Welcome Back, Fr. Mac

Welcome Back, Fr. Mac

Fr. Keith Maczkiewicz, S.J., standing in front of a yellow wall.

Fr. Keith Maczkiewicz, S.J., is a Class of 2004 Fairfield alumnus.

In 2001, Keith A. Maczkiewicz ’04 began a work-study job in the campus mailroom. Two decades later, Rev. Keith A. Maczkiewicz, S.J., ’04 has returned to Fairfield to become director of Campus Ministry.

Egan Chapel was really like a home for me. Being at the Masses as a Eucharistic minister on Sundays was a big part of my life.

— Keith A. Maczkiewicz ’04

Before the official campus announcement that Rev. Keith Maczkiewicz, S.J., ’04 had been appointed Fairfield’s new director of Campus Ministry, Fr. Mac, as he likes to be called, made an important phone call to his former boss, mailroom coordinator Marge Fulop. “I wanted her to hear the news from me first,” he said.

Fulop, who for 29 years has supervised work-study students assigned to Fairfield’s mailroom, immediately gave Fr. Mac’s Campus Ministry appointment her stamp of approval. “I almost hit the ceiling, I was so happy,” she said of the news that her “favorite and best work-study ever” would be coming back to Stag Country, “…he was a perfect fit here.”

Maczkiewicz found his “perfect fit” as a sophomore transfer student in the fall of 2001. He’d spent his first year of college at a school in Boston, routinely sneaking out of his dorm on Sunday mornings to go off-campus for Mass before finally realizing, “I think I should be at a Catholic college.”

So he googled Catholic universities closer to his family’s Long Island home in Ronkonkoma, N.Y., and Fairfield popped up on the listing. “It said it was a Jesuit school; I had no idea what that was,” he admitted. On-campus housing was tight for transfers, but he and a roommate lucked out when a room in Campion Hall — usually occupied by a Jesuit — became available.

He moved in on September 4, and felt a bit unmoored for the first few days. He didn’t know anybody, there was no transfer orientation at the time, and he’d missed out on the First-Year Experience (FYE) and convocation with his classmates. “Do I like it here?” he asked himself.

“And then came September 11, 2001” recalled Fr. Mac. “What I remember about that day, vividly, is going to lunch in the BCC and there were tent cards on the tables announcing that there would be Mass on the hill outside Egan Chapel that afternoon.”

That outdoor Mass, his first experience of “purposeful gathering” at Fairfield, had a profound effect on him. “It seemed as if everyone was there,” Fr. Mac said. “The skies were so quiet. To gather as a community, in response to a major event, was very moving. And that was the moment I knew I belonged here.”

A history major with minors in secondary education and American studies, Fr. Mac’s fondest undergraduate memories include singing with the Glee Club and his involvement in Campus Ministry. “Egan Chapel was really like a home for me,” he said. “Being at the Masses as a Eucharistic minister on Sundays was a big part of my life.” His senior year, a newly arrived campus minister, Rev. Terry Devino, S.J., asked Maczkiewicz if he’d ever considered becoming a Jesuit and invited him to a vocational day of prayer at the Jesuit residence. Mac had a girlfriend; he declined the invitation.

After graduating from Fairfield, Maczkiewicz worked for two years as a director of Campus Ministry at a Catholic high school while pursuing a master’s degree through Providence College’s PACT (Providence Alliance for Catholic Teachers) program. From there he moved to Campus Ministry at University of Scranton, where he was greeted by a familiar Jesuit face. “Fr. Terry Devino was my new boss,” said Fr. Mac. “At Scranton, he stopped advising me to ‘think about’ becoming a Jesuit and started asking, ‘What are you waiting for?’ I worked for him for two years and then entered the Society.”

Ordained in 2018, Fr. Mac has most recently served as assistant chaplain at the College of the Holy Cross. “I’ve been working in Campus Ministry basically since I left Fairfield, except for the times I’ve been back at school — which have not been insignificant!” said Fr. Mac with a laugh.

Having settled into his new office in the Pedro Arrupe, S.J., Campus Ministry Center on the lower level of the Egan Chapel of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Fr. Mac said his first order of business is “just to kind of reacquaint myself with the place,” which he acknowledges has changed a lot over two decades. “For one thing,” he noted, “it’s very interreligious now, with a rabbi, an imam, and a protestant minister on staff. I think of it as: our mission is Jesuit Catholic, but our character here is interreligious.”

Fr. Mac carries within him a personal philosophy that he calls “impoverished definitions.” To illustrate, he said, ask a random student what the Church is, and they might tell you it’s “an old institution, run by old white men, that has codified many ways of saying ‘no’.” “I think that’s an unfair characterization,” said Fr. Mac. With a penchant for expanding definitions and a ministerial mission to “figure out how to get to ‘yes’ with people,” he prefers to define the Church as “an institution designed to tell the greatest love story ever told.”

Back in the campus mailroom, Marge Fulop described how she and “another coworker who was just crazy about him when he was a student here” took Fr. Mac out to lunch upon his return to Fairfield this past July. She joked, “I told him, if you don’t have anything to do you can come work again with us... nothing’s changed in the mailroom; the mail still goes in the boxes.”

According to Fulop, Fr. Mac didn’t say no. He just laughed and told them, “Well, I’m sure I’m going to be very busy.”

Other Articles in the Fall 2021 Issue

Letter from the President

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Aquila’s Nest Vineyards

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Provocative Teapots

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Living Tributes

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New Name, New Vision

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Alumni Profile: Joe Murtha, BEI ’92

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Alumni Profile: Loan Le ’14, MFA’17

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Donor Profile: John Thompson III and Monica Moore Thompson, P’23

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