The more than 440 Jesuits who attended the first Midwest Tri-Province Days of the Chicago, Detroit and Wisconsin provinces deemed the event a success for getting to know each other and for sharing thoughts and goals for the future. The gathering was hosted on the Marquette University campus in Milwaukee, Wis. on June 11 and 12 and reflected the future reconfiguration of the three provinces which will eventually result in one combined province for the entire Great Lakes/Midwestern region of the Society of Jesus.
Jesuit Father Tom Smolich, president of the Jesuit Conference of the United States, opened Friday’s session with a vibrant address reminding the Jesuits that the future of the combined three provinces was a response to “the call of Christ” and not a business or administrative decision. Men of the three provinces then had two small-group discussions. The first session gathered men from all three provinces in groups by their entry to the Society of Jesus. The second small-group session grouped the men by their ministry in order to share ideas.
“All of us who gathered at Province Days enjoyed a wonderful and encouraging experience,” said Jesuit Father Tom Krettek, provincial for the Wisconsin province of the Society of Jesus. “I believe the days have created the foundation for future cooperation.”
“The men whom I encountered toward the end of the days said they had a very good, consoling and hope filled time,” said Jesuit Father Walter Deye, socius for the Detroit-Chicago province of the Society of Jesus. “I heard this from Chicago, Detroit and Wisconsin men.”
The Friday evening ordination had more than 200 concelebrants as six Jesuits from the Midwest were ordained by the Most Rev. Blase J. Cupich, bishop of Rapid City, S.D. The new priests are Jesuit Fathers Tom Neitzke of Port Washington, Wis., James C. Ackerman of Cincinnati, Ohio, Mark W. Luedtke of Hinsdale, Ill., Paul C. O’Connor of Cleveland, Ohio, Richard E. Ross of Ann Arbor, Mich. and Michael S. Christiana of Rochester, Minn.
Social events including golf and bowling Wednesday set the friendly tone for the official opening and Jubilarian Mass where men celebrating 50 years in the priesthood were concelebrants and each was presented with a stole to commemorate his anniversary.