Michael Czerny. CNS photo/Paul Haring

Jesuit school celebrates one of their own

By 
  • October 11, 2019

OTTAWA -- A Jesuit high school in Montreal is bursting with pride that one of its own is now a cardinal in the Catholic Church.

“The school is very proud and happy for him and for his life of service and commitment to social justice,” Loyola High School communications director Heather Dubee told Canadian Catholic News.

Jesuit Michael Czerny, a graduate from Montreal’s Loyola High School class of 1963, was elevated Oct. 5 to be a cardinal.

While the elevation of Czerny surprised many when it was announced by Pope Francis on Sept. 1, Czerny’s  accomplishments are no surprise at the school that helped form a dedication to social justice.

“He is a wonderful and outstanding role model for all our students,” Dubee said, adding that he has attended reunions at the school in the past. “I know he remains very close to his classmates from his time here. It is very special for all of us at the school.”

The school celebrated the news that Pope Francis was making Czerny a cardinal on its Facebook page and has since also posted a story that included a quote about how his time at Loyola impacted his desire to become a Jesuit priest and serve others.

“Because I went to a Jesuit high school and I admired the Jesuits who taught us … I wanted to serve God and others like they did, and I appreciated ... the community life. In some ways the high school participated or was an extension of the community life,” Czerny is quoted in America Magazine, a Jesuit publication.

Loyola honoured Czerny by inducting him into the school’s Hall of Merit in 2006. 

Winnipeg Archbishop Richard Gagnon, who at the end of September became the new president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that any time a new cardinal is installed from Canada it is a milestone for the Church in Canada.

“It’s an important moment (for us),” Gagnon said. “Cardinals play a very important role within the Church.”

Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, who graduated from Loyola in 1961 and later taught there, was happy to see his old friend receive such a high profile role.

“Naturally, the Canadian Jesuits are very proud of the recognition Pope Francis has given his ministry by naming him a cardinal,” Prendergast said. “It is a signal honour for the Church in Canada.”

He said Czerny’s work over the years in Latin America and with migrants and refugees has been an inspiration to others.

“At one of our recent CCCB plenaries he touched us Canadian bishops deeply with his presentation on outreach to the poor and marginalized, including migrants and refugees. Most likely, his influence now will be mainly on the universal Church in the way of Cardinal (Marc) Ouellet rather than more directly on the Church in Canada,” Prendergast added.

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