Saturday, May 07, 2011

Jesuit nominated to serve as U.S. House chaplain.

Yesterday, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives announced the nomination of Father Patrick J. Conroy, S.J. to serve as Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives. If his nomination is confirmed by the full House, Father Conroy will be the second Catholic priest and the first Jesuit to serve as House Chaplain in the chamber's 222-year history.

A Jesuit of the Oregon Province, Father Conroy has worn many hats in his religious and priestly life: he has pastored parishes on two Northwest Indian reservations, taught high school theology, spent ten years working in campus ministry at Georgetown University, and served as director of formation for his province. If confirmed as House Chaplain, he will regularly offer prayers before the start of legislative proceedings (a duty shared with a roster of guest chaplains representing various religious confessions), counsel members of the House and their families, and otherwise attend to the spiritual needs of the House.

Father Pat Conroy was a chaplain at Georgetown when I was an undergrad; in my experience, he provided a very effective pastoral presence. He had a particular knack for remembering the names and faces of everyone he met; even if he hadn't chatted with you in a while, or if you'd never officially met but he had seen your nametag at orientation, Father Pat knew who you were and would greet you by name. Though I didn't keep in touch with Father Pat after my graduation, he recalled my name instantly when we saw one another in passing years later at Fordham.

I wish Father Pat Conroy well as he prepares for the confirmation process and what I hope will be many happy years as House Chaplain. Reading the House press release sent out yesterday, I was pleased to note that this nomination has bipartisan support; perhaps it helps that Speaker of the House John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi both have ties to Jesuit schools (Boehner graduated from Xavier University in Cincinnati, while Pelosi's husband and three of her children all went to Georgetown). With that in mind, I'll be praying for a speedy confirmation! AMDG.


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