Archive for the ‘Parishes’ Category

Jesuit Serves Utah Parish with Faith and Enthusiasm

From left, San Andres parishioners Norman Goddard and Elaine Blasgen, Jesuit Father Joseph Rooney, pastor; and parishioner Tom Blasgen pose with the parish's new processional cross.

From left, San Andres parishioners Norman Goddard and Elaine Blasgen, Jesuit Father Joseph Rooney, pastor; and parishioner Tom Blasgen pose with the parish's new processional cross.

Twenty years ago, Jesuit Father Joseph S. Rooney was a physics professor at Fordham University in the Bronx, and in need of a summer assignment. Volunteering to fill in for priests of the Diocese of Salt Lake City who were away on vacation, Fr. Rooney saw an opportunity to do some apostolic work, but also focus on his hobby of photography.

“My motivation was, give me some apostolic work to do, but my hobby is photography, and this is a pretty state for taking pictures,” he said.

What he saw through the camera lens and in the people he served kept him coming back. During his many summers of service, Rooney served at almost every parish in southern Utah. When it came time for him to retire from teaching physics, Rooney knew exactly where he wanted to serve next; the Oregon Province of Jesuits provincial agreed that Fr. Rooney could help in the Diocese of Salt Lake City for a couple of years.

“And so here it is 14 years later and that ‘couple of years’ is still going,” Fr. Rooney said with a laugh.

Monsignor J. Terrence Fitzgerald, the diocese’s vicar general, said Fr. Rooney brings to Utah not only his faith, but also enthusiasm. “He certainly has the interest and the well-being of the people at heart and is willing to work for them,” he said. “I find him very generous in terms of responding to the needs of the people.”

“There’s a need for a Catholic priest here,” said Fr. Rooney, pointing out that there are 278 registered families in his entire parish, San Andres, which geographically covers an area so large that in contrast there are about 200 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wards in the same area; each ward has about 200 families. “There is an apostolic need.”

Although at 77 he is past retirement age, he continues working because “I’m supposed to be, just by my vows as a Jesuit, a person for others,” he said. “Eventually my health will force me out of it, but until that time occurs, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t do it.”

To read the full article about the work of Father Rooney, please visit the Intermountain Catholic.

Jesuit Finds a Call to Service through Hispanic Outreach

Fr  Shay blessing babyShare

As a priest who is now totally immersed in ministry to Hispanics, Jesuit Father Shay Auerbach said that his introduction to it was “a quirk of fate.”

“I’d just received a licentiate in liturgy and knew I would be going to a parish for two years,” he said.

The parish was St. Raphael’s in Raleigh, N.C., which had seen a recent increase in Hispanics.

“We need somebody to say Mass in Spanish. Can you read the Mass in Spanish?” Fr. Auerbach remembers the pastor asking him soon after his arrival.

“That began a whole new chapter in my life,” he recalls, adding that his stay of two years he began in 1999 ended up being six and a half years. The parish had 4,000 registered families.

At St. Raphael’s he helped establish the new Hispanic community.

“It had started a year before I got there,” Auerbach said. “By the time I left the parish would have 1,300 to 1,400 Hispanics for Mass on a weekend.”

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Jesuit Part of Initiative to Increase Number of Hispanics in Virginia Catholic Schools

Jesuit Father Shay AuerbachShare

Jesuit Father Shay Auerbach, pastor of Sacred Heart in Richmond, Va., with a 90 percent Hispanic population, is part of an effort to help Richmond area parishes increase the number of Hispanic students in local Catholic schools.

“With very few exceptions, Catholic schools in Latin America are almost exclusively for the wealthy,” he said, causing many Hispanics to think of Catholic schools as only for the elite.

“It doesn’t even enter into their mindset that Catholic schools are a possibility,” Fr. Auerbach said.

The Segura Initiative, named after Father Juan Baptista Segura, a Spanish Jesuit missionary priest who was martyred in Virginia in 1571, includes Auerbach and two other pastors from Richmond parishes with large Hispanic populations, as well as parishioners from each parish. They focus on three areas of concern: marketing and enrollment, fundraising and development, and cultural responsiveness.

Auerbach said he feels that Catholic schools face three challenges.

“One is to get the message out that we welcome Hispanic students,” he said. “Two, they’ve got to help Hispanics overcome the idea that Catholic schools are not for them, and three, financial assistance is needed.”

For more on Auerbach’s work with the initiative, read the full story at The Catholic Virginian.

Jesuit Discusses the Clergy and the Recession


Jesuit Father Tom Reese, director of the Public Policy Program at Woodstock Theological Center in Washington, D.C., was recently a guest on Interfaith Voices, a religious news magazine on public radio.

The episode on religion and the recession explored how the clergy in the country are handling it: what they are preaching to congregations where many are losing their jobs and their homes.

Fr. Reese tells host Maureen Fiedler, “We have to reach out and remind people of God’s compassion and love. Because when you lose your job, you lose your sense of value. You feel powerless … Religious communities have to reach out to these people and say ‘No, you are still important, you are valued and loved by God.’”

You can listen to the audio broadcast below or by going to Interfaith Radio’s website.

Five Years After Hurricane Katrina, Jesuits Continue to Help Rebuild New Orleans

On August 29, 2005, New Orleans experienced one of the worse natural disasters in U.S. history. While the city escaped a direct hit from Hurricane Katrina, the rising waters breached the levees that surround the city, leaving 80 percent of New Orleans under water. Five years later, New Orleans is a city rebuilding.

There has been a strong Jesuit presence in New Orleans from the days of the city’s founding over 300 years ago. The Jesuits have been in New Orleans in times of crisis like typhoid and yellow fever outbreaks at the turn of the 19th century and when the city flooded previously in the 1920s. Jesuit works like Good Shepherd Nativity School, which provides educational opportunities to disadvantaged children in the city, and Café Reconcile, a youth training program that provides on the job training in its restaurant, continue to help the city look toward a vibrant future. Schools like Loyola University and Jesuit High School continue to provide top notch education opportunities, while the Harry Thompson Center, a day shelter for the city’s homeless, reach out to the city’s most vulnerable. Today, the Jesuits continue to serve the spiritual needs of people of New Orleans and will continue be there for the city as it rebuilds and recovers.

National Jesuit News highlights the outreach and the dedication of the New Orleans Jesuits in the video piece below and provides a comprehensive overview of the Jesuit works in New Orleans five years after Katrina in the article following the video below.

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