Richard Bollman, S.J., has worked on campus the past two decades as pastor at Bellarmine Chapel. A native of St. Bernard, Ohio, he was ordained in 1969 and completed his doctoral studies at SUNY-Buffalo. After teaching English at the University of San Francisco from 1974-1980, he spent the next 11 years as director at the Jesuit Renewal Center in Milford, Ohio. He arrived at Xavier in 1992.
“It’s first pertinent to say that in my position here as pastor of a parish, I have a position in and a little bit to the side of the University. I do much of my work on Sundays and other times when the faculty and staff aren’t here.
“Some might be surprised at how many people are connected to this worship assembly: parishioners who have been attending, well, some for as long as 35 years. We have about 70 zip codes and 750 addresses represented in our congregation. People come here because they are alumni of other Jesuit colleges in other cities. Or because they are comfortable here on the campus. There are faculty, staff and students as well.
“What I do want people to know is that what makes Bellarmine Chapel such an exciting parish is found in the diversity of people who come here, even somewhat randomly as guests. I wonder each Sunday, ‘Who are these people and where do they all come from?’ On any given Sunday, we have between 600 and 800 in attendance at three Masses, close to 1,100 in all with the two student Masses added in.
“There have been three things new in my life this past year: One, we have a new archbishop, the Most Rev. Dennis M. Schnurr. Two, a new Roman Missal. And three, a new campus.
“I am one of the new archbishop’s parish priests, so it’s good to have some mutual communication. He has a lot of interest in pastoral life and how it works here. And the new Missal is everyone’s new moment; we’re preparing for an effective transition together with campus ministry.
“Most significant, we have a new campus. The new design has somewhat trimmed the entrance and exit to the chapel. But the chapel building itself has better sight lines, a better display, in the midst of campus.
“I took a year off in 1992, to travel in the U.K. and Nepal. It was a big influence on me. I fulfilled a childhood dream of seeing Lhasa in Tibet, and a good deal more: the Taj Mahal, monasteries in Tibet, Kathmandu. It was pretty idiosyncratic, but I had a good time.
“There are always the struggles, the struggles of living in this century, the struggles of being a Church living in the shadow of scandal, but also the struggle of living during a time of turmoil, a shift in economic prosperity. It makes maintaining our human relationships all the more challenging. I find myself looking not so much for answers, as trying to understand needs.”