Life inside Lansing-Reilly

It’s one of the lesser-known locations on the University of Detroit Mercy’s McNichols campus. It’s also one of its most beautiful.

Lansing-Reilly Hall, built in 1926, is home to the Jesuit priests who teach and work in and around Detroit Mercy. It’s one of the first buildings you see as you drive onto campus, with beautiful stained-glass windows lining the exterior, but most students go their whole college careers without ever stepping foot inside.

The hall is unlike any other part of the campus. Terracotta-colored tiles decorate the cream walls and floors. Along the high-ceilings are Spanish-style lighting fixtures that follow in a row.

It currently houses 17 Jesuits. Eight of those are connected to the university, two are students and the rest work around Detroit.

Mass is held in the hall’s chapel on week- days at 5:15 pm, and on weekends at 11:15 am. A row of 11 Jesuit saints – the number recognized by the church at the time of the building’s construction in 1926 – are displayed in a gold relief above the white altar that is central to the chapel.

The chapel is unique for various reasons; one of which being each tile on the wall was cut specifically for the room, leaving no mistakes in their alignment. Scattered throughout the tiles are the initials IHS, which reference Iota, Eta, and Sigma, the first three letters of Jesus’ name in Greek.

Another highlight is the stained-glass windows, one of them showcasing a depiction of the first vows taken by the Jesuits in 1534.

A dining room sits directly across from the chapel. Dinner is served daily, and at least once a week, all the Jesuits attempt to make time to eat together.

“Thursday nights we make that commit- ment to each other that we are going to come together at least one day a week,” said the Rev. Tim Hipskind, who lives and works on campus. “At 4:30 we have mass, and then social together, followed by dinner.”

Birthday celebrations are held once a month for Jesuits celebrating their birthday that month. During this celebration, those celebrating their birthday are toasted and honored.

The rec room is where gatherings are commonly held every day before dinner. During this time, Hipskind, who serves as the director of Service Learning at Detroit Mercy, as well as co-director of the Institute for Leadership and Service, said he enjoys his conversations he has with his fellow Jesuit brothers.

“Sometimes it’s just fun conversation about who won the football game, or our families, but often it is about things we care passionately about… The fact that we do this is a real motivation for me to be a Jesuit,” he said. “That I live and work with guys who care passionately about the work here, our influence and how we can help people live lives that are held by values.”

The Jesuits are guided by the Latin phrase “Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam,” which means “For the Greater Glory of God.”

Officially founded in 1540, the Jesuit order has been recognized for their efforts in educational, missionary and charitable works. Both the Jesuits and the Sisters of Mercy had the same goal that is relevant today, to not only become those who are a part of the university’s ministry, but to professors, and staff as well. “We want to be distinguished by graduates who lead, serve, and make a difference in the community,” said Hipskind.

Living a life with purpose is a value found in both the Ignatian Order, and in Hipskind’s life as well. He has been a Jesuit priest for 34 years, and was inspired by the community his parents had as Catholics while he was growing up.

A focus on community is an integral part to Hipskind’s daily routine.

Each morning, he begins with a prayer. Three times a week, he exercises, then prays. Next, he heads to his office on campus by around 8:30 a.m.

He tries to make it to mass every afternoon, as well as dinner in the dining room.

Hipskind does not feel like his job is work. He did not always imagine becoming a priest. As soon as he seriously thought about it, he described that “I felt the engines taking off. All I could do was strap myself in as all of the pieces were coming together…I later realized that this is the Ignatian spirituality. It is focused on your personal call.”

He says he and his fellow Jesuits are trying to build the kind of community on campus that focuses on “how we can engage more effectively with students, and with other faculty and staff to help them open their minds to spirituality and the values that our culture doesn’t promote.”