The Rev. Nicholas Santos said Marquette has a magical quality when it comes to recruiting Jesuit priests.
Santos, a Jesuit priest from Pune, India, earned both his MBA and Ph.D. from Marquette. After he finished his studies, he returned as an assistant professor of marketing and co-director of social innovation.
“What drew me back to Marquette was the faith, service and social innovation aspect of the school,” Santos said. “I knew that there was a big service mentality among the students as well.”
Santos received permission from his provincial to look at a couple of different options after finishing his studies. He explored St. Louis University and Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, but there was something about Marquette that drew him back.
“I think the aspects of service, faith, leadership and academics, (and for) me particularly the social innovation and ethics, is what has been attracting the Jesuits to Marquette,” Santos said. “Other universities wonder how we do it.”
Marquette recruits about one Jesuit every other year, which Santos said is a good average number.
The Rev. Mark Carr, the Socius, or executive assistant, to the provincial, said the Wisconsin Province gains about four-to-five new Jesuits each year. This year, there was a larger class of seven men entering the province.
Carr explained that the provincial, also known as the chief executive of the Jesuit province, is responsible for admitting newcomers to the province or referring people to other provinces. The Rev. Tom Lawler is the current provincial of the Wisconsin Province.
Each person entering the province meets with the provincial to decide where he would like to go, his needs and what interests he has.
“He meets with everyone in the province once a year to see how life is going,” Carr said. “He checks in to find a primary reason for him (the Jesuit) to stay where he is or possibly to reassign and lead him to another ministry.”
Stephanie Russell, vice president for mission and ministry at Marquette, said that the process of recruiting Jesuits differs from person to person.
“Often, if there is someone seeking a new role or making a move from the university in which he is currently serving, the provincial will let us know,” Russell said.
Russell said the university and a prospective Jesuit would continue to have a series of conversations about what that particular Jesuit is hoping for and how he might fit with Marquette. There is also a campus visit where the prospective Jesuit meets potential colleagues, the university president and the president of the Jesuit community.
From there, if both the Jesuit and the department choose to go forward, there is an interview process and then a decision is made by the provincial.
Russell explained that the percentage of Jesuits that have interest in higher education overall has remained steady, but the number of Jesuits in the United States has declined in the past few years.
“They are a very important part of the Marquette community and an incredible gift to us,” Russell said. “It is really a privilege to welcome Jesuits here.”