Saint Ignatius High School

The Magis

On Sunday December 3, we will recognize our Magis winners of the year, Tom and Ann Healey, at the annual Saint Ignatius Christmas Concert. Read to hear Jim's reflection on why Tom and Ann are so worthy of one of Saint Ignatius' highest honors.

The Magis

On Sunday evening, Wildcat families will gather at the historic Severance Hall for the 39th Annual Saint Ignatius High School Christmas Concert. In addition to being entertained by the magnificent Cleveland Orchestra and Chorus, the Saint Ignatius community will celebrate Tom and Ann Healey by bestowing on them the prestigious Magis Award. Since 1985, this award has been given to "extraordinary individuals or families who are committed to Saint Ignatius High School and exemplify the magis."

Latin for "more," the magis has been a mainstay in Ignatian spirituality. In the "Meditation on the Kingdom" in his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius invites us to go beyond doing the bare minimum in our relationships with God. It is a call to not only do the good work of prayer and labor in His name by living out the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, but also to do "more" by willingly walking with Him in self-sacrifice…and even suffering.

Though often misinterpreted as meaning "do more things," in reality, this philosophy is about selfless giving and generosity of spirit. The Latin proverb, non multa, sed multum ("not many things, but much"; not quantity, but quality) applies here.

Because the magis is ultimately about loving--deeply.

That said, we can be forgiven if on first blush it appears that in their 40+ year association with the school the Healeys missed the first part of that memo: they have indeed done many things! They will receive their honor because of their selfless service to Saint Ignatius High School, and their resume is impressive by any standard. Tom has been a teacher, coach, faculty representative to the Board of Regents, department chair, admissions committee member, and father to both the Skerl and Pennock Lecture series. He started this blog. Ann has been no less involved in the life of the school: as a tutor, a tireless worker at the Arrupe Neighborhood Partnership program, and the force behind "Kevin's Missions," which helps individuals facing poverty and homelessness here and abroad.  

I could go on, but to do so might make the rest of us feel like slackers. 

But while they are rightly honored for these--and other--gifts they have given to the school, it is even more important that they are so honored for what underlies these accomplishments and for what we can learn from them.

To know Tom and Ann is to realize that this commitment to living the magis springs directly from their commitment to each other in marriage: thus it is appropriate that they be honored together. Marital love, like the magis, requires selflessness and sacrifice. It goes beyond itself, ultimately it is about giving oneself away. And it is fruitful. 

Tom and Ann have shown this in their lives together.

Those of us--and there are many--who call themselves their friends have seen how their union has made each other better. We have also seen their mutual love made manifest in countless ways. They raised two beautiful children: Kevin, gone back to God too soon, has--like one of his patrons, St Therese of Lisieux--been "spending his Heaven doing good on earth." Mary Kate has grown into a faith-filled woman of wit, intelligence, compassion, and loyalty--a wonderful friend who lifts those around her.  

If Tom and Ann finished life together and had "only" Mary Kate and Kevin to show for it, I have no doubt that they would be welcomed to Heaven by the Lord saying "Well done, my good and faithful servants." (Mt. 25: 23). 

But there is more--magis--to their love. Love grows, it is expansive: the more we love, the more love we have. For if we look at Tom's career as a teacher, we can see that his role continues for his students well beyond their time at school. He has served as advisor to many administrators and teachers and he is sought out by his former students looking for advice even years after graduation. He started this blog not only to teach the Faith, but to highlight and celebrate the gifts and achievements of the otherwise unsung members of our community. His lecture programs empower young alumni and influential teachers to share life lessons with our seniors. In her work with some of our struggling students, Ann embodies the philosophy of cura personalis as she learns her students' stories, points out their gifts, and helps them overcome their obstacles as she guides them through their studies. It is not surprising that her boys love her as dearly as they do.  

We've all heard the famous African proverb that says "it takes a village to raise a child." It does. But at Saint Ignatius we know that it takes a family--with lots of "moms" and "dads"--to raise a Wildcat. Those of us who have raised teenagers know that 16-year-olds like to ignore us. But they will listen to other adults they know care about them. Call it showing "tough but tender" love or cura personalis, the Healeys have taken on that role for countless young men who have come through West 30th and Lorain. 

But perhaps most of all, in their lives together they witness to the beauty of Christian marriage for our students (and the rest of us!), showing how "Christ dwells with them, gives them the strength to take up their crosses and so follow him, to rise again after they have fallen, to forgive one another, to bear one another's burdens, to 'be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ,' and to love one another with supernatural, tender, and fruitful love." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1642).  

Tom and Ann have given not only themselves to the school and the larger world, they have provided opportunities for the rest of us to do the same. They have shown us the way to live lives of authentic Christian love, to be Women and Men for and with Others. So we are right to honor them.

Because as a community, who could ask for anything more?

A.M.D.G. / B.V.M.H.