June 14, 2023 — Here’s the latest news from the Jesuits in Canada and the United States.
Milestones and Honors
Fr. Roger Haight, SJ, scholar in residence, Union Theological Seminary, received the Catholic Theological Society of America’s (CTSA) John Courtney Murray Award, its highest honor, on June 10.
In presenting the award, Fr. Francis X. Clooney, SJ, CTSA president, said Fr. Haight “for over half a century contributed significantly to theology and to the life and well-being of the church and God’s people.”
Fr. James O’Brien, SJ, was recently inducted into the Wheeling Hall of Fame at Wheeling University in West Virginia. The longest-serving Jesuit priest at Wheeling University, he taught ethics and was concerned with questions of justice and peace as well as hands-on involvement with students in Appalachian settings and applications.
“There is a line in an old verse that says one should ‘live by the side of the road and be a friend to those who pass by.’ That’s what I’ve tried to do — be a faithful person to God and others,” Fr. O’Brien said.
Fr. Robert Collins, SJ, was honored for 40 years of working with the RCIA programs on June 11, 2023, at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in New York City. He helped bring people into the church at three parishes: first at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in Manhattan; then at St. Anthony’s Parish in Oceanside, New York; and finally for 32 years at St. Paul’s. During his time at St. Paul’s, he also worked at America magazine as managing editor.
Fr. Rafael Garcia, SJ, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in El Paso, Texas, has been named to NBC’s 2023 Inspiring America list, which celebrates 10 extraordinary people making an impact in their communities. Fr. Garcia was included for opening the doors of the parish to welcome migrants. “We’ve been ministering to immigrants since the parish was founded,” he told America magazine.
Fr. Jack Podsiadlo, SJ, was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters by Le Moyne College in recognition of his foundational work in the Nativity Schools movement. He received the award during Le Moyne’s commencement ceremony on May 20, 2023. Fr. Podsiadlo spent decades at the Nativity Mission Center, a middle school for boys on the Lower East Side of New York, before leading a Latino leadership program in Richmond, Virginia, for six years.
Fr. William Watters, SJ, announced that — at age 89 — he will soon step aside as president of The Loyola School, the third of three Jesuit schools he founded for underprivileged children in Baltimore. He also founded St. Ignatius Loyola Academy in 1993, a school for boys in fifth through eighth grades, and Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, a coeducational school that opened in 2007. Fr. Watters will continue to serve as president of the growing preschool until a new one is elected and will then serve as president emeritus and as a trustee.
On May 15, 2023, New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez read into the Congressional Record a tribute to Fr. Anthony Azzarto, SJ, who passed away on April 15, 2023, recognizing him for his work at St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City. “He was associated with the school for more than six decades, leaving a lasting mark on generations of graduates, their families, and his colleagues. He taught the value of community and recognized the good in others. He genuinely cared for every school community member; we will never forget his legacy,” said Senator Menendez.
Fr. Daniel Hendrickson, SJ, president of Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, delivered the benediction at the ceremony to dedicate a statue of author Willa Cather in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall on June 7, 2023. The statue was created by Littleton Alston, a professor of sculpture at Creighton, who became the first Black artist to have a piece in the National Statuary Hall Collection.
New Dean Named for Jesuit School of Theology
Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator, SJ, a Jesuit theologian, speaker and leader, will become the new dean of the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University on August 15, 2023. He is currently president of the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar, responsible for leading the inter-provincial mission of the Society of Jesus in the region.
Fr. Orobator is especially known for his scholarship and talks on ecclesiology — or the study of the church — as well as theological ethics, human rights and human dignity, especially fuller participation of women in the life of the church.
“Joy attracts. Call deepens. Following love.” These six words sum up vocation for Fr. Dan Kennedy, SJ, who was ordained to the priesthood on June 10, 2023, alongside five other Jesuits in Milwaukee. In total, the Society of Jesus will celebrate the ordination of 17 new priests this summer. Learn more about them here.
Brook Stacey, SJ, and Maréus Tousséliat, SJ, were ordained to the diaconate at St. Ignatius Church in Paris on May 13, 2023, by Archbishop Theodoros Kontidis, SJ, of Athens.
Raymond Parcon, SJ, and Matthew Hendzel, SJ, were ordained to the diaconate on May 13, 2023, in Toronto by Bishop Ivan Camilleri, Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto. They are both currently studying theology at Regis College in Toronto.
Curtis McKenzie, SJ, was ordained to the diaconate May 27, 2023, at the Ukrainian Catholic Seminary in Stamford, Connecticut, by Most Rev. Paul Chomnycky, O.S.B.M., Eparch of Stamford.
Joyful Day in a Migrant Camp
Recently at the Casa del Migrante, a migrant shelter run by four Daughters of Charity in Reynosa, Mexico, Jesuit Fathers Flavio Bravo, Louie Hotop and Brian Strassburger baptized five children and gave four others their First Communion.
“These moments of joy and celebration are all the more poignant when you’ve listened to the trauma these families have faced and still carry,” wrote Fr. Strassburger.
Jesuit Leads an “Old-School” Life
Fr. Jim White, SJ, who does pastor ministry in Kansas City, Kansas, was recently profiled in The Leaven, the paper of the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, with the focus on his simple lifestyle: no computers, no TV, lots of time for God. He’s not anti-technology — he just doesn’t need it, mostly.
“Spiritual things come to the surface more readily in peace and quiet,” said Fr. White. “I was asked a couple of years ago, ‘What has been your major accomplishment in over 50 years in priesthood?’” His answer was a simple one. “To grow in intimacy with Jesus,” he said. “You have to have peace and quiet to do that.”
Military Chaplain Completes Deployment in Africa
Fr. Brian Reedy, SJ, recently completed a yearlong deployment with the U.S. Navy in Africa. During his deployment he celebrated 385 Masses; led 38 hours of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament; provided more than 300 counseling sessions; heard almost 300 confessions; celebrated four baptisms; confirmed nine service members; gave eight First Communions; and directed four service members in 19th Annotation Retreat. Additionally, he administratively oversaw 65 humanitarian events in Djibouti, assisted with the evacuation of Sudanese refugees, created a curriculum in military ethics and taught it in four cycles, directed the base suicide prevention program, and organized a Ramadan 101 class — among other duties.
At the end of his tour, he was awarded a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, an Army Commendation Medal, a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, an Armed Forces Reserve Medal and a Humanitarian Service Medal.