Jesuit & Mercy Sponsors

University of Detroit Mercy's religious sponsors — the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas and the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) — continue an active commitment to the University in a variety of functions. The Jesuits and Sisters of Mercy serve as faculty and staff members, administrators, Board trustees and engaged alumni. In their specific roles, they each ensure that Detroit Mercy reflects its mission "to integrate the intellectual, spiritual, ethical and social development of students."

Detroit Mercy is Mercy and Jesuit

Detroit Mercy's Catholic identity also reflects the tradition of our religious sponsors: the Society of Jesus and the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.

The Society of Jesus

Ignatius Loyola founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in 1540 to "go anywhere in the world for the help of souls."

Jesuit schools recognized that teaching young people in urban areas served "the greater good," which led to an extraordinary global commitment. In a half century, Jesuits had traveled to many parts of Latin America and Asia, seeking to learn what their faith might look like in non-European contexts. Jesuit schools grew in numbers as Jesuits traveled the world. Jesuits hoped that through their schools, students would develop virtue, critical thinking and love for the wide world as sacred to God.

Characteristics of a Jesuit education include:

  • A passion for quality
  • A study of the humanities and sciences, no matter the major
  • An emphasis on ethics and values, personal and professional
  • A religious experience inviting students to integrate knowledge and faith
  • A student-centered focus

Beginning particularly with General Congregation 32 (1974), Jesuits have increasingly recognized the world-famous call of Superior General Pedro Arrupe that Jesuit schools train "Men and Women for Others."

Sisters of Mercy

Catherine McAuley began teaching young women and tending to the sick in Dublin, Ireland, in the early 1800s. To further her work, she founded the House of Mercy in 1827.

As Sisters of Mercy traveled from Ireland to other parts of the world to establish new foundations, they started schools and hospitals in response to local needs. Today, 17 colleges and universities form the Conference for Mercy Higher Education in the U.S.

Characteristics of a Mercy education include:

  • Regard for the dignity of the person
  • Academic excellence and life-long learning
  • Education of the whole person — body, mind and spirit
  • Compassion and justice for those in need, especially women and children

A hallmark of a Mercy education, reflective of Catherine McAuley and an expression of the Mercy mission, is a commitment to service that transforms society.

Open All | Close All


    Religious Sponsors Leadership

    University of Detroit Mercy is sponsored by the Society of Jesus Chicago-Detroit Province and by The Institute of the Sisters of Mercy through the Conference for Mercy Higher Education.

    Contact Information:

    Society of Jesus Chicago-Detroit Province
    The Very Rev. Brian Paulson, S.J., Provincial Society of Jesus
    Chicago-Detroit Province 2050 N. Clark St.
    Chicago, IL 60614

    Conference for Mercy Higher Education
    Moya K. Dittmeier, Executive Director
    Conference for Mercy Higher Education
    8380 Colesville Road, Suite 300
    Silver Spring, Maryland 20910


    Spiritual Traditions

    Feast Days

    Sisters of Mercy Foundation Day, Dec. 12

    On December 12, 1831, Catherine McAuley, Mary Ann Doyle and Elizabeth Harley professed vows as the first Religious Sisters of Mercy. The new Community of Mercy undertook a mission to serve the poor, sick and uneducated. The Sisters of Mercy commemorate December 12 each year as Foundation Day, with Mercy companions, associates, volunteers and partners in ministry around the world to celebrate the beginning of the Mercy Institute. For more on Foundation Day, see the Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Community site.

    Mercy Day, September 24

    The Sisters of Mercy celebrate Mercy Day on September 24 in recognition of the date on which Catherine McAuley began the first House of Mercy on Baggot Street in Dublin, Ireland. She used the resources she had available to build a home for women who had none, and to educate those whom she could. She and her Sisters walked the streets to care for the sick poor. They came home to the House of Mercy where they lived, prayed, worked and celebrated.

    St. Ignatius Loyola Feast Day, July 31

    The Society of Jesus was founded in 1540 by St. Ignatius Loyola, a Basque nobleman and soldier, who found God in all things. Today there are over 20,000 Jesuits serving the Church in 112 nations on six continents. The Jesuit order is based on the values of intellect, faith, compassion and service for others.

    Spiritual Programs

    Busy Persons Retreats

    The Busy Person's Retreat is offered annually by University Ministry. For a week, a student or faculty member is paired up with a spiritual guide. The person and the guide meet for 30 minutes a day in a convenient place for prayer and reflection.

    Spiritual Opportunities for Students

    University Ministry will support your personal development! But the following activities are designed especially to facilitate your personal growth through reflection, input and interaction. In one-on-one or small-group settings tailored to the individuals involved, you can focus in on where you're at, what you need, and how the Spirit of God is moving... in you!

    • Horizons Retreat for Incoming Freshmen
    • Liturgical Ministry Retreat
    • Christian Life Community

    Lenten Spiritual Exercises Series

    John Staudenmaier, S.J. presents a selection of the Jesuit Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola. The selections are available as podcasts. To hear the talks, go to the Spiritual Exercises series page.

    Spiritual Exercises

    Fr. Simon Hendry, S.J., leads faculty and staff in weekly sessions of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises during the school year.


    News and notes


    Former Jesuit Superior General Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., passes
    Father Peter Hans Kolvenbach, former Jesuit Superior General for twenty-five years (1983-2008), passed away on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016 in Beirut, Lebanon; he was 87 and an expert in linguistics. Kolvenbach was the Jesuit leader during a tense time with the Vatican. James Martin, S.J., author and editor at large of America Magazine, writes that Kolvenbach “with a deft and diplomatic hand, he restored a sense of equilibrium between the Society and Vatican.” Kolvenbach also led “the Jesuits’ General Congregation 34, which addressed the mission of the Society of Jesus in the modern world.” Kolvenbach visited Detroit in October 2006 and gave the address “Christ in the City” at Gesu parish. He was the first Jesuit Superior General to resign. Pope Francis praised Kolvenbach’s “‘integral fidelity to Christ and His Gospel,’ which was joined to a ‘generous commitment in exercising his office with a spirit of service for the good the Church.’” Father Gerald O’Collins’ S.J., a theologian, who lived in Rome when Kolvenbach was the Jesuit leader, added that he had a quiet holiness, was a “cheerful giver” and had a sense of humor. Kolvenbach’s final mission was an assistant librarian at St. Joseph University in Beirut. See Jesuit Midwest articleAmerica magazine article and The Pilot article for more information on Fr. Kolvenbach's works as well as an interview with him with America magazine.

    Jesuit Superior General Congregation 36 timeline of events
    On Oct. 2, 215 delegates representing Jesuit provinces from around the world convened in Rome at General Congregation 36 (GC 36) and elected the new Jesuit Superior General Arturo Sosa, S.J. The general congregation is the supreme governing body of the Society of Jesus. See the General Congregation timeline for more information on the event. See also an interview with Superior General Sosa as well as a reflection on the previous Superior General Adolfo Nicolás, S.J.

    Manresa’s Lifetime Achievement Award Banquet, April 23
    Hugh Buchanan, associate director for Manresa Jesuit Retreat House from January 1, 2008 to June 30, 2015, will receive Manresa’s Lifetime Achievement Award at a banquet to be held at Oakland Hills Country Club, Bloomfield Hills, on Saturday, April 23 celebrating Manresa’s 90th year of service in the Detroit area. Manresa’s Lifetime Achievement Award is given for exceptional service over a long period of time. During his tenure, Buchanan restored Manresa’s financial viability, initiated a program for maintaining its beautiful house and grounds, instituted programs and publications, oversaw the creation of inspiring sacred spaces and developed a strategic plan ensuring continuity into Manresa’s centenary. Also at the banquet, Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ, founder and director of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, will deliver the keynote address, and Archbishop Allen Vigneron, guest of honor, will be recognized for his and his predecessors’ continuing welcome to Manresa within the Detroit Diocese. Tickets for the event are available online at or from the front office by calling 248-644-4933.

    Gerard L. Stockhausen, S.J. passes
    University of Detroit Mercy lost an exceptional leader and a wonderful friend on Tuesday, Jan. 12, Gerard L. Stockhausen, S.J., Ph.D. Fr. Stockhausen entered eternal life around midnight central time. His body will be cremated and there will be a funeral Mass at Marquette University’s Gesu Church on Saturday, Jan. 16 at 2 p.m. A wake will precede the Mass in Gesu Church at 1 p.m. Since 2010, Fr. Stockhausen served as the Socius and Executive Secretary to the President and Director of Planning for the U.S. Jesuit Conference. He served Detroit Mercy for 10 years, six years as president (2004-2010) and four years as provost and vice president for academic affairs (2000-2004). A special memorial Mass will be offered by the Jesuit community next Wednesday, Jan. 20 at 5 p.m. at Gesu Church, north of Detroit Mercy's McNichols Campus. Assistant to the President John Staudenmaier, S.J., a long-time colleague and friend of Fr. Stockhausen, will celebrate the liturgy and give the homily. There will be a reception following the liturgy in Lansing-Reilly Hall on Detroit Mercy's McNichols Campus. See the Milwaukee Province obituary and Detroit Free Press release on Fr. Stockhausen's passing. See Fr. Stockhausen's memorial page to share a story, post a photo or light a memorial candle.