Archive for June, 2012

Boston College Star Enters the Jesuit Novitiate

Dan Kennedy graduated from Boston College (BC) last month, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and the recipient of the school’s most prestigious prize, the Edward H. Finnegan Award.

Winners of the Finnegan, given to the student who best exemplifies the BC motto, “ever to excel,’’ tend to go big – top grad schools, Wall Street, overseas fellowships. Kennedy is planning to give away his computer, recycle his Blackberry, and move to a modest communal house in St. Paul, Minn.

He will get $75 a month for incidentals. He will have no romantic relationships. He will go where his superiors ask him to go, and do what they ask him to do. If all goes well, Kennedy – “Dan-o’’ to his friends – can hope to be ordained a Jesuit priest in 2023.

Entering a religious order straight out of college is rare these days, particularly for a standout student at an elite school. One or two graduating BC seniors enter seminary each year, but never in recent memory has a Finnegan winner done so.

“Um, I could never see Dan-o on Wall Street,’’ Shannon Griesser, a junior, said, laughing. “I’ve never met such a kind human being, to the core.’’

But he is hardly a “laxbro,’’ either, as one of his theology professors, Stephen Pope, quipped. (The term is slang for a lacrosse-obsessed frat brother.)

Medium height and solidly built, the bespectacled Kennedy keeps his room in military order, his comforter neatly folded, paper clips and pens exactingly arrayed in his desk drawer. He uses words like “unitive,’’ as in, “There’s nothing more unitive than enjoying a meal together.’’ There is no self-consciousness in his voice when he talks about his motivation for becoming a Jesuit: “My personal relationship with Jesus Christ.’’

“It’s the love I feel from God, and how I want to reciprocate that,’’ he said.

“I’m not entering the church of 50 years ago or 500 years ago. I’m entering the church in 2012,’’ he said. “So you have to be realistic about the challenges of the images of priesthood in this day and age. . . . I don’t find it daunting, but it’s going to be a challenge.’’

Many of his closest BC friends are religious – but many are not. Florence Candel, an atheist who said she arrived at school with “a lot of anger at the church,’’ developed a strong friendship with Kennedy, who presented a face of Catholicism that Candel said she had never seen before – open, accepting, and embracing her questions as invitations for conversation. “Dan-o just basically taught me that to say I have a lack of faith is incorrect,’’ she said. “I obviously have faith in some things. Maybe not the same faith as people around me have, but that’s OK.’’

Candel still calls herself an atheist, but she sometimes participated in the informal “examens’’ Kennedy held for friends in his room on Monday nights. A cornerstone of Ignatian spirituality, the examination of consciousness is a ritual of prayerful reflection on daily life.

For 15 or 20 minutes, the group would sit together in Kennedy’s dorm room, a suite shared with three roommates, and silently consider questions Kennedy posed: “Where did you encounter God today? When could you have been more loving? What were you grateful for?’’

The daily examen is just one of the ways Kennedy continued to explore Jesuit life. In addition to attending Mass at least once a week, and getting to know the Jesuits on campus, he began to meet with a spiritual director, Jesuit Father William B. Neenan, BC’s vice president and special assistant to the president.

Kennedy will spend the first two years doing a series of “experiments’’ imitating the life of St. Ignatius, including a 30-day silent retreat, stints working at a hospital and with the poor. He will study a foreign language, and he will go on a pilgrimage with just $10 in his pocket and a letter from his superiors to speed his progress.

After the first two years, Kennedy will be sent to study philosophy for three years at a Jesuit university; then he will probably teach at one of the Jesuit high schools in the province. In the following three years, he will earn a master’s of divinity, preparing him for ordination.

Find out more about Kennedy’s considerations and expectations as he plans to join the Society of Jesus this August in this Boston Globe article.

Campion, Walpole and Southwell: Jesuit Heroes and Friends in the Lord

Jesuit Matthew Baugh, currently in his second year of studies at the Jesuit School of Theology at the University of Toronto, shared this reflection with Southern Jesuit Magazine about the influence that Jesuit Martyrs have had in his formation as a Jesuit.

Two years ago, having just pronounced my first vows as a Jesuit novice in Grand Coteau, Louisiana, I was on a flight bound for London. All of a sudden it hit me:  For the first time, I was arriving in England as a Jesuit. Four centuries earlier, my brother Jesuits had arrived under starkly different circumstances. They had to enter the country in disguise, under assumed names and beneath the watchful eyes of priest-hunters. Edmund Campion, for one, passed himself off as a jewel merchant named Mr. Edmunds. Having left England eight years earlier to become a priest and a Jesuit, he was for that reason regarded as a traitor and public enemy.

Campion and his companions—Robert Southwell, Nicholas Owen and Henry Walpole—were among the first Jesuits I ever encountered. At that time, nearly ten years ago, I was an overly ambitious young graduate student at Oxford University, my sights set on a career in politics and foreign affairs. But, I also had a profound sense that the Lord was calling me deeper into prayer and union with him. When I began attending daily Mass at the university chaplaincy, I encountered one of the most astonishing preachers I had ever heard, a British Jesuit by the name of Nicholas King. Here was a man who had met the Word of God and knew how to help others do the same.

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China opens Ricci Exhibition Center

China’s first exhibition center dedicated to Jesuit Father Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) has opened in Zhaoqing, the place where the Italian missionary first set foot on the mainland, reports Ucanews.

The new Matteo Ricci Cultural Exchange Exhibition Center details the life of the Jesuit priest, known as Li Madou to Chinese people, through an array of exhibits and written accounts.

The center is located near the ruins of the first church and Jesuit house that Fr. Ricci and his companion Jesuit Father Michele Ruggieri were allowed to build after they arrived in China in 1583. The church, called “Xianhua Temple” out of respect for Buddhist custom, was dedicated to the Blessed Mother.

Jesuit Father Gabriel Li Jiafang of Jiangmen, who attended the opening, hoped the exhibition, which is designed to boost tourism, would make more people aware of the missionary and the Catholic faith.

“The local Church has provided historical material such as books  and written records for the Ricci exhibition center which is managed by the  city museum. A replica of a Ricci statue owned by the parish is also erected there,” the pastor of Zhaoqing’s Immaculate Conception Church said.

Other exhibits include Fr. Ricci’s writings, items of clothing, scientific instruments and astronomical data, to help visitors understand his background, his six years in Zhaoqing (until 1589) and his contribution to cultural exchanges between East and West.

Twelve Jesuit Ordinands Join the Priesthood This Year

“Go forth and set the world on fire.”

Spoken centuries ago by St. Ignatius Loyola to his brother Jesuits, these words—part mission statement, part marching orders—are deeply emblematic of the Society of Jesus and never more so than during the rite of ordination.

Twelve men burning with love of Christ and his mission were ordained as Jesuit priests this previous Saturday at ceremonies held at Fordham University in New York; Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Calif.; Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala.; and St. Thomas More Church in St. Paul, Minn.

A diverse group, the ordinands hail from Illinois, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Texas, California, Louisiana, Florida, New York, Vietnam and Italy. Before entering the Society of Jesus, they worked in the financial and high-tech industries, served in the military, taught at the high school and college level, practiced medicine and earned a multitude of advanced degrees.

Their call to priestly ministry is as varied as their hometowns and former occupations, but they have one thing in common: a desire to dedicate themselves to the Jesuit mission of serving the Roman Catholic Church wherever the need may be greatest.

With each step of Jesuit formation—from the first years of novitiate, to philosophy studies, to regency, to theology studies—the ordinands have tended the flame of Christ’s love. Rigorously trained for priestly ministry in the Jesuit tradition, their spiritual lives have been steadily nurtured since the novitiate, their minds sharpened by years of academic study, their apostolic drives molded by service to others.

Jesuit priesthood is a gift from God for the service of the universal Church.

Christ has called.

These men have responded.

Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam!

Fr. William V. Blazek, S.J., 47, hails from Chicago. After completing his Bachelor’s Degree at Marquette University, Father Blazek served five years in the 101st Airborne Division as an Infantry Officer. A graduate of the U.S. Army Ranger School, Father Blazek was awarded a Combat Infantryman’s Badge and a Bronze Star for his wartime service in Saudi Arabia and Iraq during Operations Desert Storm/Desert Shield. After the service, Father Blazek earned his Doctor of Medicine Degree from Rush Medical College, entering the Society of Jesus immediately following residency. After completing a Master’s Degree in health care ethics at Loyola University Chicago, Father Blazek was assigned to Georgetown University as an assistant professor of medicine. He served as an advisor to the Secretary of Defense on the Defense Health Board, a federal advisory panel addressing matters pertaining to the military health system. In 2009, Father Blazek was missioned to the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry to complete his final preparations and studies for ordination to the priesthood. Following ordination, he will be missioned to Gesu Parish in University Heights, Ohio, where he looks forward to providing sacramental ministry to the people of God, while sharing the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
(Chicago-Detroit Province)
Fr. Cesare Campagnoli, S.J., 47, was born in Voghera and raised in Casteggio, a town in Northern Italy just south of Milan. At the University of Pavia School of Medicine in Pavia, Italy, Father Campagnoli earned his Medical Degree in 1989 and then moved to Philadelphia for a fellowship in ultrasound prenatal diagnosis. His next course of study took Father Campagnoli to London, where he earned his Doctorate in obstetrics, gynecology and pediatrics from Imperial College School of Medicine. When his studies concluded, Father Campagnoli returned once again to Philadelphia to conduct clinical fetal stem cell research at Children’s Hospital. Troubled by the ethical issues surrounding his research, Father Campagnoli began considering a vocation and reading more about Ignatian Spirituality, entering the Society of Jesus in 2003. Interested now in studying bioethics, he earned a Master’s Degree in healthcare ethics from Loyola University Chicago and then completed a one-year fellowship in medical ethics at the University of Chicago. He returned to Italy in 2008 to earn a Baccalaureate Degree in sacred theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and is currently working towards a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. Following ordination, Father Campagnoli will be assigned to St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, where he will teach a master’s course in healthcare ethics.
(Maryland Province)
Fr. Christopher J. Duffy, S.J., 49, grew up near Rochester, N.Y., where he enjoyed learning, reading, music and playing sports. Father Duffy earned a Bachelor’s Degree in electrical and computer engineering from Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y., and promptly entered the high-tech industry after graduation. He held a variety of positions within the semiconductor and software industries, gaining experience in sales, marketing, operations, government relations and strategy before earning a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Union College in Schenectady, N.Y. His Jesuit novitiate brought opportunities in teaching and hospital chaplaincy, while regency provided an opportunity to teach—at Loyola High School in Los Angeles—as both a physics instructor and assistant coach for the freshman basketball team. While completing his philosophy studies, Father Duffy participated in a process recommended by St. Ignatius: to serve at both ends of a spectrum. In this case, he taught business strategy to college students and the sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation to third graders. During the first two years of his time in theology, Father Duffy was a spiritual director, a 19th Annotation director and an eight-day retreat director. After ordination, he will serve at Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Santa Barbara, Calif.
(California Province)
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Jesuit Photographer’s Work Aims to Give Voice to the Voiceless

For 50 years Jesuit Father Don Doll has seen the world through the lens of who he is and the life he’s lived.

Fr. Doll, a renowned photographer whose work was featured in National Geographic magazine in 1984 and 1990, has traveled the globe “to tell the stories of people who have no voice.” His ministry began on the plains of South Dakota in the early 1960s while working with the Lakota people on the Rosebud Reservation. He had joined the Jesuit order after graduating from high school in 1955.

“The first week I was there they said, ‘Would you like to learn photography?’

“I said, ‘Sounds like fun.’”

After two years of training and experience in photography, he questioned that choice.

“I went for a walk on the prairie (wondering) ‘What the heck am I going to do as a Jesuit?” the 75-year-old priest reminisced. “I’m not brilliant like some of these guys.”

Feeling he hadn’t taken “a single decent picture after two-and-a-half years,” he suddenly heard a voice inside him say: ‘Stay with the photography, it’s the first thing you love doing, don’t worry if it takes 10 years.’

“It did!” he added with a laugh.

“I see how the Holy Spirit speaks to us in the depths of our hearts and I trust that,” he said. “I don’t hear voices a lot (but) when I have a hunch, I really trust that’s how the Holy Spirit speaks to me. It’s true of every project I’ve taken on.”

Since 1969, Father Doll has worked at Creighton University in Omaha, where he is a professor of journalism. For the last 20 years, he has documented the work of the Jesuit Refugee Service in some 50 countries including India, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Sudan and Rwanda. These assignments, he said, working with “the poorest of the poor” have been close to his heart.

“Jesuits have a mission: Faith doing justice,” he shared, quoting his personal artist statement. “I photograph to tell the stories of people who have no voice. Hopefully, I can help others understand and work to change unjust social structures.”

He often finds himself praying that he can look at people and photograph them “with something of the empathy and understanding that God has for them.”

“Often I’m asked if being a priest affects my photography,” he shared, reflecting on nearly 44 years in the priesthood. “My answer is always: ‘Yes, it has everything to do with it.’”

“For me, it’s hard to separate the creative process of ‘seeing’ from prayer. Both can be contemplative acts.”

To commemorate a half-century in photography, Fr. Doll is working on a book and considering an art exhibit to be on display at the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States. For more about Father Doll and to view his work, visit You can read more about him in this Denver Catholic Register, the newspaper of the Denver diocese, article.