In celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Jesuits’ arrival in St. Louis in 1823, historian Ellen Skerrett has uncovered stories of “Ours,” some that have been forgotten, others never known. The Missouri Jesuits’ encounter with American life in all its complexity is a transnational adventure story. Thousands of Jesuit priests and brothers devoted their lives to building up this extraordinary mission that began a few years after the restoration of the Society of Jesus in 1814. Their work continues today, extending across the Central and Southern United States, as well as Belize and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Skerrett’s essay, illustrated with rare documents and photographs from the Jesuit Archives & Research Center (JARC) in St. Louis, explores themes of immigration and adaptation, as well as innovation, occasionally born of failure. As director of JARC, it is my hope that in the years to come Jesuits will contribute their own stories – in their own voices – enriching the historical record. In the words of the late John W. Padberg, SJ (1926-2021), “The architectural, social, psychological and spiritual history of Jesuit dwelling places is still to be told in its entirety.”
– David P. Miros, Ph.D.