On Thursday, February 25, the Regis community gathered virtually in prayer in honor of St. John Francis Regis. Broadcast via Zoom from the Chapel of the Sacred Heart, the school-wide liturgy called students, faculty, and staff to reflect on the life and legacy of the school’s namesake and consider how to embody his spirit in the 21st century.
John Francis Regis was born on January 31, 1597 in Fontcouverte, Aude, in the Languedoc region of southern France. Entering the Society of Jesus at 18, Regis undertook missionary work in various French towns, often reserving his time to tend to prisoners and the sick. Although Regis longed to conduct missions across the Atlantic Ocean in Canada, he ultimately remained in France, working in some of the most desolate parts of the country bringing people back to the Church. Organizing social services for the most vulnerable in his community in his final years, Regis died of pneumonia on December 31, 1640 at 43 years old. He was canonized a saint by Pope Clement XII in 1737.
Fr. Arthur C. Bender, SJ, ’67, was the main celebrant. Kai-Shan Kwek-Rupp ’23 and Alexis Villalba ’23 participated remotely as readers, and Matthew Vizzini ’21 offered petitions.
“One thing in particular that Regis experienced that every one of us has already experienced is disappointment,” Fr. Bender said in his homily, remarking on Regis’ not being chosen to serve the Society of Jesus in Canada. “Now how did he react? Not by being resentful, not by being angry with God, and not by spending the rest of his Jesuit life doing his work in a half-hearted way. He threw himself completely into the work he was assigned to, so much so that he impacted the lives of countless men and women to whom he ministered.
"Not bad for someone who had to settle for his second choice, and perhaps a lesson for us to make the best of whatever comes our way, even if it is not what we would have chosen if given the choice.”