Father Bill Verbryke, S.J. Named the 12th President of Brebeuf Jesuit
As a Jesuit and in life, Fr. William (Bill) Verbryke, S.J. values community and connecting with others. Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Fr. Bill accompanied his father, an internal medicine physician, on house calls, which he says was foundational in building a life of service.
“There was an influence of caring for other people that came from my parents and from attending a Catholic grade school and Jesuit high school,” said Fr. Bill, who graduated in 1971 from St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati. “Witnessing the Jesuits’ sense of community while at St. Xavier, I started thinking about the Jesuit priesthood in my senior year.”
Fr. Bill joined the Jesuit Candidates program while attending the University of Cincinnati and entered the Society of Jesus in 1973. He was ordained to the Jesuit Priesthood in 1983. This journey included serving as a faculty member at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Illinois; obtaining his Masters in Divinity and Theology at Berkeley; serving as the Director of Vocations for the Midwest Province of the Society of Jesus and returning to his alma mater, St. Xavier High School, where he served as President for 10 years. Following his service to St. Xavier, he then served as Director of Novices in Detroit for eight years before returning Cincinnati to serve as the Rector of the Jesuit Community.
During his tenure at St. Xavier High School, Fr. Bill served as both director of campus ministry and rector of the Jesuit community before being named school president, a position he held for a decade. Working with the school’s board of trustees and faculty, Fr. Bill led a campaign that resulted in the construction of a 450-seat chapel and a front entrance featuring a statue from the original St. Xavier School that pre-dated the Civil War, a new science wing, intramural gymnasium, and band rooms.
“I am most proud of the relationships we were able to build,” Fr. Bill said of his tenure as president of his alma mater. “What I enjoy most about leading a school is witnessing the growth and spiritual development of the students, connecting with faculty and staff, being available to parents, working with the board and faculty, and fulfilling the responsibility to represent the school in the larger community.”
Impressions of Brebeuf inspire new leader
Fr. Bill has been a full-time member of Brebeuf since October 2016, serving as the school’s Vice President of Mission and Identity, and superior of the Jesuit community. He will succeed Fr. Jack Dennis, S.J., as president of the school in July 2018.
“I look forward to working with the fabulous leadership team, faculty and staff to continue Brebeuf’s history of excellence, which includes ensuring continuation of the academic and formational standards that are hallmarks of a Jesuit education.” Fr. Bill said.
First introduced to Brebeuf Jesuit in 1977 while applying for a regency position, Fr. Bill was impressed by the connection and the relationships in the school. While not assigned to Brebeuf Jesuit at that time, he did return to serve as a member of the Board of Trustees in 1995.
“It really was the people at Brebeuf that first attracted me. I thought they would be just a great group to work with.”
Contemplating his first months as president, Fr. Bill will focus on preparations for Brebeuf Jesuit’s Midwest Province Jesuit Ignatian Sponsorship Review, a provincial evaluation occurring every six years. Overseeing implementation of the school’s recent five-year strategic plan, Fr. Bill envisions more opportunities for the school to engage parents and alumni to build strong partnerships with both key groups. Future plans will likely include some building improvements, including upgrades in the performing arts area, cafeteria and other student spaces.
In both his current role and as future president, Fr. Bill sees a unique opportunity to uphold and strengthen those characteristics that uniquely define Brebeuf Jesuit.
“Part of our mission as a Jesuit school is to help our students grow and develop in their own faith, whatever that faith tradition is,” he said. “Brebeuf Jesuit’s rich religious and cultural diversity—a characteristic that in part defines our school—offers a wonderful way for students to learn about their own faith and discern their beliefs.”
As a guide for leading Brebeuf Jesuit into the future, Fr. Bill points directly to the school’s mission statement and core values that establish the school as one that educates the whole person and supports a caring and diverse community.
“We believe strongly in our mission and core values and in living those day to day. If any decision—difficult or easy—is based on those core values and our mission, Brebeuf will become stronger. I value what we do here and am excited to be a part of it.”