Archive for March, 2011

Jesuit Reflects on 25 Years of Prison Ministry

Jesuit Father Ted KalamajaShare

Jesuit Father Ted Kalamaja has spent the past 25 years of his life working in a New Orleans prison and said he has loved every minute of it.

It’s a ministry he discovered during a sabbatical in Berkeley, Calif.  Fr. Kalamaja said he was thinking about what he wanted to do and when he went to a prison it hit him: “There was this huge mess hall and there were all these inmates sitting there in blue denim. I knew then that this was the reason I was brought there. I could minister to these men because there was nothing between me and these inmates. I had free access and felt they needed me.”

It began as a six-week stint as a chaplain to the prison and became his calling.

Today Kalamaja is a chaplain at the New Orleans Parish Prison, where he said, “There has never been any trouble or violence in the prison for me. These are just poor, poor people and our culture has ripped them off.”

There are only two things that can keep these young men out of prison: “their family and the church,” Kalamaja said.

Read more about Kalamaja and his prison ministry at the Wisconsin Province website.

Reflections from a Jesuit Brother

Jesuit Brother Pat DouglasShare

Jesuit Brother Pat Douglas, who has a master’s in counseling and works with youth in detention centers and with alcoholic recovery on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, says the most common response he gets when people learn about his vocation is: “Why would you just be a Brother?”

Br. Douglas says that while it hurts to hear this comment because “just” denotes some kind of lesser than or lacking, the question does seems to reflect many people’s thoughts on vocation in the Catholic faith.

He writes, “There seems to be a mentality that if one wants to serve God it can only be done through the priesthood…If God is the focus of one’s life it can never be a ‘just’ or lacking in any way.”

As far as his desire to serve as a brother, rather than a priest, he writes, “I guess one never fully knows and that is where faith comes in, but I do know what makes my heart happy and my soul sing and that is being a brother.”

Without the priorities specific to the vocation of a priest or married man, such as sacramental ministry or children, Douglas writes that as a brother he is “free to focus all his energy on his prayer, work and community life.”

Read more of Douglas’s reflections on being a Jesuit brother.

Jesuit Educates "Men for Others" at Nativity School

Jesuit Father John Wronski

Credit: Marilyn Humphries

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Jesuit Father John Wronski is in his fourth year as the executive director of Nativity Preparatory School in Boston, a tuition-free Jesuit middle school that serves low-income boys. He said the 20-year-old school “aims to give boys academic experience, discipline and focus; to support them to attend and succeed in good high schools and colleges, get good jobs and be able to bring something back to the community from which they came. It is an important part of the Jesuit tradition for boys to work toward the ideal of being ‘men for others.’”

Fr. Wronski noted that support for the students continues after graduation. “We follow our graduates through high school and into college to ensure that they are making smooth transitions into these new environments,” he said.

About 60 percent of the students are Catholic and 40 percent are a mix of other faith backgrounds. “At Nativity, every class is named for a well-known Jesuit.  These namesakes are or were missionaries, poets, scientists — the way we experience God is that God is integrated in all things,” said Wronski. “Being religious for Jesuits is not about withdrawing from the world but engaging in it.”

For the full interview with Wronski, visit Jamaica Plain Patch News.

Jesuit Educates “Men for Others” at Nativity School

Jesuit Father John Wronski

Credit: Marilyn Humphries

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Jesuit Father John Wronski is in his fourth year as the executive director of Nativity Preparatory School in Boston, a tuition-free Jesuit middle school that serves low-income boys. He said the 20-year-old school “aims to give boys academic experience, discipline and focus; to support them to attend and succeed in good high schools and colleges, get good jobs and be able to bring something back to the community from which they came. It is an important part of the Jesuit tradition for boys to work toward the ideal of being ‘men for others.’”

Fr. Wronski noted that support for the students continues after graduation. “We follow our graduates through high school and into college to ensure that they are making smooth transitions into these new environments,” he said.

About 60 percent of the students are Catholic and 40 percent are a mix of other faith backgrounds. “At Nativity, every class is named for a well-known Jesuit.  These namesakes are or were missionaries, poets, scientists — the way we experience God is that God is integrated in all things,” said Wronski. “Being religious for Jesuits is not about withdrawing from the world but engaging in it.”

For the full interview with Wronski, visit Jamaica Plain Patch News.

Jesuit's Students Unveil Exhibit on Ricci, China and Jesuit Cultural Learnings

Jesuit Father Jeremy Clarke

Jesuit Father Jeremy Clarke with items featured in the Boston College exhibit "Binding Friendship: Ricci, China and Jesuit Cultural Learnings." (Photo by Gary Wayne Gilbert)

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Boston College Assistant Professor of History Jesuit Father Jeremy Clarke helped his undgergrad students create an exhibit that opened on Mar. 21 titled “Binding Friendship: Ricci, China and Jesuit Cultural Learnings.”

The exhibit, which highlights the history of East-West exchanges, has a number of multimedia resources to demonstrate Christian mission history in Asia.

In the 16th century, the Chinese were utilizing what at the time was advanced technology through their observatory in Beijing, Fr. Clarke said.

“In one display, we show the observatory and all the astronomical devices that they used during the time the Jesuits were there,” said student Alexander Gilman ’11.

Utilizing excerpts and outtakes from Clarke’s documentary, “Beyond Ricci: Celebrating 400 Years of the Chinese Catholic Church,” students were able to compile their own virtual history.

“One of the ways people learned about East-West cultural exchange was through six melody lines written down by a Jesuit in Beijing at that time,” said Clarke. Using these melodies as a creative point of departure, Clarke commissioned the composition of an aria that is played as people pass through the exhibit.

A number of rare books are also on display, including Confucius Sinarum Philosophus, the translations of the first three of the four canonical books of Confucianism. A group of Jesuits originally translated the philosophies of the Chinese to lead to greater understanding of Chinese thought and brought the culture to Europeans and beyond, Clarke said.

For more information, watch a video preview of the exhibit and visit the Boston College Chronicle.