Fr. Gerald Blaszczak, S.J., leaving Fairfield University to take advisory post to Jesuit Superior General in Rome



Image: G BlaszczakFr. Gerald Blaszczak, S.J., who joined Fairfield University two years ago as University Chaplain and this year was named Vice President for Mission and Identity, has been called to Rome by the Very Rev. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J., Superior General of the Society of Jesus, to serve as "Secretary for the Service of Faith," one of three secretariats based at the Jesuit Curia in Rome. The restructuring of the secretariats was among governance changes announced earlier this year by Fr. Nicolás.

In a letter to Fr. Blaszczak, Fr. Nicolás thanked him "for accepting the call to more universal service" and said he looked forward to working with him. Among Fr. Blaszczak's new responsibilities will be the promotion within Jesuit ministries of "dialogue and reflection on the relationship between faith and reason, culture and moral issues, and also between the Church and society." He will also coordinate the Secretariat for inter-religious dialogue and work with the six Conferences of the Society worldwide on Ignatian Spirituality and pastoral work. Fr. Blaszczak will be leaving Fairfield in mid-August to study Italian and to prepare himself for his new position.

Fairfield University President Jeffrey von Arx, S.J., said Fr. Blaszczak's appointment gives him the opportunity to make a significant contribution to the global mission of the Society of Jesus, but added he will miss "a trusted friend of 40 years and a tremendously talented colleague whose advice has been invaluable." Fr. Blaszczak presently serves as a member of the university's senior management team.

Fr. Blaszczak said he regretted that he had "only a few years to get to know and to work with members of the Fairfield University Community," including the faculty, staff and administration, whose work he admired and respected "I am sorry that I will not get a chance to see the students I have gotten to know continue to grow and be graduated." It has been particularly satisfying, he said, to work with his friend and colleague, Fr. von Arx and "will miss the Fairfield Jesuits who have truly been brothers and 'friends in the Lord.'"

While "humbled by the scope of my new job," Fr. Blaszczak said, he was also excited by the possibilities. "I am eager to be involved in projects which I deem so valuable and which have been so close to my heart throughout the years of my Jesuit ministry."

At Fairfield, where Fr. Blaszczak is known for his inspiring homilies and personal concern for and ministry to students and other community members, he sought to address and celebrate religious, racial, and social-economic diversity. Born in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., his family lived in Dallas, Texas, for a time in the 1960s where he studied at Dallas Prep, at that time the only integrated high school in the city. He said he was profoundly affected by the Jesuits there who, sometimes at great risk, helped students recognize the rich Mexican culture around them and the issues facing their African-American peers. "They were guided by an inclusive vision and a vision of social justice that was humane," said Fr. Blaszczak.

Fr. Blaszczak entered the Society of Jesus in 1967 and was ordained in 1979. He holds a Ph.D. in New Testament and Early Church History with a secondary field of Islamic Studies from Harvard University. He earned a B.Phil. from Philosophische Hochschule Berchmanskolleg in Pullach, Germany and a B.A., summa cum laude, in classics from Fordham University.

A member of Phi Beta Kappa and a Danforth Fellow, he has taught at Le Moyne College, Syracuse, N.Y., Hekima College in Nairobi, Kenya, and in the Theology Department at Fordham, among other places. He served as director of novices for the New York and Maryland provinces for most of the 1990s and was the Rector of the Jesuit Community at Fordham from 1998 to 2001. In 2005 he became pastor of St. Ignatius Loyola in Manhattan.

Fr. Blaszczak has served on the board of trustees of several universities, including at present Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, the Nativity Mission schools of New York, and the board of Operation Hope in Fairfield, Conn.

As the largest religious order of men in the Catholic Church, the Society of Jesus is present in virtually every country in the world and is currently organized in roughly 100 Provinces and Regions. Conferences of the Society bring together Provinces in major geographical areas so that they might work together more effectively. The General Curia in Rome, guided by the Superior General, Very Reverend Adolfo Nicolás, S.J., coordinates the worldwide work of the Society.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on July 26, 2011

Vol. 44, No. 7