Pope Francis names Spring Hill College Alumnus Rector of the Gregorian University in Rome

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis has named a U.S. Jesuit and Spring Hill College alumnus to be the next rector (president) of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Fr. Mark A. Lewis, S.J., ‘62, who has taught church history at the Jesuit-run university since 2017 and has served as academic vice rector since 2019, will take up his new post on Sept. 1. 

Previously, Lewis served as provincial of the former New Orleans Province from 2008 to 2014, when the Jesuits’ USA Central and Southern Province was created. He has taught church history at the Gregorian since 2017.

A native of Miami, Fla., Lewis began his undergraduate career at Spring Hill College in the fall of 1977. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in history and philosophy before entering the Society of Jesus at Grand Coteau, La., in 1980. After completing a master’s in philosophy at Saint Louis University, he taught at Jesuit High School in Tampa from 1984-1987. He studied theology at Regis College in Toronto, Ontario, receiving the licentiate in 1991.

Following his priestly ordination in 1991, Lewis completed his doctoral studies in history at the University of Toronto in 1995, writing his thesis on “The social impact of the Jesuit College in Naples, 1552-1600.” He spent 10 years in Rome, 6 (1998-2004) as director of the Jesuit Historical Institute, coordinating the research of a team of Jesuit historians. 

During these years, he began teaching at the Pontifical Gregorian University in the faculty of ecclesiastical history. He has taught at Regis College in Toronto; Loyola University, Chicago (Rome Center); Rockhurst University; John Carroll University; and Spring Hill College (2005-2008). At Spring Hill College, Lewis taught history while also serving as the New Orleans Province archivist. He left the College when he was named provincial in 2008. He has published several studies on the history of education in the Society of Jesus.

“As an alumnus of Spring Hill College, Fr. Lewis not only returned to his alma mater for an outstanding career as professor and assistant to the president, but has gone on to serve as researcher and director at the Jesuit Historical Institute in Rome, professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University, and now as rector-president of that prestigious institution, with its international standing and global outreach,” said Fr. Christopher Viscardi, S.J., Chair of Spring Hill College’s Theology Department and Director of Spiritual Direction Program. “Spring Hill is especially proud of his contributions to the works of the Society of Jesus throughout the world.”

The Gregorian originated as a part of the Roman College, founded in 1551 by Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Its chairs of philosophy and theology were given Papal approval in 1556, making it the first institution founded by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). Today, the Gregorian has an international faculty and around 2,750 students from more than 150 countries. 


Founded in 1830, Spring Hill College is the oldest Catholic college in the Southeast and the third oldest Jesuit college in the United States. Spring Hill combines the Jesuit tradition of excellence in education and a commitment to caring for the whole person – mind, body and spirit – with innovative educational experiences. Located in Mobile, Ala., Spring Hill’s mission is to form leaders engaged in learning, faith, justice and service for life. As a result, Spring Hill students are engaged, inspired and transformed by their experiences. 

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