The Nature of Pope Francis

His mission of caring for the earth, protecting the poor and re-examining the world’s economic systems defines him as the Jesuit leader of a morally challenged world.

It also highlights how Xavier’s commitment to Jesuit education is being lived out through its pledge toward sustainability and environmental justice in the classroom, across campus and by its alumni worldwide.

[divider] THE POPE  [/divider]

Students in Kathleen Smythe’s History of Agriculture class spend part of the semester working at local farms so they can experience what they’re studying. At one four-hour session last year, students planted more than 100 tomato plants.

“They later talked about the satisfaction of looking back and seeing the clear sign of their accomplishment, going from a set of empty rows to rows now filled with plants producing food (for others),” Smythe says.

There is a connection, she says. It has to do with the impact our actions have on others. Getting dirt under their fingernails helps students reconnect with America’s agrarian roots so they can appreciate the environmental impact involved in bringing mass-grown food products to the table versus growing it locally.

Addressing ethical issues of environmental sustainability on a global scale, while modeling it on a local scale, is just one example of how Xavier is incorporating a new way of living and thinking into the classroom. It’s the hallmark of a Jesuit education, one that has been made more visible since the election of Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope. And, in his first two years, Francis has made it clear what his top priorities are: the poor and climate change. They have become, it seems, nearly interchangeable.

“This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor.” —Pope Francis

Titled “Laudato Si’,” which means “Praise Be,” the pope’s encyclical on climate change brought renewed attention to the deteriorating conditions of the earth and its impact on the desperate needs of poor and marginalized populations of the world. As The New York Times explained when the encyclical was released in June: “The hardest-hit…will be the poorest citizens of the poorest countries, those least able to adapt to the rising seas and devastating droughts and floods that are likely to occur even in this century without swift remedial action.”

For Jesuit schools in particular, Francis’ universal call for a renewed focus on economic and environmental sustainability creates a heightened sense of purpose and reinforcement of what it means to be Jesuit—a clear lens through which universities and their students can view and experience the Jesuit way of life. It’s a tradition that from its founding in 1540 has been grounded in the value of education. Jesuit priests distinguished themselves from other orders by choosing to live among the people rather than isolating themselves in cloistered monasteries. They traveled the world seeking knowledge and God and became known as scientists and explorers.

Today’s Jesuits are still considered leaders in education, and their students are encouraged to go out and experience the world. At Xavier, Jesuit pedagogy is being lived out through the University’s commitment to sustainability both in the classroom and across campus. Five years before Pope Francis issued his call for a cleaner climate, Xavier was well on its way to creating a cleaner and more sustainable campus and educating students about how to carry that into their personal and professional lives. The pope’s visit to the U.S. highlights not only Xavier’s commitment to Jesuit education but to sustainability as well, an area where the University has emerged as a leader among Jesuit schools.

The University zeroed in on the environment when it held its second annual celebration of Francis’ election as pope last March and invited Xavier alumnus Dan Misleh, executive director of the Catholic Climate Covenant, as the keynote speaker. His message, says Xavier’s Chief Mission Officer Debra Mooney, echoed that of Francis: “It’s not only important to protect the earth because we are a part of it and we’re interrelated, but the degradation inadequately impacts the poor.” President Michael J. Graham, S.J., encapsulated the University’s commitment in 2011 when he said, “Our mission as a Jesuit, Catholic university cannot be fulfilled as such without an ongoing and ever-greater appropriation of sustainability across the entire horizon of University activities.”

 

[divider]SUSTAINABLE [/divider]Pope-Francis-Dove

Sustainability director Ann Dougherty was in the student cafeteria in 2013 the day that Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a Jesuit, was elected pope. She was watching the TV screen when he also announced he had taken the name of Francis, patron saint of animals and the earth.

“As a lifelong ecologist and steward of the environment, I couldn’t believe it,” she says. “This was going to be a different kind of pope. Taking the name Francis meant there was going to be a stewardship of the environment and a redefinition of what dominion means, and the Catholic Church would be part of healing the world.”

At the time, Dougherty had been at Xavier for two years working to help the entire
campus become more sustainable by adopting practices to reduce energy consumption and waste, and grow its own food.

“At Xavier, we think sustainability is part of the mission. Period,” she says.

For her, Pope Francis symbolized the work she’d dedicated her life to do—she’s now working in sustainability for a private company—and his “Laudato Si’,” which means “Praise Be,” affirmed that commitment.

“The Jesuits are the guys who study philosophy, theology, history, science and government, and put it all together,” she says. “As a people holding the world in their hearts looking beyond to what is real, they become sustainable individuals. If there is anyone who can lead the world to greater sustainability, it’s the Jesuit charism and the Ignatian process of reflection—of looking beyond what is apparent to what is real.”

As Dougherty was working on improving the physical environment at Xavier, professors Smythe, in history, and Nancy Bertaux, of economics, were focusing on the academic. They were part of a team that developed four undergraduate degrees in sustainability and environmental science plus a master’s in sustainability, led by former city planner Liz Blume, director of Xavier’s Community Building Institute.

Bertaux was nearly giddy when the encyclical was released, not just for what it says, but because it affirms how well Xavier has performed. Plus it reinforces the connection between ecological and moral issues with up-to-date science, economics and theology.

“He’s the world’s leading environmentalist at the moment, and what the encyclical says is we’re on the right track here with our programs and curriculum,” she says. “Taking ecology and economics core courses related to theology, history, English, statistics and economic theory are tools students need, but also the vision of the connectedness of everything—to see that the economy has to exist within society and society within nature overall, that we are a part of nature and what we do to nature we do to ourselves.”

It also reinforces what Xavier started working on five years ago.

“I would like to enter into dialogue with all people about our common home.” —Pope Francis

“We are absolutely the leader among Jesuit schools in terms of curriculum,” she says. “I don’t know anyone with the kind of interdisciplinary programs that we have.”

Bertaux also worked with Dougherty to create sustainability projects on campus that involve students enrolled in sustainability or environmental science courses. That includes students working on the Urban Farm, creating a water bottle reduction project, and conducting energy studies that have resulted in a nearly 7-percent reduction of energy use across campus.

“We have pioneered looking at sustainability across all the divisions and silos of the University and getting on one page,” Bertaux says. “We have put together a whole suite of interdisciplinary sustainability programs that are absolutely cutting edge.”

Sustainability practices have also contributed to a 30-percent reduction in waste. One of the most visible improvements is in the cafeteria, which was paying for food waste and cardboard to be hauled to the landfill when Dougherty arrived in 2011. Now there is almost zero waste to the landfill, the University collects cash for the recycled cardboard, and two food waste dehydrators dry all food scraps from the kitchen, producing a granular waste that is returned to the farm as compost. In return, fresh vegetables and produce are delivered to the cafeteria.

“The external deserts in the world are growing because the internal deserts have become so vast.” —Pope Francis

The process exemplifies an important concept in the encyclical, Smythe says. “Part of the encyclical is reconnecting people to the environment and recognizing we are not separate from it. He makes it clear we are stewards and caretakers of the earth, but we don’t have dominion over it…and as we are harming it, we are harming ourselves.”

 

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world-iStock_000001975805_LargeStudents at Xavier are introduced to the Jesuit side of their education from the day they first set foot on campus. Beginning with their orientation, they hear about “The Jesuit Way,” which increasingly includes elements of sustainability, the environment and the earth.

Faculty mentors work with new and veteran faculty to guide them in incorporating Ignatian pedagogy into their coursework. As a result, students learn about the ethical issues of the subjects they’re studying—like Smythe’s African history students, who discussed the ethics of sending cast-off American-made T-shirts to the African continent as waste. But the emphasis is also to learn through hands-on experience. For example, Smythe also had them make recommendations to the Congolese government about how to allow oil exploration in Birunga National Park and defend it to their people.

As director of the Center for Faith and Justice, Greg Carpinello works with students daily. His office serves about 1,200 students during the year by offering retreats, worship services, faith-sharing and prayer groups. He focuses on helping students discover their spirituality and the benefits of a Jesuit viewpoint.

“A Xavier education orients students toward something bigger than themselves, the realization they’re part of a world that’s internally connected and really crying out for their service and sense of vocation,” Carpinello says.

Which, like the encyclical, reflects on the early Jesuits “who were not the ones who stayed cloistered but were out with the people experiencing the gritty realities of the world and putting to the forefront the issues of humanity.”

That’s why Xavier encourages students to ask the big questions here so that when they leave, they’re inspired to lead lives that are not focused only on themselves.

“It’s no surprise Francis chose to write his encyclical on the environment, because the world is facing critical questions about the environment,” Carpinello says. “To be Jesuit is being on the frontier of what happens in the world.”

[Editor’s note: The original version of this story has been updated to include corrected references to reductions in energy use and waste produced on campus.]

READ MORE:

Alumni Profile: Spiritual Advisor

ROBERT W. STEPHAN, S.J.
Honors Bachelor of Arts in history, 1995
Campus Minister for Liturgy, Seattle University
Seattle, Wash.

Flagged by God | Stephan pulled into town to start work on a law degree at the University of California at Berkeley on a Sunday. He wanted to attend Mass, but what church? He saw a sign for the Holy Spirit Parish’s Newman Center. But where to park on these streets, with his possessions in his car? He saw a man who flagged him into a parking lot.

Uncanny Connections | Then during Mass, Stephan was surprised to hear the priest, Al Moser, mention having lunch with his sister on Fountain Square in Cincinnati. Moser, like Stephan, had attended Covington Latin and Xavier decades earlier. The coincidences were too much.

A Real Resolution | Stephan says he “resolved that first day: I’m going to do the first campus ministry event at the Newman Center, which really wouldn’t have been my thing. But because of that, I’m like, ‘OK, God, you’ve got my attention. I’m going to try something here.’” The event was a meet-and-greet introduction to small faith-sharing groups that convened the entire semester. It was one of the pulls he felt that led him toward the priesthood.

Xavier Connections | The oldest of five, Stephan attended Covington Latin and Xavier and was baptized at Bellarmine Chapel. The seed for the priesthood was planted when he took history courses from John LaRocca, S.J.

Early History | But history was his first passion, and he continued his studies in Austria and earned his master’s in history at UCLA in 1998. He later went to law school at Berkeley, graduating in 2002, before finally succumbing to the pull of those signs that first day in Berkeley and joining the Jesuits. Stephan, now 42, was ordained in 2013.

Education is Key | In between, he earned master’s degrees in pastoral studies at Loyola University Chicago and divinity at Boston College. He also taught at a Catholic high school and at Loyola Marymount University, both in Los Angeles, and served as deacon at a parish in Brookline, Mass. He’s now in campus ministry at Seattle University.

Homeless Ministry | While in Chicago, he was captivated by the Ignatian Spirituality Project, a Jesuit ministry that offers retreats to the homeless. “We don’t think to bring the two together, but at the same time, who else might need that more? It can help be a foundation that those who are struggling with homelessness can build on for real transformation in their lives.” He continued his homeless ministry in Orange, Cal., where he worked with high-school students, young adults and homeless people.

Spiritual Advising | “A place I feel very called to or passionate about is the spirituality and work with the poor and people who are marginalized in particular. I think there’s something very powerful, very much in line with the Gospels and what Jesus calls us to do.”

Peruvian Partner

A Jesuit University in Lima Helps Open Doors for Xavier Students to Truly Experience Andean Culture

In the low-income neighborhood of Ventanillas on the outskirts of Lima, Peru, a group of Xavier students is busy interacting with—and teaching—a classroom of chatty children. After singing a Spanish version of “London Bridge,” they gather round a table to brainstorm ideas for a storybook. The children create pictures for the book and practice acting their parts, prancing around in bare feet.

Continue reading “Peruvian Partner”

Did You Hear the One About the Rabbi and the Priest?

A priest and a rabbi walk onto a college campus and discover the same thing. They’re in love—with the students, with mankind, with God.

Al Bischoff, SJ, known affectionately at Xavier as “Father B,” and Rabbi Abie Ingber began an uncanny friendship after Ingber was invited to be the founder of the Center for Interfaith Community Engagement at Xavier in 2008. They call each other “Al and Abie.”

Now, when “Al and Abie” walk across campus together, they’re like magnets, drawing in students whom they’ve touched—and there are many—for greetings and hugs.
Ingber: “If I walk this campus every day, I still am unable to touch everyone. But to be in the presence of Father Al, to know if I can’t be in every corner of campus, Al is there. Between the two of us, we’ve got this campus covered.”

When Bischoff, Xavier’s longtime campus minister and residence hall adviser, met Ingber, they discovered they shared a lot of things, the most important of which was love. They began to have regular conversations where they talk about love, God and Xavier students.

Bischoff: “I came to Abie and said, ‘I want to meet with you and talk about God.’ It’s like when I walk across campus, I’m not out to convert anybody. That’s God’s work. I’m out to love and be with people and learn from them and be a help or a support to them.”

Now these two unlikely best friends get together often, usually in Ingber’s office in the Gallagher Student Center. Bischoff sits in the chair, Ingber on the sofa, and they talk.

Ingber: “We’re in a continuous conversation.”

It may seem incongruous that a Jesuit priest and a Jewish rabbi would become such fast friends and have so much to share. But it’s that incongruity that makes their love for each other and their work so powerful.

Bischoff: “I never had a real relationship with a rabbi.”

But when he was a boy, he did have a friend who was Jewish.

Bischoff: “Because he was Jewish and I didn’t know any better and I lived in a Catholic ghetto, I used to pray he wouldn’t go to hell.”

Formerly director of the Cincinnati Hillel Jewish Student Center, Ingber believed he’d be more effective at Xavier as a conduit to bring people of different faiths together in celebration rather than mere tolerance. Even people like Al Bischoff.

Ingber: “Him praying for his friend not to go to hell is so radical from Catholic teaching, which said that no less than being Catholic would prevent the friend from going to hell. Back then, Catholic teaching was to convert the Jews. Yet he was praying for him not to go to hell. That was his loving way, his loving heart.”PriestRabbi

That’s the way it goes with these two. They share their love from the viewpoints of a Catholic and a Jew, and they find that love is their common ground. They also know their love is no joke, but it is a lot of fun, and they wish more people would talk about love more often, because the world could certainly use more love these days. And humor.

Ingber often invokes John Lennon, whom he reveres and even met once.

“John Lennon said, ‘If you dream by yourself, it’s just a dream, but if two share it, it’s a reality.’ We make Al’s dream of giving sainthood to everyone, and mine of giving love to everyone, a reality. We see it on campus.”

Bischoff greets everyone, especially students, with “Hello, saint.” He explains that he just can’t remember everyone’s name, and that if he treats people as if they’re saints, they may actually come to believe it. He believes his friend Abie is a saint.

Bischoff: “Being Catholic in the best sense means worldwide and universal. This is a faith-filled Jewish Rabbi from whom I can learn. It’s life-giving. Jesus was Jewish and said, ‘I’ve come that you may have life and live more abundantly,’ and I believe our encounters are life-giving.”

Ingber: “We see people competing to do evil, but I see Father Al leaving a trail of love and he lets me stand in his shadow. We do walk across the campus together and people come up to us. There’s beauty in being a junior member of a great tag team on campus. I am honored to toil in Al’s vineyard.”

To capture the magic of their relationship, Bischoff and Ingber agreed to a video of a conversation last fall. This one took place in the Conaton Board Room. As expected, the subject was love. Welcome to the conversation.

A New Post

When the Pope speaks, people listen. So in June 2013, when meeting with the writers of the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica at the Vatican, the Pontiff said, “Your proper place is on the frontiers. This is the place of Jesuits.”

For 2003 grad Eric Sundrup, S.J., those words were music to his ears. He had already helped stake a Jesuit claim in perhaps the most untamed frontier on Earth—the Internet.

It was while studying philosophy at Loyola University in Chicago, that Sundrup and fellow Jesuits-in-training Paddy Gilger and Sam Sawyer also pondered a project familiar to many 21st-century hipsters—launching a website. Their topic: Life in the Jesuit world. Content? Not a problem. It was as easy as recruiting other Jesuits in formation to write about their lives, aspirations, observations and challenges.

[lightbox link=”http://xtra.xavier.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/jespost.jpg”]jespost[/lightbox]Thus were the humble beginnings of The Jesuit Post, or TJP, a digital digest where phrases like cura personalis and “Come at Me, Bro!” mingle. It’s that mix of the sacred and urbane that has made TJP a cyber hit with Jesuits, the spiritually curious and website trolls looking for a good fight. It’s a reasonable question to ask why Sundrup—who serves as editor-in-chief as well as author of posts like “Come at Me, Bro! (Why I Love The Crazies)”—would bother to wander into cyberspace when there’s a real world in need of ministering. Surprisingly, his rationale springs from the very origins of the Jesuits themselves.

“The idea of The Jesuit Post evolved from one of the exercises of St. Ignatius—‘We should speak as one friend speaks to another,’” Sundrup says. “We weren’t seeing young Jesuits speaking to each other like if we had just called them up or posting on Facebook.”

Every Jesuit experiences his own unique calling and takes a different path into the order, and Sundrup’s path was not without its own interesting digressions. Originally enrolled at Xavier in the Honors Bachelor of Arts program, Sundrup’s aim was squarely pre-med. Then he got bit by the Jesuit bug and almost dropped out—not to join the circus, but the Jesuits.

“I wanted to do what a Jesuit did, but I didn’t know why they do what they do.”

He stuck it out, graduated in 2003 and joined the Society of Jesus. In May 2014, Sundrup was fully ordained and assigned to the Newman Center at the University of Michigan. He continued to see the value of social media as a space and a way of talking about all things religion.

[lightbox link=”http://xtra.xavier.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/sundrup2.jpg”]sundrup2[/lightbox]“We looked around and said ‘How do we communicate with our friends?’ and for us, that was social media,” he says. “In social media, most stuff spreads through a friend of a friend. We were hoping to tap into the very impressive alumni network of the Jesuit schools.”

And tap they did. As preparation for the “soft launch” of the site, they sent a preview link to Jim Martin, S.J., himself a social media guru, author and “resident chaplain” of Comedy Central’s “Colbert Report.”

“He launched us inadvertently,” Sundrup says.

Martin shared it on Facebook and Twitter, and while the founders expected to have perhaps 15 or 20 views at its launch, they had 20,000 visitors in the first two days. Martin still serves as chief cheerleader.

The Jesuit Post is one of the best things that U.S. Jesuits have done in the last 10 years,” Martin says. “And what’s most amazing is that it was done by young Jesuits—men still in formation.”

[lightbox link=”http://xtra.xavier.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/jespostbook.jpg”]jespostbook[/lightbox]“As a brother, Jim has been phenomenal,” says Sundrup. “I can call him anytime, he can give great advice. He’s always helping out in any way he can.”

Which is a good thing, since TJP is only picking up momentum. It has a new book anthology available at Amazon, and discussions are taking place in providences like Rome and Spain on how to replicate the TJP model.


TJP
video coups include coverage of the 2013 World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, the Pope’s first visit to the Americas since his election and rare access to interview Adolfo Nicolás, Superior General of the Society of Jesus—which is where Sundrup learned that pushing the envelope occasionally leads to the painful paper cut.

“I got a bit of furrowed brow from Father General when I said ‘Join the Jesuits and See the World,’” he says. “But we joked about it later in our video interview.”

[lightbox link=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pM-rAzKeW9c&list=PLgYkRQF4sGG3BUXtyHGPdE0lewK9WdSLw”][/lightbox]Two years after its launch, founders Sundrup, Sawyer and Gilger are passing the Post on to a new editorial staff of Jesuits in formation. They’ll leave behind “a crazy idea from a bunch of Jesuit scholastics” that today attracts more than 100,000 page views per month. Sundrup also leaves behind no regrets.

“We founded The Jesuit Post to talk to our friends who had one foot in institutional religion and one foot out. One of the side effects to that has been it’s helping to train Jesuits to be more effective at talking to young adults in a wide variety of places that allows us to provide content they can share with a person that’s even further on the fringe than we can reach.”

And online, no worries. The fringe will find you.

The Sisters

Xavier is known for its Jesuits, but the order of priests have not been the only religious presence in the history of the University. Nuns have also had a place at Xavier, even though the Jesuits don’t have a corresponding order of women religious. While the nuns were mostly students and instructors in the early years, they have in later years become full-time faculty and members of the University’s administration.

The number of nuns on campus peaked in the early 1980s after Xavier bought Edgecliff College, which was run by the Sisters of Mercy. Those who came to Xavier with the merger have all retired. With their departure—paralleled by the overall decline in women entering religious orders—the number of nuns on campus has dwindled. The four who remain hold strategically important positions at Xavier—Nancy Linenkugel, chair of the Department of Health Services Administration; Jo Ann Recker, professor of modern languages; Rose Ann Fleming, special assistant to the president; and Rosie Miller, professor of theology. But they are all advancing in years and may be the last nuns at Xavier.nunsvideo

Xavier magazine sat down with the four nuns at a roundtable discussion and spoke with them about a wide range of topics, from their history to modern issues such as the Church’s investigation of American nuns and how their lead organization must now undergo a five-year reformation for not following the teachings of the Church. (Click on the image to the right to watch a video of the conversation.) Here are their thoughts on a few of those subjects.

 

Q: What has been the role of women religious at Xavier and what special gifts do you bring to the University and its students?

Rose Ann Fleming: “One of the gifts that women bring to the University campus is the gift of love and the gift of sharing and hopefully students in our classrooms have been able to find that gift in reality with us and enjoy their time with us as Xavier students because that gift.”

Jo Ann Recker: “I would add that it brings a balance because as where Pope Paul VI said, ‘Where’s the other half of humanity?’ The other half deserves a presence. And where I have seen women be helpful especially to women students is that sense of balance and advocacy for women’s issues.”

Rosie Miller: “I think another gift as a woman religious is bringing the feminine side of the Church into the classroom. It’s another window of how to read the text as a woman particularly as a woman who stands in the Church committed to church ministry.”

linenNancy Linenkugel: “I recall being a student here in 1971 shortly after women were allowed to take classes here—I had a habit on at the time—I was teaching at a school in Cincinnati and needed a bachelor’s degree. So I came here and there weren’t a lot of others like me around here at that time. There were very few women but hardly any other sisters. I didn’t think too much about it because I had a job to do. But today, now that I am back, I think there’s a powerful presence that women religious provide to this campus, and I would add I think I stand for something of value that our students maybe don’t think about all the time. I start every class with a prayer and when I let students take over and introduce a guest speaker they have to start with a prayer or reflection and only after the semester is over do they say that was really helpful. So I think we can stand for something higher in life for our students.”

 

Q: Do you think the trend toward fewer women entering orders will be reversed or reach a plateau? Or are you the last nuns at Xavier?

Nancy Linenkugel: “With the decline in religious women, I think we’re at new frontier moment. Today there are young women who say to me, ‘I don’t have to become a sister to do what you’re doing. I can teach, I can be nurse, a manager, make money, go off and pray and live how I wish to live in a holy manner. I don’t need to be a sister and give up everything.’ So where I see the next frontier for religious life is in about 25 years, I believe there will be one kind of religious life, and it will match the men’s orders such that women will have a choice of being ordained or being deacons or like the brother Jesuits. I believe this will be the next wave. What does the Church have to offer the rest of society, the women? I don’t think we’ll continue on with the type of religious life we have now. We might be close to the last of the current kind of sisters that everybody knows in society, but I don’t think we’re the last. I think there’s a bright future.”

flemingRose Ann Fleming: “I think our job is to help define what the future of religious life is going to be. A lot of that will come out of talking with women I have met on this campus who are extremely dedicated to the needs of the poor. As religious women, we have seen over time how our order has helped change cultures. The whole Catholic school system changed cultures, and if we can look in the future and harness some of the vision some of these women are coming out with, we’re going to be in very good shape as far as religious numbers are concerned.”

Jo Ann Recker: “That’s good. If you look at Jesus’ model, he formed his apostles and his spirit and then left because they were evangelized. That’s what we’re trying to do with our sponsorship ministries.”

Rosie Miller: “I think we’re beyond reaching a plateau. I think we’re on the other side of the decline in the sense of our numbers. One of the ways I view that is that since Vatican II, we as religious women took very, very seriously reforming the Church and we moved onto that bridge. I always saw most of my ministry as a bridge between the laity, which I am member of as a religious woman, and that of the clerical side of the Church. In my early ministry, it was important to empower and train the laity, and I moved into jobs where I was paid very little, but then eventually parishes or communities who hire people were able to pay appropriate salaries for people who are raising a family. I think we are also still those bridge makers in the sense that for the increased role of the laity, the time is now.”

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Rose Ann FlemingRosie MillerNancy LinenkugelJo Ann Recker

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Q: How will this increased role of the laity affect Catholic education as a whole and Xavier in particular?

Nancy Linenkugel: “When it comes to Catholic schools and even Jesuit Catholic schools, the key to keeping them going is to pass on the mission to lay persons. Xavier does a wonderful job of that with AFMIX and other programs. It’s no different in Catholic elementary schools in that the lay leaders and the teachers all must understand why they’re there and the important legacy to hand on to the students. I attended a Catholic grade school and even back then lay teachers were extremely key to maintaining the school. That role has only increased. Priests and sisters have done their jobs if lay persons understand the school’s mission and take that forward.”

Rose Ann Fleming: “I think that the future of Catholic and Jesuit education is bright. It may have to be delivered through media with which the population is familiar. The decline of religious women in the schools has largely been offset by the rise of extremely well-educated laity who are willing to dedicate their lives to continuing the tradition of Catholic schools. The teaching of religious doctrine and religious values is worth the expense to date. The schools appear to be prospering.”

reckerJo Ann Recker: “Interestingly, I just came from a three-hour presidentially appointed committee meeting on what it is that makes Xavier a Jesuit Catholic university. We are charged with clearly articulating this. And it behooves most religious congregations to do something similar so as to educate and form the laity who will follow in maintaining our educational heritage and charisms. I think that if the heritage and charism are ‘owned’ and embodied in those who follow, we will be in good shape. Isn’t this what Jesus did when he entrusted his church to his followers?”

Q: Will all of this be impacted by the investigations into religious orders and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious?

Jo Ann Recker: “I do know that an early step taken by Pope Francis was to reaffirm the mandated reform of the LCWR. But as long as men cling to power in the Church, along with total responsibility for serious decision-making, and continue to see women religious [and women, in general] as holding ‘special’ [but not equal] roles, I don’t see this long history changing. The problems of the contemporary Church are many and well-documented, but women religious are not really among them. However, a focus on the LCWR is, from my perspective, but a diversionary tactic. It gets people talking about something other than the problems in the Church and the exodus of many from the Church.”

Rose Ann Fleming: “At this point, Pope Francis has indicated that he will not abandon the investigations into religious orders and into the LCWR. I volunteered as a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur to an interview. The sister with whom I met wanted to know about my work at Xavier with the student-athletes. Then she asked about vocations to the Sisters of Notre Dame. I responded that I knew they were plentiful in Africa where we have a large number of sisters, but that there were few in the United States. She asked if this was a concern and directed my attention to data that indicated factors that seem to attract vocations to certain orders and that distinguishing dress was one of these factors. When I asked her what she was suggesting, she simply said to look at the data.

“From what I can discern, the LCWR is anxious to work out with the Church perceived problems that could be cultural since women in the United States have much more freedom than women have in other parts of the world. Because our order is international in scope, the Church’s observations of our order may be misunderstood on a global basis. Such cultural issues are resolvable.”

millerRosie Miller: “It’s too quick to really know what Pope Francis feels and thinks about this. I read his whole speech [to the international group of superiors] and I think he was very astute using traditional Vatican language, but he keeps using the term ‘feel,’ that sisters should feel their way, so I think he was walking a delicate dance. I think as a new pope, you would not normally go in and change things immediately. I’m still hopeful he might review this.”

Nancy Linenkugel: “Pope Francis certainly seems to be a pastoral individual who is interested less in the traditional ‘pomp’ of the Papacy and more in being a servant-leader. There’s no shortage of serious issues with which he must deal—financial problems, human justice, ultra-conservatism movement within the Church, the issue of women being disenfranchised by the male-dominated Church. While I personally don’t feel called to the ordained priesthood, I think there are many women who do. What a wonderful ministry to Catholics that could be. Just think of how many parishes have closed due to the shortage of priests, which only brings heartbreak and further alienation. So if the parish is still viable financially, and a woman priest could step in, wouldn’t that be a win/win, especially for the parishioners?”

Mainstream news outlets discuss the election of the new pope

Stories focus on Bergoglio, the Jesuit order and his choice of the name Francis

Stories about the election of Argentinean Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the new pope offer a wide perspective on the unexpected choice of a Jesuit and his choice of the name Francis:

Xavier’s Jesuit community share their thoughts on the election of a Jesuit pope

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., of Argentina was elected the new pope on Wednesday, March 13

On Wednesday, March 13, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., the archbishop of Buenos Aires, was elected pope, taking the name Pope Francis I. He is the first Jesuit, first Latin American and the first pope to take the name Francis. Members of Xavier’s Jesuit community offered their thoughts on the election of a fellow Jesuit to the papacy.

Michael J. Graham, S.J. “When I heard the news that a Jesuit brother of mine would be the next Pope, I was completely stunned—as were many people, it seems, from whom I began to hear very quickly!  But that surprise yielded quickly to a profound sense of gratitude. That the Holy Spirit should choose a man from the tradition of Ignatius Loyola to lead the Church must be a deep consolation for anyone and everyone associated with any Jesuit ministry throughout the world. That Pope Francis is a Latin American Jesuit, I have no doubt that he will bring a particular care and concern for the poor and marginalized to his Pontificate, for that sensibility has been an overwhelming gift of Latin American Jesuits worldwide.”

John Heim, S.J. “Of course, the election of a new pope presumes the Holy Spirit is alive and well and looking to the good of God’s people. In a specific way this election gives the Church a greater sense of its universality. I believe all the popes previous were European. The personal lifestyle of Francis I gives credence to Vatican II’s imperative that the Church identify itself with the poor.”

J. Leo Klein, S.J. “I am very happy with the choice of our new Bishop of Rome, Francis I, for many reasons. He comes from a part of our world which represents the true scope of the universal Church. Also, since he is rooted in Ignatian, Jesuit formation, I feel an immediate sense of communion with him. God bless him in the many challenges ahead.”

Extra Credit: Robert Hurd, S.J.

In addition to being a priest, Robert Hurd, S.J., is a staff physician at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Cincinnati.  He has a medical degree from Creighton University, as well as a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of San Francisco, a bachelor’s degree and doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and a licentiate from the Jesuit School of Theology at the University of California Berkeley. Today, he’s one of a rare breed—both doctor and Jesuit priest.

“Throughout the world, I’d say there are at least 40-50 Jesuit doctors.

“My title? I’m Father Doctor. I’m a Jesuit first. Anything I would do as a doctor would be in the context of Jesuit activities spirituality.

“I teach a course in endocrinology and two or sometimes three courses each semester in bioethics.

“I like teaching both. We touch on a lot of issues—health care reform, stem cell research and more.

“We try to balance the issues between science and Church teachings. We have to work with the students so they learn some principles that they can apply to different situations. One of Fr. Baumiller’s main mottos was that everybody should feel comfortable in gray areas. You can’t avoid them. When he was at Georgetown University, he founded the first prenatal diagnosis clinic for women and their husbands who were told in the middle of their pregnancy that they had a serious anomaly with the baby. And instead of sending them away where they would probably have an abortion, he worked in this gray area to counsel the people and give them all the information they needed and let them know what resources are available. So he was kind of a model for all of us. That’s our example of working within the Church’s principles in an ever-changing world.

“There are quite a few of my former students who are working at different hospitals around town and are on the ethics committees of the hospitals where they work. We interact all the time.

“The VA was recommended to me by the biology chair, Charles Grossman, who was working there at the time as director of the research department. There are a lot of students in the biology program who do their research projects there. So that fit very well.

“What do I do for fun? I like music. That’s my hobby. I play the guitar, piano and organ. When I was a medical student, we were not supposed to moonlight or work, but on Sunday mornings I figured I could do what I liked so I played organ and guitar at the parish church. I’m now the music director of a church in town, Holy Trinity in Kenwood.

“I also like to go to O’Connor Sports Center and exercise. I go early in the morning, around 6:00 a.m. I ride a bicycle and read my notes for that day’s class. I photocopy pages of the textbook so I can read the chapter of the day and refresh myself. If I don’t do it then, it’s not going to happen.

“I’m usually at the VA from 8:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. On days I teach, I leave at 3:00 p.m. and then teach from 4:15 p.m.-6:45 p.m.

“I don’t sleep much.”

Bellarmine and Bollman

When Richard Bollman first walked through the doors at Bellarmine Parish, most of today’s Xavier students weren’t even born yet. That was 20 years ago. Two decades.

That’s a long time to do anything, much less the same thing. But for Bollman, that’s been his life since 1992—pastor of Bellarmine Parish. That, however, is changing. In January, Bollman is taking a sabbatical and beginning a new, still-undecided phase of his ministry.

“This all feels coherent and timely for me personally, but also a little theoretical as yet,” he wrote to his congregation. “I have very few ideas about 2013 as yet. I’m expecting things to fall into place.

“As a Jesuit, I have not lived through many changes in ministry: In 1980 I left the University of San Francisco to become the director of the Jesuit Center at Milford [Ohio]. In 1992, I became pastor here. At each move I was lucky to have some time off to close out responsibilities and catch up with myself. That’s happening again now. And beyond my own need to appreciate the chance, I believe we can expect a good transition at Bellarmine, leading both to continuity and fresh approaches.”

Dan Hartnett, S.J., is taking over parish responsibilities. Hartnett spent nearly 20 years in Lima, Peru, in pastoral leadership and university education before, most recently, serving as pastor of Blessed Trinity Parish in Waukegan, Ill., in suburban Chicago. He also taught philosophy at the University of Loyola Chicago.

Watch a video of Bollman talking about Holy Week, Easter and Easteride.