Skip to main content
Seattle University

All Things Jesuit

Red Friday, the Jesuit way

December 4, 2012

You could say that school spirit met Ignatian spirituality when these five SU Jesuits gamely showed off their new red threads on a recent afternoon. Pictured here from left to right flashing the Redhawk are Trung Pham (Fine Arts), Matthew Pyrc (Campus Ministry), Steve Sundborg (President), Jason Welle (Education Abroad) and Mike Bayard (Campus Ministry).

JesuitRedShirtsBillOMalley_ATJ

And now for the back story…As we know, faculty and staff are encouraged to cap off the work week by decking themselves out in SU colors for "Red Fridays."

Pyrc got to thinking that there had to be a way for him and his Jesuit brothers to do their part, so he went online and found the red clerical shirts--turns out you can order clerical shirts in just about any color of the rainbow. Equally important, he found five other Jesuits willing to participate.

Bill O'Malley, S.J., (left) who is a visiting professor in Matteo Ricci College this year, was tied up with academic duties on the afternoon of the photo shoot, but he did show up, properly attired, just moments after the rest of the group disbanded to get his picture taken with the president.

Father Twohy goes to Rome

November 19, 2012

Story By: Annie Beckmann

As he stood in the sprawling Vatican City piazza of St. Peter's with thousands who made the pilgrimage to watch Pope Benedict XVI canonize seven saints, Patrick Twohy, S.J., thought to himself, "This is so right, the Church honoring those who lived the beatitudes."

Father Twohy, whose calling to serve Native American people began nearly 40 years ago, couldn't imagine he'd have an opportunity to make the trek to Rome in late October to celebrate the canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha, the very first Native American saint and a member of the Mohawk Tribe. It was the Seattle University Jesuit community that stepped in and wanted to sponsor his trip.

Twohy had never been to the Vatican. Excited as he was before he left, he found himself wrestling with the dichotomy of the setting's grandeur and Kateri's humility.  

"I was having a hard time putting together the greatness of Rome and the humbleness of this woman, the difficulties she faced so courageously and how it fit together," he said.

For a little insight, he met with Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain. "He told me this was the way it should be because these are all the most beloved," Twohy said.

He signed on to travel with a group of about 40 Native people from several Northwest tribes. Two or three other large Native groups, many of them Mohawks from upstate New York and Canada, made their way to Rome as well.

"We were there with many tribes. They all claim her because the honor of one is the honor of all. That certainly was the case on that wonderful day," Twohy said.

As a member of the Tekakwitha Conference-the only annual gathering of Catholic Native peoples in North America, Twohy had prayed with 800 to 1,200 others for the canonization of Kateri each year since Pope John Paul II beatified her in 1980.

Born in 1656 in upstate New York, Kateri was first recommended for sainthood more than a century ago. It wasn't until six years ago, though, that her role in the healing of a gravely ill boy from the Lummi Reservation near Ferndale, Wash., Whatcom County, was deemed a miracle. After 6-year-old Jake Finkbonner received last rites and lay on his deathbed from a flesh-destroying bacterial infection, prayers to Kateri began and a relic of hers was placed on his body. The boy's healing played a role in Kateri's canonization. Jake Finkbonner, now 12, and his family also attended and were celebrated at Kateri's canonization.

Twohy said that for him Kateri represented the efforts of Native women to keep their people together.  

"To have her honored is to honor all Native peoples, the sanctity of their lives and the beauty of their culture. I was blessed to be standing in St. Peter's piazza with all these grandmothers and great grandmothers whose guidance I so value," said Twohy. Today he leads 12 Jesuits who serve Native Americans throughout the Northwest with the Rocky Mountain Mission Ministry.

The Jesuits have a 170-year history with Native peoples, according to Twohy, who in 1973 moved to the Colville Reservation at Nespelem, Wash., in Okanogan County.

"That was the beginning and it has gotten deeper and more profound with each year for me," said Twohy, who later lived on the Swinomish Reservation in Skagit County for 21 years. "Now I see the world with a double richness. I belong to the Catholic tradition and that world view and to those people whose wisdom spans thousands and thousands of years. I want to journey forever with them into the next world."

Twohy joined the priesthood at 18.

"Ever since I was young, I've always been drawn to the mystery, that which is hidden in all things," he said. "When I met the Jesuits who taught me in high school, I was deeply impressed with the width of their learning, the width of their hearts and their engagement with the world."

Remembering Jesuit martyrs

November 6, 2012

This month, as we commemorate the 23rd anniversary of the slaying of six Jesuits and their two lay companions at the Universidad Centroamericana, we also remember all the members of the Society of Jesus who have given their lives in service to a faith that does justice. 

One of those Jesuits is Rutilio Grande, S.J., for whom a building in the Murphy Apartment complex is named. A proponent of liberation theology, Father Grande was murdered with two other Salvadorans in El Salvador in 1977. Grande's death had a significant impact on his friend, Archbishop Oscar Romero, who after the assassination took an active role in advocating for the poor and oppressed. Archbishop Romero was murdered three years later.

The Jesuits and Vatican II

October 23, 2012

In case you missed it, Pat Howell, S.J., rector of the SU Jesuit community, has written a piece for the latest Conversations on Jesuit Higher Education. In his article, "The 'New' Jesuits: The Response of the Society of Jesus to Vatican II, 1962-2012: Some Alacrity, Some Resistance," Father Howell provides a wonderful overview and analysis of how the Second Vatican Council impacted the Jesuits and redefined their mission. The fall 2012 Conversations focuses on the 50th anniversary of Vatican II. We all should have received a hard copy of the magazine. For the electronically inclined, Father Howell's article and all the others can be downloaded at Conversations. It should be noted that Father Howell is not only a contributor but he also chair of the National Seminar on Jesuit Higher Education, which publishes Conversations.

Seattle University is marking the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council by devoting its Catholic Heritage Lecture Series to the topic.

Cheap-o-cinos with Fr. Venker

October 8, 2012

Story by: Annie Beckmann

When I asked if he'd like to catch a quick coffee near campus on one of those last sunny days of summer, Father Josef Venker, S.J., had a better idea. 

"Let's head over to Arrupe House and I'll make you one," he suggested and off we went. 

In no time, he had assembled numerous powders and a couple of familiar liquids on the Arrupe kitchen counter. Fr. Venker towered over a blender and began to work his magic. 

"I can't afford very many expensive coffee drinks, so for the past couple of summers I've been making my own," said the chairman of the Fine Arts Department who came to Seattle University in 1994. A native of St. Louis, this year Fr. Venker celebrates the 25th anniversary of his ordination as a member of the Missouri Province.  

Over the racket of an ice-crunching blender, he bellowed, "Each batch is a little different. It all depends on how much ice and what optional ingredients I add."  

He removed the top of the blender and pointed inside. 

"You need to have a vortex there in the center," Fr. Venker warned. "Otherwise it won't break up the ice."  

He's on a quest to determine what makes commercial cold coffee drinks especially creamy and smooth. 

"I still haven't figured out what their secret ingredient is. I'm guessing it's something that comes from the factory. Maltodextrin, maybe?" 

Replicating those secret ingredients is a culinary challenge he enjoys and it extends beyond coffee drinks. When Fr. Venker spends a weekend at the Jesuit retreat house on Beaver Lake, he'll attempt to unmask memorable dishes he may have sampled at Seattle restaurants. He discovered, for example, that adding ¼ cup powdered milk to pizza dough makes it a tad softer.     

He said his creative life as an artist often inspires his gastronomic interests, including cooking without recipes. At summer's end, he had to figure out how to make use of 10 pounds of fresh clams on the Washington coast. It seemed like a lot of clams at first, yet he was able to turn the bivalves into three different dishes over Labor Day weekend. 

"It comes from living in a community with 24 people. You learn to do things big," he said with a shrug. 

When he creates those summer-only coffee drinks, he always makes two of the iced caffeine-rich concoctions at a time.  And this past summer, he gave them a name. 

"Since these are cost effective and fun, I call them 'Icy Cheap-o-cinos,'" he said with a laugh. 

Father Venker's Icy Cheap-o-cinos

2 to 3 teaspoons instant coffee (Sanka for lower caffeine)
2 packets instant cocoa mix (sugar-free, if you like) 
1 to 2 cups strong coffee (French Roast is nice)
½  cup half-and-half or whole milk 
1 to 3 cups ice (small cubes preferred)  

Optional enhancements:

Sugar to taste 
2 to 3 tablespoons vanilla protein powder -or- Caffe D'Amore Mocha Frappe mix
Dollop of whipped cream on top  

Add instant coffee, cocoa from packets and strong coffee to a blender and blend well. Turn off blender, add half-and-half or milk and ice. Blend again. You want to be able to see a vortex in the center so you know the ice is breaking up. Add other optional ingredients to taste, if desired. Makes two large Cheap-o-cinos.

Meet the 2012 SU Jesuits

September 24, 2012

Back row (left to right): Dave Anderson (Alumni Relations), Mike Kelliher (Criminal Justice Emeritus), William O'Malley (Matteo Ricci College), John Foster (Assistant to the Dean, Matteo Ricci College), James Taiviet Tran (Boeing engineer, Vietnamese pastoral ministry), Josef Venker (Chair, Fine Arts), Natch Ohno (Student Development, Assistant Rector). 

Second row (left to right): Matthew Pyrć (Campus Ministry), Peter Ely (VP, Mission and Ministry), Eric Watson (Chemistry), Jason Welle (Study Abroad), Tom Murphy (History), Lorenzo Herman (STM graduate student), Jim Reichmann (Philosophy Emeritus, Pastoral Ministry), Pat O'Leary (University Chaplain). 

Front row (left to right):) Brendan Busse (Matteo Ricci College), John Topel (Pastor, Port Townsend), Mike Bayard (Director, Campus Ministry), Pat Howell (Rector, Professor of Pastoral Theology), Bob Egan (Pastoral Ministry), Trung Pham (Fine Arts), Steve Sundborg (President), Ron Funke (Pastoral Ministry). 

Absent: Emmett Carroll (Pastor, Bainbridge), Pat Kelly (Theology, Study of Sport), Dave Leigh (English), Pat Twohy (Director, Rocky Mountain Mission, Urban Native American Ministry), Bill Watson (President, Sacred Story Institute).

Cause for celebration

September 10, 2012

Six Jesuits well known by the SU campus community, including three faculty and staff, are celebrating significant anniversaries this year. Josef Venker, S.J., chair of Fine Arts, left, is marking his 25th year in the priesthood, while Tom Murphy, S.J., associate professor of history, center, and Mike Bayard, S.J., director of campus ministry, right, are celebrating 25 years in the Society of Jesus. Three other Jesuits who live in the Arrupe community are also marking major milestones this year: John Topel, S.J., currently pastor of St. Mary Star of the Sea Church in Port Townsend, is celebrating 60 years in the Society, while Bob Egan, S.J., who does pastoral ministry in Seattle, and Emmet Carroll, S.J., pastor of St. Cecelia's Church on Bainbridge Island, are celebrating 50 years in the priesthood. A big congratulations to these wonderful Jesuits!

Guns and God

July 26, 2012

In the wake of the tragedy in Colorado, James Martin, S.J., has written a compelling piece, "Why Gun Control is a Religious Issue," in America, the only Catholic weekly magazine in the country. Pictured here in February during the School of Theology and Ministry's Search for Meaning Book Festival, Father Martin asserts that gun control should be considered alongside other right to life issues.

Why Jesuit education?

June 18, 2012

Award-winning journalist and author (and graduate of Gonzaga Prep) Tim Egan delivered Seattle University's undergraduate commencement address and had plenty to say about the impact of Jesuit education. Here are excerpts from his speech:

"How could anything on the 50 acres where you've spent the last four years, that Jesuit oasis in the middle of urban Seattle, affect this messy, troubled planet? 

It starts with something simple: Connect to nature. Watch a long-legged blue heron lift off. Nurture a garden.  Stick your face in a winter storm. Make wine. Go into the woods in the fall and pick chantrelle mushrooms. Feel the healing power of this planet, and then…go out and fight for it!

You know, these Jesuits were fabulous teachers. What I remember from them is how much they challenged us to think for ourselves, and ignore fads and trends. One priest said you must be in constant search for your God and yourself.

So now, in the face of accelerated change of all our major institutions-technology, democracy, the planet itself-the imperatives of the Jesuit tradition, dating 450 years,  are more vital than ever before. And what are those imperatives? To question conventional wisdom, to nurture the heart as well as the mind, to go forth and engage the world.

You leave here today with a commodity from Seattle University. That commodity is the ability to think clearly, to think logically, to think humanely. You've been apprentices of this great tradition until now, when you are released-masters of the method."

On being House chaplain

May 23, 2012

It was about a year ago that Pat Conroy, S.J., of the Oregon Province was confirmed as chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives, making him the first Jesuit and only the second Catholic to serve in that role. Father Conroy worked in Campus Ministry at SU during the 1990s. In an interview with The Oregonian earlier this month, Conroy was asked what it's like to minister to what The New York Times has called "one of the most reviled congregations in his country." You can see how he answered that and read the full interview HERE.

Building hope

May 7, 2012

Graduation gifts come in many forms, but this year a group of MBA students has chosen a very unconventional and moving way to honor one of their classmates as he prepares to receive his diploma.

Anyone who has read "Life of Purpose" in SU Magazine is familiar with the story of Jean Baptiste Ganza, S.J.: How his family members and friends were murdered during the genocide in Rwanda, and how he has responded to the tragedy by creating new educational opportunities for the young people of his native country.

Ganza has already built a primary school, St. Ignatius, in Kigali. He is now focused on expanding that educational pipeline by constructing a secondary school. When completed, the school will hold 750 students. Pretty heady stuff when you consider that more than 75 percent of Rwandans live below the poverty line and children, on average, receive just three years of schooling.

This is where Father Ganza's MBA classmates come in. They have launched a campaign to raise $15,000 for the school before Ganza graduates on June 10. To learn more about the effort and how you can help support it, please visit the St. Ignatius School Rwanda Campaign.

Visiting with Fr. Pribek

April 20, 2012

Father James Pribek, associate professor of English at Canisius College in Buffalo, joined the English Department in the College of Arts and Sciences this spring as the LeRoux Scholar. Father Pribek will give a public lecture, "'When Hope and History Rhyme': Irish Literature as a Resource for Hope," on May 10 at 4 p.m. in Wyckoff Auditorium. He recently took the time to field some questions from The Commons.


On his upbringing:

I was born and raised in La Crosse, Wisconsin, where my father practiced medicine for almost 40 years. I grew up in a big Catholic family: I am number five of seven. We knew plenty of families larger than ours, however: those were the years when parents could afford to have more than a few children, and neighborhoods and schools provided a lot of help. With those kinds of numbers, we had our own "kids' culture" in which the older siblings, friends and teachers filled in for parents for a good portion of the day. 

On why he decided to enter the Jesuits:  

I locate the roots of my vocation in the Catholic culture of the place and time. To be Catholic meant to be literate, funny, community-minded and culture-friendly. The optimism about the church's place in the world ignited by Vatican II was still very much alive. I went to a large state university, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which I loved. At that time a group of Jesuits, some doing doctoral studies and some full-time, helped at the university's Catholic center, and they provided me with all sorts of new images of priests. One was a spirited preacher who routinely filled the church to capacity and beyond for his Sunday morning masses; another was an eloquent, scholarly Jesuit who seemed to have just the right word for the meditative Sunday night masses.

I met up with Jesuits again after graduation when I was living in Milwaukee: my sister worked at Marquette University, and there I came to know Jesuits as her associates and friends. The Jesuits struck me as quite different, one from another, but all seemed energetic, witty, kind and caught up with the best things happening in their fields of endeavor. Somehow I got the impression that a life given to the Jesuits would not be ruled by fear and conformity, and would be a life of consequence and exploration of the good and the Godly. I joined the order in 1987 alongside Marquette grad, Mike Bayard, and despite the usual amount of challenges, changes and hard times, I haven't really looked back. My impression that, for better or worse, this would not be a way of life tainted by regret, has certainly proven true.

On his home institution:

At Canisius, I teach all the Irish literature courses as well as a good few introductory English and Honors core courses. My Irish classes include surveys of poetry, prose, and drama as well as seminars in the work of James Joyce and W.B. Yeats. I also preside at campus masses and direct students on Campus Ministry's Ignatian retreats. I advise many English students and in recent years have directed our department's activities for students and faculty, including our annual banquet. I have a host of smaller duties, but the ones I have listed would take up most of my time. On weekends I routinely assist three Buffalo parishes.  In the summers I try to prepare and present papers at conferences dedicated to the study of James Joyce and John Henry Newman, the two writers on whom my doctoral dissertation was focused.

On what he's doing at SU this quarter:

I always put teaching first, so my first job here is teaching my course in Modern Irish Drama. I am also preparing a talk on hope in Irish literature that I'll offer as the LeRoux Lecture (again, on May 10). I am preparing two more papers for presentation and, I hope, publication: one on the real-life preacher of the infamous sermon on hell in Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and another on a longtime promoter of Cardinal Newman's work in the theological world. 

On his time at Seattle University:

I enjoy getting to know this area and this university, whose model and mission are close to that of my home school, though there are also some significant differences. I think that is part of being a visiting professor: the exchange of ideas about education and service within the ever-more-united network of Jesuit universities. Administrative staff from the Jesuit schools routinely gather for this kind of exchange and support, but we faculty, less so. All of us need it in order to stay informed and flexible, and to remind us that we are part of a cooperative, worldwide endeavor.

I have been much impressed by Seattle University's spiritual ministry, especially the Novena of Grace and the Holy Week services. There is real life, energy and joy there. The Jesuit Community enjoys the reputation as one of the best in the country, and I have certainly found it so. The campus is compact but it does not feel crowded or even especially urban: the trees, green spaces and the Quad create a more natural and human atmosphere. Because I love to walk and to explore cities, I enjoy the proximity to the downtown area. If there have been any surprises, they would be the quietness of the campus after-hours and the weather, which is changeable but overall quite pleasant and full of the beauties of spring.

On what's next for him:

I will be at Seattle University until the middle of June, at which time I'll travel to Los Angeles and complete the second summer of my tertianship with the California Program. This year away from Canisius has provided time not only for rest and renewal, but also to do tertianship and to complete a number of personal and research projects. I went straight from formation into doctoral studies and then into teaching, so the last year allowed me to "catch my breath" and refocus my energies. I needed that after 25 years in the Jesuits, but also after the experience of losing my parents in recent years. In God's providence I was able to be present for their final illnesses and deaths, which was a profound blessing.  Yet the experience of losing a parent is also earth-shattering on a number of levels. As I see spring emerge here, I think of a poem that has helped me grieve: Philip Larkin's "The Trees," and its poignant closing line expressing the message of the new leaves and blossoms: "Begin afresh, afresh, afresh."