Archive for the ‘Television’ Category

Jesuit Leading Santa Clara University Solar Decathlon Team to Victory

Jesuit Father Jim Reites started out as an engineering student at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, but meeting the Jesuits his senior year changed his career path. Instead, he joined the Society of Jesus and became a professor of religious studies at Santa Clara University in California. In a nod to his former career path, Fr. Reites is now making headlines as the adviser of Santa Clara’s Solar Decathlon team.

The United States Department of Energy sponsors the Solar Decathlon every two years, in which teams from schools worldwide compete to build the most efficient, livable and beautiful solar home. Santa Clara’s teams finished in third place in both 2007 and 2009, besting many bigger, better-funded universities. Students credit Fr. Reites as a large reason for their success, and the 2013 solar decathlon team is currently working on their next entry at the Santa Clara campus.

“I’ve never seen him down in spirits or tired,” said Santa Clara junior Brian Grau. “He’s always ready to work whether it’s actually doing physical labor all day long or helping us with the design.”

Fr. Reites may be 75 years old, but he is teaching young Santa Clara students plenty about technology. Additionally, Fr. Reites brings his love of science to his position as chair of the Religious Studies Department at Santa Clara. “The very first personal computer in a department on campus was in the Department of Religious Studies,” said Fr. Reites. “And I built it from a kit.” His do-it-yourself attitude led the university to ask him to become the Solar Decathlon team adviser.

Tim Hight, professor of mechanical engineering and faculty project leader for the Solar Decathlon team, said Fr. Reites “always seemed to be around when something needed to be done and outworked most of the team in terms of energy and enthusiasm. His understanding of so many aspects of the house, whether electrical, plumbing or controls, means that he knows how the whole house works and how to fix it if it doesn’t.”

According to Fr. Reites, building a solar house is right in line with the Jesuits’ mission. “It’s engineering with a mission, a real mission to make the world a better place.” [NBC Bay Area, Santa Clara University]

Jesuit Discusses Faith in America on Morning Joe

Jesuit Father Kevin O’BrienJesuit Father Kevin O’Brien, vice president of mission and ministry at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., recently appeared on the talk show Morning Joe, where he discussed faith in the United States. He addressed a recent Gallup Poll that found 77% of people said religion was losing its influence in the country. “I think what the churches, synagogues and mosques need to do is get back to the basics. In our case, to preach the Gospel and focus on what we’re most deeply about,” he said.

Fr. O’Brien said he takes his cues from Pope Francis. “His style … is really about getting back to basics. … He’s preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He’s talking about the poor. He’s talking about helping people finding meaning in their lives. He’s inviting people to encounter Jesus and for the Christian that’s a very attractive message.”

Fr. O’Brien also addressed a 2012 Pew Forum survey that found 1 in 5 adults are not affiliated with any religion. Most described themselves as spiritual but not religious.

That’s a call for religious to listen to that longing of those people, according to Fr. O’Brien. “They’re longing for God. I think we do better when we listen first to what that longing is about and then share our tradition.”

As for getting people back into the church, Fr. O’Brien said it’s a call to humility. “The churches must be in a more listening posture: that is to invite and to welcome … I think the reason why Pope Francis has spoken to so many people across religious traditions is that he is a humble man and he’s in a listening posture.

“I think all of us in religion would do better when we listen first,” Fr. O’Brien said. “I think this pope is leading the way. Frankly, for me, he’s making me a better priest if I follow his example.”

American Jesuits React to News of Historic Announcement of Their Brother Jesuit’s Election as Pope

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Jesuit brethren of the new Pope Francis I were as surprised as anyone when Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina, was announced March 13 as the first Jesuit to be elected pope. Jesuit Father Gerard Stockhausen, executive secretary of the Jesuit Conference USA, told Catholic News Service that when Cardinal Bergoglio’s name was announced from the Vatican balcony, he didn’t realize immediately that it was a fellow member of the Society of Jesus, the religious order founded by St. Ignatius Loyola in 1534. Jesuits generally don’t seek higher offices in the church, Father Stockhausen said. “There are relatively few who are bishops even. We don’t ordinarily take on those posts.” Even the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, told reporters: “Personally, I’m a bit shocked to have a Jesuit pope. Jesuits think of themselves as servants, not authorities in church.” “Jesuits resist being named bishop or cardinal. To be named pope — wow,” Father Lombardi said. “Must have been result of strong call.” In Dajabon, Dominican Republic, Jesuit Father Regino Martinez, called it “a moment of great hope and opportunity for the church.” He said Pope Francis as the first Latin American pope also offers “an opportunity to support the work being done in the Latin American church and a show of support for Latin Americans.” Father Stockhausen said that even those Jesuits who do become cardinals “tend not to move in ‘cardinal circles,’ where they get to know each other. That’s not our world.” He acknowledged that Jesuits are generally thought of as highly educated, and “men of the world.” There’s a saying that goes “‘Francis (of Assisi) loved the countryside, Dominic loved the countryside and Ignatius loved the cities,’ we’re ‘worldly’ in the good sense of the word,” he said. Jesuits also have a reputation for being careful decision-makers, particularly if they follow the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius, said Father Stockhausen. The exercises lead one to make decisions not out of personal interests or attachments, he said, but out of where the Spirit is leading through prayer.

Pope Francis I appears for the first time on the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican March 13. (CNS/Paul Haring)

As Jesuits across the United States watched in wonder as one of their own was elected to the papacy for the first time in history yesterday, it wasn’t long before the phones started ringing as news outlets called upon American Jesuits to comment on the significance of the unexpected and momentous news. From “CBS This Morning” and USA Today to NBCNews.com and The Boston Globe to daily newspapers and local news affiliates across the country, Jesuits were asked to reflect on the significance of the election of Pope Francis.

Jesuit Father Matt Malone, editor of America magazine, and Jesuit Father Tom Reese were barraged with media requests in Rome, and Jesuit Father James Martin appeared on many outlets, including CNN.com and NPR. Many Jesuits expressed shock, saying they never thought they’d see a Jesuit pope.

Jesuit Father Scott Pilarz, president of Marquette University in Milwaukee, appeared on “CBS This Morning” where he said friends had recently asked him if there would ever be a Jesuit pope and he responded, “Absolutely not.”

But, Fr. Pilarz continued, “In extraordinary moments and times, the church has looked to members of the Society of Jesus to play these leadership roles. I think it’s recognition that the church is at one of those moments.”

Jesuit Father Gerard Stockhausen, executive secretary of the Jesuit Conference USA, told Catholic News Service that when Cardinal Bergoglio’s name was announced from the Vatican balcony, he didn’t realize immediately that it was a fellow member of the Society of Jesus.

“Jesuits generally don’t seek higher offices in the church,” Fr. Stockhausen said. “There are relatively few who are bishops, even. We don’t ordinarily take on those posts.”

Jesuit Father Robert Ballecer of the Jesuit Conference explained to NPR why so many were surprised — but why it wasn’t impossible for a Jesuit to be elected. “We have a vow that we will not seek out office. But there have been cases where offices seek us out,” Fr. Ballecer said.

Jesuit Father Michael Sheeran, president-elect of the American Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, described the new pope and his Jesuit principles to NBCNews.com. “Pope Francis took the bus to work every day. He sold the cardinal’s residence and lived in a small apartment where he cooked for himself.”

“That simplicity hides a steely determination to advance Jesuit principles, especially on the importance of traditional Catholic teachings and protection of the poor and the oppressed,” Fr. Sheeran said.

Jesuit Father Michael Garanzini, president of Loyola University Chicago, told The Chicago Tribune that he could envision Francis championing the poor from his position as pontiff.

“Coming out of Latin America, he is very familiar with the plight of the disadvantaged where the divide between rich and poor is very striking,” he said.

Jesuit Father Jack Butler, vice president for mission and ministry at Boston College, told The Boston Globe he was both shocked and excited. “I was flabbergasted, because Jesuits aren’t supposed to be popes, and Jesuits aren’t supposed to be bishops, and yet I’d be lying through my teeth if I didn’t say as a Jesuit it gave me a great sense of joy and pride.”

Jesuit Father Douglas Marcouiller, provincial for the Missouri Province Jesuits, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the Jesuits “don’t generally serve as bishops unless the circumstances are rather unusual. I think that that there is a tradition of not seeking roles that require a good deal of power, in order to serve the poor.”

Fr. Marcouiller added, “I think it is quite clear that Pope Francis has the gift of humility that will allow him to use that power and to exercise that ministry in a very effective way.”

He admitted that seeing a Jesuit in the robes of a pope would take some getting used to. “I think it will be a shock for the entire order,” Fr. Marcouiller said with a laugh.

Jesuit Father Kevin O’Brien, vice president for mission and ministry at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., helped explain the Society of Jesus to several major news outlets, including Time magazine and USA Today. “Most people will know of Jesuits because of their schools,” Fr. O’Brien said.

“To be a Jesuit today is to serve the church and the world,” Fr. O’Brien told USA Today. “The church has been sidetracked by sexual and financial scandals. Now, it’s about getting back to the basics. It’s about preaching the gospel and helping the poor.”

Jesuit Father Myles Sheehan, provincial of the New England Province Jesuits, told the West Hartford News, “Although we are, of course, excited about the Holy Father’s Jesuit roots, we are more excited about his ministry to the Universal Church and pray for courage and wisdom for him as he begins this journey of faith.”

Below is video of Fr. Pilarz’s appearance on “CBS This Morning”.

Father James Martin on the Papal Resignation in The New York Times, on The Colbert Report

Jesuit Father Jim Martin on The Colbert ReportJesuit Father James Martin, editor at large at America magazine, appeared on The Colbert Report last night where he and host Stephen Colbert discussed the pope’s resignation, the papal election process, ex-pope etiquette and the unlikelihood of choosing an American pope.

Fr. Martin also has an op-ed, “The Change Upon Christ’s Rock,” in The New York Times today on Pope Benedict XVI’s legacy:

“Paradoxically, Benedict might also be best remembered for how he left the papacy. In becoming the first pope to resign since 1415, he demonstrated immense spiritual freedom, putting the good of the institution, and of a billion Catholics, before power or status. This most traditional of popes — who in his role as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had often been criticized for exercising too much power — has done one of the most nontraditional things imaginable.”

Read the op-ed at The New York Times website and watch Fr. Martin on The Colbert Show below:

Jesuit President of Spring Hill College Talks Southern Culture, Vocations with Local News

Jesuit Father Richard SalmiJesuit Father Richard Salmi, president of Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala.,  had spent very little time in the south before his appointment in 2009. He recently spoke with the local Fox news station, where he said that at first he felt like a stranger in a strange land.

“I never saw grits until I moved here, but then I discovered shrimp and grits, which I have to say has converted me,” says Fr. Salmi, who came to Spring Hill from Loyola University Chicago. “One of the things I love about the south is just how warm and friendly people are. The city has been so welcoming.”

Fr. Salmi, originally from Cleveland, first became interested in the Jesuits at Ohio University.

“My freshman year in college was the year of the Kent State killings and the Vietnam War protests, and so it was a turbulent time for America. I had a Jesuit as an instructor at this big state school. I looked at the Jesuits and saw all the good works they were doing all over the place. I was going to save the world and certainly the Jesuits were going to help me do it,” he recalls.

Fr. Salmi made a weeklong retreat with the Jesuits to discern whether he should become a priest or join the Peace Corps. He chose the Jesuits. “ I like the idea that as a Jesuit you could be a doctor or a lawyer. You could have a profession in addition to being a priest,” Fr. Salmi says.

“Social justice has always been at the core of what we are about, and we’ve always been on the cutting edge in the cusp of justice issues,” says Fr. Salmi.

Looking toward the future for Spring Hill, Fr. Salmi says the institution needs to look at “what we are doing to enable Hispanics to come to Spring Hill and how are we going to speak out for the undocumented folks and how do we stand for the Dream Act.”

Watch the full feature on Fr. Salmi below.

The Interview: Fr. Richard Salmi