Thank you, Tom Healey ’77
for your commitment and dedication to Lessons From Loyola Hall
For nearly a decade Tom has shared his beloved blog Lessons From Loyola Hall with the world. Whether people have read his blog once or are avid weekly readers, Tom hopes his Lessons have inspired and moved people to see and interact with our world a little bit differently.
Each week, Tom would think about what to write for days and often spent hours putting his thoughts into words. His messages were always clear and timely, and his heart poured out on to every (digital) page he wrote. Tom is truly a one-of-a-kind human, and we are so blessed to have him freely share our Faith mission with people and alumni across the world.
Thank you, Tom, for giving your full heart, body, mind and spirit into all 832 lessons you've written. It has been a tremendous joy to read your work these past eight years. May our community look forward to re-reading Lessons from the archives, listening to your podcast and enjoying (new) weekly blog stories from long-time theology teacher, Mr. Jim Brennan '85.
Read Tom's final blog post
Full list of Lessons From Loyola Hall
From the Heart & Mind of Tom Healey ’77: Lessons from Loyola Hall
It began with a shared concern between colleagues: Saint Ignatius students are often on fire for their Catholic faith, theology classes, and service missions – but when they graduate, many don’t stay active in the Church or grow deeper in their faith.
In the Fall of 2014, that was the topic of conversation between theology teachers Tom Healey ’77 and Jim Skerl ’74. “We batted around ideas on what to do, perhaps using new media to stay connected with alumni, especially the younger ones,” recalls Healey. “Then Jim got sick. And then Jim died. That Spring I wondered how to carry on his legacy and thought maybe this is how I do it.”
And so “Lessons from Loyola Hall” was born. For eight years and in more than 800 posts, Healey’s twice-weekly blog has presented a clear voice on faith, scripture, Catholicism, family, and life at Saint Ignatius High School in thoughtful articles that teach, challenge, and inspire those who no longer sit in classrooms at West 30th and Lorain. The blog has nearly 750 subscribers and is one of the most popular features on Ignatius.edu, with some posts racking up 1,500 pageviews.
Whether it’s an All Soul’s Day post about purgatory and why we pray for the dead or a Saint Valentine’s Day story comparing the Beach Boy’s song “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” to Meatloaf’s “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad,” Healey seems to have found his sweet spot – as a teacher and a writer.
As this is Healey’s last year of writing the blog (Jim Brennan '85 will carry on the tradition), we sat down with him to share these thoughts…
What’s at the heart of Lessons from Loyola Hall?
The vision was to somehow continue the Saint Ignatius education, tying in themes we talk about in the classroom but free from a syllabus or tests. The midweek blog is always tied to Saint Ignatius, the Church, or what’s in the news. And the weekend blog is related to that Sunday’s scripture readings – to connect alumni to the Eucharist and Mass, with ideas you wouldn’t typically hear in a homily.
My blogs focus on the people of Saint Ignatius, specifically our Catholic and Ignatian way of looking at things. If I could write about it on my tombstone, it would say “We are to find God in all things.” A few years back I wrote a blog about how Lady Gaga prays the rosary, never thinking I ever would’ve connected those two things. But Ignatius himself was a person who looked for the good in others. If I ever write about people in politics or news, I try to depoliticize them and try to Catholicize them, with a Catholic way of looking at what’s going on.
The danger of a blog is that it can become a bully pulpit – but I’ve made it my time to preach the gospel in whatever way the Holy Spirit leads me each week. My job is to be a theology teacher at Saint Ignatius. This is not Tom Healey’s soap box, this is me trying to be a voice for the school’s Catholic vision, based in the Ignatian spiritual exercises.
Any favorite “must read” posts?
I’m most proud of the ones about my colleagues, including Dale Gabor, Mike Pennock, Jim Skerl, Chico Kyle. Those posts are very heartfelt, about people I have the utmost respect for and to let people know the man behind the man. Other posts with a special place in my heart are ones I’ve written about my wife Ann and our family, especially Kevin, our son who passed away from cancer in 2009. You try not to make blog about you
, but it's good to reveal a little about yourself in a blog. I love to find hidden gems and shine a light on unbelievable people here, and the moments that make Saint Ignatius such a special place. After 42 years teaching here, I’ve met so many people and have plenty of grist for the mill! My greatest joy is to share what makes Ignatius Ignatius.
How has Jim Skerl and The Little Prince book influenced your writing?
Jim was such a major influence on me, and the reason I’m still here. In college, I remember saying “I want to go back and do what Jim Skerl does.” My wife Ann said, “Then do it!” Before I met Jim, I had never read The Little Prince
by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. I had the idea it was a cute little children’s book and I’d prefer my Acquinas. But Jim said, “You have to read this.” Few books have had greater impact on me. The most important line is “It is the time that you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.” That’s one thing my students walk away with – to waste time on other people with your love and attention, not on your phone or stupid things. And the Fox talking to the Little Prince about ritual is for me a way to call students back to the Mass. When we need something, but we don’t how to do it, the Church knows.
Has writing the blog changed you?
It’s enriched my own personal journey, especially the Sunday blogs as I focus on the readings in a way I never have before and on making personal connections that will resonate with others. And it’s made me a better listener, more aware of what others are doing on campus, now and in the past. During Black History Month a few years ago, I wrote about George Moore ‘34, a journalist and professor who was the first African American to graduate from Saint Ignatius. Digging deeper, I found out how incredible his life was! The blog has connected me to people I’ve never met, but their stories are important. I’m grateful for the incredible trust Saint Ignatius High School places in me as I write these “Lessons from Loyola Hall” to connect with our alumni and others who happen by!