Pope Francis’ U.S. visit inspired writers to reflect on Jesuit education. Go to medium.com/jesuit-educated and think about the “why” for you.

There’s no delicate way to put this: I hated philosophy.

When I studied at Marquette, we in the humanities “had to take” four philosophy classes, and it was a study in frustration. It didn’t start well with my Intro to Logic course meeting at the ungodly hour of 8 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

My friends and I argued all the time about the merits of our degrees. Does the world really need another philosophy (or classics or history) major?

Fifteen years later, I see the wisdom in studying philosophy. A Jesuit, liberal arts education won’t give us a list of practical skills and professional competencies that will be outmoded and sur-passed in time. That’s not the point. The point of a liberal arts education, simply, is to make us more human.

A liberal arts education does not pin down right answers, but opens our minds to the right questions, important questions of meaning in a world that moves quickly. Is God real? If so, how does that influence how I live and love? How do I account for the good and evil I find in our world, our country and in my own heart?

I am 33 and have been a Jesuit in training for the priesthood for nine years. I have taught languages and theology at several high schools and even spent a year teaching philosophy at Creighton University. At 18, I didn’t always appreciate the questions my education introduced me to — but now I do. My Jesuit education drew me out. It made me more human. It shaped me to be the difference in a complex world. — Joseph Simmons, S.J., Arts ’04

“A liberal arts education does not pin down right answers, but opens our minds to the right questions.…”

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