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Seattle University


Something in the Water?

Written by Mike Thee
May 10, 2011

Two Jesuits with Seattle University ties have been tabbed for significant leadership positions in recent days. Patrick Conroy, S.J., who worked in Campus Ministry during the 1990s, has been nominated to be the next chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives, while Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., who served as rector and taught at SU, was named president of the College of the Holy Cross.

The news comes at a time when current SU Jesuits are assuming other key national posts. President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., has been chosen as incoming board chair of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, as reported in The Commons last week, and Rector Patrick Howell, S.J., was recently named chairman of the board for Conversations on Jesuit Higher Education, a leading national Jesuit publication.

If Father Conroy’s nomination is confirmed later this month, he will be the first Jesuit and only the second Catholic to serve in that role. Conroy currently teaches theology at Jesuit High School in Portland, Ore.  He previously served as a chaplain at Georgetown University for a decade, ending in 2003. He coordinated university retreats during his time at SU.

“We are honored that Father Conroy has agreed to serve as House chaplain,” House Speaker John Boehner said. “His dedication to God’s work, commitment to serving others, and experience working with people of faith from all traditions will make him an asset to the House community.  We look forward to having his counsel and guidance in the people’s House.”

“The Capitol Hill community will be blessed with the addition of Father Patrick Conroy to our ranks as House Chaplain,”House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said“His experience working with young people, tending to the spiritual needs of a variety of communities, and serving for 38 years as a thoughtful and committed Jesuit priest will serve him well in this new role.

“Father Pat Conroy has terrific energy and a great background as a priest in ministry," Father Howell, the rector of the SU Jesuit community. "He was a great asset to our own Seattle U Campus Ministry. He began the Agape Retreat, which continues here to this day. 

"He could shake things up a bit with the political establishment if he started playing a rendition of his famous country music on the banjo!  Seriously, he’ll provide wonderful spiritual resources for all the Representatives and their staff members." 

Among other responsibilities, the chaplain of the House of Representatives opens proceedings with prayer, a tradition dating back to the First Continental Congress, and provides pastoral counseling to the House community. When Father Boroughs assumes the presidency at Holy Cross next January, he will be the college’s 32nd president. He succeeds Michael McFarland, S.J., who announced in February that he was stepping down after 11 years as president. 

Boroughs currently serves as vice president for mission and ministry at Georgetown University where he is the only Jesuit in senior administration. He previously served as rector of Seattle University’s Jesuit Community and was a faculty member in the School of Theology and Ministry from 1992 to 2001.  

“With his skill, experience, and deep understanding of Jesuit higher education, Fr. Boroughs is the ideal person to lead Holy Cross,” said P. Kevin Condron, chair of the Holy Cross Board of Trustees. “We look forward to welcoming him to our community.” 

Both Jesuits are Northwest products, with Conroy having been born in Everett, and Boroughs a native of Seattle.