Archive for April, 2012

Evolution of a Parish: Fr. O’Sullivan and St. Procopius in Chicago

First established in 1875, St. Procopius Parish, located in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, has watched its community of parishioners change from predominately Czech to mostly Hispanic today. Its pastor, Jesuit Father Sean O’Sullivan, himself an immigrant from Ireland, invites all of the parishioners of St. Procopius to open their hearts to their diverse community. Fr. O’Sullivan’s story is not unlike that of his parishioners, who have come to a new place and are looking for a sense of belonging, which they now find through the sharing of the faith.

Find out more about Fr. O’Sullivan and St. Procopius Parish in the Ignatian News Network video below:

New England Province Honors Nativity Schools of Boston and Worcester

At the 12th annual Jesuit GALA of the New England Province of Jesuits, more than 1,200 Jesuits, lay partners, family and friends gathered to celebrate 30 years of commitment to Jesuit education and social justice at the Nativity schools of Boston and Worcester.

To honor Nativity’s Jesuit and lay founding leaders, Jesuit Father Myles N. Sheehan presented the esteemed Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (AMDG) Award on April 11 to Nativity Preparatory School of Boston and Nativity School of Worcester. The AMDG Award honors those who selflessly give of themselves for the greater glory of God.

“Tonight is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our experience of the charism of St. Ignatius, our joy in our faith, and our appreciation for all that we do together with the help of Christ.  The mission and vision of the Society of Jesus remains the pursuit of faith and justice, serving on the frontiers of education, foreign collaborations and innovative programs of evangelization that serve to deepen our bonds of faith and affection.  We have one mission in the Catholic Church but many ministries,” said Fr. Sheehan.

The event also raised more than $1.1 million to support the formation and care of Jesuits and the apostolic works, such as the Nativity schools, of the New England Province.

To learn more about the great work of the Nativity Schools or the AMDG Award, please check out this video below:

From English Classes to Prisons: Jesuit Honored for Life’s Work in Belize

Jesuit Father Jack Stochl found his heart’s home when he first went as a Jesuit scholastic in 1948 to Belize, where he remains today at age 87.

The government of that Central American nation recently recognized his commitment when it presented him last fall with the Meritorious Service Award for his 64 years of helping the people of Belize by teaching English and, more recently, caring for prisoners.

This disciplined man followed the same daily routine for years, rising at 4 a.m. to exercise, pray and teach English each morning at St. John’s College in Belize City. He ran the Extension School in the late afternoon and evening, returning home in time for bed at 9:30 p.m.

Fr. Stochl founded the Extension School in 1957 in the heart of Belize City. The school’s academic offerings were limited but effective, and were aimed at helping students earn a grade school diploma or “leaving permit” that would qualify them for a government job. He had great organizational skills and was ready to take charge of things.

Jesuit Father Jim Short, who now lives at Bellarmine House in St. Louis, worked with Fr. Stochl for years, including time together at St. Martin de Porres Parish in Belize City. “Jack had a good touch with people and chose good teachers,” he said. “He had goals and knew what he wanted to achieve.”

That keen sense of focus was evident in his various roles over many years in the Jesuits’ mission in Belize. He was first and foremost a dedicated and demanding teacher of the English language, constantly pushing his students to master English.

He served as headmaster of the secondary education division of St. John’s College from 1965 to 1969 and from 1987 to 1992; he was the mission superior from 1977 to 1983.

The Meritorious Service Award noted his radio work as well, saying that “his voice may be familiar to some early risers because for the past 34 years, going back to the days of Radio Belize, he has delivered a brief Morning Devotion talk each week.”

He took up residence at St. Martin’s parish in 1987 and served as its pastor from 1995 until 2004.

“He turned out to be an excellent pastor,” Short said, someone who continued the good relationships with people in the parish that his predecessors had begun.

In 2005, when he turned 80, Fr. Stochl became pastoral minister to inmates of the Belize prison. At the urging or a parishioner, he reluctantly visited prisoners who were reading the Bible. Fr. Stochl said he was not sure at first whether they were sincere or just faking, but “we got along comfortably and I continued to visit them each week. So when I retired from the parish and looked for something to do, the prison was the obvious choice”

Fr. Stochl’s work has grown. He goes to the prison at least five days a week and offers Mass on Saturdays for around 100 inmates with no guard present. He also runs three weekly counseling groups and visits men in the Maximum Security and punishment sections.

“Being present to them and interested means a lot,” he said. He is secretary of the Belize branch of Prison Fellowship International, and is involved in two rehabilitation programs.  “The work grows on you, and so do the inmates once you get to know them as persons.”

The thread that connects these different areas of Fr. Stochl’s ministry is his sense of identifying with the Belizean people.

He became a Belizean citizen in 1974, not as a political statement but as a sign that he would remain with the people. Early on he developed a great affection for the Garifuna, Afro-Caribbean people who live along Belize’s southern coast and other parts of Central America. As a scholastic, Fr. Stochl worked with a number of Garifuna students to create a way of writing their language. He continued this project during summer vacations in theology with the help of now retired Bishop Martin. The result was a dictionary and a small prayer book,

In Belize City, he always took time to chat with ordinary people. Now, he talks with prisoners, teaching a religious sensibility that will help them.

“He is where he should be,” Fr. Short said. “His heart is in the right place.”

This article, by Jesuit Father Tom Rochford, originally appeared in the Jesuits of the Missouri Province’s magazine Jesuit Bulletin. To download the full magazine, please click here.

A Time to Build: Maryland Province Provides a New Spiritual and Nurturing Home for Its Senior Jesuits

The Jesuits of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus recently completed a breathtakingly modern new building on their northern Baltimore campus. This new residential community is designed to offer senior Jesuits assisted-living services while also enabling them to continue their ministries in and around Baltimore and throughout the Maryland province.

The new, light-filled steel and concrete St. Claude la Colombiere Jesuit Community Residence, designed by the architectural firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, replaces the previous residence on the property which was built in 1961. Designed around a stone entry courtyard, the two-story chapel is the central design feature and the heart of this Jesuit community home. The facility provides rooms for the 38 members of the community along with a dining hall, commercial grade kitchen, living room, library, office and work space as well as recreational facilities.

“The new building, built in harmony with the beautiful site, will promote better spiritual and psychological health for our men,” notes Jesuit Father William Rickle, superior for the Colombiere Jesuit community.

As the need for assisted living had grown more pressing for the Maryland province, with more than 60 percent of the 349 Jesuits in the Maryland province 60 or older, officials began looking at their options to provide for its senior men in the Society.

Dedicated in the fall of 2011, the new structure is located on the highest point of the property, set among mature trees and open space. Since the need for assisted living is predicted to decrease in future years, the design of the building is flexible so that it can in the future serve as a community for Jesuits in active ministry, allowing the continuation of a dynamic Jesuit presence in Baltimore for decades to come.

In the video piece below, created by Halkin Photography, Jesuit Fathers Rickle and James Casciotti, socius for the Maryland province, discuss how the building ties in with the spiritual elements of Jesuit community life and, in turn, how the building fits into the landscape of the property.

Jesuit Honored with Social Justice Award from Ignatian Solidarity Network

In 1995, Jesuit Father Don MacMillan, a newly minted campus minister at Boston College (B.C.), was approached by a student interested in honoring the memory of the six Jesuits and two lay partners who had been massacred in 1989 in El Salvador.  That chance encounter led Fr. MacMillan on the path to a long and fulfilling new role as a social justice activist, a commitment that will be honored tonight as the Ignatian Solidarity Network presents its “Robert M. Holstein: Faith that Does Justice Award” to Fr. MacMillan.

The Holstein award honors one individual annually who has demonstrated a significant commitment to leadership for social justice grounded in the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus. The award’s namesake, the late Robert (Bob) M. Holstein, was a former California Province Jesuit, labor lawyer, fierce advocate for social justice and one of the founders of the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice (IFTJ) – the precursor to the Ignatian Solidarity Network.

The first memorial service commemorating the El Salvadoran victims was organized by Fr. MacMillan and the Boston College students on the B.C. campus, but by the next year, the group had taken their commemoration to Fort Benning, Ga.  Here, they held a prayer vigil at the gate of the U.S. Army School of the Americas in order to call attention to the school that, according to a U.S. Congressional Task Force, had trained those responsible for the executions in El Salvador.

Over the years, thousands of students have been empowered by Fr. MacMillan’s teaching and ministry. At Boston College, Fr. MacMillan coordinates the Urban Immersion Program, a weeklong experience of prayer and service for undergraduates to learn about the lives of those in Boston suffering from poverty and homelessness. He also organizes an annual trip to Cuernavaca, Mexico, where B.C. students have direct experience with Latin American refugees and the poor of Mexico.

Fr. MacMillan earned two Boston College degrees: a bachelor’s degree in 1966 and a master of divinity degree in 1972. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1960 and was ordained in 1972.  He previously served as both a teacher and administrator at Boston College High School and Bishop Connolly High School.

The Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN) promotes leadership and advocacy among students, alumni, and other emerging leaders from Jesuit schools, parishes and ministries by educating its members on social justice issues; by mobilizing a national network to address those issues; and by encouraging a life-long commitment to social justice grounded in the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Since the Ignatian Solidarity Network’s inception in 2004, Fr. MacMillan has been an integral part of ISN’s effort to mobilize a national network of leaders committed to justice grounded in Gospel teachings.

The previous “Robert M. Holstein: Faith that Does Justice Award” honorees include Jesuit Father Charlie Currie, former president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges & Universities; and Jesuit Father Steven Privett, president of the University of San Francisco.

Learn more about the “Robert M. Holstein: Faith that Does Justice Award” at: www.ignatiansolidarity.net/holstein.