Archive for December, 2011

Jesuit Spiritual Director Shares his Experiences as an Active Listener

Jesuit Father Joseph Tetlow is the director of Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House in Lake Dallas, Texas where he gives retreats, workshops and writes. Before his came to Montserrat, Fr. Tetlow spent several years in Rome as head of the Jesuit General’s Secretariat for Ignatian Spirituality, guiding the efforts of 250 Jesuit retreat houses.

Widely considered one of the Jesuits’ leading authorities on spiritual direction, Tetlow recently wrote this piece for the New Orleans Province of the Society of Jesus’ magazine Southern Jesuit. You can read more article about the work of the Jesuits of the New Orleans Province by visiting Southern Jesuit‘s online magazine.

I really began listening to what people need when I was ordained in 1960. I was sent to the Cenacle Retreat House in New Orleans to give a weekend retreat. When I got there, Sr. Margaret Byrne, R.C., asked me what I wanted to do. Actually, she knew what needed to be done a lot better than I did, and she patiently helped me learn.

What I learned is this: my need of grace and yearning for God are gifts to be shared; they are not for me, alone. The prayers and desires given to me are not just for me. They are also for all to whom God sends me.

Realizing that gave me an insight into the Spiritual Exercises. They were created by St. Ignatius because he needed them. During his recovery from a battle wound, he began to experience “spirits” – joy when he thought about God, misery when he thought about being famous and powerful. How was he to understand these “spirits?” He needed order and method in his praying and desiring that would give him a sense of making progress. His needs, in God’s design, are also felt by all of Christ’s followers. We all feel, in a vague sort of way, the need for order and progress, and we are helped as Ignatius was by learning about discernment.

Guided by the Holy Spirit, he organized the prayers and desires into Spiritual Exercises, and as the Holy Spirit brought him clarity of mind and heart, the Spirit also opened his eyes to other people’s need for the same things. So Ignatius began sharing his spiritual experiences. At first, he went too far: the illiterate people of Manresa were not helped by tales of mystical experiences of the Trinity.

So Ignatius had to listen. And like him, I had to learn about others’ needs. Some need solid instruction. Some need a way to reform a life that has gone bad. Some need to hear what God wants with their whole lives. You find, when you listen to enough men and women today, that we all feel this same broad range of needs.

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College of the Holy Cross Says “Farewell, Father” to Its Jesuit President

When the College of the Holy Cross trustees hired Jesuit Father Michael McFarland to be the college’s president 12 years ago, one of his former colleagues described him as having “a sunshine wink” and “a suppressed grin.”

At 63, Fr. McFarland still has a youthful grin, a twinkle in his eye and the slight build of a runner. His time at Holy Cross lasted longer than the 10 years trustees originally hoped for, but it will come to an end this year. In January, Jesuit Father Philip L. Boroughs, vice president for mission and ministry at Georgetown University, will take over.

During McFarland’s time at Holy Cross, the college added 400,000 square feet of building space; expanded its faculty and lowered its course load; grew its endowment by 61 percent; created new financial aid initiatives, including one that gives Worcester, Mass. students free tuition if their families earn less that $50,000; boosted recruiting in Worcester; helped launch the Nativity School of Worcester; fostered an affordable housing program in cooperation with the South Worcester Neighborhood Improvement Corporation; gave the Worcester Tornadoes a rent-free summer home; won re-accreditation and bought and razed off-campus buildings where students once lived.

McFarland arrived already familiar with a number of aspects of a college president’s job: the academics side, athletics, student life and finance. He had a couple things to learn on the job: “I had done less fundraising,” he said. “And then I’m not a politician. I said that when they hired me, so dealing with multiple complex constituencies has been a learning experience.”

But a large part of his presidency has been his time with students. The president attends about as many games as the athletic director, and the marching band loves McFarland so much that they made him the inaugural inductee into their hall of fame. Lauren A. D’Abrosca, co-chairman of the Student Government Association at Holy Cross, described him as being the type of person you never needed an introduction to say hello to.

“As a student, it could be almost a nerve-wracking experience sitting down with the president of your college. … And he doesn’t make it like that at all,” she said.

Read more about the College of the Holy Cross’ transition to a new president at the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

Jesuit Writes about ‘Contemplatives In Action’ Found Along U.S./Mexico Border

St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, always envisioned Jesuits and their partners as being “contemplatives in action.” He asked his first companions to reflect and pray in order to detect the presence of God in their lives. Then, through discerning Christ’s call, to carry out His mission through action.

Jesuit Father Jack Vessels has been called to the border of Texas and Mexico as the chaplain of the Sacred Heart Parish in El Paso. Before coming there, he was missioned to Brazil for over 20 years then headed to Rome to become the international leader of the Apostleship of Prayer, whose mission it is to encourage people to pray daily for the Church and for the pope’s intentions.

Today, Fr. Vessels says Mass daily at the parish, and many times at the parish’s food banks in Juarez, Mexico, the Our Lady’s Youth Center (OLYC) community, and at the Lord’s Ranch in New Mexico. He hears confessions for many hours each week and goes to the homes of the sick and elderly to give them the sacrament of the sick.

Vessels recently wrote this piece for the New Orleans Province of the Society of Jesus’ magazine Southern Jesuit on the work of the Our Lady’s Youth Center with the poor  who live along the border of Texas and Mexico — both in El Paso and across the Rio Grande river in Juarez, Mexico. You can read more article about the work of the Jesuits of the New Orleans Province by visiting Southern Jesuit’s online magazine.

Two years ago, because of my fluency in Spanish and my experience in the formation of ecclesial communities in Brazil, I was assigned to Sacred Heart Parish in El Paso to assist in the work of Our Lady’s Youth Center and at The Lord’s Ranch which is in Vado, New Mexico, just across the state line from El Paso. It serves as residence for several volunteers who have dedicated their lives to feeding and serving the poor on the border. It also serves as a guest house for volunteers who occasionally return to assist in the community’s ministries or to spend time in restful reflection.

Truly ecclesial and international, the Our Lady’s Youth Center (OLYC) community – now known as Las Alas or “The Wings” – is a community of contemplatives in action: by faith, united in prayer and action; no prayer without action, and no action without prayer! Through service to the poor, both volunteer residents and visitors contribute to the life of the universal Church in the three particular churches where it serves: El Paso, Texas; Juarez, Mexico; and Las Cruces, New Mexico.

“Go to the poor,” Christ told the OLYC community in its group discernment of scripture. It was across the Rio Grande in Juarez that the cry of the poor was most demanding, where well over a million people lived in poverty worse than any experienced in El Paso. Many of the members of the community were bilingual, with friends and relatives living in Juarez. They went “to see,” confident the Holy Spirit would enlighten their vision. Visiting the city’s municipal garbage dump, they found the poorest of the poor, feeding themselves and their children, sleeping in shelters made from trash, collecting whatever might be usable and sellable on the streets. Praying and discerning Christ’s words, “…when you have a banquet, invite the poor…,” (Luke 14:13) the community did just that at the dump on Christmas Day of 1972, often remembered as “the miracle of Juarez” because of the inexplicable multiplication of food that day, and they have been going back weekly ever since.

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Jesuit Father Sean Carroll Discusses Working with Migrants Along the Border in This Month’s NJN Podcast

In this month’s National Jesuit News podcast, we spoke to Jesuit Father Sean Carroll, who currently serves as the executive director of the Kino Border Initiative in Nogales, Ariz. along the border with Mexico.

The Kino Border Initiative (KBI) was founded in January 2009 as a binational effort to help support and provide assistance to deported migrants. Since its founding, KBI has served thousands of migrants by providing food, shelter, first aid and pastoral support.

Fr. Carroll recently spoke with National Jesuit News by phone from Nogales to discuss the work of KBI and about his own background as a Jesuit. You can listen to our podcast with Carroll via the player below.

Jesuit Named Executive Director of University of Scranton’s Jesuit Center

The University of Scranton has announced the establishment of The Jesuit Center to assist in keeping its Catholic and Jesuit character at the core of its operation. The University also announced the appointment of former Trustee, Jesuit Father Ryan J. Maher, as the founding executive director of The Jesuit Center, effective July 1, 2012. Fr. Maher currently serves as associate dean of Georgetown College, the undergraduate school of arts and sciences at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

The Jesuit Center will foster faculty and staff participation in the Jesuit higher educational mission, support faculty teaching and scholarship that advances the University’s Catholic and Jesuit character, and promote Ignatian spirituality within an interreligious context.

“The establishment of The Jesuit Center at The University of Scranton was a personal priority because our Catholic and Jesuit mission and identity is central to all that we do,” said Jesuit Father Kevin P. Quinn, University president. “Because I have so many hopes for the role that the center will play in the life of our community, I am delighted that Father Maher has agreed to join us. He is an accomplished professor and administrator and an articulate champion for the collaborative role that faculty and staff must play in maintaining the vitality of our mission.”

The executive director of The Jesuit Center will report to Jesuit Father Richard G. Malloy, Vice President for University mission and ministry, and will serve on the President’s Cabinet.

In addition to serving as associate dean, Maher is a professorial lecturer in theology and Catholic studies at Georgetown University. He previously served as the director of Catholic studies and was the founding faculty member of Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service campus in Doha, Qatar. In the Middle East, he taught theology to the school’s predominantly Muslim student body.