Archive for the ‘Pastoral Ministry’ Category
“This is the story of a remarkable odd couple.” That’s the description of the new film “G-DOG” about Jesuit Father Greg Boyle and the former gang members, or homies, he’s served and befriended since 1992, when he founded Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles.
Homeboy Industries helps former gang members learn skills to better their lives and provides jobs in its bakery, café and t-shirt store.
“G-DOG” was directed by Academy Award-winning documentarian Freida Mock and had its U.S. debut this past June at the Los Angeles Film Festival.
Mock says she was inspired to make the film after seeing Fr. Boyle’s book “Tattoos on the Heart.” She remembers thinking, “A priest, kids, gangs and love? What’s this all about?”
The film, which is slated for theatrical release next year, introduces audiences to Fr. Boyle and the homies he helps. It also depicts a tough year for Homeboy Industries, with the possibility that the businesses will have to close because of challenging economic times.
Variety’s review said, “In an era with a paucity of real heroes, a genuine one emerges in “G-Dog”: the inexhaustible Jesuit priest Greg Boyle, whose Homeboy Industries has saved countless lives in Los Angeles’ gang-plagued neighborhoods.”
For more, visit the film’s website, www.gdogthemovie.com, where you can meet the cast and view clips.
When Jesuit Father David Shields returned to his native Milwaukee in 1996 after teaching and ministering on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota for 22 years, he had an idea to create an affordable, accessible place where the Latino community could gather to pray, talk and learn.
His idea resulted in Casa Romero, an urban, bilingual spiritual renewal center he founded in Milwaukee 11 years ago. Since then hundreds of families and young people have flocked to the center on their own journeys of self-reflection and discovery, reports the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.
The purpose of the center is to form and renew individuals and to strengthen families, thereby building community, according to Fr. Shields. One family program aims to deepen the bond between parents and teens through various activities that include sharing cultural and faith values. Another program is a bilingual retreat for teen girls and their moms.
The center has also expanded its programs to serve beyond the Latino community. There’s an “Urban Plunge” community service retreat for suburbanites and those from rural areas who want an urban experience.
Fr. Shields says the “Plunge” is becoming increasingly popular. “It’s an educational hands-on mission trip where individuals serve at the Saturday meal program at Gesu Church, visit with the homeless at Repairers of the Breach, or go to a homeless shelter,” he said.
“I think there’s a real concern in the heart of people,” Fr. Shields said. “They’re surprised when they meet homeless people and learn they’re ‘just like me’ and realize that they could be a couple of paychecks from that situation,” he said.
Casa Romero is housed in a former convent that had been vacant. The building was purchased for $100, and gifts and donations helped renovate it.
“There was no big plan,” Fr. Shields said. “We have no reason to exist, except by the grace of God.”
To read more about Fr. Shields and Casa Romero, visit the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel website.
The Society of Jesus founded the Diocese of Fairbanks 125 years ago, and today that legacy continues in the work of Jesuits actively promoting vocations and developing native leadership in Alaska.
In the past, Jesuit priests would either live among native people or visit them frequently. Jesuit Fathers Tom Provinsal, Ted Kestler, Chuck Peterson and Gregg Wood agreed that today the priority of the Catholic Church in “bush villages,” remote native communities only accessible by plane or boat, is the promotion of vocations and catechetical formation and training of lay people.
“How do you combine what we call practical theology with theology?” questioned Fr. Kestler, who described himself as a “theologyholic.”
Members of Alaska’s indigenous communities learn by doing, he explained, whereas the church, influenced by Western culture, puts theory before practice.
“In the Catholic Church, there are some things you can’t teach by doing, but other things you can. We need to find a balance,” Fr. Kestler said.
Relationship building is key in the efforts of finding that equilibrium, the Jesuits concurred, but that is equally difficult when the ministers are absent from the communities they serve for long periods of time.
However, in the absence of priests, local leaders are becoming more independent in making decisions to address social issues, such as alcoholism and drug abuse, affecting their younger generations.
“What this says to me is that our best role is to be somewhat on the sidelines encouraging them to say, ‘yes, you can,’” said Fr. Wood.
Today, he said, native deacons are active participants in the church’s planning, together with the Jesuits and diocesan priests.
The priests are convinced that Eskimos have unique insight and methods of learning that could be very useful if they’re given more opportunities to actively participate in the church in leadership roles.
Thus, their efforts are being focused on the training and formation of those leaders.
“[In Alaska] we are on a frontier,” said Fr. Wood. “And people are going through tremendous changes and transitions in a very short span, and we are in that frontier with them.”
Read the full story at U.S. Catholic.
Jesuit Father Robert McChesney, interim director for the Hispanic Institute at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University (JST), recently spoke with Catholic San Francisco on how the rapid growth of Hispanics in the U.S. church is changing schools and seminaries.
Fr. McChesney said, “We have to prepare our students for the changing face of the church, and that means attention to the devotional life of the Mexicans and the Latins in general. There is much more of a devotional faith than many of our students are familiar with. It takes me back to the church of the ’50s. We have to prepare our students to be part of a more devotional church.”
One devotional he’s become familiar with is practicing posadas during Advent. “The Latino Catholics will process around the neighborhood knocking on the door. It goes back to no room at the inn. … I’m an Irish-American Caucasian, but I’ve had to learn that because it’s certainly the religious practice,” said Fr. McChesney, who is also director of the Intercultural Initiatives and the New Directions Sabbatical programs at the JST.
“I have been taken back to my youthful practice of devotion, if you will, because it’s a way of prayer I needed to cultivate to serve the Latin community because it’s so central to them,” he said.
Fr. McChesney also said Hispanic leaders are influencing the U.S. church. “I think the Hispanic bishops have had a huge impact on immigration reform,” he said.
To read more of the interview with Fr. McChesney, visit Catholic San Francisco.
Take the Jesuits with you via your iPhone or iPad: New App allows Users to Find Nearby Jesuit Institutions, Latest News and Jesuit Prayers
Across the United States, the Society of Jesus, the U.S.’s largest order of priests and brothers in the Roman Catholic Church, runs universities, high schools and middle schools, parishes and retreat houses. And today, the 450-year-old religious order has an app.
Available for free at the iTunes App Store, the Jesuit app operates on any iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad; a similar app will soon be available at the Android Marketplace for use on devices such as the Droid, Evo and HTC Touch.
The new app allows users to locate Jesuit retreat centers, schools and parishes across the U.S., read the latest news and information about the Jesuits, and access Jesuit prayers and spirituality documents.
The app’s three sections include:
Here users can find Jesuit apostolates – parishes, retreat centers, colleges and universities. It includes easy-to-use directions and contact information for any Jesuit institution in the U.S. and is searchable by apostolate name, by the user’s current location or through any address the user enters.
All the latest news stories from National Jesuit News are displayed here. Users can tap on any headline to view the full story, share the link with friends or open the story in their browser.
In this section, users can view prayers, spirituality documents and background information on the Society of Jesus.
The video below explains in more detail how the app operates. Visit the app information page here to find out more.