Posts Tagged ‘Jesuit Father Kevin O’Brien’
Jesuit 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.”
Jesuit Father James Schall recently gave his last lecture at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., after teaching there for 35 years. Fr. Schall, who has written over 40 books and taught thousands of students, will retire to California, where he first joined the Society of Jesus in 1948. “The gratitude of many will carry him westward,” writes Jesuit Father Kevin O’Brien, Vice President for Mission and Ministry at Georgetown University.
Fr. O’Brien recalls taking “Elements of Political Theory” with Fr. Schall in 1986, when Fr. O’Brien was a junior at Georgetown. “He introduced me, and by now thousands of other Georgetown students, to Plato, Aristotle, Augustine and Aquinas. In his classroom, I became captivated by the idea of virtue as the measure of human character.”
Fr. O’Brien writes that Fr. Schall’s retirement has prompted him to reflect on the Jesuits who inspired him to join their ranks and who have sustained him in his commitment. “More than ever, I realize that I stand on very broad shoulders and rest in even larger hearts. One of the reasons I am a Jesuit is because of men like Fr. Schall, whom I have had the privilege of calling a brother,” Fr. O’Brien writes.
Fr. O’Brien says, “Fr. Schall is a humble man, reticent about accolades and attention. In his goodbyes, he will undoubtedly point to others — to God first, of course, through whom all things are possible. But he can also point to fellow Jesuits, colleagues, students and alumni with whom he has shared his life here. He too can recognize the very broad shoulders on which he has stood — some of whom are buried down the hill at the Jesuit cemetery.”
Fr. O’Brien says there is a certain humility that comes with taking leave:
“All that we are asked to do is leave a place better than when we found it and invite others into the ongoing project of giving glory to God and serving others. Fr. Schall has done that and more. In his retirement from teaching, he can relish all the good that continues to be done through the people he has influenced along the way.”
Read Fr. O’Brien’s full tribute to Fr. Schall at The Hoya.
“Fr. O’Brien will oversee the office in its work to implement a variety of mission-focused programs, seminars, days of recollection, retreats and reflection series which promote the Catholic and Jesuit character of Georgetown with faculty, staff, students, alumni and a number of university boards,” according to President John DeGioia. “He will also coordinate programs that contribute to the formation of lay colleagues in the Jesuit tradition.”
Fr. O’Brien succeeds Jesuit Father Philip Boroughs who will become president of College of the Holy Cross in January 2012.
Jesuit Father David Collins helps Georgetown University students discern if they have a vocation to the Society of Jesus as a leader of the Barbistes, a group that gathers for informal meetings, consisting of Mass, dinner and discussion.
The purpose of the group is not to “funnel people into the Society,” said Fr. Collins of the Barbistes, named after the college at the University of Paris where the candidates who first entered the Jesuits met in the 1500s.
Meetings usually include one of campus’s 64 Jesuits, who talks about his current work and reflects on his decision to enter the order.
“Georgetown students have a phenomenal resource in the Jesuits on campus,” said Danny Gustafson (’11), who is currently applying to enter the Society. “Without the Jesuit community here there’s no way I would have even considered applying. I’ve found their support really moving and inspirational.”
“It’s a prayerful way of making a decision,” said Jesuit Father Kevin O’Brien, Executive Director of Campus Ministry. “The students share with one another their desire for the priesthood, their questions and their struggles.”
For more information, read The Hoya’s article on the Barbistes.
The video portrait features Jesuit Father Ryan Maher, Associate Dean and Director of Catholic Studies; Jesuit Father Kevin O’Brien, Executive Director of Campus Ministry; Jesuit Father Christopher Steck, Associate Professor of Theology; and Jesuit Father Matthew Carnes, Assistant Professor of Government.
“This place is alive with questions of religion and religiosity. And frankly, my job is so much fun and interesting and engaging, because I am entrusted to care for all these good people asking great questions,” says Fr. O’Brien. “Real interreligious dialogue must engage the intellect, we must think through questions and engage in serious dialogue; dialogue that will deal with real differences, not just common ground.”
The Jesuits share how they serve as professors and spiritual guides and how they encourage interreligious dialogue and support the diversity of the campus community.