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When asked why one should send one's son to Loyola, my response is "because Loyola offers the best, well-rounded education of any school in the Montreal area." Usually, the next question is, "How is Loyola's ‘well-rounded' education different from many other schools whose websites make the same claim?" The answer is that Loyola was established by the Jesuits, and that at the core of a Jesuit education, and therefore of a Loyola education, is the formation of students in such a way that they become young men of faith and of service - or, as the Loyola motto says, "Men for Others".
A Loyola education focuses on the whole person - mind, body and spirit. Our academic goal is to provide students with a broad general curriculum in order for them to acquire the written and oral communication skills that are essential to their future success. The school's extracurricular program is second to none, and is intended not only as a way for all students to participate actively in school life outside of the classroom, but as an extension of the lessons taught and learned in the classrooms. However, what truly sets Loyola apart, particularly in this age of growing secularism, is the school's continued mission to provide a religious education based on a community of faith and the promotion of justice. Loyola students graduate with an extensive service experience, particularly to the poor and the marginalized, that provides them with a social awareness in order for them to be able to contribute to a more just world as they move beyond their high school and university years.
While Loyola's Catholic and Jesuit roots are unique, there is something about a Loyola education that is hard to put into words. Something special happens to Loyola students as they move through their five years at the school. A love for their school often begins on their first day in Secondary One, and continues to develop right up to their last day as graduates, on Convocation day, five years later. Many observers looking from the outside have a hard time trying to comprehend this special attachment and bond that develops among the students over the course of their five years. This love and attachment to the school can be witnessed long after students graduate. Rarely a day passes during the school year when one cannot see a Loyola graduate returning to the school, to say hello to a former teacher or staff member, or just to roam the halls simply because he misses the place.
It is difficult to pinpoint what it is that Loyola does to create this special bond and attachment that students have for the school. I believe that it is largely due to a common sharing of "Loyola experiences" that students have while they are here. What are these "shared experiences" that form a bond that for many Loyola students will last a lifetime? Some that immediately come to mind include: Walkathon, Kairos, Talent Night, The Festival of the Arts, The Stratford Trip, IHL, Grad Dance, CSP, Loyola News, Student-Teacher games, Dominican Experience, Retreats, Ultimate, Grad ski trip, SSX, Ed Meagher Sports Tournament, Liturgies, Junior Track and Field Day, Jug, Loyola Review and Men for Others.
While this list represents only a sampling of the so-called ‘Loyola experiences" that students have over their five years at the school, it is on the last two terms that I would like to focus. All over the news these days are stories highlighting the one hundredth anniversary of the beginning of World War I, which began in early August 1914. There is, however, a second centenary being celebrated this year, and that is the creation of Loyola's annual student yearbook, the Loyola Review, which was first published in 1915, at the end of the 1914-15 academic school year. In those early years of the Review, much of the focus was on the Great War, including a section titled "Letters from the Front". An excerpt from that very first Review stated, "It is with feelings of genuine pride, feelings not unmixed, however, with a certain amount of anxiety, that we have beheld the long and rapidly growing list of Loyola Old Boys off to the front. The list we have is certainly incomplete, and of course as the War goes on and as our country needs them, many more Loyola Old Boys will be added to the roll; but at present we have been able to count no less than thirty-two on active service. Some have been wounded, but as yet we have had no deaths to mourn"(Loyola Review, 1914-15).
A year later, a passage in the second Loyola Review, stated " It is estimated that one hundred and fifteen old boys of Loyola are taking part in the present conflict in Europe. Many are already in the trenches, two at least have been killed and several have been wounded" (Loyola Review, 1915-16). Extensive research conducted by former Loyola teacher Dr. Gil Drolet, discovered that the names of the first two Loyola casualties referred to in that second Loyola Review were Adrian McKenna and John Howe.
Dr. Drolet's research culminated in his book Loyola, The Wars: In Remembrance of "Men for Others", which explained that by the end of World War I, an additional thirty-five Loyola Old Boys would make the supreme sacrifice, bringing the total number of Loyola deaths to thirty-seven. Every year on November 11th, at our school's Remembrance Day assembly, current Loyola students pay homage to Adrian McKenna, John Howe, and the thirty-five other Loyola Old Boys who truly became "Men for Others" in the mud-filled trenches of Belgium and France, one hundred years ago.
While the term ‘Men for Others' was first used by Father Pedro Arrupe, S.J., Superior General of the Jesuits in 1973, to describe the goal of Jesuit education, as one can see, Loyola students have been demonstrating that ideal long before. In fact, thirty-seven Loyola Old Boys became the ultimate "Men for Others" during that fateful war one hundred years ago.
While it is no easy task to adequately explain in words the "Loyola experience", it is my hope and wish that as many young men as possible have the opportunity to experience this first hand - there really is no better way to understand it.
Mr. Richard Meagher