Before entering the Society of Jesus in 1992, I received my B.A. in history from St. John Fisher College in Rochester NY, and an M.A. in history from the State University of New York at Buffalo. In both places, I focused on the history of East Central and Eastern Europe. In the days before the “linguistic turn,” I studied and wrote on strategic, military, and diplomatic history, focusing especially on the modern Polish experience. In between those experiences, I spent a summer in Kraków (Poland) just after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was exciting to experience the history I was studying, even if it was in a minor way.
Although I had a passion for history, I suppose I could say that God had a greater passion for me, and I became a Jesuit. During my scholastic course of studies, I earned an M.A. in philosophy at Fordham University, and wrote as much as I could on the philosophy of history. During my theological studies (wherein I earned the requisite M.Div for ministry), I was able to earn an S.T.L. in church history under the direction of John O’Malley, examining church-state relations during the pontificate of Gregory VII (Hildebrand).
After my ordination, I worked for a year at a parish on Long Island, and then lived in Poland for about a year and a half. I returned to the United States, and worked for a time at Canisius High School in Buffalo, NY. I also completed “tertianship” (the final phase of Jesuit formation), in the midst of teaching in Buffalo, spending time in Weston, MA and Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies.
While teaching at Canisius, I thought it prudent to push myself scholastically since I pushed my students. I published an encyclopedia article on Józef Piłśudski and an article which examined the Nobel Prize winning novel Quo Vadis? through the lens of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. These endeavors re-awoke my desire to write and teach history with depth, and I began working under Neal Pease at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.
I finished my Ph.D. in May 2017, having written a dissertation on the conduct of the Pontifical Commission for Russia under the leadership of its first president, the Jesuit Michel d’Herbigny, from its origins to 1933. My appointment as the Wade Scholar at Marquette University for the 2016-2017 academic year helped greatly, as it allowed me to conduct additional research for my dissertation. It also helped me begin expanding my research in my core academic interest, which is the dynamics of identity formation. This includes correlative issues of inclusion & exclusion, and tolerance & various forms of violence.
My hope is that the classroom experience which I create with my students helps them understand not only the historical processes which have created the world in which we live, but also helps them understand themselves to be, in part, compassionate agents of change in the world.
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