The Greater Good

Father Dan Joyce during mass

The assuring touch of a faithful friend, an adamant advocate and a bearer of wisdom seemed to be more in demand over the past year as our world dealt with a set of unprecedented challenges in the midst of an evolving pandemic. When Pope Francis declared this “A Year of St. Joseph,” all of us on Hawk Hill realized that we have always had that resilient patron of our mission in our midst.

The spirit of St. Joseph has carried us through good times and hard moments over these last 170 years. Just as students used to touch the foot of the St. Joseph statue that once stood outside of the dean’s office in Barbelin Hall for assurance on taking that day’s test or building confidence for classroom questions, we can say that we have felt the spirit of guidance from the fatherly saint as we successfully managed in-person learning over the last 20 months and offered an engaging experience for our campus community.

This was not easy and it took a year of discerning and adapting for all of the necessary adjustments. Pope Francis said St. Joseph is that model of the “everyday hero who gets up and makes the world a better place.” And no other image better describes our SJU students who have that perennial “can do” attitude that has characterized our University from its founding.

The Hawk Will Never Die is not just a slogan, but a maxim of our mission. Our students, faculty and staff have refined that perfect formula of humility and excellence that is quintessential to Jesuit education.

This past year, our St. Joe’s spirit was tested and proven stronger than ever. From the 300 students who spent the first three days of the year with 37 of our long-time community partners in the Philadelphia Service Immersion Program to the dozens of faculty and alumni who joined them in neighborhoods in every part of our city,

we began this year learning, serving and reflecting on the problems and solutions necessary for all of us to thrive.

That learning and serving continue into each academic year through our Weekly Service Program, student retreats, leadership programs, Christian Life Communities, service learning courses and multiple service immersion trips.

What a year it has been and we could not have done it without touching upon the spirit of good old St. Joseph whose statue now stands in the grotto by the chapel — where each student can still rub the foot of our patron saint and know that we can do whatever the present or the future demands.

dan joyce signature



Daniel R. J. Joyce, S.J. '88
Executive Director of Mission Programs


Aerial shot of Saint Joseph's University Campus during the summer.


The Pursuit of Social Justice

Imparting the Jesuit Mission to Our Communities


Vaccinating Vulnerable Populations Against COVID-19

arm getting vaccinated


For graduate MBA Student Ave Burleigh '20, the chance to deliver nearly 100 vaccines to populations that wouldn’t otherwise have access was not just an opportunity, but an imperative.

Burleigh, who works as a population health specialist at Lower Merion Family Medicine, was inspired to start a COVID-19 vaccination clinic when she found out her employer had extra doses of the Moderna vaccine.

The research fellow in the Institute of Clinical Bioethics (ICB) helped to establish and run the clinic at the Mexican and Guatemalan Consulates in Philadelphia together with three other fellows — Daniel DiSandro ’23, Jovany Loredo ’22 and Gerardo Rivera-Colon ’22.

Burleigh also obtained extra Pfizer vaccines from a pharmacy in Horsham, Pennsylvania, which she found through Unidos Contra COVID (United Against COVID), a grassroots organization of bilingual health care providers working to boost vaccination rates in Philadelphia’s Black and Latino communities.

“A lot of our clients were afraid of what could happen if they went to get vaccinated and needed to provide proof of insurance or a social security number,” says DiSandro, an economics major and biology and health care ethics minor.

Besides gaining hands-on clinical experience, the students are also living out the Jesuit mission, says Peter Clark, S.J., Ph.D., ICB director.

“What we’re doing is putting the Jesuit values — social justice and care for all people — into action with the most vulnerable people in the world,” reflects Fr. Clark.

Infusing Cura Personalis into the Health Studies and Education Curriculum

grotto at saint joseph's university


In a commitment to Jesuit ideals and cura personalis, faculty in the School of Health Studies and Education have strategically injected social justice content into their curricula through an innovative school-wide, themed syllabi. The idea began three years ago when faculty were reviewing portfolio assessment requirements for undergraduate teacher candidates.

“We want students to talk and write about social justice, but what opportunities did they have to really see it and talk about it in a concentrated way?” asks Mollie Sheppard, Ed.D., assistant professor of special education. “Students should be able to speak to the mission and how it impacts their teaching.”

What started as a yearlong series of panel discussions, readings, conversations with local teachers and guest lectures, turned into a year-over-year charge to bring social issues to the forefront of health and education students’ studies — both at the undergraduate and graduate level.

“We’re training students to go into these roles where service is their job, so we want to offer opportunities where they can see how the social justice mission can become a part of their careers,” says Kaitlin Moran, Ph.D., assistant professor of teacher education.

The theme changes each year, decided by a committee of faculty, students and staff. This year’s theme — Lifting the Mask of Institutional Bias: From Discussion to Disruption — looks at situations within institutions (laws, policies, unconscious bias) that advantage some while disadvantaging others.

“COVID is going on, we’re thinking so much about access, children in Philadelphia, education, Black Lives Matter — it was nice to have this structure to open an avenue for dialogue,” says Sheppard.

Welcoming Saint Joseph's Newest Jesuits

This year, Saint Joseph’s University welcomed three new Jesuits to its community, all of whom will reside in the University’s new Jesuit residence, Arrupe Hall.


Frank Kaminski, S.J., came to Saint Joseph’s from the Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth. Currently, he divides his time between Campus Ministry on Hawk Hill and guiding retreats and spiritual direction at the St. Raphaela Center in Haverford, Pennsylvania.


As mission programs assistant, Fr. Kaminski sees the opportunity to help Saint Joseph's students and faculty take on their roles as co-creators with God in the building of a more just and compassionate world.


Douglas Ray, S.J., was ordained at Saint Joseph’s in August 2020. After his ordination, Fr. Ray ran a retreat program at Fairfield University, which gave him the opportunity to “see how encountering God could transform students’ lives.” Now back on campus, Fr. Ray is working primarily in Campus Ministry, supporting students as they work to become people with and for others.


“I want to help students understand that college is about more than piling up credentials or getting a job,” he says. “It is about reflecting on the big questions in life, and determining how to use the gifts God has given each of us.”


George Bur, S.J., is joining Saint Joseph’s as he celebrates the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. Fr. Bur previously served as president of The Gesu School, an independent Catholic school helping underserved children achieve bright futures. He was also the Superior of Saint Joseph’s Jesuit community from 2003-2008.


As a public ambassador of the University, Fr. Bur hopes to support members of the community as they engage in the stated mission of the Jesuits — discerning God's will, accompanying the marginalized, searching for a hope-filled future and caring for our common home.