This past June, the Regis community bade farewell to Fr. Philip Judge, S.J. after faithfully serving as the president of Regis High School for over a decade. Per protocol, the Regis Board of Trustees sought out a motivated successor that would continue Regis’ legacy as a tuition free Jesuit school for intellectually gifted young men. The result of that thorough search is Fr. Dan Lahart S.J., who will begin his term in fall of 2016 after the interim presidency of Fr. Jim Croghan, S.J.
Fr. Lahart comes to us from Houston, TX where he currently serves as the president of Strake Jesuit College Preparatory. As a dedicated administrator for the past 15 years, Fr. Lahart worked exhaustively to grow and nurture the Strake Jesuit community. As he prepares to leave behind his post in Houston, Fr. Lahart graciously agreed to answer a few questions for The Owl.
(Pictured:Fr. Lahart meeting with Fr. Croghan earlier this fall during his visit to Regis.)
The Owl: Firstly, please briefly tell us about yourself. Where are you from? How did you come upon the opportunity to pursue a career at Regis?
Fr. Lahart: I am in my 15th year as president at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory, and I have loved having this opportunity to serve the Church and this community through this role. I am firm believer that someone shouldn’t overstay his welcome, and while it will be very difficult to leave this school, I know that the change will be good both for the school and for me. Our Admissions video tells a little bit about Strake Jesuit. (Can you find the Regian in the video?)
As I started to think about what might be the next chapter for me, the opportunity to come to Regis was presented. I have known about Regis certainly at least as long as I have been a Jesuit. Many would consider Regis the flagship of Jesuit high schools in the United States. Fr. Tim Healy, S.J., who was president at Georgetown, was an instrumental part of my vocation, was a Regis alumnus.
The Owl: What was the most attractive aspect of the Regis community that played a major role in your decision to accept your appointment to the presidency?
Fr. Lahart: There were other opportunities that would have been more similar to Strake Jesuit, but I liked the idea of trying something so different. As I met with people during my pre-interviews in December and then in January for my interviews, I found Regis to be a place with a tremendous spirit, a storied history, and an exciting future. I loved how people referred to the tuition-free aspect of the school as this 100 year old experiment.
The Owl: Will you also, in addition to your duties as an administrator, be teaching any classes at Regis?
Fr. Lahart: I realize that this “experiment” is tenuous by its very nature and by the reality of the financial situation of Regis. I understand that it will be my responsibility to focus on the continued viability of the school and its mission. Part of the attention to mission is internal, but much of my focus will necessarily be external. Due the reality of needing to be out of the building on a regular basis, I don’t plan on teaching in the near term. It is my understanding that this is also to desire of the Board.
The Owl: What would you say is your strategy for leading Regis in its quest to further develop young Catholic men to be “Men for Others” in an ever changing contemporary society?
Fr. Lahart: I am very mission focused. All that we do as a school should be directed to supporting our mission, strengthening our mission, and living our mission. I see my role as supporting teachers as they take on their responsibilities of working with students in and out of the classrooms, all in the service of our mission.
The Owl: How can we as the Student Body of Regis be of service to you as you begin your tenure?
Fr. Lahart: Living in NYC will be a totally new experience for me! I look forward to it, but I will certainly need your help in many ways. I hope you will be patient with me as I work to learn the culture of the school, and work to learn people’s names too. I hope to make several trips to Regis this year, but my main focus for the next eight months is my current assignment at Strake Jesuit.
The Owl: Lastly and most importantly, are you ready to leave behind the Dallas Cowboys and become a full-fledged Giants/Jets fan?
Fr. Lahart: I left the Dallas Cowboys decades ago. I’ve also left behind the Bears, the Redskins, the Eagles, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Patriots, the SF Giants, and I suspect I’ll leave the Texans behind too. However, I’ve never lived in a city with two professional NFL teams, so I will need help determining whom I am supposed to support.
The Owl welcomes Fr. Lahart and wishes him the best as he begins his tenure as president next year.