Fr. Leonhardt brings Jesuit joy to McCabe Hall

The Rev. Doug Leonhardt enjoys his role as McCabe hall minister. Photo by Aaron Ledesma/ [email protected]

Many of Marquette’s residence halls host Jesuit representatives as hall ministers, and McCabe Hall is no exception. But the reason the Rev. Doug Leonhardt gives for why he moved to McCabe in 2009 has nothing to do with the dorm’s luxurious reputation.

A former hall minister in Abbotsford from 2007 to 2009, Leonhardt said he simply decided waking up to the sight of his office across the street at Zilber Hall was not the most enjoyable thing to do.

The Marquette Jesuit has more roles to his credit than McCabe hall minister, though. At Marquette he serves as chaplain for education majors and faculty and is associate vice president of Mission and Ministry. He is a world traveler who has been to Kenya and Uganda and has served as a teacher, principal and president at Marquette University High School.

Leonhardt entered the priesthood after graduating from Marquette High himself in 1956. He chose to be a Jesuit because of their strong presence at his high school.

“There were a lot of Jesuits teaching there and I thought, ‘Hey, this is something I could do and have that impact on youngsters that I want to make’,” he said.

Leonhardt enjoys his roles on campus and works closely with faculty, staff and administrators in Mission and Ministry, where he helps coordinate programs such as Mission Week–a week of reflection for the Marquette community. Other programs he helps with are New Folks Convocation, a day he speaks with faculty from the previous year about their interaction with students, and the Marquette Colleagues Program, which helps Marquette faculty get in touch with the Ignatius spirituality and Jesuit education.

He said facilitating these experiences is his favorite part of being a Jesuit.

“Communicating spiritual energy that comes from spiritual connections with God to the staff at Marquette is very rewarding,” Fr. Leonhardt said. “Seeing God in persons and all sorts of places is wonderful.”

He also said hosting retreats in Africa was a great experience for him as a Jesuit.

“I came to love and appreciate the people,” Leonhardt said. “They taught me how to live life without that which we think are everyday necessities. They celebrated one another and it was beautiful.”

Stephanie Russell, vice president of Mission and Ministry, said Leonhardt is a delight to work with. She said they first worked together in 1990 on the staff of the Wisconsin Province of the Society of Jesus.

Russell said Leonhardt is not only a colleague but also a friend and model of compassionate ministry.

“He also has a terrific sense of humor and bakes what are possibly the best Christmas sugar cookies I have ever tasted,” she said.

Leonhardt’s role in McCabe Hall is to provide guidance, religious support and a safe place for students to speak to someone who is not an authority figure.

“This year we had a program called ‘Big Questions’ where we spoke about life,” Leonhardt said. “I had ice cream sundaes and opened my door for RAs and their residents. Who doesn’t like ice cream? It makes the students feel welcome.”

Resident assistants in McCabe could not be more satisfied with Leonhardt as their hall minister.

Courtney Sampson-Arango, graduate from the College of Communication, was an RA in McCabe for two years. She described Leonhardt as a jolly, lovable and special guy.

“My favorite experience with Fr. Doug was throwing pies in his face and watching him laugh,” Sampson-Arango said via email. “Fr. Doug is such a good sport; he never shies away from anything and you can tell students are one of his great passions because of his involvement.”

Arica Van Boxtel, a junior in the College of Communication and RA in McCabe, said Leonhardt is a hoot and always wants to chat — even about embarrassing moments during important meetings where he falls asleep.

“I couldn’t help but laugh as he described how tired he had been before the meeting,” she said. “He acted out how hard he was attempting to stay awake and how his head kept bobbing as he tried to keep his eyes open.”