100 Stories

Joe Schner, SJ, A.B., M.A., M.Div., S.T.L., Ph.D.

Current Professor & Interim President, Regis College, Toronto

Joe Schner, SJ

Fr. Schner, in his last role at Campion College, served as President from 1986-2001.

Fr. Joseph Schner, SJ, was an integral part of Campion’s history for twenty years, serving in several leadership roles. He shares the ups and downs of a past special Campion anniversary that almost went off the rails, if it wasn’t for “good spirits” to prevail:

“There are many memories of Campion from my 20 years there.   A memory associated with the 100th Anniversary is the celebration of the 70th in 1987 as a trial run for the 75th celebration.  The Premier, Mr. Devine, Archbishop Halpin, U of R President, Lloyd Barber, and other honoured guests joined 100 faculty, staff, alumni, alumnae, friends and benefactors gathered with some ceremony in the Campion cafeteria, suitably prepared for a celebratory banquet.  A grand entrance and grace began the banquet.  Joyce Kozar, Campion’s renowned perogi/cabbage roll czaress,  presided in the kitchen.  All went smoothly until after the first course was served, and Joyce discovered that the frozen Chicken Kievs that had been distributed to helpful faculty and staff for cooking at home had not all arrived and wouldn’t for some time.  (The generous volunteer chefs had discovered that frozen chicken breasts don’t cook in great quantities as quickly as one or two do in a home oven.)

Father Don Flynn saved the celebration by remembering that Past President Gavin had stored a goodly supply of wines in the Jesuit Residence wine cellar (on the roof of the college), and with some transportation help, wine began to flow more freely at the banquet tables.  By the time the now cooked chicken arrived most of the guests had settled into animated conversation about adventures of past days and fellow students.  Chicken Kiev served somewhat as an afterthought.  All agreed, however, that it was a very fine 70th anniversary celebration!”

As for Fr. Joe’s greatest accomplishment, it is more an example of a team effort between colleagues:

“I am not sure that it was objectively a great accomplishment, but being part of the efforts of Campion’s board, administration, faculty, staff and benefactors to keep Campion viable during the difficult financial times of the mid-80’s to the mid 90’s, seemed a worthwhile and demanding task at the time.”

No matter what stage one is at in life, there is always room for future purpose. Fr. Joe has his sights set on another goal: “In the next few years as I have the energy, I would like to synthesize my academic and formation work at Regis (based on my earlier work at Campion), and perhaps share my thoughts about this in useful ways.”

Giving back to his community has been expressed in his lifelong building and influencing of the institutions he has called home for many years: “My work with graduate students in psychotherapy, pastoral counselling and spiritual direction is part of the Toronto School of Theology’s educational work (and earlier Campion’s) for their formation in these professions.”