In reading through the pages of the magazine, one may notice a common theme among the people associated with the stories: They are all Jesuit-connected. Some have a Jesuit vocation, some are alumni of Jesuit high schools, colleges, or universities, others have been impacted by an Ignatian retreat, and still others may be volunteering their time as a board member at a school or apostolate. Regardless of their connection, they, like so many, have been impacted by the Society of Jesus. The Jesuit Friends and Alumni Network (JFAN) was formed to harness this impact by allowing those connected to the Jesuits in some way to meet and share their camaraderie.
JFAN has its origin in Cleveland in 2006 when a group of graduates of several Jesuit institutions organized a luncheon with a local speaker, thus founding the Loyola Club of Cleveland. What began there fourteen years ago has expanded into similar groups throughout the country, including Midwest cities such as Milwaukee, Chicago, the Twin Cities, Detroit, Grand Traverse, and Omaha.
Each JFAN chapter has its own identity and programming, whether it be a luncheon, a Mass, or an after-work get-together. Organized by a volunteer group of primarily laypeople, these events cover a variety of topics that engage large, diverse audiences. Past themes have included Fr. David Hollenbach, SJ, speaking about refugees and Catholic social teaching; Fr. Michael Rossmann, SJ, on ways to live a more Ignatian-inspired life; and Fr. Ryan Duns, SJ, who weaves in Ignatian spirituality with his love of Irish music.
In the spring of 2020, as in-person gatherings were delayed and cancelled, the national JFAN committee, made up of volunteers representing each city with a JFAN chapter, pivoted and began offering virtual events for Jesuit-connected individuals throughout the country. On May 27, more than 200 people from around the United States gathered to hear a panel focused on the theme of St. Ignatius’s vision of community. Father Timothy Kesicki, SJ; Mary Evelyn Tucker, Ph.D.; and Mike Barkley shared their perspectives. Dr. Isaiah McKinnon spoke at the second virtual gathering on October 8, 2020.
In addition to filling a need for community while in-person events are on hold, these speakers enabled a larger audience to connect with JFAN, as they are available to those living in cities without an existing JFAN chapter. More information on the Jesuit Friends and Alumni Network can be found at JFANUSA.org.