Archive for October, 2012

U.S. Jesuit Wins Ratzinger Prize

Jesuit Father Brian E. DaleyJesuit Father Brian E. Daley, a professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame, is one of two winners of the 2012 Ratzinger Prize sponsored by the Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) Vatican Foundation. Established in 2010 to promote studies in theology and philosophy, the prize is considered the “Nobel of Theology.”

“I was amazed when I was informed that I would receive this honor,” said Fr. Daley, who a historical theologian specializing in the early history of Christianity. “It’s a privilege and an honor for the Society.”

Fr. Daley and the other winner, Remi Brague, a French professor of the philosophy of European religions at Ludwig- Maximilian University in Munich, will receive their prize from Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on Oct. 20.

Italian Cardinal Camillo Ruini, who heads the scholarly committee that selects the winners, called Fr. Daley “a great historian of patristic theology.” Cardinal Ruini also said Fr. Daley “has published an impressive — and I mean incredible — number of scientific articles on patristic theology, but also studies on the life and spirituality of the Society of Jesus, as well as on theological and ecumenical themes of current interest.”

Fr. Daley called his vocation a “wonderful blessing” and is grateful that he has been able to combine his priestly ministry with his academic interests and teaching career. Fr. Daley traced his interest in the early church fathers to a research paper during his freshman year at Fordham University in New York. It’s important to study the roots of the church to help us to understand today’s church, according to Fr. Daley.

Fr. Daley is the author and editor of numerous articles, books and publications, including “The Hope of the Early Church,” “On The Dormition of Mary: Early Patristic Homilies,” and “Gregory of Nazianzus.” He is also a consulting editor of the English edition of the magazine Communio, which then Cardinal Ratzinger co-founded in 2003.

In addition to teaching and writing, Fr. Daley serves as the executive secretary of the Catholic-Orthodox Consultation for North America.

Learn more about this year’s Ratzinger Prize at Catholic News Service, and listen to a podcast at the New York Province website to find out more about Fr. Daley’s research, current projects and life in the Society.

French Jesuit and Two Others with Jesuit Connections to be Canonized on Oct. 21

Jesuit Father Jacques BerthieuA Jesuit and two others with Jesuit connections will be among the newest Catholic saints canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on Oct. 21, 2012. Among those being elevated are:  Blessed Jesuit Father Jacques Berthieu, a French Jesuit missionary; Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, who will become the first Native American saint; and Blessed Peter Calungsod, a lay Catholic from the Philippines.

“The Society rejoices that the church canonizes a new saint from among us, proposes him as a model to all the faithful, and invites them to seek his intercession,” writes Jesuit Father General Adolfo Nicolás in a letter to all Jesuits published in America magazine.

Fr. Berthieu, martyred in Madagascar in 1896, was a diocesan priest for nine years before deciding to enter the Society of Jesus at age 35. A highly successful missionary, he was appointed to the Madagascar mission where he nearly tripled the number of mission stations on the island’s northern end.

While accompanying refugees who were attempting to escape a violent rebellion, Fr. Berthieu was attacked and brought to the attackers’ village, where their chief lived. Fr. Berthieu refused to accept the chief’s offer to become a counselor to his tribe. The chief promised to spare Fr. Berthieu’s life if he would renounce his faith, but Fr. Berthieu replied that he would rather die than abandon his religion. Fr. Berthieu was then attacked and killed by several men with clubs, and his body was dumped into a river.

Reflecting on the new Jesuit saint, Father General Nicolás, writes:  “May the Holy Spirit help us put into practice the choices of Jacques Berthieu: his passion for a challenging mission that led him to another country, another language, and another culture; his personal attachment to the Lord expressed in prayer; his pastoral zeal, which was simultaneously a fraternal love of the faithful entrusted to his care, and a commitment to lead them higher on the Christian way; and finally, a life lived as gift, a choice lived out every day until the death which definitively configured him to Christ.”

Blessed Kateri TekakwithaBlessed Kateri Tekakwitha was born in 1656 in Ossernenon (now Auriesville) in upstate New York. Her father was a Mohawk chief, and her Catholic mother was a member of the Algonquin nation. At age 4, she survived a smallpox epidemic that killed most of her village and her family, and she suffered from poor eyesight and health for the remainder of her life due to the illness.

Blessed Kateri, deeply moved by the preaching of the Jesuits who traveled among the villages, was baptized by the Jesuits at age 20. She then dedicated her life to prayer, penance, caring for the sick and infirm and adoration of the Eucharist. In 1677, she began a 200-mile trek to a Jesuit mission in Canada where she could more openly practice her faith. Her health continued to deteriorate, and she died on April 17, 1680, at age 24.

Blessed Kateri also has a special connection to the Jesuits’ Fordham University in New York. While it was not the official miracle that paved the way to her sainthood, she is attributed with saving the life of Fordham football player John Szymanski over 80 years ago. When Szymanski suffered a severe head injury during a 1931 Fordham football game, his surgeon announced there was no hope for his recovery, and Szymanski received last rites. But Fordham students began praying a novena and asked God to heal their classmate through the intercession of Blessed Kateri. Szymanski made a full recovery.

Blessed Pedro CalungsodBlessed Peter Calungsod, or Pedro, as he is known, was a lay Catholic from Cebu, Philippines. He accompanied Jesuit missionaries to Guam as a catechist and was martyred there in 1672. As a young boy, Calungsod studied in the Jesuit town of Loboc in Bohol. He was chosen at age 14 to accompany the Jesuits in their mission to the Marianas Islands. At 17 he and Blessed Jesuit Father Diego Luis de San Vitores were martyred in Guam for their missionary work.

For more on these new saints, visit the following: EWTN NewsFordham MagazineManila Bulletin and Catholic News Service. The New York Province Jesuits also have several podcasts about Blessed Kateri on their website, including one with Jesuit Father Peter Schineller, province archivist, on the canonization process and the meaning of her life for us today.

“Mr. and Mrs. Jesus Christ?” on New York Times’ Editorial Page

Jesuit Father James MartinThe recent discovery of an ancient Coptic papyrus by Harvard church historian Karen L. King that mentions Jesus’ wife has some questioning its authenticity. But Jesuit Father James Martin wrote in a recent op-ed for The New York Times that even if it is found to be authentic, “Will this fascinating new discovery make this Jesuit priest want to rush out and get married? No.”

In his article titled “Mr. and Mrs. Jesus Christ?”, Fr. Martin wrote that it is more likely that Jesus was celibate since the papyrus is said to date from the fourth century — roughly 350 years after Jesus’ life and death.

Fr. Martin said there are several reasons Jesus might have remained unmarried: “Jesus, who knew the fate of other prophets, may have intuited that his public life would prove dangerous and end violently, a burden for a wife. He may have foreseen the difficulty of caring for a family while being an itinerant preacher. Or perhaps he was trying to demonstrate a kind of single-hearted commitment to God.”

Fr. Martin wrote that even if evidence of a married Jesus is found from an earlier date, he won’t stop believing in Jesus or abandon his vow of chastity.

It wouldn’t upset me if it turned out that Jesus was married. His life, death and, most important, resurrection would still be valid. Nor would I abandon my life of chastity, which is the way I’ve found to love many people freely and deeply. If I make it to heaven and Jesus introduces me to his wife, I’ll be happy for him (and her). But then I’ll track down Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, who wrote so soon after the time of Jesus, and ask them why they left out something so important.

Read Fr. Martin’s full op-ed at The New York Times website. For a lighthearted take on the topic, check out The Jesuit Post’s suggestions for the best wedding gifts for “Mr. & Mrs. Jesus Christ.”

Jesuit Inaugurated as 27th President of Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia

Jesuit Father C. Kevin GillespieJesuit Father C. Kevin Gillespie was inaugurated as the 27th president of his alma mater, Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, on Oct. 12, at an event attended by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

Fr. Gillespie graduated from Saint Joseph’s with a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1972, making him only the second alumnus to become president of the university. The first was also a Gillespie: Jesuit Father Cornelius Gillespie, who served in 1900-1907 and again in 1908-1909. Fr. C. Kevin Gillespie isn’t sure if they are related, but his parents and Cornelius Gillespie were both from Donegal, Ireland.

As president of Saint Joseph’s, Fr. Gillespie said he looks forward to working with this generation of students. “We’re exposing them to a global way of being in the world for the 21st century that has a confidence, a depth and a potential,” he said. “We’re inspiring students toward an education that’s global and that involves citizenship with values, virtues and sacrifices.”

Fr. Gillespie said that when he was a student at St. Joseph’s he learned about global citizenship through a service trip to Colombia. “It raised my consciousness to see the poor, to see people coming up from the Amazon and Chocó Rivers, and it raised the question: Why them, not me? Why do I have the chance for an education and not them?”

Fr. Gillespie said that Saint Joseph’s taught him to pursue questions in a quest for meaning in life. “I’m still questing, but I have confidence that meaning can be found,” he said.

After graduating from Saint Joseph’s, Fr. Gillespie went on to earn a master’s degrees in psychology from Duquesne University and in divinity from the Jesuit School of Theology Berkeley. He holds a Ph.D. in pastoral psychology from Boston University.

Prior to his appointment at Saint Joseph’s, Fr. Gillespie served as associate provost for University Centers of Excellence at Loyola University Chicago, where he oversaw five academic centers. He succeeds Jesuit Father Timothy R. Lannon, who is now president of Creighton University in Omaha. Read more about Fr. Gillespie in this SJU Magazine article.

Jesuit Historian on the Legacy of Vatican II 50 Years Later

Jesuit Father John W. O’MalleyYesterday marked the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, and Jesuit Father John W. O’Malley, a historian, theologian and professor at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., gave his thoughts on the legacy of Vatican II in both an interview with the Vatican Insider and an op-ed piece in The New York Times.

Fr. O’Malley says that one of the council’s legacies is that it gave the church “a new role as reconciler in a world torn apart by hatred and threats of violence.”

Reconciliation was one of the great themes running through the council, according to Fr. O’Malley. “The document of the liturgy, for instance, promoted a reconciliation of the church with non-Western cultures by inviting symbols and rituals from those cultures into the liturgy itself. The church thus distanced itself from the Western ‘cultural imperialism’ that affected even Catholic missionaries,” he says.

“Related to that reconciliation but perhaps even more pertinent for today’s world, was the reconciliation with Jews and Muslims, as expressed in the document Nostra Aetate. This meant putting behind us a tradition of belittling and denigrating those faiths, a tradition that had contributed to the horror of the Holocaust,” says Fr. O’Malley. “Pope John Paul II set a marvelous example by his many meetings with Jewish groups, as it is well known. Less well known, but in today’s tense international situation even more important, were his many meetings with Muslims.”

Fr. O’Malley says that Vatican II has already passed from experience and memory to history. Future generations, he says, “will experience what the council did not as a change but as ‘the way things are’ and maybe assume that is the way things have always been.”

In his op-ed piece, Fr. O’Malley concludes: “The post-Vatican II church was not a different church. But if you take the long view, it seems to me incontestable that the turn was big, even if failures in implementation have made it less big in certain areas than the council intended.”

Read the full interview with Fr. O’Malley at the Vatican Insider website and read his op-ed at The New York Times website.