Loyola Magazine

Such wonderful gifts

Psychology professor and 1985 grad shares what Jesuit education means to him

My involvement with Loyola University Maryland began in the 1980s, when I had the privilege of studying clinical psychology at Loyola University Maryland. I was then thrilled to return to the psychology department in 1989 as an assistant professor after I completed my doctorate.

It was in my faculty role that my Jesuit experience became truly transformative.

In my early years as an assistant professor, I introduced service-learning in some of my psychology classes and served as a moderator of a Project Mexico immersion excursion with Fr. Tim Brown. Evaluating the effects of service-learning on student development became a strong research focus for me, along with research on how possessing an active spiritual life served as a protection from problematic alcohol consumption among students.

Having previously volunteered for Habitat for Humanity in Tijuana, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to return to Mexico and renew my affiliation with Mexican people and communities. Project Mexico became for me an extremely valuable context for engaging students in what I considered to be transformative education and experiences of working and living with underserved people and communities south of the border.

I have been afforded several other opportunities to engage with the Jesuit character and mission of Loyola, beginning with participating in an Ignatian retreat during my first year. My initial involvement with Project Mexico led to a total of five trips as well as involvement with the Jamaica Experience and Encounter El Salvador. It was on these immersion experiences that my encounters with Loyola students were deepest and most profound, as we engaged in discussions of poverty and faith and experienced deep sharing and gratitude with residents of communities and orphanages that had very few physical resources.

When I had the opportunity to participate in the Ignatian Pilgrimage through Loyola, I was able to appreciate how Ignatius lived, what he saw as his mission and that of the Society, and how his work lived on in the immersion experiences at Loyola.

As I reflect on my development through more than 26 years as a faculty member at Loyola, I recognize a growing—if not transformative—commitment to “the service of faith and the promotion of justice” that has been espoused by the former Superior General Peter-Hans Kolvenbach and which has informed my research and community involvements. My work with the NativityMiguel schools over the past 20 years has been one manifestation of how the faith and justice mandate of Jesuit education has informed my professional and personal life. In addition, I have benefited greatly from the close working relationships with numerous faculty and staff who have manifested the Jesuit charism in a seamless manner. Such wonderful gifts!

Mickey Fenzel, Ph.D., professor of Pastoral Counseling and affiliate professor of psychology, earned his Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology from Loyola in 1985.