James Reichmann, S.J., professor emeritus of philosophy, will receive the Loyola Medal at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 2, in Pigott Auditorium.
Presented by Matteo Ricci College and the Faith and the Great Ideas Academic Program, the medal recognizes a distinguished individual whose life and scholarship reflect a commitment to faith and the great ideas, broadly defined, including the promotion of justice, as reflected in St. Ignatius of Loyola’s exhortation to “find God in all things.”
“In some ways, our honoring Fr. Reichmann is also our way of honoring the long commitment of Jesuits to teaching and especially the kind of pedagogy that comes from the Spiritual Exercises,” says Matteo Ricci Dean Michael Andrews.
Past Loyola Medal recipients include Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., of Fordham University and Professor John Caputo of Syracuse University.
“Fr. Reichmann makes this a perfect trinity of thinkers enmeshed in the complexities of the Catholic intellectual tradition,” says Andrews. “You cannot find three thinkers who better represent the varied traditions within the tradition. Whereas Dulles represents a very particular voice in the Church as a cardinal and Caputo’s voice is the voice of the lay theologian and the post-modern thinker, Fr. Reichmann offers a distinctively Jesuit contribution, based on the philosophical worldview of St. Thomas, that continues to impact the discourse and direction of contemporary Catholic intellectual thought.”
Reichmann calls the Loyola Medal “a wonderful honor.” He is particularly gratified to be included in the company of the previous two medal winners, both of whom he has met. Reichmann, in fact, lived with Dulles in Rome when they were going through graduate school together.
He remembers Dulles as “very friendly—you’d never know from meeting him that he was the son of John Foster Dulles,” President Dwight Eisenhower’s Secretary of State. “There was nothing artificial about him,” Reichmann says of the younger Dulles. “We were friends. We used to recreate together in the evenings after dinner. We’d sometimes walk and discuss things.”
Father Reichmann has taught philosophy at SU since 1955. He chaired the department from 1969-79. Specializing in the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, Reichmann has authored four books. He has served as president of the Northwest Philosophy Conference and the National Jesuit Philosophical Association. He was awarded the Seattle University Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award in 1989. An alumnus of Gonzaga University, Reichmann received the S.T.L. and Ph.D. degrees from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy.
Reichmann retired from teaching last year. Asked if he misses the classroom, he emphatically replies, “Oh, yes.” On Tuesday night, he’ll return to the lectern to give a talk, “De Magistro: What Makes the Teacher a Teacher?” The Latin phrase “De Magistro” (On the Teacher), is the title of a treatise by St. Thomas Aquinas. Asked about his affinity for Aquinas, Reichmann says, “I consider Aquinas certainly among the four greatest intellectual figures of all time. I continue to be amazed at the man’s brilliance.” (The three other top intellects on his list are Aristotle, Plato and Augustine.)
In his retirement, Reichmann continues to read extensively on philosophers and theologians. These days he’s spending a lot of time reading articles on John Duns Scotus. Occasionally, he’ll indulge in lighter reading. He recently read 1776 by David McCullough and couldn’t put it down. He says he was struck by how “closely we came to losing the war—just an eyelash.”
As for the books he, himself, has authored, Reichmann says Philosophy of the Human Person (Loyola University Press 1985) was most fulfilling. The text was used for 20 years at various college campuses.
For more information on the Loyola Medal presentation and lecture, contact Stasha McBride. To learn more about the Faith and the Great Ideas Academic Program, visit https://www.seattleu.edu/faithgreatideas/.