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$5 Million Gift Will Establish Canizaro Center for Catholic Studies at Loyola

By Loyola University on Tue, 06/14/2022 - 10:38

(NEW ORLEANS - June 14, 2022) With gratitude, Loyola University New Orleans announces a generous new gift that will establish the new Canizaro Center for Catholic Studies at Loyola. The $5 million in support comes from real estate developer and founder of First Bank and Trust, Joseph C. Canizaro, who is dedicated to growing and supporting the Catholic community in the City of New Orleans and beyond.

“With great joy, we look forward to launching the Canizaro Center, which will allow us to grow our Catholic Studies program and promote the Catholic intellectual tradition and Jesuit spirituality,” said the Rev. Justin Daffron, S.J., interim president of Loyola. “This exciting new endeavor will advance the Roman Catholic Church in our region. New pilgrimages, retreats, and scholarships will help provide the formative experiences to develop leaders in service to others.” 

The $5 million gift announced on Thursday positions Loyola to become the leader in Catholic studies in the United States and on an international level. An endowed fund will support the hiring of new faculty, grow resources for students (such as retreats, international service pilgrimages, and high school student faith development programs), educate K-12 Catholic elementary teachers, and provide scholarships for Loyola students to study abroad in Rome. 

The Rev. Nathan O’Halloran, S.J., who joined Loyola in 2020, will serve as center director. Since arriving at Loyola, O’Halloran has brought new excitement to the university’s Catholic Studies program, with inspiring speakers, retreats, conference and travel opportunities, and a pilgrimage to Mexico City this summer.

As the largest Jesuit, Catholic university in the South, Loyola has educated generations of students in Ignatian spirituality and the Catholic faith since 1912 and is the second largest private university in Louisiana. 

Several years ago, Loyola engaged in the Mission Priority Examen, a period of self-study and reflection involving the university community and key stakeholders, as part of its Jesuit accreditation process under the direction of Arturo Sosa, S.J., Superior General of the Jesuit order.

A key priority that emerged from the year-long process of reflection and discernment was a desire to grow the university’s Catholic Studies program, providing students a foundation in faith and character formation that would help prepare them personally and professionally to lead lives of leadership and service.
Mr. Canizaro is a longtime friend and supporter of the Jesuit, Catholic university and its students. In the 1980s, his generosity allowed many Loyola students to make pilgrimages to Medjugorje, Yugoslavia, and share in the community created around the reported appearances of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He continued his support of Loyola with generous gifts in subsequent years to Catholic Studies and to the Chapel of St. Ignatius and Gayle and Tom Benson Jesuit Center.

This major gift from Mr. Canizaro helps Loyola to advance that goal, which is so deeply tied to the University’s mission.