The Jesuit Teacher


Rev. John P. Schlegel, S.J.

The Jesuit Teacher

In 1976, Omaha attorney Stephen Bruckner was assigned to the introductory political science course taught by a new Oxford Ph.D., the Rev. John P. Schlegel, S.J., and found a “teacher, mentor and lifelong friend.”

Schlegel, Creighton’s president for 11 years, was remembered with affection by Bruckner and other former students after his death in November. Schlegel asked Bruckner to speak on behalf of all his former students at his funeral at St. John’s Church; at least 40 students from Bruckner’s era attended.

“I eventually majored in Fr. Schlegel,” said Bruckner, BA’79. “He was a world-class scholar and teacher. He was brilliant and he demanded excellence, yet his classroom style was engaging and approachable because this man related to students like no one we had ever encountered.”

Bruckner recalled that Fr. Schlegel said 10 p.m. Sunday Mass “to a packed house. Those Masses, definitely part social event, kept us grounded in our faith and the homilies, always brief, with three points, resonated for students struggling with the transition to adulthood.”

Dennis Crawford, BA’82, an attorney in Lincoln, recalled the day that Schlegel, his academic advisor from 1978-80, mapped out a blueprint for him to get his degree. “I took a class from him my freshman year. He was a brilliant and erudite man.” Crawford called Schlegel a “super professor” and a great lecturer.

Elizabeth Woerdeman Rea, BA’70, said she never had Schlegel as a professor but joined him on Fellow Travelers Creighton Alumni trips to South Africa and Zimbabwe and India when he was president.

“Pope Francis and Fr. John Schlegel represent the ‘best of the best’ when it comes to fighting for social justice and caring about what people need to live full and productive lives,” said Rea, a retired Omaha Public Schools teacher. “Every day, I’m proud of my education at Creighton and the chance to follow the example of these wonderful priests.”