Archive for the ‘High School’ Category

Looking Back: Celebrating 50 years as a Jesuit in the Seattle Times

Fifty years ago,  in 1961,  Jesuit Father Patrick Howell entered the Society of Jesus at Sheridan, Ore, the novitiate for Jesuits in the Northwest.Today, Fr. Howell is the rector (religious superior) of the Jesuit Community at Seattle University and professor of pastoral theology. In this piece for the Seattle Times, Fr. Howell looks back upon his time as a Jesuit and his own travails. 

A recent graduate of Gonzaga University, I was only 21, but my peers, most of whom had entered directly from a Jesuit high school, such as Seattle Prep or Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma, considered me one of the “old men.”

The years pass swiftly, but they have been full of grace and certainly much more joy than sorrow.

I was blessed with first-class opportunities for advanced education. After initial studies in spirituality, prayer, Jesuit tradition and a dose of Latin and Greek, I studied philosophy and English literature at Boston College.

Then came three years of high-school teaching at Jesuit High in Portland. I survived the trials and testing by high-school boys and grew to love the personal interaction and challenge of teaching English, creative writing and poetry and advising the high school newspaper.

This “formation” period of teaching in high school probably accounts for why most Jesuits are such good teachers and homilists. Survival demands that you develop rhetorical skills and a flair for the dramatic — even though it’s not native to your personality — in order to grab the attention of 28 sophomore boys for 50 minutes each day…

But another significant portion of my life has been spiritual care of those who have suffered severe mental illness.

All this arose as a surprise, when I suffered a psychotic breakdown myself at age 35 and then recovered through excellent psychiatric care and the good graces and support of family and friends…

This “grace” led to an amazingly rich ministry with people with mental illness and their families.

Years ago, Jesuit Father Michael Buckley, in an address to Jesuit seminarians asked, “Is this man sufficiently weak to be a priest?”…

Why weakness? Because, according to the Epistle to the Hebrews, it is in this deficiency, in this interior lack, in this weakness, that the efficacy of the ministry and priesthood of Christ lies. “For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18)

I think, after 50 years, I can rejoice in being “weak enough” to allow the grace of Christ to shine through and carry the load.

More of Howell’s life as a Jesuit can be found in this piece in the Seattle Times.

Jesuit Touts Cristo Rey Model in Op-Ed Piece

Jesuit Father T.J. MartinezJesuit Father T.J. Martinez, the founding president of Cristo Rey Jesuit College Preparatory School of Houston, recently had an op-ed piece published in the Houston Chronicle, touting the Society of Jesus’ innovative Cristo Rey educational model. In the piece, Fr. Martinez suggests that the Cristo Rey model offers families a way to take the legislators out of his state’s educational dilemma.

“Rather than looking to Austin — or to any state or federal support in general — the bills are paid through a college prep program that integrates a paying job as part of the students’ weekly curriculum,” writes Martinez.

Students at Cristo Rey schools work one day a week at a corporation doing entry-level white-collar jobs, with their salaries going toward tuition.

Martinez cites the fact that the Texas legislature has cut funds for public schools; meanwhile the state ranks low in SAT scores, teacher salaries and senior graduation rates.

Martinez notes that the Cristo Rey network has been operating for more than 15 years and boasts a 99 percent college acceptance rate. ”This program is a proven success, offering a hand up rather than a hand out,” he writes.

Read the full article by Martinez at the Houston Chronicle.

Jesuit Reflects on Switching Ministries

Jesuit Father Hernan Paredes Jesuit Father Hernan Paredes spent last year teaching religion at Loyola School in Manhattan after seven years of parish ministry in the New York metropolitan area.

Fr. Paredes said that he was comfortable with his pastoral ministry at two Jesuit parishes, but that “my vocation within the Jesuit vocation, has been teaching high school kids.”

However, coming to Loyola did present some challenges, such as replacing a Jesuit teacher who devoted 23 years of ministry to Loyola and teaching in a coed school for the first time.

Despite the challenges, he writes, “I can say that coming back to teach has been a blessing.”

“To be the only Hispanic male on the faculty, as well as a Jesuit priest, has some advantages when I teach any subject,” Paredes writes. “I encourage my students to open their eyes and see that a different world is possible. I am impressed to see that very often my students relate their experiences to the social teaching of our Catholic faith.”

Paredes writes, “A Jesuit has to be able to engage in any ministry, moving from serving old folks to young ones, from the poor to the upper class, and in so doing fulfill the will of God.”

For more reflections from Paredes, visit the Maryland, New England and New York Provinces Jesuit Vocations website.

Jesuit Regents Find Inspiration in Students

Jesuit Dennis Baker

Jesuit Dennis Baker at Xavier High School in New York City.

Regency is a time in Jesuit formation that occurs after First Studies and just prior to the formal study of theology, affording each Jesuit an opportunity to work in an apostolic area.

Jesuit Dennis Baker, of the New York Province, teaches at Xavier High School in New York City for his regency and said that Xavier High “is, quite literally, changing my life.”

“The students provide a context for me to work out what my own particular vocation means for me and to the world,” said Baker. “They constantly teach me about what it means to be a Jesuit and, in ways they cannot fathom, they instruct me on what kind of priest they want to see me become one day.”

Baker taught at a Jesuit high school before he entered the Society, but doing this work as a Jesuit scholastic is something completely different. “For reasons that often make me shake my head in utter disbelief, this work — and doing it in this particular way as a Jesuit — suits me better than I ever could have imagined.”

Jesuit Ben Brenkert, also of the New York Province, is spending his regency as a teacher, guidance counselor and social worker at St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City.

For Brenkert, the magis takes on a new meaning in regency to include the search for the quality, excellence and mastery of a craft and the freer and more personal service of others.

“To be a successful regent,” he said, “I believe that my love for my students must pour forth, flowing from my prayer and from my participation in the sacraments.”

Read more about Jesuits’ regency experiences in Jesuits magazine.

Jesuit Influence Apparent in Rugby

Jesuit Father Bruce Bidinger

Jesuit Father Bruce Bidinger

It’s probably not too surprising that a Catholic order conceived in the aftermath of battle, one which has always seasoned its intellectual and spiritual fervor with a healthy respect for physical strength, has become the principal force behind the growth of American rugby.

So many Jesuit high schools and colleges are playing and succeeding at the rugged and increasingly popular sport that it seems as if the 477-year-old religious order, founded by a converted Spanish soldier, Ignatius of Loyola, has added rugby devotion to its vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

“The whole idea of what Ignatius inspired in Jesuits, a competitive spirit and the development of the whole person, is really alive in the sport,” said the Jesuit Father Bruce Bidinger, a counselor at St. Joseph’s University and the chaplain for its basketball team.

The traditional game, with 15 players on each side, and the hybrid “sevens” version, with seven players per side, of the sport are experiencing an American boom, nowhere more so than at the 80-plus Jesuit high schools and colleges from coast to coast.

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