Archive for August, 2012

Jesuit Gerard Campbell, a Leader in High Education, Passes Away

Jesuit Father Gerard J. CampbellJesuit Father Gerard J. Campbell, who was a leader in higher education and served as Georgetown University president in the 1960s, died on August 9, 2012, at age 92. He was a Jesuit for 73 years and a priest for 61 years.

Fr. Campbell served as president of Georgetown from 1964 to 1968 and is remembered for promoting student service to residents in Washington, D.C.

According to A History of Georgetown University, “[Campbell] … pledged that Georgetown would play a wider community role under his administrations by fostering student volunteer activities in the city and providing educational opportunities and other services to the city’s residents.”

While at Georgetown, Fr. Campbell also reconstituted the board of directors to include its first lay members, and he created the first University Senate comprising faculty and administrators.

“We are saddened by the passing of a cherished member of our community and a former leader of the university,” said Georgetown President John J. DeGioia. “In the Jesuit tradition of men and women for others, Fr. Campbell recognized the growing needs of city residents and the ability of Georgetown students to help meet them.”

Fr. Campbell also served as provincial assistant for colleges and universities for the Maryland Province, director of Woodstock Theological Society in Washington, D.C., and professor at Saint Joseph’s College (now University) in Philadelphia and Loyola College (now University Maryland). [Georgetown University]

Jesuit Remembered for His Commitment to the Poor

Jesuit Father James WebbJesuit Father James Webb, former Provincial Superior of the Jesuits in English Canada, died on August 9 at age 68 in Ontario, Canada. Throughout his nearly 50 years as a Jesuit, Fr. Webb was a champion of the poor and disadvantaged, and he worked for social justice, specifically in the fields of social action, education and agricultural development.

Following his ordination in 1973, Fr. Webb served in Toronto, where he took on a number of social justice projects, including leading an advocacy effort against the system of apartheid then existing in South Africa and helping found a Catholic newspaper, a health center, the Taskforce on Churches and Corporate Responsibility and the Jesuit Centre for Social Faith and Justice.

In 1986 Fr. Webb moved to Jamaica, where he served for over twenty years. There he spent most of his time working with the poor, as a pastor in Kingston, chair of the St. Mary’s Rural Development Project and founding director of Citizens Action for Free and Fair Elections.

Fr. Webb returned to Canada in 2008 to become Provincial Superior of the Jesuits in English Canada. In this role, he chose to live in an apartment in one of the poorest parts of Toronto, rather than the six-bedroom home in a Toronto neighborhood that had once served as home base for the Jesuit leadership team.

Jesuit Father James Webb with friends

“If you say that material things are not important but then there’s no sign of it, it lacks credibility,” Fr. Webb told Canada’s Catholic Register in 2009. “Our commitment to social justice and solidarity with the poor is very strong. In terms of vocations, I think that is one of the things that is attracting younger people to the Jesuits.”

Fr. Webb always believed there was more that could be done, however difficult it might seem, said Jesuit Father Philip Shano.

“Where others saw missions impossible, Jim was eternally optimistic about how things could work out,” Fr. Shano said. [Jesuits in English Canada, The Catholic Register]

Jesuit Novices Prepare to Pronounce First Vows

After two years of Jesuit formation, which includes living in community and making the Spiritual Exercises in a 30-day retreat, this month second-year U.S. Jesuit novices pronounce their first vows—perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

On August 18, New York Province Jesuits Doug Ray and Jason Downer and New England Province Jesuit Timothy Casey will pronounce their first vows in Syracuse, N.Y. In advance of the vow ceremony, the novices reflected on the significance of this event.

Doug Ray said, “Part of me thinks I should be nervous about this … but really what I’m feeling is a great deal of peace … I’m recognizing this is what I’m supposed to be doing with my life.”

Jason Downer expressed his excitement. “This idea of giving my life to Christ and to God and these vows is something that has grown deeper and deeper inside of me over the past two years. I can’t wait, and I’m humbled to be called a Jesuit, men that I’ve looked up to for 15 years of my life.”

Tim Casey felt at peace with vows on the horizon. “Walking with him [Jesus] is our ultimate purpose; it’s why we’re here. It’s what gets us out of bed in the morning. It’s what drives our work.”

For more of Ray, Downer and Casey’s thoughts on first vows, watch the video below.

For Twin Jesuits, Doing God’s Work Runs in the Family

Fr. Bob Fitzgerald, SJ

Fr. Bob Fitzgerald, SJ

Jesuit Fathers Bob and Jim Fitzgerald were born just 20 minutes apart in 1935. Eighteen years later the brothers would again share an important experience as they decided simultaneously to join the Society of Jesus.

Both graduates of Creighton Prep in Omaha, Neb., the brothers were profoundly influenced by the example of their Jesuit teachers.

Fr. Bob Fitzgerald recalls, “Like anyone, I wanted to be happy, and I saw the Jesuits as having that. As I progressed through formation, my understanding of where that [joy and satisfaction] came from deepened.”

Fr. Jim Fitzgerald adds, “When I was thinking about entering, I was impressed by the dedication of the Jesuits who were teaching us. They were consistently supportive, even though they were very demanding. They worked hard; they were sincere; they were a team; and they cared for us.”

The Fitzgeralds entered the Jesuits together on the same day, but over the years, their assignments led them to different ministries.

Fr. Jim Fitzgerald, SJ

Fr. Jim Fitzgerald, SJ

Fr. Bob Fitzgerald has been a writer, and he founded the substance abuse program at St. Francis Mission in South Dakota. He has also served as a chaplain at Creighton University Medical Center and taught English at Marquette University High School and Creighton Prep.

Fr. Jim Fitzgerald has been involved in fundraising, alumni relations and campus planning at both Creighton University and Marquette University in Milwaukee. He also served as assistant to university presidents at Creighton and Saint Louis University.

Today these twin brothers have come full circle and spend time with each other as part of the St. Camillus community for elder Jesuits in Wauwatosa, Wis. [Wisconsin Province]

Jesuit Novice Experienced Homelessness through Pilgrimage

Jesuit Jeff DorrThe Jesuit Constitutions instruct all Jesuit novices to do a month-long pilgrimage “without money… begging from door to door… to grow accustomed to discomfort in food and lodging.”

This tradition is how Wisconsin Province Jesuit Jeff Dorr, a scholastic in First Studies, found himself with $35, a one-way bus ticket and an order to be home for dinner at 4:00 p.m., exactly 30 days later.

Dorr took the bus from Detroit to Atlanta. From there he planned to walk 20 miles to a Trappist monastery to spend his pilgrimage in prayerful solitude.

But within minutes, his plan changed. The first person he stopped to ask for directions had just gotten out of prison. They talked for a few minutes, and Dorr was so moved that he gave the man $10 for train fare. Next, he met a homeless man, and Dorr gave him the remainder of his money so he could eat.

“I realized that I felt drawn to a new focus,” Dorr said. “I knew what homeless people looked like and sounded like, but I never knew experientially what it meant to be homeless. I thought maybe that’s where this should go. Something of that experience of being on the street and being without was what I was meant to be doing.”

Dorr spent 18 nights at a homeless shelter, where he met dozens of people who shared their stories with him.

“One thing I gained from the shelter was a whole new appreciation for who ends up there,” said Dorr. He found that while many shelter residents have addiction or mental health issues, others are people who had houses and jobs and then something went wrong, like a divorce.

“The point of the pilgrimage is to spend the month letting go of our typical securities of home, money, community, and in doing that, come to trust more fully in God,” he said. “I realized how blessed I am, and that no matter what I do, I can’t experience life on the streets the way these guys do. It changed the outlook I had of what I was striving for and what God was calling me to. His message to me was to be with them, but you can’t be them.”

Read more of Dorr’s pilgrimage experience at Xavier Magazine.