New Fairfield Prep president took unusual path to priesthood
Published 5:22 pm, Tuesday, January 13, 2015
A Jesuit educator who entered the priesthood after a stint in the Marine Corps and an industrial-sales career has been named the next president of Fairfield College Preparatory School.
The Rev. Thomas M. Simisky was appointed to succeed the Rev. John J. Hanwell, who will leave Prep at the end of the current academic year to take an executive position with the Jesuit order's Northeast Province.
Simisky was named to lead the four-year, boys' high school by the Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx, president of Fairfield University, Prep said in a news release issued Wednesday. Prep is a division of the university and has about 900 students.
Simisky, 44, was ordained last year. He teaches Spanish at Prep and has additional administrative and pastoral duties, the school said.
He was named by von Arx as a Prep committee conducted what the school said was a national search for Hanwell's successor.
"Fairfield Prep is a school committed to excellence, knowing that with opportunity comes responsibility," Simisky said in the news release. "We form leaders who will engage the world from a core of faith and justice. Being at Fairfield Prep allows me to share my love for Ignatian spirituality and secondary education, combined with a missionary spirit that finds creative ways to express itself."
A native of Worcester, Mass., Prep's president-elect took an uncommon route to the priesthood and to education.
After graduating from Assumption College in Worcester with a politics degree, Simisky joined the Marines and served as an artillery officer in the Persian Gulf and western Pacific, according to the release.
He later was a district sales manager for an industrial manufacturer before returning to school at Boston College, where he earned master's degrees in economics, divinity and theology.
It was at BC, a Jesuit school, that Simisky first met Jesuits and experienced Ignatian spirituality, Prep said. He has lived in Jamaica, Bolivia, Chile, Russia and Kyrgyzstan, and is fluent in Spanish and Russian.
As an educator, he has worked at Cheverus High School, a Jesuit school in Portland, Maine; and at Boston College High School and Catholic Memorial High School, both in Boston.
The departing president Hanwell has been named socius for the Jesuit USA Northeast Province, which is based in New York City.
Of Hanwell, von Arx said, "We are going to miss him and wish him well in his new upcoming assignment helping to administer the Jesuit USA Northeast Province."