May 26, 2006

First lay person to lead
Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School

By John Shaughnessy

As the next president of Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School, Matthew Hayes doesn’t shy away from the distinction that he will be the first lay person to permanently lead the Indianapolis high school in its 44-year history.

“In my whole career, I’ve taken positions of lay leadership that were previously held by members of religious orders or priests,” said Hayes, who will start his new position on July 1. “Brebeuf is not unique in moving this way. Many religiously-sponsored, Catholic schools have moved to lay leadership.”

Still, the 57-year-old Hayes looks beyond that distinction to a reason he considers more important for returning to Indianapolis to lead Brebeuf.

“I’m a product of a Jesuit high school and college,” said the father of four. “Jesuit education is a part of our family at all levels. I’ve seen the difference it’s made in our kids. It’s a part of me and who I am. When I was in high school, the Jesuits talked about, ‘A man for others.’ Now they say, ‘A person for others.’ That’s been in my heart for the longest time. This really resonated with me as a way of giving back.”

While Hayes will be “giving back,” the resident of Louisville, Ky., will also be coming back to Indianapolis, where he served as the director of religious education for the archdiocese from 1979 to 1993. He credits one soul-searching moment during his tenure with the archdiocese for shaping his approach to leadership.

During that moment, Hayes promised himself to always seek leadership positions in organizations that strive to develop “human potential and social change according to Gospel values.”

For the past two years, he has used that approach as the executive director of the Cathedral Heritage Foundation, an inter-religious organization in partnership with the Archdiocese of Louisville. Efforts to establish relationships and connections with different faiths are the focus of the foundation—an interfaith approach that Brebeuf sought in its next leader.

“Matt Hayes is a wonderful choice,” said Father Benjamin Hawley, the Jesuit priest who has served as Brebeuf’s president for the past six years. “He has eight years of Jesuit education, advanced degrees in Catholic and Christian studies, professional experience with the archdioceses of Indianapolis and Louisville, and a strong commitment to interfaith dialogue.”

Hayes also understands and embraces the focus of Brebeuf, according to Vincent Caponi, chair of the school’s board of trustees.

“Hayes brings with him experience and commitment that ensures that we remain grounded in our fundamental identity as a school that is Jesuit, Catholic and interfaith,” noted Caponi in a May 11 letter that was sent to the school community announcing Hayes’ selection.

Hayes noted that the motto of the Cathedral Heritage Foundation is “many faiths, one heart, common action.” He will be moving to Brebeuf, where the motto is “Learn, lead and serve.”

“The goal is to create servant leaders in an increasingly diverse world based upon religious values, particularly the Catholic, Christian tradition,” said Hayes, a graduate of the Jesuit-run Xavier University in Cincinnati. “It’s important to work in a school that has an interfaith dimension to its message.”

To pursue that goal, he and his wife, Judy, will be returning to an area they consider home.
“We lived for 18 years in Indianapolis, and we still have many connections to people there,” he said. “It’s a real good feeling to come back to Indianapolis and the archdiocese.” †


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