Xavier Magazine

Profile: Patrick Duffy, Jr.

Bachelor of General Studies, 1985
Lay pastoral minister, Little Brothers of the Gospel of
Charles de Foucauld, Managua, Nicaragua

Life Inside | “I’m called to live in the midst of and with the poor,” Duffy says. “It’s a life of insertion and being with rather than just being for. My vocation is inside the faith, but outside the box.”

Reality | More than halfway through a degree in business concentrating in real estate at the University of Cincinnati, Duffy read about St. Francis Xavier and realized his future did not lie in property sales. He transferred to Xavier and added a concentration in psychology to feed his growing interest in social work.

A Year to Remember | “I was living in a house with a couple buddies, and we came together around a priest who helped us discover prayer not in a churchy, geeky way, but in a real way. It was then I discovered there wasn’t a career program out there for me, and I was heading toward something different.”

Navajo Dreams | After working awhile in the mental health field,  Duffy took a job working with special needs children on a Navajo Indian reservation. “I fell in love with the Native American culture, their spirituality and working cross-culturally. I learned that’s how I wanted to spend my life.”

Comboni | After his father died of cancer, Duffy entered the seminary of the Comboni Missionaries in 1988. By 1992 he was in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to finish his training. He chose Sao Paulo because the Church there is so committed to his dream—working with the poor and the street children.

Children of the Streets | “A real street kid has cut off his emotional connections with his family because there’s usually no father and there are too many kids. They opt for the streets and don’t go back. Our job was to reintegrate them with the family.”

Moment of Truth | As he lived among the people, Duffy felt called away from the traditional priesthood. “I discovered true Church in Brazil—doing services between the gunfire of drug dealers. But the people still showed up. As a priest I was going to be asked to do something else. I just didn’t fit into the box.”

Charles de Foucauld | Duffy returned to Cincinnati without taking his vows and read a book about Charles de Foucauld, a former Trappist monk who inspired people to live the gospel by working and living with the poor. He was so inspired, he joined the Little Brothers of the Gospel and moved back to Brazil to work with them as a Charles de Foucauld lay pastoral minister.

Living the Mission | Today, Duffy lives on the outskirts of Managua with his family, teaching scripture to students and holding workshops and retreats for teachers. His work is supported by a fundraising group he organized in 2006 in memory of his father called Partners In Mission Nicaragua. Its web site,, includes a blog Duffy writes about his work in the barrio.

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