri. Popular (albeit erroneous) belief held that private institutions, such as SLU, were also legally barred from attempting integration. Tensions surrounding the issue could run high: the previous year, as reported in the African-American newspaper, The Chicago Defender, a protest against segregation at Washington University, involving around 500 students, had been dispersed “and ringleaders expelled.” The issue was no less heated in Catholic institutions, for (also in 1943) the Archbishop of St. Louis, Most Rev. John J. Glennon, had privately intervened to block the admission of Mary Aloyse Foster, an African-American, to the Loretto Sisters’ Webster College (now Webster University).
In the midst of these developments, under President Holloran’s leadership, Saint Louis University began to officially explore the possibility of admitting black students.

On Friday, February 11, 1944, in Saint Francis Xavier College Church, the Jesuit Claude Heithaus rose to provide his own answer to the question. “Speaking with slow intensity” in a “quiet, penetrating voice” (according to a report that evening in the Post-Dispatch), he began:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Letter to Mr. Thomas Brouster, chairman of SLU's Board of Trustees, from the president of the SLU chapter of the AAUP

Because the Heithaus Haven is  "an open and public space for dialogue, with focus on how our institution’s internal norms, practices, and structures embody (or fail to embody) its core values," the contributing editors wish to provide readers an opportunity to consider the message conveyed to Mr. Thomas Brouster, chair of the SLU Board of Trustees, by the president of SLU's Association of American University Professors (AAUP) chapter. His concern that there has been a breakdown in shared governance speaks to many aspects of the SLU mission statement, and provides an opportunity to reflect on how a modern university's structural values intersect with the gospel call to give voice to those who feel pushed to the margins of society.

The Heithaus Haven would welcome a response to this open letter from Mr. Brouster, or another trustee. This would help further the goals of this blog site, and encourage the open exchange intended by the contributing editors.

Update (02.23.2013):  Steven Harris has received a reply from Thomas Brouster. Please see Steven's comment below.

Mr. Thomas Brouster
Chairman, Board of Trustees of Saint Louis University

February 18, 2013

Dear Mr. Brouster,

I am writing to you as the president of the SLU chapter of the American Association of University Professors, concerning the actions of the Board of Trustees of SLU on Feb. 9.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

To Control or To Share?

A Chronicle article from July 23, 2009 attempts an answer to the question, “Exactly what is ‘shared governance?’”  Here at the Heithaus Haven, I'd like to ask a more specific question:  What does our Jesuit mission require of us vis-à-vis shared governance?

I'm an economist.  The unit of analysis in my discipline is the individual.  Economists (real ones, anyway) don't actually care about what’s “good for the country,” or what’s “good for the economy,” or what’s “good for business.”  From an economic perspective, only individuals matter, and all individuals matter equally.  This is the economic perspective.  Is it also an Ignatian perspective?  I’m going to suppose that it is. (Please feel free to affirm, refute, and otherwise debate in the comments.) I’d like to further suggest that at our Catholic, Jesuit institution, when we consider “shared governance,” we should take care not to forget that individuals matter.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Heithaus Haven and Tikkun Olam

Heithaus Haven and Tikkun Olam

Bob Cropf 

My thanks to Harold and Ken for getting us started with their inaugural essays on the purpose and meaning of Heithaus Haven. In this brief essay, I want to riff off their notions of “haven” and “shalom.” I think they are onto something that is central to the new endeavor that we are launching with this blog and website.

In the Jewish community, which I have been a part of since marrying a Jew nearly 30 years ago, the two words of haven or home and shalom are inextricably linked. According to Jewish tradition, the home should be a haven or, to be more accurate, a sanctuary. Quoting Anita Diament from her classic, Living a Jewish Life, "Shalom comes from the root shalem, which means ‘complete’ or ‘whole’"(1) (her italics).  She also says the Hebrew words for the goal of a peaceful home is shalom bayit, which does not mean a quiet home but a whole one.

This last point has particular significance in light of the recent turmoil on campus. I would argue that the current disharmony, which has deprived us of our peace and quiet, is the result of many of us seeking a more whole, or holy, community. This leads us to another Hebrew term, tikkun olam, which roughly translated means "to repair the world."

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Shortly before the launch of the Heithaus Haven, Ken Parker asked each of the contributing editors to reflect on why we decided to find a home in the Heithaus Haven.  I hope to offer a post with my response soon.  Today, I am moved to share wisdom I received from a friend and colleague this morning.  I met him in December, at the Novena of Grace, organized for the SLU community by the Jesuits.

I confessed to my friend that I have allowed myself to become increasingly discouraged and disheartened.  He replied to me, “Discouragement is not an option! That's of the evil spirit and we will have none of it. Just have to keep talking with each other and moving and hoping.”

My friend reminded me that the Heithaus Haven is one way we can keep talking and moving and hoping together, so that we might encourage one another.  What other opportunities do we have at SLU, to talk, to move, to hope, to encourage one another?  What other opportunities can we create at SLU, to talk, to move, to hope, to encourage one another?

Bonnie Wilson

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What Should We Think About Glory?

What Should We Think About Glory? 

Harold K. Bush

In his book Technopoly (1992), the media scholar Neil Postman described a tendency of “symbol drain” in an age of widespread mechanical reproduction.  By symbol drain, Postman referred to the way historical or traditional signifiers were slowly being drained of their value, emptied of whatever authoritative explanatory power they might have once held for people.  Among his illustrations were several religious symbols, including both Jesus and Santa Claus, with one memorable example being the way large department stores positioned such symbolism prominently in the holiday season, hoping to boost sales.  Postman argued persuasively twenty years ago that this drainage was greatly diminishing the key symbols of our culture.

As we launch the Heithaus Haven in early 2013, I cannot help but notice once again the phrase in the very first line of SLU’s Mission Statement that presents one of the most challenging interpretive tasks for a large and diverse intellectual community like ours:  “the greater glory of God.”  Throughout the history of the west, glory has been associated with the awe and sublimity of God’s presence; glory invokes the celebratory nature of our response to that presence.  The Greek term doxa is often translated as “brightness,” and C. S. Lewis spoke powerfully of the “weight” of God’s glory.  Glory evokes a sense of the glow of God’s greatness, goodness, and beauty, and as a result is often symbolized in Medieval and Renaissance art in the halos of saints.  The importance of glory is echoed here, in the fact that  “the greater glory of God”  is quoted directly in the mission statement of this, the Heithaus Haven, at its launching.

Saint Louis University is hardly alone among peer institutions in alluding up front to the basic goal of pursuing God’s glory, by the way.  This is common language in many mission statements of both Catholic and Protestant universities (and perhaps, again drawing upon Postman, more reason to think about how, sadly, the phrase has been drained of any significant meaning).

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Why do we need the Heithaus Haven?

Why do we need the Heithaus Haven?

Kenneth L. Parker

According to its literal meaning, a “haven” is a safe harbor for tempest tossed vessels, a quiet place to repair storm-damaged ships and to prepare for journeys on uncertain seas. A haven is not simply a place of repose, but a sheltered port to mend broken equipment and to plan for action.

We call this the Heithaus Haven, in honor of Fr. Claude Heithaus, S.J, because he exemplifies what we understand the Catholic Jesuit mission of Saint Louis University to be. He was not afraid to speak a truth that became clear to him: that racism is wrong, contrary to the gospel, and that the exclusion of African-Americans from this campus was a stain on our collective conscience that must end. His bold actions in February 1944 called for change. He issued this call to action in a homily at College Church and published articles in the University News and the Catholic Digest. Superiors harshly disciplined him and critics denounced as offensive his use of media to expose this wrong. Yet his bold actions, borne out of deep reflection and moral courage, effected change at this university. That same year the first African-American students registered for classes at SLU. We became the first historically-white university located in one of the fourteen former slave-holding states to do this. Other universities took courage from our example and desegregated in the years that followed.