Archive for June, 2011

NJN Monthly Podcast: University Founded by the Jesuits 450 Years Ago Continues Its Service to the Church Today

Pontifical Gregorian UniversityIn 1551, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, established established a “School of Grammar, Humanity and Christian Doctrine” in Rome. Initially called the “Roman College”, it soon became the Gregorian University and was the first university founded by the Jesuits. Containing faculties and institutes of various disciplines of the humanities, the Gregorian, also known as “The Greg” has one of the largest theology departments in the world, with over 1,600 students from over 130 countries. St. Ignatius envisioned a “university of all nations, for the defense and propagation of the faith and for the training of wise and qualified leaders of the Church and society.”

Today, the Gregorian is part of a larger consortium consisting of three schools serving more than 3,800 students: The Pontifical Gregorian University, The Pontifical Biblical Institute and The Pontifical Oriental Institute for Eastern Christian Studies.

In the United States, the Gregorian University Foundation was established in 1972 to raise the needed funds for scholarships, academic chairs, libraries and capital improvements for the Pontifical Gregorian University Consortium.

In this month’s National Jesuit News podcast, we talk with the foundation’s vice president, Geoff Loftus, on what the Gregorian University provides to the Church and the legacy and impact of its scholars and students.

A Jesuit in Little Italy: A Look Back at a Priest Working Among the Poorest in New York City

CathPT_NicholasRusso_1At the start of the 20th century, Italian immigrants were arriving at Ellis Island at the rate of 100,000 a year. Many stayed in New York City, settling in an area that came to be known as “Little Italy.” Life was rough: large families were crowded into tenement apartments, men eked out a living on subsistence wages and they faced prejudice from their neighbors. There were few places they could look for help.

One of them was the Catholic Church. Michael A. Corrigan, the Archbishop of New York, made outreach a priority of his administration, founding Italian parishes throughout the metropolitan area for their benefit. He also assigned some of the best priests in the archdiocese to this work. After asking the New York Jesuits to start a new parish on the Lower East Side, Jesuit Father Nicholas Russo (1845-1902) was picked to head it.

Born in Italy, Russo joined the Jesuits at 17 and studied in France and the United States. After his ordination, he was sent to Boston College as a philosophy professor. Over the next eleven years, he wrote two textbooks and served as acting president of the college. Between 1888 and 1890, he taught in New York and Washington before returning to a Manhattan parish, where he doubled as a speechwriter for Archbishop Corrigan.

Flexibility is a cornerstone of Jesuit life, the readiness to go anywhere and assume any task for what founder St. Ignatius Loyola called “God’s greater glory.” A respected professor and college president, Russo gave up a successful academic career to serve in the tenements. A biographer writes, “It must have been, humanly speaking, no small sacrifice . . . for he had held high positions in Boston and New York and his work had lain almost entirely among the better instructed and wealthy.”

To read more about Fr. Russo and his work with the Italian immigrants of New York City, go to the website.

Jesuit Offers Reflections on Spirituality and Ethics

Max_Oliva_SJJesuit Father Max Oliva currently resides in Las Vegas but during his time in Canada, he began a ministry to men and women in the business world; a ministry he continues today.

He delves into the connection between the scripture and the ethical decisions we daily face. Fr. Oliva explores the ethical implications of the 10 Commandments, the Beatitudes of Jesus and the Our Father. With degrees in marketing and an M.B.A. in Organizational Behavior, Oliva’s work includes Beatitudes for the Workplace.

You can find Oliva’s reflections on the intersection of spirituality and ethics at the Jesuits of the California Province’s website.

Jesuit Influence Apparent in Rugby

Jesuit Father Bruce Bidinger

Jesuit Father Bruce Bidinger

It’s probably not too surprising that a Catholic order conceived in the aftermath of battle, one which has always seasoned its intellectual and spiritual fervor with a healthy respect for physical strength, has become the principal force behind the growth of American rugby.

So many Jesuit high schools and colleges are playing and succeeding at the rugged and increasingly popular sport that it seems as if the 477-year-old religious order, founded by a converted Spanish soldier, Ignatius of Loyola, has added rugby devotion to its vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

“The whole idea of what Ignatius inspired in Jesuits, a competitive spirit and the development of the whole person, is really alive in the sport,” said the Jesuit Father Bruce Bidinger, a counselor at St. Joseph’s University and the chaplain for its basketball team.

The traditional game, with 15 players on each side, and the hybrid “sevens” version, with seven players per side, of the sport are experiencing an American boom, nowhere more so than at the 80-plus Jesuit high schools and colleges from coast to coast.

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A Jesuit Ministering in Body Armor

Jesuit Brother John Fava has many names.

“BroJo,” “Brother,” “Brother John” and on occasion (when wearing a clerical collar) “Padre.” He’s earned many of these nicknames while serving as a chaplain to the St. Louis Police Department. In this capacity, he offers spiritual and personal guidance to police officers and their families, both Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

Brother Fava sat down with National Jesuit News to discuss this unique and rewarding ministry.