Archive for July, 2011

Holy Cross Names Vice President for Mission

harmanJesuit Father Paul Harman has been named to the new position of Vice President for Mission at the College of the Holy Cross, effective immediately.  Fr. Harman has served since January 2009 as a special assistant to Jesuit Father Michael McFarland, Holy Cross’ President, who made the announcement.

“For the past two and one-half years, Paul Harman has made tremendous advances in developing our mission and identity programs, as well as serving as a wise and perceptive advisor,” said Fr. McFarland.  “He has brought his deep knowledge of Holy Cross and extensive experience with higher education and other Jesuit apostolates to his work.  Now, in his new position as vice president, he will have broad responsibilities related to mission, particularly on issues of faith and justice.”

Harman chairs the College’s campus-wide Mission and Identity Committee and oversees its many initiatives and programs for students, faculty, and staff.   In his new position, he will continue and enhance that work with the Board of Trustees, the President’s Office, and other administrators.  He will also work especially closely with the Office of the College Chaplains.

Commenting on his new appointment at Holy Cross, Fr. Harman said:  “I have greatly enjoyed working with the faculty, staff, students and administrators at Holy Cross and look forward to strengthening the mission of the College, drawing from the long and rich traditions of the Church and the Society of Jesus.”

Fr. Harman received both his undergraduate degree and a master’s degree in philosophy from Boston College.  He entered the Society of Jesus in 1955 and was ordained a priest in 1968.  He taught at Baghdad College in Iraq, where he also studied Arabic, before returning to the United States to study at the Weston School of Theology, where he received his Licentiate of Sacred Theology.

Fr. Harman first worked at Holy Cross in 1970 as a visiting lecturer in theology while completing his doctorate in education at Columbia University.  The following year he was appointed associate academic dean; and in 1975 he became executive vice president, serving in that capacity until 1984.  He left Holy Cross to become Provincial Assistant for Formation for the New England Province of the Jesuits and later Secretary for Formation for the Jesuits in the United States.  Just before returning to Holy Cross, he served as rector of the Jesuit Community at Boston College.  He has also served on numerous boards of trustees, including Boston College, Georgetown, Loyola University of Chicago and Holy Cross, where he was a trustee from 1986 – 95.

[College of the Holy Cross]

Jesuit Rediscovers his Jesuit Identity Amongst Rubble of Japanese Tsunami

2011.06.JPN_reflectionJesuit Jody Magtoto was in Japan this past May, helping in the relief effort for victims of the tsunami.  He reflects on how he rediscovered his Jesuit identity in the midst of the rubble:

I had been in Kamaishi for two days by then. Because I had taken some courses in Japanese, I could sort of understand what was going on. But I came to realize that because my words and thoughts were in English, I could not articulate what I wanted to say.  I decided then to keep my words to a minimum lest I offend or be misunderstood.

That night, after a long day spent in the tiring clean-up operations and after supping in self-imposed silence, I decided to have some time by myself. I sat on a bench and fixed my gaze on the bittersweet horizon where the melancholy of the ruin caused by the tsunami met the magnificence of the stars.

“Jody-san,” the quiet was broken by one of the volunteers. We had worked together that morning clearing up the debris from one of the houses. He sat beside me, and like me, looked towards the horizon. “I’m not a Christian, so forgive me for asking—what exactly does a Shingakusei do?”

“Well …” I began as I grasped for words, trying to explain in the simplest terms what being a seminarian is all about. He listened intently as I grappled to explain without theological jargon, in a mixture of Japanese and English, what theology is.

“So how many years does it take before Shingakusei becomes a shinpu?” he asked.

I explained the number of years it takes to become a priest, and as briefly as I could, explained the formation in the Society of Jesus.  When he found out that I had been a software engineer prior to joining the Jesuits, he paused for a long time, then looked at me and asked, “But why? I mean, why leave all of that? That sounds like a well-paying and stable job.”

I was at a loss for words. How does one talk about vocation to a non-Christian?

Read the rest of this entry »

Creighton University President Reflects on Tenure and Future

Photo Credit: James R. Burnett

Photo Credit: James R. Burnett

Jesuit Father John Schlegel, retiring president of Creighton University, might soon find himself in the City That Never Sleeps, the economic epicenter of the world.

Either that or he’s moving to a country that more than 250,000 people fled last year to escape a violent ruler, economic turmoil and one of the world’s worst AIDS epidemics.

Those two alternatives — New York City or Zimbabwe — are as much as Schlegel is willing to say about his next Jesuit assignment after 11 years spent as Creighton’s leader.

In those 11 years Schlegel has built Creighton into the premier Midwestern private university of its kind, according to national rankings. He has grown enrollment and doubled applications to the school. He has expanded the campus by 40 acres and then transformed it with state-of-the-art buildings paid for by a historic $400 million fundraising drive that he spearheaded.

Schlegel said he is proud that Creighton’s Catholic identity has remained strong even as the number of Jesuits on campus has continued to drop. Creighton has made up for its lack of Jesuits by teaching faculty and staff about Catholic identity at annual retreats, Schlegel said.

“Without the Catholic identity we’d be just another good liberal-arts based Midwestern university,” he said.

But that identity — specifically the church’s anti-abortion stance — has caused friction with Omahans who might otherwise support the school, Schlegel said.

“Sometimes doing what we’re doing has come at a real cost,” he said. “That’s the price of doing business, I guess. … They live by their convictions, we live by ours, and that’s fine.”

Schlegel has known his successor, Lannon, since 1969, when Lannon was an undergraduate sitting in one of the first political science courses Schlegel taught at Creighton.

When Schlegel told the university’s board he was planning to step down, he put together a short list of potential replacements. Lannon, a Creighton alum and then president of St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, was featured prominently on that short list, Schlegel said.

He thinks Lannon will be a good president, partly because he understands the Omaha area and already knows many Creighton alums and donors from his tenure as president of Omaha Creighton Prep. Creighton faculty who know both Jesuit priests say Lannon is gregarious while Schlegel is wry and reserved.

“The style will be different — I’ve been told that by many people,” Schlegel said. “But I think that’s good. I think change is very healthy.”

Change is exactly what Schlegel is trying to prepare for. He will drive east to Milwaukee, where he will take a six-month sabbatical and then head to either New York City or Zimbabwe for his next mission as a Jesuit priest. Schlegel said only that the mission won’t be another college presidency.

“You get up, you go to work, and a lot of times you don’t see the cumulative effect, how things are changing,” Schlegel said.

“I’ve been a little more reflective” in the past few months, he said. “I’ve been more appreciative of what’s happened here.”

[Omaha World-Herald]

Preparations for MAGIS Complete, Full List of Experiences Now Available

One month from today, World Youth Day 2011 is set to begin in Madrid, Spain. Pilgrims from all over the World will be in attendance, ready to share the common bond of their Catholic faith.

Yet, while many of those pilgrims are still a few weeks away from boarding planes or taking trains to Madrid, an initiative known as MAGIS will be sending students all over Spain and Portugal to participate experiences in preparation for World Youth Day.

This intitiative was started in 1997 (World Youth Day Paris). In 2005 in Cologne, it was called MAGIS for the first time. In 2008 it was celebrated in Sydney and in 2011 it will be celebrated in Madrid in the days leading up to World Youth Day. The motto for this MAGIS is “with Christ at the heart of the world.” The Society of Jesus, along with other religious institutions and laypeople throughout the world who follow Ignatian Spirituality, have invited pilgrims to find Christ at the center of their lives.

Throughout the past year and a half of planning, ideas have become realities and all that is left to do are the finishing touches.

After the initial selection, more than 400 volunteers began working in teams to go about organizing the potential experiences, working on content and logistics, and finalizing plans. There are six types of experiences: Pilgrimage, Social Service, Art and Creativity, Faith and Culture, Spirituality, and Ecology.

Recently released, MAGIS has posted a list of the experience locations and what work will be completed at each; these include visiting Fatima, volunteering in a prison, accompanying marginalized families, serving pilgrims at Lourdes and restoring a hermitage. For the full list, click here.

To learn more about MAGIS, visit follow them on Twitter or visit their website.

Former Nurse Becomes a Jesuit Priest at Age 56

medinaAs a nurse, Joel Medina treated physical ailments. Now, he wants to treat spiritual ones.

After years working in health care, the 56-year-old has traded his scrubs for the collar of a Jesuit priest.

“I was interested in serving people,” Medina said. “I felt the call to do that by serving as a priest.”

Medina started his career in health care at age 19, working as a nursing assistant. He went on to become a registered nurse  and earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Wayne State University in Detroit. He then worked about 16 years off and on at the University of Michigan hospital.

That all ended nine years ago, when Medina applied to be a Jesuit and entered The Society of Jesus at Chicago-Detroit Province’s Novitiate at Loyola House in Berkley, Mich.

Friends and family said they weren’t surprised by the decision.

“We always knew (the priesthood) is where he’d end up,” said Medina’s sister, Linda Berkemeier. “He was sensitive and interested in theology. We were just waiting for him to do it.”

Read more about Fr. Joel Medina at