About the Heithaus Haven

The Heithaus Haven is an online space for members of the Saint Louis University community to deliberate on the core values of our institution; to consider how we, as an institution, might live out those values in our own internal norms, practices, and structures; and to identify how we, as an institution, have failed to live out those values in our own internal norms, practices, and structures.

Mission:  Through the provision of 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 Heithaus Haven aims to provide a forum for discovery that fosters solidarity across all members of the SLU community through reasoned discourse; and that advances Saint Louis University as a world-class Catholic, Jesuit institution in “pursuit of truth for the greater glory of God and for the service of humanity.”

Contact: heithaushaven@gmail.com

History, Inspiration, and Background: We are named for the Jesuit priest, Claude Heithaus, S.J., whose exemplary courage and calls to conscience led to SLU becoming the first historically-white university in a former slave state to admit African-American students.  The Heithaus Haven further takes its inspiration both from the Heithaus Forum (1999-2002) and, in certain ways, from the work of renewal and reform accomplished by John Henry Newman and his colleagues who published “Tracts for the Times” in the Oxford Movement (1833-45).

Fr. Claude Heithaus, S.J. spoke on 11 February 1944 at St. Francis Xavier College Church, proclaiming, “Jesus denounced injustice in the highest places, and He threatened the oppressors of the downtrodden.” His homily was published in the University News, which he had helped found. Fr. Heithaus addressed a crisis that threatened the core of Saint Louis University’s mission as a Catholic Jesuit university. He denounced racial segregation and called on SLU’s leadership to admit African American students. As he left the pulpit and processed out of the church Jesuits in attendance stood and expressed their approval.

Fr. Heithaus’ superiors were not so happy. He was confined to his room, given only bread and water for the next three days, and exiled for many years from this university community. Yet his call to action bore fruit. That same year African American students were admitted to Saint Louis University, and our university set a trend others followed.

We call this site the Heithaus Haven because we seek to follow Claude Heithaus’ bold example. By reflecting on the core values of our university, we seek to face our failures and chart new courses of action.

We will do this by encouraging attentiveness to, and reflection on, the mission statement of Saint Louis University. We invite students, staff, faculty, alumni, and trustees to contribute brief essays (500-1000 words) that focus on specific elements of that mission and how it can be lived out. Following the example of Fr. Heithaus, we seek contributions that call us to turn away from conduct and choices that have compromised our core values while helping us become who we say we are.

Faculty members have volunteered to form a board of contributing editors, to ensure that the contributions are constructive and conform to the mission of this site.

Contributing Editors: Gregory Beabout, Hal Bush, Robert Cropf, Kathryn Kuhn, Jean Heithaus Monahan, Daniel Monti, Wynne Moskop, Hal Parker (2013-2014), Kenneth Parker, Mark Ruff, and Bonnie Wilson.