Name: Father Jerry
Year: Super Senior (Employed for 5 years)
Job Title: Director of Campus Ministry and Chaplain
Home State: California
Father Jerry, commonly known as FJ, has been an integral part of the Sacred Heart Campus these past five years. He is a man that is known by all of SHU and he is a man that is always in high demand. FJ officially announced his retirement this semester and will be heading back to California at the end of June. He is definitely a Campus Celebrity here at SHU!
What are you looking forward to most about retiring?
I am most excited to jump into the discovery of a new chapter in my personal life.
What will you miss most about SHU?
I will miss our students, the retreats, Sunday night Mass, and surprise drop in visits from the students just to talk or say hi.
What is one of your favorite memories at SHU?
I have two favorite memories that are similar and they both involve the deaths of SHU students; last year when SHU student Will died and three years ago with the death of SHU student Matt Dahling. Last year on the night that Will passed away, there was a service in the chapel. It was a night never to be forgotten. SHU students, faculty, and workers all packed the chapel and sat in silence, but together, brought about a sense of unity in a time of confusion and hurt. That night David Cappola preached and made an awesome speech. About three years ago, Matt died in a car crash. That night there was a Greek life meeting. 6 of the boys from his fraternity talked about Matt, his influence, and their friendship. I had them light the Easter Candle. Everyone else got a candle, filed out, and lit their candle from the flame of the Easter candle. Everyone then went outside, circled in the quad, in silence and unity. Both memories show the unity, family, and love of Sacred Heart.
Name a person at SHU who has had the greatest influence on you
That would be Sister Marie Juilenne Farrington, the woman who got me here. We met in 1981 in Colorado and we have been friends ever since. She was a great person who was deep, intellectual, profound, and caring. She is the one who taught me to put Brandy on my ice cream!
What have you learned from your time here at SHU
It is true that you must walk through your fears. When I first came here I found the students intimidating. It showed me that you must go where the students are and just be yourself. Once I did that I was accepted and even “baptized” into the community with the nickname FJ!
Can you explain the drunk bus
The drunk bus is the bus that brings SHU students out to New Haven during the weekend. The pickup spot is on the corner of Park Ave which is right in front of my house. I will not miss it. Entering the seminary at age 13, you miss out on some things in life. That is one of them. Another thing that comes to mind is the Semi-Formal that was held in Stamford. It was my first time attending the event. Everyone kept asking me if I was going to dance. They encouraged me to dance but NOT go in the center of the dance floor. I kept thinking what is going on in the center?! But, I could gather what was going on and needless to say I did not go to the center of the dance floor to dance.
Fave SHU food
My favorite SHU food would be at 63’s. I love the soup. My go to meal is soup with a sandwich. And the cookie corner of course!
Places Around SHU that you would recommend
There are several restaurants that I love. Bella Sara is one of my favorites, it is good Italian food but there is no need to take a mortgage out on your house. Another is Maione’s which is close to campus. Martel’s and Tiberna are also great picks! … never Dunkin Donuts haha.
Greatest Life Accomplishments
One would be persevering as a priest because the image of priests and the priesthood have been tarnished. I still find a great deal of respect for the priesthood and so do many other people, especially here at SHU. I y will always get a “Good morning Father” or “Have a good day Father.” The second would have been to have served in parishes (back in CA). Parishes serve people from the “womb to the tomb.” Ministering to all is profound, from weddings to funerals, and Holy Communions, and Confirmations. You are able to see and discover how people live their life. You are in awe of their heroic charity and good works.
Why did you come to SHU
Back when they were building the chapel here the President was unable to find a priest to work. The President at the time mentioned this to Sister Marie. I had just written to Sister Marie, catching up, so she decided to give my name to him. I later received a phone call from CT, the President of SHU calling, asking me if I would like the position. Just two days earlier I was asking my friend what I was going to do when I retire, considering I was supposed to be retiring! My friend replied, “When one door closes, another opens.” So I received the call and was offered the position and told to come to CT to see what SHU is all about. I came because I basically got a free plane ticket to see my niece, who lived in NY. After my visit to SHU and my interview, I was officially offered the position. All I could say was you got to be kidding?! I was planning on retiring and have never done anything like this before. The rest is history.
Final words to SHU community:
Live the fourth day. (Those who have made their Encounter Retreat will understand. If you have not, then attend the Encounter Retreat run by Campus Ministry!)