Archive for August, 2012

Jesuit on How Hispanic Catholics’ Embrace of Devotion is Changing U.S. Church

Jesuit Father Robert McChesneyJesuit Father Robert McChesney, interim director for the Hispanic Institute at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University (JST), recently spoke with Catholic San Francisco on how the rapid growth of Hispanics in the U.S. church is changing schools and seminaries.

Fr. McChesney said, “We have to prepare our students for the changing face of the church, and that means attention to the devotional life of the Mexicans and the Latins in general. There is much more of a devotional faith than many of our students are familiar with. It takes me back to the church of the ’50s. We have to prepare our students to be part of a more devotional church.”

One devotional he’s become familiar with is practicing posadas during Advent. “The Latino Catholics will process around the neighborhood knocking on the door. It goes back to no room at the inn. … I’m an Irish-American Caucasian, but I’ve had to learn that because it’s certainly the religious practice,” said Fr. McChesney, who is also director of the Intercultural Initiatives and the New Directions Sabbatical programs at the JST.

“I have been taken back to my youthful practice of devotion, if you will, because it’s a way of prayer I needed to cultivate to serve the Latin community because it’s so central to them,” he said.

Fr. McChesney also said Hispanic leaders are influencing the U.S. church. “I think the Hispanic bishops have had a huge impact on immigration reform,” he said.

To read more of the interview with Fr. McChesney, visit Catholic San Francisco.

Jesuit Military Chaplain Heads to the Middle East

Jesuit Father Mark McGregorOregon Province Jesuit Father Mark McGregor departed for the Middle East in late July as an Air Force chaplain. While Fr. McGregor cannot disclose his posting, spiritually, he knows just where he is.

“It’s easy to think the military is a bunch of macho guys who want to grab a gun and go off and kill people,” Fr. McGregor said before leaving for his assignment. “But there are so many thoughtful people. They genuinely want to defend the country and help people. They recognize a bigger responsibility. My question always is, who is standing to help them?”

Fr. McGregor will spend six months in his first overseas assignment. He’ll likely serve at a Mideast air base, offering counsel, comfort and education to all, plus sacraments to Catholics.

A longtime teacher, Fr. McGregor heard of the need for Catholic chaplains and was intrigued. Through discernment, his desire to become a chaplain emerged. Until leaving for the Middle East, he was posted for a year at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.

“It can sometimes be an intense ministry. Something can happen rather quickly. Here, you work right in the moment with the person in front of you,” he said.

“War should never be a popular thing,” Fr. McGregor said. “There is always a spiritual cost to war. A lot of people have a weight on them surrounding family. But when you’re a chaplain, they believe in your role to help them.”

Read more about Fr. McGregor at the Oregon Catholic Sentinel.

Jesuit Administrator on the Future of Catholic Higher Education

Jesuit Father Michael SheeranJesuit Father Michael Sheeran, who served as president of Regis University from 1993 until the end of the 2011-2012 academic year, will become president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities in 2013. He recently spoke to the Denver Catholic Register about Catholic higher education.

Fr. Sheeran said one of the greatest challenges Catholic universities will face in the next two decades will be finding the money to pay fair wages to faculty and staff at a time when state and even federal government aid is on the decline. He continued:

“As well, I hope everybody who is interested in forming the human person and not just in the retention of facts will support more government aid to education rather than less. After all, the rationale for government support of education is twofold: First, the preparation of workers the economy will need; second—and much more profound—the preparation of citizens capable of discerning, voting and even of making personal sacrifices to achieve the common good.”

When he left Regis, Fr. Sheeran said he advised his successor, Jesuit Father John Fitzgibbons, to continue to model a Catholic style that flows from the texts of Vatican II.

“It’s a Catholicism that invites rather than gives commands,” said Fr. Sheeran. “It remembers that today’s Catholics are much better educated in secular subjects than ever before in history. They expect to make up their own minds. Our job is to present the Catholic tradition in an attractive, persuasive way so our students can recognize and be drawn to the wisdom of their Catholic heritage.”

As to the advice he’d offer to students, he said, “I like to remind them that God made a good world and then invites us to co-create with him to help the world realize its potential. It’s the graduate’s vocation to take God’s good world and make it better.”

For more from Fr. Sheeran, read the Denver Catholic Register’s “Seven questions for Father Sheeran.”

Jesuit and His Two Brothers All Called to the Priesthood

Jesuit Vincent Strand and his brothers

Jesuit Vincent Strand (right), with his brothers Fr. Luke Strand (left) and Fr. Jacob Strand (center).

Jesuit Vincent Strand, a regent currently studying German in Austria, was recently featured in an Associated Press story because he and his two brothers, Luke and Jacob, all have a calling to the priesthood.

Vincent Strand’s older brother Luke and younger brother Jacob are already ordained, and Strand is on the path to ordination.

According to Strand, his original plan was to become a neurologist, get married and start a family. He said he remembered thinking, “Oh, good. [Luke's] going to be the priest. I don’t have to now.”

But while at Marquette University he found his calling. Strand said a theology professor showed him “God was real in a way I hadn’t [realized] before.”

Strand told the AP that he thought about devoting himself to God even if he got married but decided to “completely empty” himself and pursue his calling.

“The celibacy and that vow of celibacy has been one of the real things I love about the life and one of the very freeing things about the life,” Strand said.

Read the AP full story on Strand and his brothers.