Br. Douglas Draper, SJ

Br. Draper is perhaps the best-known dean of discipline in the U.S. For the past few years he’s also served as minister of the Jesuit community, assisting the rector in the day-to-day business matters affecting the residents of McGucken Hall.

Beginning in 1969 when he took over as dean, students have known the power of his voice over the public address system as he runs down the list of students to be called to his office. And while most students may fear hearing their names on that list, they respect the man who reads it.

“They feel this way because he’s a fair, honest and loving human being,” said his close friend, Fr. Paul Capitolo, SJ. “That’s what allows him to be dean as long as he has — the longest reigning dean in any Jesuit school in America.”

“I’m always puzzled when someone asks me why I became a brother,” said Br. Draper (who is also known as the Duke of Discipline, or, simply the Duke.) “It’s a vocation, just like a vocation to the priesthood. I knew that God called me to a religious state as a brother, and I knew I could be happy doing this work.”

When Br. Draper started as SI’s dean in 1969, he was “absolutely petrified. But over the years, I’ve seen the seeds we’ve planted come to fruition. We do instill values in them. And when you make a friend with a student, you have a friend for life.”

Br. Draper is also known for his sense of humor when it comes to catching rule-breakers. For the 1973 prom, dozens of students rented a penthouse room at a hotel on Sutter Street. As they continued celebrating there with their dates, Br. Draper received a call alerting him to the situation. He and Fr. Gene Growney, SJ, drove to the hotel and finally convinced the manager to give them permission to raid the party. “Just as he gave us permission, we heard that the students called for room service. A waiter in a green jacket wheeled his cart out, and I borrowed his jacket,” recalled Br. Draper. Then he and Fr. Growney took the elevator to the penthouse, knocked on the door and announced that room service had arrived. “When the door opened, I burst through and saw everyone dive for cover. I opened the door to the bathroom and found a young man, fully clothed, sitting on the toilet with his date on his lap. I told him if he sat there too long, he would get hemorrhoids.”

The next year, after the last final exams for the Class of 1974, the seniors brought a keg to the top of Strawberry Hill in Golden Gate Park. “Fr. McFadden heard about it and told me to do my job.” He and Fr. Capitolo walked up the hill, found the boys and poured out the keg. Br. Draper then realized that, in his cassock, he was unable to walk down the hill. One of the students, John Stiegeler ’74 (who teaches history and coaches soccer at SI) hoisted Br. Draper on his back and carried him down the hill.

In 2000, Pope John Paul II honored Br. Draper in a ceremony at St. Mary’s Cathedral along with 50 other Bay Area priests, religious and lay people as part of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 celebration. Br. Draper received the Pro Eclesia et Pontifice papal honor (for individuals who have served the Church and the Pope with distinction) along with four alumni — Frank Heffernan ’48, Robert McCullough ’48, Michael D. Nevin ’61 and Dr. Collin Poy Quock ’57 — and former regent H. Welton Flynn ’71 at St. Mary’s Cathedral on September 17, 2000. The Pope also honored several SI parents and one alumnus by naming them to the Order of St. Gregory the Great, including Suzanne and Louis Giraudo ’64, Richard J. Dunn and the late Marygrace Dunn, and Mary Anne Schwab (an SI mother and grandmother).

“I was certainly humbled by this honor,” said Br. Draper, “but I wasn’t really struck by the significance of it until SI’s Mass of the Holy Spirit when the student body gave me a standing ovation.”

When he heard that he was to receive the honor, Br. Draper asked himself, “Why me, Lord? My life is very ordinary. I sow seeds of discipline for the young men and women at our school. But I imagine that that’s the point of the award — to honor people who do ordinary things that really do matter.” Br. Draper accepted the award “in the name of the many students, parents and faculty members, both lay and Jesuit, who have touched my life so deeply during my time at SI.”

At the ceremony, presided over by Archbishop William Levada, the recipients sat together. “There I was,” said Br. Draper, “near Welton Flynn, the former SI Fathers’ Club President. I realized all the good he and all the other honorees had done for the Church, especially those who work with high school students. The seeds we sow will come to fruition in later years.” In addition to a cape and medallion, Br. Draper received a scroll, which he hangs proudly in his office.