Archive for May, 2013

Assistant International Director of JRS Reflects Upon Serving Where Needs Are Greatest

Jesuit Father Ken Gavin, Assistant International Director of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), reflects on the many ways the Jesuits are serving where the need is greatest around the globe.

Interviewed by Jeremy Langford, Director of Communications for the Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits, Fr. Gavin also shares some of his own journey as a Jesuit and Pope Francis’ call to solidarity with the poor.

This interview took place at JRS headquarters in Rome on April 23, 2013. For more information on Jesuit Refugee Service, please visit www.jrsusa.org.

Jesuit Becomes Fifth Bishop of Oakland, Says He’s Inspired by Pope’s Vision of Church

Bishop Michael Barber

(CNS photo/Jose Luis Aguirre, The Catholic Voice)

Jesuit Father Michael Barber, 59, was installed as bishop of the Oakland Diocese on May 25 at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, Calif.  Appointed by Pope Francis, Bishop Barber is the fifth bishop in the history of the diocese and the first Jesuit.

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone was the ordaining bishop of Bishop Barber, who succeeds him in Oakland. Bishop Barber was installed with his brother, Jesuit Father Stephen Barber, at his side. Another brother, Kevin Barber, served as a reader.

“People have asked me, ‘what is your vision as bishop?’ I would like to do for Oakland what Pope Francis is doing for the whole church,” Bishop Barber said.

“My vision is this: The priests take care of the people. The bishop takes care of the priests. And we all take care of the poor, and the sick and the suffering.”

Bishop Michael Barber

(CNS photo/Jose Luis Aguirre, The Catholic Voice)

He offered greetings to Gov. Jerry Brown, who had trained three and a half years as a Jesuit, before becoming governor of California, twice, and mayor of Oakland.

“Governor, I’m honored that you are here today, because on this day, only here in Oakland, in the state of California, in the United States of America, do you have a Jesuit bishop, to go with a Jesuit pope and a Jesuit governor.”

Bishop Barber’s career as a priest focused on education, with assignments including assistant professor of theology at Gregorian University in Rome; researcher and tutor at Oxford University in England; director of the School of Pastoral Leadership in the Archdiocese of San Francisco; assistant professor of systematic and moral theology and spiritual director at St. Patrick’s Seminary & University in Menlo Park, Calif.; and director of spiritual formation at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Mass.

Bishop Barber said that until three weeks ago it never entered his mind that he would be bishop of Oakland.

Bishop Michael Barber

(CNS photo/Jose Luis Aguirre, The Catholic Voice)

In his initial nervousness, he said he recalled that Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the previous apostolic nuncio, had told a priest who was nervous about being made a bishop: The Lord himself is going to be bishop of your diocese. You’re only going to help him.

“That’s what I’d like to do,” he said. “I’m helping our Lord here be the bishop of this diocese. I know I’m unworthy, but I do know one other thing: That for all eternity, in the mind of God, to be bishop of Oakland has been my vocation. With God’s help, and your prayers, and the love of Mother Mary, I intend to fulfill it.” [Catholic San Francisco]

Below is video of Bishop Barber’s remarks at the end of his episcopal ordination Mass in Oakland.

Jesuit Father Peter Ryan Named Head of USCCB Doctrine Secretariat

Jesuit Father Peter F. RyanJesuit Father Peter F. Ryan, a member of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus, has been named executive director of the Secretariat of Doctrine and Canonical Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

He succeeds Capuchin Father Thomas Weinandy, who announced his resignation in January. Fr. Weinandy began his work at the USCCB in 2005. Fr. Ryan’s appointment is effective August 19.

Fr. Ryan has been director of spiritual formation and professor of moral theology at Kenrick-Gennon Seminary in St. Louis since January 2012. Prior to that he was professor of moral theology at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland, 2001-2011, and assistant professor of theology at Loyola College in Maryland, 1994-2001.

Fr. Ryan holds a licentiate and doctorate in theology from the Gregorian University, Rome; a master of divinity degree from Regis College, Toronto; a master of arts degree in English and a licentiate in philosophy from Gonzaga University, Spokane; and a bachelor of arts in political science from Loyola College in Maryland.

He is a member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars and has served three terms on its executive board. He also was been a senior fellow with The Westchester Institute for Ethics & the Human Person, founded in 1998 to renew, deepen, and promote the Western tradition of moral reflection.

Fr. Ryan has written extensively on ethical and theological issues and been published in scholarly journals, including Theological Studies, Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly, Homiletic and Pastoral Review, the National Catholic Bioethical Quarterly, American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly and American Journal of Jurisprudence. He speaks and reads English, Italian, French and German and also reads Latin and Spanish.

The executive director of the doctrine secretariat oversees the work and staff of the secretariat for the bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, and also assists the bishops’ Subcommittee on Health Care Issues and Subcommittee on the Translation of Scripture Texts.

Msgr. Ronny Jenkins, USCCB General Secretary, thanked the Jesuits for permitting Fr. Ryan to join the USCCB staff and highlighted the relevance of his background.

“Fr. Ryan’s considerable expertise on bioethical issues is vital as contemporary society addresses moral challenges inherent in biotechnology, medical ethics and environmentalism,” Msgr. Jenkins said. “He brings a depth of theological knowledge to these and other areas, including the study and teaching of systematic theology, that are critical to the Church today and to the strategic priorities adopted by the bishops.”

Msgr. Jenkins also applauded the contributions of Fr. Weinandy.

“Fr. Weinandy has offered a steady hand in serving the U.S. bishops in their immersion in today’s theological issues,” he said. “He leaves the USCCB knowing he has been a valued contributor to its work. He has earned the sabbatical he now takes as he prepares for further work in academia.” [USCCB]

 

Australian Jesuit Shares His Antarctic Chaplaincy Experience

Jesuit Father Michael Smith

Jesuit Father Michael Smith outside the Chapel of the Snows, Antarctica. Photo by Anna Pearson.

Visiting the South Pole was one of the items on Australian Jesuit Father Michael Smith’s “bucket list.” He doubted he would ever tick it off until he heard about the Antarctic Chaplaincy Program, which sends chaplains to serve the scientists, staff and military personnel at McMurdo Station, a U.S. Antarctic research center.

Because Antarctica is so remote and medical facilities are limited, Fr. Smith had to undergo extensive medical checks beforehand. He passed and found himself on a plane to Antarctica this past December to serve for four weeks.

While Fr. Smith had researched Antarctica before he left, he writes, “nothing prepared me for the physical vastness and the beauty I encountered when I stepped out of the aircraft onto the ice runway.

“In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola suggests that we consider how God works and labors for us in all things created on the face of the earth. In Antarctica, it is not hard to see God at work in the beauty of creation — in the mountain ranges, in the ice sheet, in the limitless blue sky, in the vastness of the continent, in the seals, in the penguins.”

Fr. Smith, who is dean of Sentir Graduate College of Spiritual Formation in Melbourne, Australia, says that the aspect of life at McMurdo that will stay with him most is the relationships. “With about 1000 people at the station and with us all eating together in the galley, a strong sense of community grew. I found the conversations over meals and the friendships that were forged very life-giving. These conversations often turned to things of God, and discussing the meaning of life was an important part of my role.”

Jesuit Father Michael SmithAs chaplain, Fr. Smith celebrated Mass and prayed daily in the Chapel of the Snows, which looks out over the Ross Ice Shelf towards Mount Discovery. “It was very peaceful and unhurried,” he writes. “The silence of Antarctica was immense and very conducive to prayer.”

Fr. Smith says the most memorable thing he did was visiting the South Pole. “I put on my extreme cold-weather clothing and walked over to the magnetic South Pole. At this point on the earth, everywhere is north,” he recalls. “At this place I found myself moved to pray for peace on earth.”

To read more of Fr. Smith’s reflections on his time in Antarctica, visit Kairos Magazine and Fr. Smith’s website, antarcticjesuit.com.

One Jesuit’s Journey of Faith and Discovery through Formation

Jesuit John PeckFor the past two years, Jesuit John Peck has taught philosophy at Loyola University Maryland. Teaching there has been part of his formation as a Jesuit—it’s a stage called regency, in which most Jesuits work full-time for two or three years at a Jesuit ministry. Reflecting on this period, Peck says that he can summarize in a word what he’s gained: confidence.

“I now have greater confidence in the authenticity of my friendship with Jesus Christ. … Regency challenges a Jesuit in formation to assume added responsibility for his spiritual life. … With a full schedule of teaching, preparation, writing and other activities, I’ve had to work hard to stay nourished on a steady diet of the Word of God.”

With excellent mentoring from his colleagues, Peck says he’s also grown in the confidence that he can accomplish the work the Society of Jesus entrusts to him. “With each semester I’ve grown as a teacher. I’ve become more adept at designing courses and classes,” he writes. “My judgments about what students need and can receive have become sharper.”

As he completes regency, Peck says he’s also more confident that he can thrive in Jesuit community life. While his background differs from many of the Jesuits he lives with, he writes, “Representing myself truthfully and speaking up, I’ve learned that others find my experiences and points of view interesting. I’ve also found that men with whom I differ are often full of goodness and apostolic fervor. I’m confident that God will continue to give me joy with my Jesuit brothers.”

Living and working at Loyola have been “an experience of God’s providential care” for Peck. “[God] has enkindled my desire for him in prayer and nurtured me through the friendship of mentors and fellow Jesuits. I’m eager for the future and confident he will continue to provide.”

Read Peck’s full reflection in the Spring/Summer 2013 issue of JESUITS magazine.