by Ignatius Plato
Action and empathy – the physical meets the spiritual. The Society of Jesus relies on these two qualities in its mission to stand with the marginalized and accompany young people. Ron Rebore, the provincial assistant for secondary and pre-secondary education in the Jesuits USA Central and Southern (UCS) Province, actively contributes to that mission by forming educational institutions that prepare students for both spiritual development and academic growth.
Rebore’s ultimate responsibility is to ensure that the 13 schools sponsored by the UCS Province promote an atmosphere of academic success, while also encouraging students, faculty and staff to grow spiritually.
“There are many lenses one can look at Jesuit education through,” Rebore says. “Through an institutional lens, we want our students to develop socially, mentally, academically, physically. In our position, we tend to look at Jesuit education through a more personal lens – we would want our own kids to go to a school that teaches them how to serve others and develops them into perceptive adults. When you look at it that way, it becomes a matter of how PASE can create a culture of faith in our schools that teaches students what they need to know to bring empathy and service into their future careers.”
By promoting this mindset through programs and initiatives, Rebore focuses the UCS Province’s PASE office on the deeper meaning of the educational experience.
“We are always thinking: how can we prepare our students to be more than what they know – how can these students turn that knowledge into empathy and action?”
Much like the Jesuit educators he works with regularly, he balances the formation of character and the drive for academic success as equally important.
Building and maintaining a culture of faith and service has practical applications in PASE initiatives: promoting theology courses that challenge students to examine their faith using reason; offering retreats; providing training and networking for Jesuit educators at all levels, from those just starting out to veteran educators. Beyond these initiatives, the true challenges in our schools, according to Rebore, is to prepare students to be understanding and compassionate despite living amid divisive cultural conversations.
“I point to the rapid progression of technology and the long-term effects of the pandemic as the biggest examples,” he says. “Those have made navigating the social climate especially challenging for our students. Ultimately, it’s up to them how they respond to the world. Still, what I’m hoping students take away from our apostolates is that how they develop through academics, extracurriculars, service projects and so forth translates into their futures – into who they’re going to be and how their experiences shape their character, beyond what the world at large tells them.”
Rebore forms a connection between his own life and the life he wishes for others, especially the students:
“The most important thing that has happened to me is that my faith has grown through what I do and who I work with,” he says. “It would be different if I was a businessman or an accountant. I realize, however, that some of these young men and women will grow up to be in those professions; we shouldn’t deny them the success or fulfillment that comes with that. But we must show them how to live beyond that success. Through our programs, I hope that our students realize this: that we need caring people, spiritual people, people who can be empathetic and change the world through their faith and their profession. Truly intelligent people who can be men and women with and for others.”
Read about a recent retreat that the PASE offices organized for educators in Jesuit schools here.