Archive for July, 2011
By late last week, the Jesuit Father Jim Michalski had worked his way down to his last few stacks of files.
He’s been working out of the library, having already turned over his office at Jesuit Academy to the school’s new president, the Jesuit Father Tom Neitzke.
But these few pieces of paper were it, the last of what he’s accumulated over his 15 years at the school, known until recently as Jesuit Middle School.
Michalski founded the boys school, which opened in 1996 at a renovated YMCA near 22nd and Lake Streets, after asking 115 leaders in north Omaha what the community needed. Too many young black males are being lost to the streets, they said. Education, they told him, was the answer.
But now, said Michalski, 69, it’s time for someone else to head the school, which last year enrolled 63 boys in fourth through eighth grades. He officially retired July 1 and will wrap up by the end of the week.
“Certainly I’ll miss the contact with the people,” he said. “But the day to day — it’s time.”
Looking back, Michalski and Tony Connelly, the school’s principal for six years, ticked off a list of things they’re proud of, signs that the school is working.
At the top? Ninety-eight percent of the school’s graduates finish high school on time. The past two classes, in fact, have hit 100 percent. Nationwide, 47 percent of black males graduate from high school. And all of Jesuit’s graduates have gone on to some kind of post-high school education or to the military.
“The fact that so many are finishing high school is the big thing,” said Connelly, who retired as principal a year ago. He has continued working at the school, recruiting new students and supporting graduates. He will continue in those roles as vice president of student affairs.
At the same time, students are living up to the school’s teachings about citizenship and service, as well as to its motto: “Advancing the hearts and minds of young men.”
A recently added initiative is a mentoring program that Michalski long had wanted and that Connelly started last year.
Michalski said the aim is to match incoming eighth-graders with mentors who will commit to them through high school. The school already has a full slate of mentors for next year, and some are reading books with the boys over the summer.
The program, he said, goes to the Jesuit principle of cura personalis, or working with people as individuals.
“Everybody deserves individual attention,” Michalski said, “not just those who can afford to have it.”
When Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast left Montreal for Toronto August 13, 1961 to begin his novitiate in the Society of Jesus 50 years ago, he admitted shedding some tears aboard the overnight train.
“I think it was just leaving my parents and my friends,” he said. “I knew I wasn’t going to be back for some time.”
But he awoke the next morning to a new adventure and a sense of joy that has accompanied him, with a few exceptions, ever since. His life as a Jesuit has taken him from Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, Regina, and Ottawa, along with sabbaticals in Rome and Jerusalem. A scripture scholar, he has taught high school students, university students and seminarians in Toronto, Halifax and Regina. He eventually moved up in the episcopacy, first in Toronto as an auxiliary bishop then to Halifax and Ottawa as archbishop.
“My life has been very happy,” he said. “Even with a few crisis places, basically it’s been happiness every day. I get a good night’s sleep. Get up in the morning and I have new energy, ready to take on the day.”
He early on found a Eucharistic spirituality that attracted him to serving at Mass. “I knew my way around the altar,” he said. He could understand the Latin and often acted as M.C.
A diocesan priest asked him when he was in the 7th grade whether he had considered the priesthood, and he said no. But that question got him thinking about it. In high school, the young Jesuit scholastics who taught at Loyola high school attracted him to join the Society. He thought he would end up a Jesuit high school teacher.
“I really loved my teaching,” he said. “I was kind of sloppy in my Latin and Greek,” he said. “The way I learned it was when I taught it. In Scripture, too, you learn so much from your professors but when you have to explain it yourself you have to go back and rethink it.”
Jesuit spirituality, especially the Spiritual Exercises of Society founder St. Ignatius, has shaped his daily life over the past five decades.
The Exercises provide a way to get to know Christ through a reading of the Scripture that interiorizes the texts and makes them personal, he said. The closing meditation or contemplation of the Exercises is about “finding God in all things,” the archbishop said.
“Our hope is that being nurtured in the Spiritual Exercises, having a common vision of trying to find God in all things, and being an instrument in God’s hands, trying to want what God wants, that’s what distinguishes us when we’re at our best,” he said.
Meanwhile, he hopes young men who feel a call on their lives will consider the Society of Jesus.
“It’s a great life and I’m very confident in the young people that we have,” he said. “We still have young men who come who desire to serve God as a brother or a priest and want to have a different kind of experience than a parish priest.”
It’s the charism of the Jesuits to go anywhere in the world where there is a need for particular projects, whether it be in Arabic studies, or Chinese history that some new Jesuits are pursuing, he said.
The vast majority of Afghans want peace, according to Jesuit Father Stan Fernandes, an Indian Jesuit who directs the Jesuit Refugee Service in the strife-torn nation.
“The rebels are about 10,000, but attract the attention of the international community,” he told the Fides news agency. “Our mission is to give voice and hope to 99.9% of the Afghan population, who struggle every day with all their heart to go forward and to build a better tomorrow.”
JRS has been working in Afghanistan since 2005, when a team of Indian Jesuits started programs in the field of education: today in the “Technical High School” in Herat, there are 600 students taking courses in electricity, electronics, construction, trade. Since 2006, the religious also teach English, computer science, biology and physics to more than 3,000 university students in Herat, Bamiyan and Kabul.
“Children and young people are tired of war and very few of them have the opportunity to go to school,” he added. Jesuits are now teaching 600 students at a technical high school in Heart, 3,000 university students in Herat, Bamiyan, and Kabul, and 200 elementary school students who are refugees in Sohadat.
In 2011, the Society of Jesus in the United States ordained 11 men to the priesthood. Coming from all walks of life, the ordinandi class of 2011 includes an actor and a registered nurse. They will go on to serve around the country in various forms of ministry.
In the months leading up to the July ordinations of these Jesuits, National Jesuit News followed one man, Jesuit Radmar Jao, on his “Path to the Priesthood”. You can watch Jao’s ordination on our YouTube page here.
For more information about becoming a Jesuit, please contact one of our vocation directors.
|Fr. Johnathan L. Brown, S.J., 36, is originally from Eunice, La. Before entering the Society of Jesus in 2002, he studied visual communications at the Art Institute of Houston and worked as a graphics and web design artist. As a Jesuit novice, he worked at Hope House in the New Orleans St. Thomas housing project as well as a variety of communities in both Tampa, Fla. and Belize. While in philosophy studies at Saint Louis University, he was active in campus ministry and participated in service trips with students. These experiences prepared him for his next assignment at San José Parish in Villahermosa, Mexico, where he worked with youth groups at 52 satellite chapels. He returned to Tampa to teach at Jesuit High School and coached junior varsity football, served as linebacker trainer for the varsity team and was moderator of the hunting and fishing club. John completed both his Master of Divinity and Master of Theology at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. While in Boston, he also spent time working within St. Columbkille Parish in Brighton, Mass. This summer, John will work at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in San Antonio, Texas before joining the pastoral staff at Sacred Heart Church in El Paso this fall. (New Orleans Province)|
|Fr. Mark P. Fusco, S.J., 46, was born in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. Upon graduation from Monsignor Paul Dwyer High School, he attended St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto, earning an honors Bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies and English Literature in 1989. He proceeded to earn a Master’s degree in Philosophical Theology from Yale University in 1991. Mark then worked on international health issues at the Vatican and as Director of Programs at the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center in Rome. Later he received his Licentiate in Sacred Theology in Moral Theology from the Pontifical Lateran University and worked for a number of years in the private sector and in secondary education. In 2005, he entered the Society of Jesus at the Novitiate of St. Andrews in Syracuse, N.Y. He studied philosophy at Loyola University in Chicago before beginning doctoral work at the University of Toronto in systematic theology. Ordained to the deaconate in April 2010, Mark served as a deacon at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Toronto, Canada. After working at a parish for the summer, Mark will be returning to Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. to finish his dissertation. (Maryland Province)
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A painting of the crucifixion, owned by a small Jesuit residence at Oxford, is alleged to be the work of the great Renaissance master, Michelangelo.
Bought by the Campion Hall Residence in the 1930s at a Sotheby’s auction, the painting was thought to be a work by Marcello Venusti, a contemporary of Michelangelo’s.
Historian and conservationist Antonio Forcellino, says infra-red technology has revealed the true creator of the masterpiece.
“You can immediately see the difference between this work and that of Venusti,” said Forcellino, who used infra-red techniques to study layers beneath the finished painting. He writes in his new book, The Lost Michelangelos, that “no one but Michelangelo could have painted such a masterpiece”.
According to BBC News, regarding the news, residents felt “a mixture of excitement and slight concern.”
“It’s a very beautiful piece, but far too valuable to have on our wall any more,” said Jesuit Father Brendan Callaghan, the community’s superior. “Simply having it hanging on our wall wasn’t a good idea.”
It has been removed from a wall of the Jesuit academic community and sent to the Ashmolean Museum for safekeeping.