Edward W. Schmidt, S.J., believes in a practical, hands-on approach. It’s a strategy he adopted during his time at the University 30 years ago—where he worked in campus ministry and led service trips to Haiti—and carried with him eight years later to Chicago, where he helped launch the Jesuits’ Companymagazine. And it’s a theme that took on even broader significance last fall when Schmidt stepped into his new role as provincial for the Jesuits’ Chicago Province, one of the order’s 10 regional administrative units in the United States.
Schmidt’s journey began in 1974 when he came to Xavier fresh from theology school. Two years later, he took over as pastor of Bellarmine Chapel and director for campus ministry. In those days, he says, a practical approach meant giving students solid advice as well as setting up tables and chairs for events and cleaning up afterward. Later, when he began his 21-year association withCompany, his approach often meant typing up stories or handling countless other small chores. And now, he says, the primary challenge of his new job—helping Jesuits find the right outlets for their ministry, talents and interests—requires yet another level of practicality.
“One of the oddities is that I’m sort of the CEO of this organization, but I’m dealing with individuals at the most hands-on level,” he says. “It may not be the easiest way, but it seems to be the best way to do it.”