Rev. Pat Conroy, S.J.

The Rev. Pat Conroy, S.J., best known on campus for his work as ESCAPE Director, has been appointed the superior of the Jesuit community serving at Jesuit High School in Beaverton, Ore., outside of Portland. He will be moving on to his new post in December.

Conroy was appointed to his new post by the Rev. John Whitney, S.J., the Oregon Province Provincial. Conroy said he is sorry to be leaving, but that “I’m not leaving Georgetown as much as going to Jesuit High School.”

Conroy will be involved in the high school’s campus ministry programs.

“As a Jesuit with vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, I have committed my life to service to God, the Church and the world within the Society of Jesus,” he said.

When he first arrived at Georgetown, Conroy said he found it to be an exciting university, and has since encountered many bright and talented students that are committed to academic, social and spiritual growth. “That is the best of Georgetown,” he said.

Conroy feels privileged to have met so many students from around the country and around the world, as well as to have had the opportunity to work with top educators and scholars from varying Christian denominations, as well as Rabbi Harold White, Imam Yahya Hendi and all the Jesuits at Georgetown, he said.

Conroy first came to Georgetown in 1989 and started the ESCAPE program in the fall of 1990. ESCAPE is an overnight, non-religious retreat for freshman and transfer students. The Jesuit principle of education, assimilating the body, mind and heart, forms the foundation of ESCAPE.

More than anything, however, the goal of ESCAPE is for students to have fun and meet their classmates.

According to Erica DeFabio (NHS ’04), this welcoming sentiment is at the core of what Conroy stands for.

“He’s become such a part of Georgetown, so he’ll definitely be missed,” she said, adding that he makes a huge effort to get to know each student at Georgetown, and is even known to eat in the student dining halls instead of at the Jesuit residence in order to do so.

“Conroy is definitely one of Georgetown’s best features,” ESCAPE leader Mollie Logue (SFS ’06) said. “It makes me sad to think he won’t be here in January, but like all great gifts, he must be shared. I hope the high schoolers in Oregon realize how lucky they are to have an amazing new friend.”

DeFabio said she has had a good relationship with Conroy ever since she participated in ESCAPE her freshman year, and though she said she is sad to see him go, she is trying to put things in perspective.

“Because he’s leaving in December, I almost think of it as a friend going abroad. You keep in touch with friends, so of course I’ll keep in touch with Conroy,” she said.

Though Conroy will no longer be on campus, the ESCAPE program that he founded will continue to serve students.

“I am excited I have the opportunity to leave while the ESCAPE program is still serving nearly a third of Georgetown students and showing signs of being able to continue to do so once I am gone,” he said.

Sam Buchan, Program Coordinator of ESCAPE, has been working with Conroy since July and said that he has been extremely helpful in teaching her the traditions of ESCAPE.

Scholastic Jes Sauer, S.J., will be taking over as ESCAPE Director, and is accompanying Conroy and Buchan on all the ESCAPE trips this fall.

“Conroy is irreplaceable. His spirit embodies what ESCAPE is supposed to be about. Jess isn’t trying to replace Pat, but he’s bringing his own spirit into the program,” Buchan said.

Sauer said he is excited to be continuing the work Conroy has started and that they are both on the same page as far as students’ needs. Conroy has set the foundation for ESCAPE, Sauer said, and the focus of the program after Conroy’s departure will continue to be on the students. “I can’t be him,” he said, “but I can continue his work.” Sauer even plans on learning how to play the guitar in order to carry on Conroy’s tradition of singing with the students.

In addition to being a friend and an inspiration to many students, Sauer said Conroy has been a spiritual director and mentor to him. The main thing he learned about Father Pat, Sauer said, is how much Conroy loves the students. Furthermore, “he has an outstanding sense of what the church is – us” Sauer said. Conroy has a much more inclusive vision of the church, and he is “truly Catholic in the best sense of the word. I will truly miss him,” he said.

Conroy has practiced law and has done pastoral work on an American Indian Reservation for five years. For the past 13 years, he has been doing campus ministry work in a university setting.

Though he has no plans to come back to Georgetown, Conroy said, “I don’t doubt that I will [return to visit] from time to time.”

In his 13 years at Georgetown, Conroy said he has learned that the arrogant attitudes many students bring with them eventually fade with maturity.

“I believe we are all called to use what we have for others,” Conroy said. “And despite the bumper stickers, the one who dies with the most toys isn’t a winner. The person who dies, or moves away . and leaves people behind who talk about how that person changed their lives for the better, is the winner.”

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