Archive for the ‘Spirituality’ Category
This past Holy Thursday, Jesuit Father Michael Kennedy, executive director of the Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative, organized Jesuit novices to wash the feet of minors at a Los Angeles juvenile hall, following the lead of Pope Francis, who washed the feet of detainees at a juvenile detention center in Rome. The young people at the center in Los Angeles also wrote letters to the pope, and — much to his surprise — Fr. Kennedy received a response from the pope.
In the letter, Pope Francis wrote: “I was very moved to read the letters you sent to me from the young people of Juvenile Hall and to know that we were close to one another in spirit during the washing of feet on Holy Thursday evening.”
“When I read the letter from the pope, many feelings flowed through me,” Fr. Kennedy wrote in a reflection in The Tidings. “I thought of what Dorothy Day said when working at the margins: ‘To work with the poor is a harsh and dreadful love.’ Most of the time it feels like you are losing. Being at the margins brings its own isolation.”
Fr. Kennedy noted that in a simple letter, Pope Francis “affirmed that the choice to kneel down with a population that society has neglected is where we find God’s presence. With his gesture, he points to where we should serve. Rather than running away from those who are not healthy, we should run toward those who need healing.”
Fr. Kennedy said he realizes a letter will not change the day-to-day workings of being in marginalized places, but “it is a small sign of affirmation from the man at the head of our church. It embodies the Gospel’s message of forgiveness and healing, and it affirms that this is where God truly is.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
As 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.”
Jesuit Father Michael Barber will be installed as bishop of the Diocese of Oakland, Calif., on May 25 at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland. Before being named bishop earlier this month, he had served in a wide range of ministries, including as a missionary in Western Samoa, an assistant professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, a tutor and chaplain at the University of Oxford and as a chaplain for the U.S. Navy.
Bishop-elect Barber’s time as a military chaplain included active duty in 2003 to serve the 6,000 troops in the 4th Marine Air Wing who participated in the invasion of Iraq.
Bishop-elect Barber joined the Chaplain Corps shortly after the first Gulf War, while he was studying at the Gregorian University. In 1991, U.S. Navy ships began arriving in Naples, and the call came for Catholic priests to say Mass aboard ships.
In Naples he learned that 30 percent of Marine officers are Catholic, and that there weren’t enough Catholic chaplains to minister to them. As a result, many were converting to other religions.
“All of this inspired me to sign up,” recalled Bishop-elect Barber. “I never knew much about the Navy, but I was inspired by the tremendous needs of these people and by their great generosity.”
Bishop-elect Barber said about ministering during wartime: “As a Catholic and a priest, I agree with the papal teachings regarding this war. And as a member of the military, I know what my duty is: to serve the Marines wherever they are. If they are put into combat, I want to be with them to give them the sacraments.
“When Marines see a priest going on marches with them and sleeping in the same tent, they show you tremendous gratitude. They are so happy I was there for them,” he said.
As a military chaplain, Bishop-elect Barber counseled soldiers of all denominations, with most soldiers wanting to discuss marital problems. “They would come to me with ‘Dear John’ e-mails,” said Fr. Barber. “This is the biggest issue, even in times of peace. The pressure is sometimes too much for spouses who worry about their partners dying.”
According to Bishop-elect Barber, ministering to the military was important because he was able to reach men and women with whom the Jesuits didn’t have contact with through Jesuit schools.
For more on Bishop-elect Barber’s time as a military chaplain, read the full story at the Saint Ignatius College Prep website.
The Society of Jesus has a rich history of serving the Detroit area since the arrival of the first Jesuits in 1701, according to Jesuit Father Patrick Peppard. Today, the Society continues to serve the people of the city through Saints Peter & Paul Jesuit Church in downtown Detroit, which runs a warming center that is supported by over 700 donors across the nation.
Fr. Peppard recently spoke with the Ignatian News Network about his parish and this special service to the homeless. “I think a lot of people don’t realize the impact that the church and this ministry can have on a city,” he said.
The warming center helps the homeless get out of the cold during the winter, providing them a place to rest, get a cup of coffee, wash their clothes and take a shower. The church is the only place that offers these services in Detroit. “They’ve been phenomenal,” said one man who lost his home in a fire. “[They] gave me support and now I have a place to stay, but I still come give donations to them.”
Fr. Peppard described how the Jesuits in Detroit have reached out to the marginalized in the area since 1701, from the Native Americans to various immigrant groups to those struggling with race issues during the 1960 riots. “We have stayed here over a lot of changes, and we intend to stay for a long time into the future,” he said.
“Jesus said that the whole of the law can be summed up in ‘Love God and love your neighbor as yourself,’” added Fr. Peppard. “Some people say that that should actually be translated as ‘Love God, whom you cannot see, by loving and caring for the neighbor that you can.’”