Posts Tagged ‘Fordham University’

Jesuit Directs Magis Theatre Company’s “Occupy Olympus” at New York City International Fringe Festival

Photo by Leo Sorel

Jesuit Father George Drance directed the Magis Theatre Company’s “Occupy Olympus” last month at the New York City International Fringe Festival, the largest multi-­arts festival in North America. The play garnered positive reviews, including one from The New York Times.

The company adapted the ancient Greek comedy “Plutus, God of Wealth” by Aristophanes, about the socioeconomic situation of Athens around 400 B.C., in order to tell the story of the modern-day Occupy Wall Street movement. Although “Plutus” was written in 388 B.C., Fr. Drance believes the themes of economic fears and disillusionment are still applicable in the modern era. “I was blown away by how relevant it is to our time,” he said.

“We’re at a moment in history where people feel overwhelmed by their circumstances, perhaps alone in their experience of it and without a means of doing something specific or engaging in a kind of discourse that can actually seek specific changes.

“Because of that, we’ve given up striving for any kind of change,” he said. “My hope is that — by pointing out that this has been a constant part of history — we would take courage and rally ourselves to continue to strive for justice.”

Fr. Drance, who is artistic director of the Magis Theatre Company, has performed and directed in more than 20 countries on five continents, for companies such as Theatre YETU in Kenya and Teatro la Fragua in Honduras. He currently serves as artist-­in­‐residence at Fordham University in New York.

The New York City International Fringe Festival celebrated its 17th anniversary this August. About participating in Fringe NYC, Fr. Drance said, “The word ‘festival’ says it all. It contains elements of a community getting together to celebrate. Much of my [previous work] involved participating in festivals all over the world. Festivals stimulate, and cross-pollinate art in ways that no other form can do. We learn from each other. We inspire each other.”

For more information about the Magis Theatre Company, visit [New York Times,, Fordham University, New York Province]

Jesuit Brings World Experience to Campus Ministry Appointment

Jesuit Father John SheaAs the newly appointed director of campus ministry and chaplain for Fordham University, Jesuit Father John J. Shea’s first order of business was to get rid of the office furniture.

“I said jokingly that this would be a perfect office if I were coming in to open a bank account,” said Fr. Shea, who replaced his desk and conference table with a couch and two plush chairs.

“This is where students can come in, feel relaxed, talk,” he said.

Fr. Shea, who earned his bachelor’s degree from Fordham, has previously worked at the university as a teacher in the psychology department, a psychologist in the counseling center, rector of Murray-Weigel Hall (a community of retired Jesuits from the New York Province) and associate vice president and then vice president for student affairs from 1989 until 1996.

He then continued his work in higher education, serving as president of John Carroll University and vice president for mission and ministry at the University of Scranton.

The last seven years, however, have found him in an entirely different setting. Since 2005 Fr. Shea has been the director of the East Asia Theological Encounter Program in Chiangmai, Thailand — a post he will continue to hold remotely. There, he instructed Jesuit scholastics on Eastern theology, taught English to Thai students (he speaks Thai fluently) and worked at a retreat house in Chiangmai.

“I’d wanted adventure, change,” Fr. Shea said of his experience in Asia. “I’d been in higher education for 26 years and just felt that I wanted to do something different. When this opportunity arose, I jumped at it.”

One of Fr. Shea’s goals at Fordham is to create a weekly meditation group, offering students a way to decrease stress while learning about a lesser-known practice of Christianity.

“There’s a whole tradition of Christian meditation,” he said. “It’s very much like Zen or Buddhist meditation. You sit quietly and don’t think, and if thoughts come, then you simply bring yourself back to focusing on breathing rather than going where your mind takes you. Over the years, you become much more at peace, and much more aware.”

Read more about Fr. Shea’s return to Fordham University.

Fr. Vincent O’Keefe, SJ, Remembered

Fellow Jesuits, family and friends celebrated the life of Fr. Vincent O’Keefe, SJ, at a Funeral Mass at St. Ignatius Loyola Church in New York, N.Y. on Thursday, July 26. Fr. O’Keefe, 92, entered into eternal life on Sunday, July 22.

Fr. Vincent O'Keefe, SJ at the 34th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, Rome. Photo by Don Doll, SJ

Fr. James Croghan, SJ, grandnephew of Fr. O’Keefe and chaplain at Regis High School, warmly recalled his uncle and brother Jesuit as an individual whose love of God, the Church and the Society of Jesus was palpable in his relationships with friends, family and all those whom he served in his long life and career. Fr. Croghan labeled love as the constant, driving force in Fr. O’Keefe’s life. Fr. Croghan offered reflections on Fr. O’Keefe’s 90th birthday celebration two years ago at Murray-Weigel Hall, the health care center for New York Province Jesuits located adjacent to Fordham University in the Bronx, and how Fr. O’Keefe, even in his later years, served as a source of inspiration to all.

Jesuit Father Thomas H. Smolich, president of the Jesuit Conference, offered words of appreciation for Father O’Keefe’s life, saying Father O’Keefe “loved to be with people—as a host, a brother Jesuit, a storyteller, a priest.”

Father Smolich added, “Father O’Keefe was absolutely loyal: to Pedro Arrupe, to the Society of Jesus, and to the Church. He was a man of great joy, a kind of joy that only comes through intimacy with God.”

To listen to excerpts from the Mass, click here

Fr. Vincent T. O’Keefe, SJ, was president of Fordham University in 1965 when he was elected at the 31st General Congregation of the Society of Jesus to serve as one of four General Assistants to the newly elected Jesuit Superior General, Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ. For the next 18 years, Fr. O’Keefe was stationed at the Rome headquarters of the Jesuits and worked closely with Father Arrupe in guiding the renewal of Jesuit life in the wake of the reforms called for in the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). Read the rest of this entry »

Jesuit Appointed Head of Fordham’s Art Collections

Jesuit Father Gregory Waldrop is the new executive director of the Fordham University art collection.

Fr. Waldrop, a member of Fordham’s Art History and Music Department since 2009, is an expert in Italian art from 1400 to 1600, and his scholarly research and writing deal primarily with the religious culture and iconography of the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance in Italy, with a particular focus on 15th-century Sienese painting.

He was a Rome Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Rome in 2006-2008. He has taught in both the medieval and renaissance areas and will continue his association with the Art History and Music Department.

Fr. Waldrop earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in the history of art from the University of California, Berkeley and holds an M.S. in journalism from Northwestern University and a B.A. in English, magna cum laude with distinction from Yale University.

His credentials in theology include the S.T.B., magna cum laude, from the Pontificia Universitas Gregoriana in Rome and the Th.M., with honors, from Weston Jesuit School of Theology.

In his new role, Fr. Waldrop will work collaboratively with academic units spread across the University to enhance Fordham’s prominence and visibility within New York City’s richly diverse artistic communities and cultural institutions. He will also oversee an estimated 1,000 works of fine art spread across the University’s three campuses.

[Fordham Notes Newsblog]

Jesuit Takes “Leap of Faith” with the U.S. Army’s Golden Knights

golden_knights_1Jesuit Father Daniel Gatti, the alumni chaplain for Fordham University, recently had the opportunity to go skydiving with the U.S. Army’s Golden Knights Parachute Team in New Jersey. He shared the story and photos of his “leap of faith” with Fordham Notes, a news blog from Fordham University’s News and Media Relations Office.

From my perspective as a Jesuit, I somewhat jokingly call my tandem jump a “leap of faith.” And so it was. Not, however, in the theological sense of a movement to belief in God, but in the basic sense of trust; trust in the U.S. Army, its plane, its equipment and its personnel; trust that all elements would work together for a successful jump!golden_knights_3

How did I feel about doing this? I felt euphoric, extremely happy to be able to do something exciting I had never done before. Once in the plane and ascending to 13,000 feet, I had the sense that “this is it; the time has arrived; no thought of changing my mind now.” I had willingly boarded this plane; I will willingly tandem jump from this plane and “return to earth.”

To see all the photos and read the full post, visit the Fordham Notes newsblog.