Jesuit Spotlight: Fr. John Daly, SJ

There are no two ways about it. Fr. John Daly, SJ, has had a remarkable career.

With missions on his mind, he joined the Society of Jesus in 1943. Following years of rigorous training characteristic of the Jesuits, his request to work abroad was granted with an assignment at Sogang University in Seoul, South Korea.

Still in its infancy when Fr. Daly arrived there in 1961, Sogang University reflected the ambitions of its home country, struggling to recover from Japanese colonial rule and the Korean War.

On July 26, 2010, Fr. John P. Daly, SJ, was appointed Special Assistant for Advancement to advance the many good works of the Wisconsin Province Jesuits.

Read the announcement here.

He started as an English teacher and university treasurer, and, by 1963, Fr. Daly was Sogang’s president. In that post for 12 years, he was instrumental in developing the small liberal arts college of 600 into one of Korea’s top universities, with master’s and doctoral programs, which now enrolls 7,000 full-time and 3,000 part-time students.

Since then, he has experienced great satisfaction in varied positions, but Fr. Daly recalls fondly the opportunity to work in a culture not his own. “Being a Jesuit has given me many things,” he says, “but it was certainly a privilege to have the opportunity to be immersed in the Korean culture and to become part of the lives of so many wonderful individuals there.”

That immersion included learning about the characteristics and traditions of the people, which Fr. Daly describes as ancient, warm, scholastic and more. “Relationships, harmony and education are so important to Koreans. And they are hard-working people. Just imagine, it took only 50 years for the country to emerge from occupation and poverty to vying for a position as one of the world’s top ten countries economically,” he states.

Fr. Daly’s respect for the Korean people did not go unreciprocated, as evidenced by just one of the honors conferred on him:  “Mo-Ahn,” the second highest civilian decoration of the Republic of Korea.

Since leaving Korea, Fr. Daly’s positions have included academic vice president at Creighton University and coordinator for Chinese American Academic Exchanges sponsored by the China Province of the Society of Jesus (with offices at the University of San Francisco and Loyola Marymount University). It is interesting to note, he says, that “We started helping Asian people understand America better. Our focus has now become the opposite – to help people here understand Asia better.”

Behind it all, Fr. Daly stresses, “We wouldn’t be able to do any of this work without our Jesuit Partners. We depend on laypeople – your prayers, funds of every amount, moral support, and collaboration in our works. As I used to say in mission talks, everybody is called to go – but if you can’t go, please help us to go.”

“This is true about more than sending Jesuits abroad,” he adds. “It is also about giving relief in this country, helping Jesuits in their elder years and more. Just as when you leave home and continue to feel the presence of your parents, we feel our benefactors are always with us, wherever we go.”





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