October 21, 2013 — Israel’s ambassador to the Holy See, Zion Evrony, joined Oblate Father Thomas B. Curran, president of Jesuit-run Rockhurst University in Kansas City, in laying a wreath Oct. 9 at a plaque on campus that pays tribute to the more than 150 Jesuits who died at the hands of the Nazis.
“It is an honor for us to be here together to pay our respect to all the Jesuits who perished in the Holocaust, who sacrificed their lives to save Jews,” said Evrony. “This is a very unique opportunity to pay our respects on behalf of Israel.”
The 55-by-28-inch bronze plaque, dedicated in April 2007, bears the names of 152 Jesuits, who are grouped into three categories: those who were killed, those who died in captivity or as a result of prison conditions and those who died in concentration camps.
The plaque was a gift of the late Eliot Berkley, a university regent, and his wife, Marcia. The lists were compiled by Jesuit Father Vincent Lapomarda, associate professor of history at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.
“This plaque, the memory of Dr. Berkley and the memory of all those who perished in the Shoah is a reminder that in life and in death, we belong together,” Fr. Curran said.
“This is the first time the Israeli ambassador to the Vatican has paid a visit to the U.S. and to come to a Jesuit university during a time when we have a Jesuit pope further strengthens our friendship,” the priest said. “This plaque is a reflection of our friendship that has endured.”
According to the university, the plaque on campus is the only one of its kind in the world because it has a complete list of all the Jesuits who perished as a result of Nazi persecution from 1939 to 1945.
While on campus Evrony delivered a lecture Oct. 8 on “Conversations Between Jerusalem and Rome,” addressing the state of dialogue between Israel and the Holy See, and the history and future of their relationship. The talk was part of the school’s visiting scholar lecture series.
Appointed Israel’s ambassador to the Holy See in 2012, Evrony has worked on enhancing academic and cultural exchanges and has contributed to the development of a partnership with the Holy See for combating anti-Semitism.
Fr. Curran has served as president of Rockhurst since June 2006. In late 2011, he entered a three-year transitional period as part of the process to become a member of the Society of Jesus. He was ordained an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales in 1984. [Catholic News Service]