Archive for August, 2010

Five Years After Hurricane Katrina, Jesuits Continue to Help Rebuild New Orleans

On August 29, 2005, New Orleans experienced one of the worse natural disasters in U.S. history. While the city escaped a direct hit from Hurricane Katrina, the rising waters breached the levees that surround the city, leaving 80 percent of New Orleans under water. Five years later, New Orleans is a city rebuilding.

There has been a strong Jesuit presence in New Orleans from the days of the city’s founding over 300 years ago. The Jesuits have been in New Orleans in times of crisis like typhoid and yellow fever outbreaks at the turn of the 19th century and when the city flooded previously in the 1920s. Jesuit works like Good Shepherd Nativity School, which provides educational opportunities to disadvantaged children in the city, and Café Reconcile, a youth training program that provides on the job training in its restaurant, continue to help the city look toward a vibrant future. Schools like Loyola University and Jesuit High School continue to provide top notch education opportunities, while the Harry Thompson Center, a day shelter for the city’s homeless, reach out to the city’s most vulnerable. Today, the Jesuits continue to serve the spiritual needs of people of New Orleans and will continue be there for the city as it rebuilds and recovers.

National Jesuit News highlights the outreach and the dedication of the New Orleans Jesuits in the video piece below and provides a comprehensive overview of the Jesuit works in New Orleans five years after Katrina in the article following the video below.

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Jesuit Martinez Profiled in Houston Magazine on New Cristo Rey Jesuit School


Jesuit Father TJ Martinez is well-loved, energetic and totally hip. Everything from his sleek pointed-toe cowboy boots, eye-catching belt buckle and occasional faux-hawk to his outgoing demeanor says “approachable.” He loves wandering the halls and joking with his students; a self-professed cheerleader, he loves to be right in the middle of everything – both the good and the bad. The zero-tolerance gang and cheating policies can put him in a difficult position, but at the end of the day, Fr. Martinez says he is the “luckiest Jesuit priest in the country.” You can read more about Fr. Martinez, president of Cristo Rey Jesuit College Preparatory in Houston, and the success of the newly opened school for children from economically challenged families in 002Houston magazine.

Newly Ordained Jesuit Remembers Immersion Experience with Chinese Lepers


Jesuit Father Tom Neitzke, recently ordained in June, spent a summer two years ago in China working at a leprosarium. The journey to the remote Chinese village to stay among those suffering with leprosy and to understand their subsequent shunning by their community, Fr. Neitzke understood that there is much to learn from those among us who have the least. His reflections on the experience of being in China are below.

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Georgetown University Profiles Next-Generation Jesuit Alumni


As a Jesuit institution, Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.  is grounded in a 450-year-old educational tradition inspired by St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus. Since 1980 alone, 30 Georgetown alumni have entered the Society of Jesus, which represents the largest male religious order in the world, to become Jesuits.

On their campus website, the school recently profiled several alumni in various stages of Jesuit formation. Click here to read these next-generation Jesuits’ stories.

Jesuit Ryscavage to Lead Study of Education for Undocumented Students at Jesuit Universities


Fairfield University’s Center for Faith and Public Life has been awarded a two-year, $200,000 grant from the Ford Foundation to study the education of undocumented students at Jesuit universities. Fairfield University will lead the project, collaborating with Santa Clara University and Loyola University Chicago.

Jesuit Father Rick Ryscavage,  professor of sociology and director of the Center for Faith and Public Life at Fairfield and a former national director of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, who will serve as director of the project, said, “there is very little hard data about the situation of undocumented students in American universities. This grant will allow us to make a major contribution to the national understanding of the problem.”

Under the grant, a research study will seek to survey and understand the social context and current practices and attitudes in American Jesuit schools of higher education regarding undocumented students.

The study will consider:

  • Structures that support or challenge the higher education of undocumented students
  • Best practices and strategies for ensuring their eventual success
  • A potential collaborative model for helping students as they move through their university years
  • Issues facing students after graduation

Leading the research team, consisting of law and social science faculty from all three institutions, will be Dr. Kurt Schlichting, a professor of sociology and anthropology at Fairfield.

The project is designed to stimulate a sustained dialogue with the 28 Jesuit schools of higher education in the United States by asking two questions:

  1. What are the current practices among our schools?
  2. What challenges do we face in trying to serve these students?

A final policy paper, highlighting the results of the study, will include a moral argument, anchored in Catholic social teaching, for better meeting the needs of undocumented students.