Archive for May, 2011

Jesuit Ministers to Inmates at San Quentin

Jesuit Father George Williams

Jesuit Father George Williams, a member of the New England Province, has made prison ministry his calling for the past 15 years. He owes his priestly ministry to inmates — he began his work as a Jesuit brother, but inmates pleaded with him to offer the sacraments.

Fr. Williams served as chaplain at a medium-security state prison in Concord, Mass., and recently began work at San Quentin Prison in California.

“We are dealing with the most despised people in our country,” he said of his ministry.

Williams doesn’t expect to perform miracles, but does hope to have an impact at San Quentin, which has more than 5,000 inmates, including a death row.

He said that it’s easy to slip into cynicism or compassion fatigue. He also doesn’t expect that his preaching or counsel will transform the life of a convict. “I can’t fix people,” Williams  said. “Measuring success is sometimes to go to the funeral of a person you have confirmed and baptized. You can’t make them be happy or be free.”

Read more about Williams and other Jesuits engaged in prison ministry.

Jesuit Appointed Vice President for Mission at Gonzaga University


Jesuit Father Frank Case has been named to the position of vice president for mission at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA, and will start at this position on June 8. The position was previously held by the interim vice president Jesuit Father Steve Hess.

Case, a former provincial of Oregon, served in Rome as Regional Assistant for the United States at the Jesuit Curia Rome (1990-2005), and as the General Secretary of the Society of Jesus (2005-2008). Since 2008, he has served as the Jesuit Assistant for the Business and Law Schools at Seattle University.

The Vice President for Mission serves as the President’s chief adviser on matters related to Jesuit and Catholic institutional identity. A primary responsibility of the VP for Mission is to ensure that the faculty and staff of the University have opportunities to learn about and deepen their understanding of the institution’s educational mission and their part in fulfilling it, as guided by its Mission Statement and the University’s Strategic Plan, and as reflected in the documents and decrees of the Society of Jesus and the Catholic Church.

To read the full announcement about Case’s appointment, please click here.

Jesuit Reminds Vatican Blogger Meeting of Responsibility Associated with Influencing Culture

lombardiThe Catholic Church needs active members who blog, but Catholic bloggers also need the church, especially to remind them of the virtue of charity needed in their writing, said participants at a Vatican meeting.

The meeting was sponsored by the pontifical councils for culture and for social communications. The councils accepted requests to attend, then drew the names of the 150 participants once the requests were divided according to geography, language and whether the blog was personal or institutional.

The Vatican meeting was not designed as a how-to seminar, and it was not aimed at developing a code of conduct, but rather to acknowledge the role of blogs in modern communications and to start a dialogue between the bloggers and the Vatican.

Archbishop Claudio Celli, president of Pontifical Council for Social Communications, welcomed the bloggers to the Vatican and told them the Vatican wanted to begin “a dialogue between faith and the emerging culture” that is the blogosphere.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told the bloggers that while Pope Benedict XVI “is a person who does not Tweet or have a personal blog, he is very attentive and knows well what is happening in the world” and supports Catholic media efforts, as seen by his Good Friday television interview and by his book-length interview with the German writer Peter Seewald.

“Bloggers are important” for forming and informing church members, Father Lombardi said, but anyone who influences what Catholics think must recognize the responsibility that brings with it.

Father Lombardi said he had to thank bloggers for the times they acted to explain and spread church teaching and the thought of Pope Benedict.

But he also said that the whole question of bloggers’ self-centeredness and “ego” is “one of the problems which is worth reflecting on,” because while it is a danger for all communicators, a communicator who calls him- or herself Catholic must focus first on serving others.

[Catholic News Service]

Path to Priesthood: The Process of Discernment


“In my own discernment, it’s been an ongoing process; what really turned me around during the discernment process was a prayer experience I had during a discernment retreat, where I got this real sense of Jesus, falling in love with me. It sounds strange, but it’s a relationship and ultimately that’s why I’m a Jesuit, because of my relationship with Christ.”

As we follow Jao on his journey to ordination in June, leave a comment or ask a question here on the National Jesuit News blog, comment on YouTube or on Twitter via @AskAJesuit and he will respond in an upcoming future video diary. And check back weekly for more video diaries from Jao.

Jesuit Father Patrick Conroy Nominated for Chaplain of U.S. House of Representatives

pat_conroyHouse Speaker John Boehner says he will nominate Jesuit Father Patrick J. Conroy, who now teaches at Jesuit High School in Portland, Ore., as the next U.S. House of Representatives chaplain.

“We are honored that Father Conroy has agreed to serve as House chaplain,” Speaker Boehner said. “His dedication to God’s work, commitment to serving others, and experience working with people of faith from all traditions will make him an asset to the House community. We look forward to having his counsel and guidance in the people’s House.”

Conroy would be the 60th House chaplain. The duties include opening each session with a prayer, presiding over memorials and other ceremonies and providing pastoral counseling to the House community. If formally elected, Conroy would become the second Roman Catholic priest to tend to the House flock.

Boehner said he consulted with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi about Conroy’s appointment, which will be formally submitted to the House for consideration later this month.

Conroy entered the Society of Jesus in 1973 and was ordained a priest in 1983. He has also served as a chaplain at Georgetown University.

[House Speaker John Boehner's website]