Archive for August, 2011

Jesuit Scholastic Reflects on Magis 2011 for the Huffington Post

Jesuit scholastic Michael RossmannJesuit scholastic Michael Rossmann, who is documenting his World Youth Day travels on video, has also written about his experiences on the Huffington Post.

“We have finally arrived,” he wrote on Aug. 16. “After three years of anticipation since the last World Youth Day, hundreds of thousands of Catholic young people have descended upon Madrid for the festivities surrounding World Youth Day, which officially starts this evening with an opening Mass in the heart of downtown Madrid.”

Before arriving in Madrid, Rossmann participated in the Jesuit-sponsored program Magis, where nearly 3,000 young people from Jesuit universities and parishes from around the world were sent out in groups to participate in service projects or walking pilgrimages.

Rossmann spent a week with 26 other pilgrims living and working with African immigrants who labor in agriculture on the southern coast of Spain.

“This is the first trip to Europe for many of the students I am accompanying and is certainly the most intimate encounter with people from other countries,” he wrote. “While speaking different languages at times hindered communication, boundaries quickly broke down in sharing the common difficulty of trying to fall asleep while sharing a gym floor with snorers who were heard by all people, no matter the native tongue.”

Rossmann continued, “On a deeper level, many expressed the significance of what it meant to be a part of something much larger than themselves, as was evident in sharing the same faith and holding the same convictions, whether praying to God, Dios, or Dieu.”

Read more of Rossmann’s reflections at the Huffington Post. Below, you can view Rossman’s video with pilgrims he chaperoned to the southern coastal town of Roquetas de Mar in Spain to work working the elderly. Follow along with the Magis and World You Day pilgrims and their Jesuit chaperones on our microsite at

Jesuit Shares First Impressions of World Youth Day as News Correspondent

Jesuit Father Matthew GamberJesuit Father Matthew Gamber, a veteran of the last four World Youth Days, has been in Spain for two weeks helping to lead a group of pilgrims from St. Mary’s Parish in Mount Pleasant, Mich.

Fr. Gamber and his group arrived in Madrid on Monday after participating in Magis 2011, during which they were involved in evangelization, service and pilgrimages in various Spanish cities.

During Gamber’s time in Madrid for World Youth Day’s events, he will be filing reports and writing pieces for the National Catholic Register highlighting the activities which culminate this Sunday with Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI.

Gamber noted that on the eve of World Youth Day on Monday, that although some of the sites were still being prepared, there was a great spirit in the air.

The parishes and churches had welcome banners and signs on display and people outside offered tours, information and warm welcomes. “It’s not Rome, with a Catholic church on every corner, but pretty close, maybe every other corner. And they are beautiful and breathtaking and full of the Holy Spirit,” he wrote.

Madrid residents say they have never seen the city so crowded in August, according to Gamber. “At a time when most of the city dwellers take off for the beaches and mountains, it seems that the allure of seeing Pope Benedict in their fair city is worth staying in town for,” he wrote.

“It is exciting to be here and know that we are about to spend a week with fellow Catholic pilgrims from around the world,” Gamber wrote.

Read more of Gamber’s report from World Youth Day at the National Catholic Register. You can also follow along with the Magis and World You Day pilgrims on our microsite at

A Jesuit Doctor’s Journey in Africa

Jesuit Father Ken Johnson

Jesuit Father Ken Johnson at the door of one of the hospitals he serves.

Jesuit Father Ken Johnson shares his experiences as a priest and doctor in Zambia and Malawi:

As a young man I had met several priests (Jesuit and non-Jesuit) who inspired me with their lives of generous service, putting their considerable talents wholly at the service of others. But it was a few Jesuits who helped me pray through the Spiritual Exercises that crystallized my desire to enter the Society – largely to grow in the prayerful search for God’s will and to grow in understanding of how I could more fully and more generously cooperate with it. This desire was there for a long time, but it slowly developed as I matured through studies in adolescence and as a young man.

I completed medical studies before I was able to enter the Society and for some time thought I might leave that work behind as a new life developed within the Society. During the years of formation in the Society, my superiors helped me to search for new ways of putting to good use the experiences I had already had – and I became associated briefly with several medical schools for brief periods, moving to different places and meeting different persons as is the custom of a Jesuit scholastic. After ordination I had expected to return to a medical school, but I was given the mandate to go to Zambia. That was in February 1993.

My first assignment in Zambia was at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka – a placement that was very providential since I had the opportunity to meet many fine young doctors with whom I remain friends today and to get acquainted with the expected standards of care in a recognizable but somewhat different environment. For several years afterwards I went to explore work in a Catholic mission hospital so as to understand the distinctive service Catholic hospitals provide. Then I returned to the University Hospital and subsequently to a district general hospital contributing to the teaching of medical students, registrars (residents in training) and clinical officers (physician assistants). In these different settings I was able to help many sick patients. I was also very fortunate to network with sisters, brothers and priests and found that I could assist them and their families. Although I do not celebrate the sacraments in the hospital, I have found many opportunities for ministry in parishes and in retreat work. I have found that I have quite enough leisure to be of help in spiritual direction over these many years.

During the last 10 years of work in a district general hospital, I was able to source some funds to effect major improvements of the equipment of the hospital for the surgical theatre, for the ablution blocks and for the laundry. By some unexpected providential meetings, I began hosting a series of international students who came to get a month’s sense of medical work in an African setting.

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Jesuit Discusses Future of Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities

Jesuit Father Greg LuceyJesuit Father Greg Lucey recently took over as president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU), a network of the nation’s 28 Jesuit institutions, and he is no stranger to Jesuit higher education. Fr. Lucey most recently served as president of Spring Hill College from 1997 to 2009 and previously held a number of other leadership posts, including rector at Marquette University, president of the Jesuit Conference and vice president for development at Seattle University.

Lucey said he took on the new role at age 78 because he is “very, very, very interested in the Jesuit, Catholic identity of our schools. I’ve worked on that since I did my dissertation back in 1978, looking at Marquette as a Catholic school. It’s been kind of my focus, and so now to be in a position to encourage and foster the Jesuit, Catholic identity of our colleges and universities — it’s just kind of ideal.”

Lucey visited nearly all 28 Jesuit colleges and universities between February and May of this year and said the experience “reaffirmed my appreciation of what is being accomplished and heightened my awareness of the challenges we face.”

As president, Lucey said that the three areas of priority he’ll be focusing on are formation in the Ignatian tradition, restructuring and ensuring that AJCU maintains an effective presence in Washington, D.C., in support of higher education.

Read the full interview with Lucey at the Seattle University website.

Spiritual Exercises Change Jesuit Novice’s Approach to Ministry

Jesuit Keith Maczkiewicz

Jesuit Keith Maczkiewicz (back row, second from right) with Georgetown students on retreat.

Jesuit Keith Maczkiewicz had hoped to do something he had never done before during his Long Experiment, a time when each Jesuit novice does five months of full-time apostolic work while living in a Jesuit community. He had worked in high school campus ministry, but when he was missioned to Georgetown University to assist in campus ministry there, his novice director said, “You may have done this job before, but you never did it as a Jesuit.”

Maczkiewicz, who was involved in Sunday liturgies, Catholic chaplaincy programs and retreats and ministry as a chaplain-in-residence in a dorm at Georgetown, soon realized that his novice director was right.

Maczkiewicz said he was very conscious that the 30-day experience of the Spiritual Exercises was affecting all of his life and ministry. “I realized that the Exercises had become not only important to me, but had become my heritage, in a way, had become an inherent part of my life.”

Working with the Exercises as an instrument of prayer, and helping to lead others in prayer and discernment, helped him to solidify his own relationship with God. “The Long Experiment has helped me to fall in love with Christ all over again in the midst of my ministry, in the context of my Jesuit community, and with the lenses of poverty, chastity and obedience focusing, broadening and enriching my life,” Maczkiewicz said.

Today, Maczkiewicz is a scholastic in First Studies at Loyola University Chicago. He professed his vows to the Society of Jesus last year. You can read more about Jesuit novices’ long experiments in Jesuits magazine.