Archive for January, 2013

Jesuit Says Real Issues Must Be Addressed in Wake of Newtown Shooting

Jesuit Father Greg BoyleIn the aftermath of the Newtown school shooting, Jesuit Father Greg Boyle cautions against looking at the tragedy from too distant a perspective. Looking at this from “an aerial view of nonviolence oddly keeps us from solutions,” Fr. Boyle told the National Catholic Reporter.

“In the same way the [Connecticut] governor said, ‘A great evil visited this community today,’ well, actually, armed mental illness visited your community that day. This is what keeps us from addressing actual issues,” said Fr. Boyle, who has worked with gang members in Los Angeles since 1988 through his Homeboy Industries ministry, which is the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the U.S.

“When we take our views lower, we know we need to address guns and we need to address mental illness,” Fr. Boyle said. “The elephant in the room is mental health, which is something I see more and more with the gang population with whom I work.”

Fr. Boyle also told the National Catholic Reporter that the nation’s mental health care system is in desperate need of rehabilitation. According to Fr. Boyle, because of national, state and local government budget cuts made in recent years, today’s health care system is essentially the same as it was in 1850.

Fr. Boyle said mental health facilities have one bed for every 7,000 patients, and as a result the nation’s prisons, skid rows and homeless shelters are filled with the mentally ill.

“The largest mental health facility in the world is the Los Angeles county jail,” Fr. Boyle said. “These are examples that show we are not actually dealing with the real issues.”

Jesuits Renew Presence in Miami with Renovated Gesu Church

Gesu Church in MiamiThe Jesuits’ Gesu Church in downtown Miami, the city’s oldest Catholic church, was recently renovated, and the pastor says the aesthetic improvement is only half the story. “We have always wanted to revive our presence in the heart of downtown because the area itself has been developed and the Catholic Church was not going to fall behind,” says Jesuit Father Eddy Alvarez, Gesu’s pastor.

The iconic downtown church dates to 1922, and in the last few months the building has gone through a transformation that’s included restoring the bell tower, painting the facade with new colors, revitalizing the interior and adding the emblem of the Society of Jesus. “We needed to modernize and attract new Catholics who have moved to the area,” says Fr. Alvarez.

Because the church is so close to the ocean, the salt residue and humidity had taken a toll on the building’s frame with cracks and other forms of dangerous deterioration, according to Jesuit Father Eduardo Barrios.

Today, there are three Jesuit priests working at the parish, which has seen growth and diversification of its parishioners, particularly following an influx of young professionals to the area.

“It now has a fresher look while maintaining its original beauty,” says parishioner Alberto Carrillo of the renovated church. “It’s very inviting if you are Catholic.”

To reaffirm the Gesu’s Jesuit identity, the IHS emblem — derived from the first three letters of the Greek name of Jesus and featured in the Society’s crest — has been emphasized throughout the church. IHS is welded to the bars on doors and windows and is also painted on the panels containing the Creed along the Stations of the Cross.

Read the full article and see more images at the Miami Herald website.

Jesuit Named President of New Cristo Rey School Set to Open in San Jose, Calif.

Jesuit Father Peter PabstA new Cristo Rey Network school has been approved to open in San Jose in 2014, and Jesuit Father Peter Pabst has been named its first president. Endorsed by the California Province of the Society of Jesus, the new Cristo Rey San Jose High School will be supported by the Diocese of San Jose and Five Wounds Portuguese National Parish.

Fr. Pabst is the founder and current president of two middle schools in San Jose: Sacred Heart Nativity School for boys, opened in 2001, and Our Lady of Grace Nativity School for girls, opened in 2006. Both schools provide Catholic education to low-income students and prepare them for college preparatory high school programs.

“Serving at Sacred Heart Nativity Schools has been a great joy,” said Fr. Pabst. “I’m excited to have the opportunity to launch another school for members of our community who find themselves underserved.  I look forward to helping these young people come to know their dreams and to help realize them. To graduate 125 students a year who are college-ready is a blessing for their families and for our community.”

Cristo Rey schools provide a quality, Catholic, college preparatory education to young people living in poverty in urban communities. Cristo Rey students also participate in an innovative Corporate Work Study Program that provides them with real-world work experience, which helps fund the majority of their education and provides on-the-job training.

Bishop Patrick J. McGrath of the Diocese of San Jose is supportive of the new high school: “The Society of Jesus has a long history and commitment to Catholic education nationwide and particularly in the Diocese of San Jose. I am excited about the launch of Cristo Rey San Jose as an opportunity to bring education to those most in need on the east side of San Jose.”

Learn more at the Cristo Rey San Jose High School website.

Fordham Prep Names New Jesuit President

Jesuit Father Christopher Devron Fordham Preparatory School in the Bronx, N.Y., has appointed Jesuit Father Christopher Devron as its 35th president, effective July 1, 2013. Fr. Devron will succeed Jesuit Father Kenneth Boller, who has served in the position for nine years.

For the past six years, as the founding president of Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory School, Fr. Devron helped to bring quality, affordable secondary education to low-income students on Chicago’s West Side.

Previous to his work at Christ the King, Fr. Devron served at Regis High School in New York City as the founding director of REACH (Recruiting Excellence in Academics for Catholic High Schools), designed to make Jesuit secondary education accessible to academically gifted middle school students of modest means. In the mid-1990s, Fr. Devron served as Executive Director of the Inner-City Teaching Corps in Chicago.

Fr. Devron joined the Society of Jesus in 1991, after graduating from the University of Notre Dame and working as a volunteer teacher in the Bronx at Cardinal Spellman High School.

“I am grateful and encouraged by the Fordham Prep Board’s confidence in me and excited to help lead one of the premiere Jesuit secondary schools in the country — especially one that exemplifies such high academic standards and has an outstanding record of developing students who become men for others, dedicated to God’s greater glory,” Fr. Devron said after being selected. [Fordham Prep]