• Alumni
Journeymen: Through the Lens

In the early hours of April 15, 1912, a collision shook the sea – and the world. A British passenger liner slammed full-bore into a building-sized iceberg, ultimately sinking the vessel and dooming more than 1,500 of the 2,224 passengers and crew. The story of the Titanic endures as one of the most dramatic, disastrous accidents in maritime history.

Fr. Frank Browne, SJ (1880-1960), a distinguished Irish Jesuit and a prolific photographer, documented the incident with the most complete set of images of the Titanic’s maiden voyage. His photographs bring the story to life and, with some imagination, put the viewer behind the lens – at that time, at that moment.

Though best known for his Titanic collection, Fr. Browne also documented World War I as a volunteer chaplain, capturing incredible, in-action shots from the front line.

Fr. Browne’s work remains a model of compelling photography, something that connects us with the past while transcending mere documentation. It tells of a journey through facial expressions and physical settings, but it goes deeper, revealing an inner pilgrimage that ranges from emotional defeat to spiritual enlightenment.

In the spirit of Fr. Browne, the following pages illuminate photographic journeys from SLUH alumni. While their stories are lesser known than the Titanic or World War I, they are no less poignant.

>>>VIEW PDF (pages 31-39)


Pursuing Perspective
A PHOTOGRAPHIC JOURNEY BY BEN BANET '14

If any one quote truly resonates with the journeys that I have taken in the four years since my SLUH graduation, it would be one from John Muir, the famed conservationist, who once said, “of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” From dusty two-track roads winding through sagebrush meadows in the shadows of jagged peaks to the boulder-strewn routes and snowfields ascending those peaks, I’ve found myself along plenty of these dirt paths recently.

The beautiful views from a lofty summit that took hours to reach, the utter silence of a desert valley 50 miles from the nearest pavement, or the star-studded sky 250 miles from Los Angeles are all worthy reasons for taking a journey down a dirt path, but for me, the real reason is deeper than those. Places are like people or ideas – complicated and multi-layered with more than meets the eye. Much like people and ideas, the more you get to know a place, the more interesting it becomes and the more you realize you have yet to learn about it.

Sure, you can get a sense of Death Valley driving the winding, paved ribbon of CA 190 or recognize that Mt. Shasta is large by the amount of time it takes for its glaciated mass to pass from the windshield to the rearview mirror, but as places and landscapes, what is seen out the window is only the most superficial level. Getting out there on the sunbaked salt flats with my own two feet or digging my ice ax into the side of a glacier at 13,500 feet allows me to really begin to understand where I am, who I am, and how I fit into the world as a whole.

Experiences like these and the physical and mental challenges required to reach them are so rewarding to me for not just their intrinsic scenic value, but even more so for the perspective they give me. In a busy week of work or school, it is easy to get lost in to-do lists, deadlines, and the minutiae of everyday life, but somewhere out there (preferably away from cell service, pavement, and crowds), things have a way of falling into place. I have yet to find perspective labeled on a map anywhere, but I like it better that way.

Ben Banet '14 attended college at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He graduated in 2018 after designing his own major around Geographic Information Systems and Natural Resource Management. Ben found a way to combine his passions for photography and getting outside to research and document light pollution across Western public lands for his senior thesis. Currently, he is employed as a Cartographic Technician for the National Park Service at the Boston Harbor Islands in Massachusetts. More of his photography can be viewed at www.instagram.com/ben_banet/, and he can be contacted at benbanet@gmail.com for prints.


PHRAO
A PHOTOGRAPHIC JOURNEY BY JAMES VAN CAMP '11

My passion is for storytelling. Photography became my medium of focus during a 15-month period traveling through New Zealand, Australia and several countries throughout Southeast Asia. Near the end of my travels I was given the opportunity to spend the summer working with a non-profit organization based in the mountains of Northern Thailand. Warm Heart Worldwide, founded by two Americans, runs a children’s home and social programs in the farming community of Phrao. My official project for the summer was to help with design and branding for fundraising campaigns. In my spare time, I explored the region with my camera.

Realizing the rare opportunity to see a part of Thailand that very few outsiders get to see, I started planning to publish a book. I was interested in telling the story of the disparities that lie between rural Thailand and the urban expanse of Bangkok. In the months leading up to the trip, I wrote an extensive outline for the story I wanted to tell, planning how I would gather the information I needed and what the book would ultimately look like. When I arrived in Phrao, I firmly believed that I would be bringing a wealth of knowledge to help the local community tackle projects and better understand their own social and economic issues. It was my thought that through this book, I would come to understand and conceptualize how their community fit into Thailand’s big picture. This all fell flat the minute I arrived.

I began to realize that my experience in this new environment wouldn’t be like walking through a hallway with each interaction neatly framed and hanging on the wall, waiting for me to happen upon it. It was infinitely dynamic, with the story entirely resting upon my actions at that time and place. Rather than trying to fit everything to my outline, it was the people of Phrao that would tell the story. My job was to hear it.

When it came time to start designing the book, my intention was to show Phrao exactly how it is. I had to break through the urge to sensationalize. I had to give an honest portrayal. I shot over a thousand photos and then narrowed it down, sometimes choosing the more accurate image over the more exciting one. Juxtaposing the thrill of exploding rockets at Buddhist celebrations with the quiet stillness of farmers harvesting their crops gave the story life.

My approach to storytelling was built on a foundation of lessons I learned at SLUH. I was inspired by the Jesuit ideal of forming a global perspective. I heard this as a call to challenge my existing beliefs — to learn something that totally obliterates the mold I was ready to pour my experiences into. The most important part of being able to tell a good story is first being able to listen.

James graduated from Loyola University New Orleans with a degree in Music Industry Studies. He currently lives in Denver, Colorado pursuing a career in graphic design as a creative director for bands and musicians. See more of his work at jvancamp.com.


A HONDURAS JOURNEY
BY PATRICK MULLIGAN '13

In January of 2017 I arrived in Yoro, Honduras, after reaching out to retired Spanish teacher Charley Merriott, as I knew he had been instrumental in fostering SLUH’s presence in the town. I intended to volunteer and develop my Spanish speaking skills for a brief five-month stint and an opportunity to experience another part of the world before enrolling in graduate school.

My volunteer work began at a malnutrition center, where I met a fouryear-old boy named Ariel who had been there several months. His dad would visit every couple weeks but would only stay briefly. Shortly after Ariel recovered and returned home, I visited his family to see how he was doing. I discovered that, in order to visit, his dad had to wake up at dawn for a three-hour walk through the mountains and then pay for a one-hour bus ride just to see his son. Then he had to repeat the process to make it home before dark. To top it off, he had to give up a day’s wages.

Witnessing a father’s sacrifice and dedication to his child and yet his inability to adequately care for his son left me feeling incredibly frustrated. It opened my eyes and pushed me to reflect on my own background and upbringing. I began to see that food, health and education were things I took for granted because of the home into which I was born. In contrast, the home into which Ariel was born has already exposed him to a near-death experience due to hunger. It had little to do with a difference in dedication or drive that our parents have to care for us. Our positions could just as easily have been switched.

I still ponder why I was blessed with a life filled with relatively easy access to necessities such as food and healthcare, while others in our world, such as Ariel, were not. In recognizing these inequities, I felt this was an opportunity to make a difference – and this has guided my journey since. Those first five months went by in a blink, as I am now closing in on two years here.

I will continue to find ways to improve the quality of care for the children in this center and increase the center’s impact on the community. Yet for me this is only one part of a larger plan and journey. Ariel’s story is one of many in this community, and similar challenges exist for people throughout Honduras, Central America and our world. I know my work cannot be limited to just one boy and his family.

In order to address the larger global issue of childhood malnutrition, I started a nonprofit, Nutrifund International, which will lead this work by producing scalable, locally staffed programs using data-driven research to effectively combat malnutrition. We are beginning with Ariel’s community and growing to impact others like it.

Looking ahead, I continue to be moved by the words of one of St. Ignatius’ first companions, Fr. Jerome Nadal, SJ: “The world is our home.”


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Letter from the President

You may know that many Jesuits experience an impactful, inspiring and at times terrifying experience of being sent on a “pilgrimage.” Young novices with little money or direction are sent into the world to encounter the holiness of the people they meet, directed and protected only by their faith and the Holy Spirit. With life’s comforts removed, these young men in formation are placed in a strange land, and like St. Ignatius on his journey to Jerusalem, they encounter powerful experiences and formative lessons. Jesuits are taught experientially, though it may seem random at the time, that God is living in the intense care and generosity of strangers encountered along the proverbial and literal road...

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In this and future issues of the SLUH Magazine, the SLUH Archive presents 'From the Archive' to keep our rich history alive, while inviting contributions of artifacts, materials and memories.

A Venture Worth Pursuing

Tom Purcell ‘61, known for his leadership and vision in revitalizing St. Louis, was involved with the development of Laclede’s Landing and the surrounding area decades ago, and more recently with MetroLink and regional economic development. Today he is still going strong, working on an innovative community startup that may have far-reaching effects on how our metro area embraces urban agriculture – one that may serve as a national model in sustainability in the future.

Innovation as Tradition

Dear St. Louis U. High Community,

Happy Birthday, to all of us...200 years old!

I find myself thinking about different decades of history in our 200 years and what has taken place in our local, national and global history. St. Louis University High School has truly lived through many changes over the years. Always, I think of the people in those times. I think of school leaders, faculty members, parents, students and benefactors. We stand on their shoulders...

Merits of Intellect

In addition to 13 seniors being named National Merit Semifinalists this semester, SLUH had one student who earned a family hat trick with a top score on the ACT.

Celebrating through Service
  • Features

On October 20, all students and faculty/staff dedicated more than 3,000 service hours to 20 organizations in the metropolitan area in gratitude to the City of St. Louis for 200 years of partnership and support.

Science Program Gets Boost

SLUH's improved lab space provides flexible seating and tables, state-of-the-art monitors and projection, and new lab equipment.

Rising Above
  • Features

For more than 50 years, Upward Bound has helped thousands of young men prepare for the rigors of high school. Today it continues to adapt, grow and flourish, illuminating the school's Jesuit mission of working for the Common Good.

SLUH Launches INSIGNIS Podcast
  • Features

SLUH's new INSIGNIS podcast features lively interviews with members of our school community engaged in a variety of roles and fascinating projects "down the hall, across the Metro area and around the world" in support of our mission. 

Bull in the Ring
  • Features

Joe Castellano's new book reveals the tragedy, triumph and resilient spirit that defined SLUH's remarkable, even unlikely 1970 football championship season.

Fall Sports Update

The cross country, football, soccer and swimming & diving programs featured stellar performances, new records and exciting competition.

#2centuries2words | Marty Hagan

Several Class of '64 RifleBills recently met for a mini reunion, after which they assembled a video that is nothing short of compelling and heart warming.

Impressions & Alumni Events
  • Alumni

Check out upcoming events, including our alumni art exhibit that is open now and culminates with a reception on November 30.

Parents Go Back to School

A group of parents recently formed the AMDG Ignatian Spirituality Group to deepen their faith in the Ignatian tradition and to form friendships with others.

From the Principal: Working for the Common Good

Dear SLUH Community,

Like any organization, SLUH strives to remain focused on mission. Incorporating our Ignatian tradition, we find that being reflective and deliberate in our decision-making process helps us to hold course...

Media Gallery: Alumni Reunions
  • Alumni

Alumni classes ending in 2 or 7 celebrated reunions this fall, with the Classes of 2002, 2007 and 2012 celebrating over Thanksgiving weekend.