Tom Fox '95 has over 500 subscribers to his weekly blog: The Empathetic Fox. From Battling the "Dad Bod" to Free Lessons from free thows, the span of topics are endless. Through inspiring adages, a subtle sense of humor and thoughtful reflections, it is no surprise The Empathetic Fox touches the lives of many, week after week.
Each of Tom's blog posts highlight one of three key components: people, gratitude and perspectives on the world. This past week, Tom chose to reflect on the impact of the Saint Ignatius class, Christian Manhood, taught by the unforgettable Jim Skerl '74.
While Jim was many things to many people, first and foremost, he was a teacher. Even during his final weeks on this earth, Jim chose to teach until the very end. Jim Skerl was not a stereotypical educator, as most of his lessons took place outside the classroom; however, he did teach one highly-acclaimed course in Loyola Hall called Christian Manhood, a course on what it truly means to be a Man for Others and live out A.M.D.G.*
Tom and many others would agree that Christian Manhood is one of the most important classes of a Saint Ignatius education, and to have it taught by Jim Skerl was the ultimate blessing. While Jim's entire life was a lesson on what it meant to be a Christian Man, his class focused on the many lessons from Antoine de Saint-Exupery's book, The Little Prince.
If you have read The Little Prince, you would know there is more to the story than the image of a boa constrictor eating an elephant; rather, the core message focuses on our role in this world and our call to serve others. Of all the timeless lessons in The Little Prince, the quote that was introduced to Tom in the 1990s and inspires his weekly writings reads, "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
More than thirty years later and Tom still knows what is essential: what it means to be a Christian Man.
Jim Skerl is smiling down on men like Tom and many others who continue to be Men for Others and live their lives A.M.D.G.
*Christian Manhood has been offered at Saint Ignatius for nearly 43 years, teaching students the central message of what it means to be a good Christian man. Through education on virtue ethics, the importance of relationships, and the value of discernment, the hope is that students take the lessons from this course and apply them to daily life long after they graduate.
To read The Empatheic Fox: https://tommyosionnach.substack.com/p/nothing-more-than-a-fox
To read a remembrance page for Jim Skerl '74: https://integrallifedesign.com/2014/11/deep-bow-to-you-jim-skerl/comment-page-1/