Archive for October, 2011

Jesuit Father Dean Brackley Honored by University of San Francisco for Work in El Salvador

In November of 1989, a commando unit of the Salvadoran armed forces entered the campus of the Central American University (UCA) and killed six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter. It’s said they were murdered for speaking out against the government, for advocating for the poor, for working to negotiate an end to the war. And they paid for their beliefs with their lives. Yet, although their lives had ended, many believed their work needed to be carried on.

In 1990, Jesuit Father Dean Brackley volunteered to leave his position in the New York Province of Jesuits and move to El Salvador to join the staff of the Universidad Centroamericana, administering the university’s School for Religious Education and assisted in schools for pastoral formation sponsored by the UCA.

Fr. Brackley passed away on Sunday after battling both liver and pancreatic cancer.

“Dean Brackley was an extraordinary Jesuit. His 20+ years of service in El Salvador included pastoral work in numerous parishes, meeting with delegations visiting El Salvador, immersion trips, but at all times, he promoted Gospel values from the perspective of the poor.  His 2004 book The Call to Discernment in Troubled Times is a powerful expression of God’s providential love for the poor expressed in the Ignatian vision. Dean will be deeply missed by the people of El Salvador, students and faculty of the UCA, and the countless compañeros he met along the way,” said Jesuit Father Thomas H. Smolich, President of the Jesuit Conference of the United States.

A few weeks before his passing, Brackley was honored by Marquette University with a Doctorate of Religious Studies, and by the University of San Francisco which established a scholarship in his name:

WHEREAS, University of San Francisco Trustee J. Dean Brackley, S.J., quietly, immediately and heroically volunteered to replace one of the murdered Jesuits from the University of Central America in San Salvador after the 1989 massacre of six university Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter; and

WHEREAS, Dean Brackley, S.J., ever since his entrance to the Society of Jesus in 1964 has displayed an uncommon commitment to the social and human implications of the Gospel; and

WHEREAS, Dean Brackley, S.J., has ever and always balanced his demanding academic and administrative responsibilities with pastoral care for the poor and marginalized; and

WHEREAS, Dean Brackley, S.J., has hosted numerous delegations to El Salvador, including groups from the University of San Francisco; and

WHEREAS, Dean Brackley, S.J., has faithfully and generously served as a trustee of the University of San Francisco for nine years;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the University of San Francisco establish a scholarship to honor Trustee J. Dean Brackley, S.J.; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this scholarship be awarded to a Latino/a student of high academic promise and significant financial need;

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that this scholarship student be designated the Dean Brackley, S.J. Scholar during his/her matriculation at the University of San Francisco.

Fr. Brackley entered the Society of Jesus in 1964 and was ordained a priest in 1976.  He earned a doctoral degree in Religious Social Ethics from the University of Chicago Divinity School in 1980, and traveled a vocational path marked by spiritual creativity, moral courage, and an unfailing companionship with the poor.

Jesuit Writes About Life as a Spiritual Director

Jesuit Father John Murray Jesuit Father John Murray says that when people ask him what it’s like to be a spiritual director, his answer is always the same. “Spiritual director is to be more a companion on the journey, than a person who has the answers to another’s concerns,” he writes in a reflection.

Fr. Murray writes that his life at Eastern Point Retreat House in Gloucester, Mass., where he is director, is a “wild mixture of listening, companioning and managing a good size inn!”

“With our staff of Jesuits and guest directors, we listen and focus and shine some light into darkened hearts,” writes Murray.

He finds managing a retreat house is both a great challenge and a great joy.

“As I reflect on my years as a Jesuit; high school work, then principal, then socius and now as a retreat director, I marvel at how Jesus has become my true love and friend,” he writes.

Read more of Murray’s reflections.

Jesuit Father Jim Martin’s New Book on the Joy and Humor in Spiritual Life the Focus of This Month’s Podcast

A prolific writer and the cultural editor for America Magazine, Jesuit Father James Martin also frequently contributes to the Huffington Post‘s Religion section and appears on the late night satirical talk show The Colbert Report.

Fr. Martin is a best selling author of books like “The Jesuits Guide to Everything” and “My Life with the Saints.” This month, Martin’s latest book “Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor and Laughter are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life” is hitting bookshelves and ereaders across the country. In this latest book, Martin explores the intersection of faith and humor and why being spiritual and being serious don’t always go hand in hand.

Martin took the time to speak with us by phone for this month’s NJN podcast. You can listen below:

Relief Group Founded by Jesuit Granted Special Consultative Status to United Nations

Ann Arbor-based nonprofit International Samaritan (I.S.) was granted Special Consultative Status from the United Nations in September, recognized by the UN as an important voice in issues pertaining to poverty relief.

“We are privileged to join with the United Nations and other NGOs in the fight to help alleviate severe poverty in developing countries,” said I.S. Founder and President Jesuit Father Don Vettese, who grew up in Detroit and taught at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School for many years prior to starting I.S.

I.S. was awarded consultative status for its role in helping the UN work toward achieving its Millennium Goals, including eradicating extreme hunger and poverty, achieving universal primary education, promoting equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, and developing global partnerships for development.

The only nonprofit in the world whose work is focused on garbage dump communities, I.S. helps hundreds of thousands of people who live in garbage dump squalor across the globe. According the UN statistics, I.S. serves some of the most poverty stricken people on the earth. The nonprofit builds homes, schools, nurseries, medical facilities, community centers, adult training schools and funds microloan and food programs. They also organize service learning trips and medical brigades to garbage dump communities in seven countries. More than 95% of the donations I.S. receives go directly to its poverty relief programs.

“There are many people who have never heard about the garbage dump dwellers, the children forced to dig through trash for food, and entire families living in garbage dumps with rats, vultures, and pigs. These places do exist. We hope, in some small way, this status will give voice to those who have no voice,” said Vettese.

I.S. representatives will be granted passes to UN meetings, able to speak at designated UN sessions, and have certain documents circulated as official UN documents. They will also have the opportunity to be a part of a larger NGO community for the purposes of information sharing and partnering on poverty relief programs.

“There is so much good that can be accomplished if we open our minds and hearts to work with those in need who are fighting for a life with dignity and hope,” said Vettese. “We invite everyone to join us by volunteering on one of our service trips, donating to our poverty relief programs, and praying for us and those we serve.”

For more information about International Samaritan, please visit their website.

Jesuit Works to Educate Children Impacted by HIV/AIDS in Kenya

More than one million people live in Nairobi’s squatter community of Kibera, including 30,000 orphans of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Recently, Chicago Public Media spoke with Jesuit Father Global Terry Charlton, co-founder of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, a unique Catholic high school designed specifically for young people affected by HIV and AIDS in the Kibera slums.

In 2001, as Charlton visited people suffering from AIDS, he kept hearing a repeated concerns for the children of those suffering, primarily about the child’s ongoing education.

“There is free universal primary education in Kenya, but all secondary education, including at the government schools is for a cost, and a cost that would be far beyond the means of these people mired in poverty because of their illness, not able to hold jobs and that sort of thing. So in 2003 our school decided to sponsor 12 of their children for freshman year of high school,” said Father Charlton.

Working to help more children in the same situation, Charlton opened a school for 25 students in 2004. Through the support of many people from around the World, plus a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Government, they have been able to build a school that now accommodates 280 students.