Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The news from Hawk Hill.

The spring semester at Saint Joseph's University began a week ago today. Though I'm still keeping very busy, I don't feel nearly as stressed now as I felt at the start of the fall semester. Not having to do everything for the first time is a great source of consolation as well as a practical aid to time management. While I still put substantial time into preparing each class that I teach, the fact that I'm teaching one of my courses for the second time rather than the first means that I don't have to make everything from scratch. My current crop of students seem at first glance to be an eminently teachable group, and I look forward to getting to know them better through their participation in class and their written work. I continue to find abundant life and support in my Jesuit community, while the fascinating city of Philadelphia continues to gradually unveil its mysteries to a still very new resident.

Adding to a list of charitable organizations provided in an earlier post, I would like to call your attention to another group providing direct assistance to survivors of the earthquake in Haiti. Team Rubicon is a self-financed, all-volunteer medical rescue team made up of former U.S. Marines as well as medical professionals and emergency responders who have taken time off from their work in the United States to take part in on-the-ground relief efforts in Haiti. Based on the grounds of the Jesuit novitiate in Port-au-Prince, Team Rubicon is working together with a number of Jesuits including Brother Jim Boynton, a Detroit Province Jesuit (and former housemate of mine) who moved to Hait last year to work with JRS but now finds himself fully occupied with earthquake relief. Brother Jim has written a number of posts on the Team Rubicon blog reflecting on his experiences, and I urge you to read them. More importantly, I urge you to consider making a donation to Team Rubicon to support the critically important work that they are doing in Port-au-Prince.

On another note, I ask you to join me in praying for the repose of the soul of Jesuit Father John Deeney, a Philadelphia native who recently died in his sixtieth year as a missionary in India. Though I never met Father Deeney, I've had the opportunity in the last few months to get to know a bit about him from conversations with other Jesuits here at SJU. Having joined the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus in 1939 at the age of 18, in January 1950 John Deeney was sent to India to join what was then known as the Jamshedpur Mission. Together with a number of other Maryland Province Jesuits, Father Deeney became a founding member of the Jamshedpur Province of the Society and devoted the rest of his life to serving the people of northeastern India. Much of Father Deeney's life in India was spent ministering to members of a tribal group known as the Ho. In the tradition of earlier Jesuit missionaries, Father Deeney helped his flock preserve their language and culture by composing a Ho-English dictionary and grammar, translating the scriptures and the liturgy into the local language, and producing a number of ethnographic works on the common life and traditions of the Ho people.

If you would like to learn more about Father John Deeney, I suggest that you read these reflections by his friend Tom Brzozowski, an Ignaciophile and dedicated Hawk who blogs under the moniker "44." Tom's blog also has a moving report on Father Deeney's funeral, including photos sent by an Indian Jesuit. Finally, Tom also posts an appeal for funds to support a cause close to Father Deeney's heart: the construction of a new school building at St. Paul Miki Church in the Ho tribal region. As I join many others in praying for the repose of the soul of Father John Deeney, I pray also that the example of his life may inspire others to give of themselves in generous service. AMDG.


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