by Andrea Bian, ’18 and Josie Donlon, ’18
Students and staff have been mourning the loss of Father William Hayes, S.J., a key influence on the Jesuit community.
Father William Hayes, S.J. first arrived to Jesuit in 1960 and has been an indelible influence on the school ever since.
Fr. Hayes first worked at Jesuit as a vice principal in 1960, transferring to Gonzaga Prep two years later. He then returned to Jesuit as president in 1984 during a tough time in the school’s history. The school had a hard time filling seats, causing financial troubles.
“He realized that the problem with things is that we weren’t telling our story,” Superior of Jesuits Fr. J.K. Adams said. “He figured if enough people heard the story of Jesuit High School they would want to support it.”
With his meticulous financial planning and influential push towards co-education, Fr. Hayes managed to keep Jesuit’s doors open.
“Father Hayes was the right man at the right time,” President Mr. Tom Arndorfer said.
As well as his financial contributions, Fr. Hayes ensured the unflagging presence of Jesuit ideals and spirituality.
“He was insistent that our faith was at the center of everything,” Fr. Adams said. “He prayed and he discerned and he did what he thought God wanted him to do.”
One of Fr. Hayes’ most notable contributions to the school was its transition to coeducation in 1993.
“His greatest legacy is the young women, who have so transformed this place and had such an impact,” Principal Mr. Hogan said.
His visionary sense of innovation benefited the school immensely.
“He loved the creativity of being president and the planning and the visioning of what Jesuit could be, and he really is the second founder of Jesuit,” Mr. Hogan said. “The school wouldn’t be here…if it were not for Father Hayes.”
Though he was very passionate about his role as President, Fr. Hayes was first and foremost a priest.
“My relationship with him changed after he retired as president and he became my spiritual director,” Mr. Hogan said. “I got to see him as a priest, and that was really the role I think he enjoyed the best.”
Father Hayes was a spiritual advisor for many during his time at Jesuit, including Mr. Michael Benware, former teacher and chair of the English department.
“He was a real guide in my life for a lot of things,” Mr. Benware said.
Though Father Hayes took his job very seriously, he still found time to have fun.
“He was a great joker,” Mr. Benware said. “He had a sense of humor that was wry. You might not get his jokes, and you might not even know he was joking.”
Fr. Hayes leaves behind a legacy that is unparalleled in the history of Jesuit, shaping the lives of countless students.
“He impacted generations of students long ago, he’s impacted students today, and students of the future,” Mr. Arndorfer said. “He’s literally going to transform thousands of lives because of what his vision was for this school.”
Fr. Hayes cared about every individual student, despite obstacles they might have faced.
“He was dedicated to helping every kid who wanted to come to Jesuit to come to Jesuit, regardless of whether they could afford it or not,” Mr. Hogan said. “When he got here, we were not in that position, but by the time he left, we were in a position where we could do that.”
Fr. Hayes spoke with Mr. Arndorfer before his passing to ensure that his funeral would be celebrated with Jesuit students at a Friday mass.
“He kind of outlined what he wanted, but what was most important to him was that, even though you and your classmates don’t know Fr. Hayes, he wanted his funeral mass here with you there,” Mr. Arndorfer said.
At Fr. Hayes’ request, his funeral will be held October 20 in the Knight Gym.
“The students of Jesuit were incredibly important to him,” Mr. Arndorfer said. “Whether or not he knew them all today, or tomorrow, he’s been praying for all of you, and will continue to pray I’m sure.”