After a six-year absence, Jose-Luis Salazar, SJ, has rejoined Fordham campus ministry as its new executive director.
Father Lito, as he is known, was part of campus ministry from 2000 to 2005. He was ordained a deacon in 2000, a priest in 2001, and took his final vows in 2006, all in the University Church.
He left in 2005 to do tertianship, the last stage of Jesuit formation, in Boston, followed by a four-month missionary experience in Myanmar. He went on from there to do his doctoral studies on the philosopher-theologian Bernard Lonergan, SJ, at Radboud University-Nijmegen in the Netherlands. After completing his dissertation in 2009, he was assigned to teach theology at St. Peter’s University in Jersey City.
Father Salazar said Lonergan was a natural pick to focus on for his dissertation because he had been drawn to Lonergan’s insights into both the dynamic structure and nature of knowledge itself, beginning with science and mathematics. Before embarking upon a vowed religious life, Father Salazar parlayed a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering into a ten-year successful career as a chemical process design engineer and executive with Royal Dutch Shell Petroleum in both his native Manila and in The Hague. He joined the Society of Jesus in 1993, after five years as a member of the Mill Hill Missionaries, British Catholic missionary order based in London, England.
With his background, he brings unique perspectives into the classroom. He taught both theology and business ethics at St. Peter’s. For the latter, he brings little more to the table than philosophical tenets, he said. “I’m approaching [business ethics]not just by introducing students to [the philosophical-ethical]aspects of the right and good thing to do, but also from scriptural-theological angles, and Catholic social teachings. It makes for a richer, more integral existential approach than simply a theoretical-ethical one,” he said.
“The bottom line is, I would ask students, ‘How would I respond to the God of my life as a businessman? What kind of decisions would I pursue beyond what is simply right and good?’”
Father Salazar said that, in a way, he never really left Fordham—as he continued in recent years to celebrate weddings for alumni and to baptize their children. But because he experiences the Ignatian charism much more powerfully in urban settings, he said, it made sense to return full time to New York.
“There’s an old saying that St. Francis loved towns, St. Dominic loved mountains, and St. Ignatius loved cities. Fordham is in the capital of the world, where people meet from all kinds cultural, economic, ethnic and social backgrounds. There are opportunities to create bridges and cross boundaries of culture, language, and ideas. So Fordham is a natural habitat for a “son of Ignatius,” he said.