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In Memory of Joe Taylor

Loyola Academy mourns the loss of longtime educator Joseph R. Taylor, who passed away on December 19, 2021. Joe spent fifty-three years serving our community as a teacher, campus minister and board member. With this wisdom, kindness and exemplary model of faith in action he inspired generations of Ramblers to be women and men for others.
“Joe was an exceptional man who poured himself into the mission of Loyola,” said Loyola Academy President Rev. Patrick E. McGrath, SJ. “He was a person of great faith and compassion and he breathed life into the vision of St. Ignatius here at Loyola and beyond. He was a blessing to all who knew him.”

Over the course of more than fifty years at Loyola, Joe served in many capacities including math teacher (he was twice named Educator of the Year), chair of the Math Department, chair of Campus Ministry (which he was instrumental in founding), chaplain to the faculty and staff and member of the board of trustees from 1979 to 1985. He was passionate about peace and justice— he admired models of the social justice mission like Cesar Chavez, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson Mandela—and facilitated student learning through Amnesty International and transformative service opportunities. He led decades of Kairos retreats, where he often shared his favorite quotes with students: “Walk the talk,” “Live simply that others might live,” and “Know how much God loves you!”

“As a man who actually lived his faith, he inspired so many with his humbleness,” said Campus Ministry Administrative Assistant Mrs. Jean Buckley, who worked alongside Joe for eighteen years. The two maintained a friendship after his retirement and would occasionally meet to catch up over a meal. “It was shared with me that after Joe received word that he would be going to hospice care, he was asked if he was afraid to die. His response was: ‘This is something I have been preparing my entire life for.’ I am sure that he was looking forward to his eternal rest in heaven with God.”

O’Shaughnessy and Magis Academic Support Teacher Mr. Kevin Mistrik had a friendship with Joe that stretched back to the early 90s, when Mistrik began teaching math at Loyola and working part-time in Campus Ministry. “When you were with Joe, you knew he was one hundred percent focused on you. His attention wasn’t anywhere else,” he says. “Joe was one of the greatest listeners ever. He made you feel cared for.”

Joe’s ability to listen attentively to friends and colleagues distinguished him as a friend and leader at Loyola. And it’s the trait at the center of what Mistrik came to lovingly call “The Taylor Method”—a distinct process for evaluating ministry programs and events, such as retreats, which involved careful listening and honest feedback. The result? The Taylor Method fostered an atmosphere of continued growth and evolution within Campus Ministry that would prove to sustain the department’s relevance and firmly anchor it at the heart of the Loyola student experience over the years. 

 “After ministry events, those of us in the department would sit down and consider what we could do to make it better. We were all honest and we would critique each other, but Joe created an environment of trust. No one felt attacked,” explains Mistrik. “Usually within a week or so of an event, we took the time to review it and reflect on ways to improve it. It’s a very Ignatian process and it contributed to the constant evolution and enduring impact of the Campus Ministry department.”  

A diagnosis with Parkinson’s Disease in 2012 did not dim Joe’s bright light. In 2016, he was the recipient of the Rev. Daniel A. Lord, SJ, Award. Established in 1963, the award is one of Loyola Academy's highest honors and is bestowed upon those who have provided distinguished service in the cause of youth. 

“We must continue to be God’s eyes and ears, hands and feet, mind and heart in loving one another and especially loving the poor and the marginalized,” encouraged Joe in his 2016 Lord Award acceptance speech in Loyola’s Chapel. “With God’s help we will bring a little more justice, a little more peace, a little more goodness, a little more truth, a little more beauty, a little more joy into our world.” With simple words that run deep with meaning, he closed his speech: “I hope that you will remember me for loving you.”

For Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Mrs. Sarah Bennett, who worked with Joe at Loyola for nearly 25 years, what stood out was his openness to do things that were difficult. She recalls how, for over ten years, Joe shuttled dozens of Ramblers down to Columbus, Georgia, for the Ignatian Teach-In. “Sixty teenagers, on a Coach bus, leaving after Loyola’s evening Open House to drive through the night to arrive in Georgia on time. And then back through the night in the same weekend to be at school Monday morning!” Bennett explains. “He was always there, ready to help, ready to march, ready to put his faith and the Gospel message first. Even as he aged, his passion for social justice never waned. He modeled what servant leadership looks like and he was always with us no matter what.”

Joe’s legacy is enduring. A scholarship established in his name at Loyola Academy will continue to transform the lives of young people. Contributions can be made to the Joe Taylor Boys Hope Girls Hope Scholarship

Please take a moment to thank God for the life of Joe Taylor

Together in sorrow we mourn this departed member of the Loyola family.

Loyola Academy

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