I write to thank you for your many kindnesses during this holiday season. I very much appreciate them.
On Sunday I will be flying to the Bay Area to spend some time with my family and returning to the office on Thursday, January 2, 2020.
God's many blessings on you and your family in the New Year!
Father Robert FambriniREAD MORE
What follows is the Christmas letter I sent out to family and friends. Merry Christmas!
Surprise! I’ve moved to the desert! (Check that return address!) Full disclosure: last year at this time when I wrote, I knew I was being transferred but could not say anything. When I told my family at our Thanksgiving dinner 2018, their collective response was a nonplused: Oh, spring training.
I am now the pastor of the only Jesuit parish in all of Arizona, St. Francis Xavier in Phoenix. I arrived here four months ago in the midst of tremendous summer heat. The very welcoming parishioners were so apologetic as if they were somehow to blame! But they promised cooler weather and eventually, it arrived toward the end of September, first with morning coolness and then throughout the day. I’m looking forward to those 330 days of sunshine.READ MORE
One of the reasons I refer to the Jesuits as family is the simple fact that from his entrance day, the novice is a member of the Society of Jesus. Should he die in the novitiate (and one of my novices did die in his second year), his family has the option of burying him as a Jesuit. This sense of family is best reflected by the fact that from our entrance we refer to each other by our first names. Provincial or novice, we are a family.
Most religious orders celebrate anniversaries from the date of their profession of vows. We Jesuits celebrate our anniversaries from the day of entrance.
God gave me a very special gift during my golden jubilee year, 2017. First some background. Each year we are privileged to receive eight full days for our annual retreat. Most Jesuits I know look forward to that time of “vacation with the Lord.” Confession number one: in the years leading up to my jubilee my retreats resembled more “vacation” than “with the Lord.” I would check into a retreat house in San Diego, spend some time praying and then more time socializing. I was looking for a bit more structure in 2017.READ MORE
The position of Novice Director does not come with a term limit. But after five years as director, I decided to ask the provincial what plan he had in mind for me: would I continue or be reassigned? He told me that he’d get back to me after speaking with his consultors. Within a few weeks, he told me that it was his desire that I remain on for another three years (it ended up being four). I was fine with that. He told me that had he not asked me to stay in Culver City, he would have asked me to be the pastor of Most Holy Trinity in San Jose. My response? Whew, dodged a bullet! Now to be clear, this reaction did not come from anything negative I had heard of the place but rather from what I knew, namely, that MHT was very large and complex.READ MORE
Beloved Parishioners of St. Francis Xavier,
Since my arrival here at St. Francis Xavier now nearly four months ago, I have been asked to share a vision as I continue in my role as pastor and for us as a community.
A couple of visits I made in May during my sabbatical have helped me to focus my thoughts. I spent a week in Valle de Bravo in the state of Mexico with former parishioners who have a house there and extended family. Valle de Bravo is your typical small Mexican town: much noise, activity, bustle, charm, grit and grime. But most importantly, people. People everywhere and at all times: driving, walking, sweeping, eating, chatting. In a word: alive!READ MORE
My first visit to San Diego as a Jesuit came in March 1969, just as the finishing touches were being put on the Coronado bridge. As a second year novice at the time I was assigned to Our Lady of Guadalupe parish with a companion novice as part of my novitiate formation. Our task was simply to help out where needed. I remember painting rooms! We were not there long, perhaps only three weeks or so, but that initial experience made quite the impression on me. Fr.
Richard Brown was the young associate pastor with whom we interacted throughout our stay. A short few years later upon the death of the pastor, Rich was appointed pastor and probably did not envision at the time that he would be in that position for the next 37 years. He was a model pastor, loved by all for his gentle spirit and many pastoral kindnesses. I certainly did not envision that I would eventually be replacing him.READ MORE
Our journey as Catholics is not yet complete – God has much more in store for us! He calls us to step out in faith, to deepen our walk with Him and to bring others to an encounter of His love: to become Disciples and to Evangelize through our words and lives. Every parish and mission in our Diocese will join together for a historic effort: a campaign for Discipleship and Evangelization that will benefit millions today and, in the future, Together Let Us Go Forth - Juntos Sigamos Adelante. Through our prayer and generosity, we will support important Evangelization and Discipleship efforts throughout our Diocese:
All religious superiors are required by Canon Law (the law of the church) to have a group of consultors in order to provide proper advice and perspective on issues of governance. While I was assigned to Blessed Sacrament in Hollywood, I was informed by the provincial that he had appointed me to be one of his consultors. This sent me scurrying as I had no idea what this meant.
It didn’t take me long to understand that this meant monthly meetings where the confidential issues of the province were taken up for discussion. These issues of governance included personnel issues, the assignment of superiors to our various works and the evaluation of ministries.
In 1993 it came time to select a new Director of Novices, which is arguably the most important position in the province, second only to the provincial himself. The consultors spent at least two of our monthly meetings composing a lengthy two-page, four paragraph description of the type of person we were looking for. The plan was to send this document of qualities out to the various houses of the province requesting suggested names. Good luck, I thought, as I reviewed the letter we had composed. Who could possibly meet these expectations? Jesus need not even apply!READ MORE
Last week in my letter I wrote of the Jesuit who made the greatest impact on me in spiritual formation, John McAnulty. This week I present the Jesuit who mentored me in my pastoral ministry, Bob Curry.
Bob and I met in the summer of 1983 at the Institute of Jesuits in Parish Ministry in Santa Clara. At the time Bob was the pastor of Old St. Joe’s in Philadelphia, founded in 1737 and located very close to Independence Hall. I had just been named pastor of Christ the King in San Diego, a poor inner city parish with a mixed congregation: black, white, Hispanic. After the conference I went to another conference and then took my vacation. When I returned to my office some three weeks later, filled with much anxiety, I clearly remember seeing one of those pink “while you were out of the office” memos on the top of the stack of mail. It was from Bob welcoming me to my first day as pastor and extending a hand of help and guidance. I took him up on his offer. I was so glad I did.READ MORE
I have decided to keep my finger on the pause button of the chronology of my life’s story. Over the next two weeks I want to share a bit of my relationship with two Jesuits who were critical to my formation and pastoral ministry history.
First of all, let me tell you that when I read in the Gospels of Jesus promising a hundred of blessings to those who dedicate their lives to him, in my own life I consider that to be the countless friendships I have made in my 52 years as a Jesuit. To be a member of the Society of Jesus is to be part of a large family which extends across the globe. When I enter a Jesuit house in some out of the way place where I have never been before, I still feel at home.
As I wrote several weeks ago, I entered the Society at the tender age of 17. To say I was young would be an understatement. There are, of course, both advantages and disadvantages to this. A definite advantage is that the younger the person is upon entrance, the easier it is for him to be formed. I feel that was my case.READ MORE
My need to know more involves a bit of history on the civil war in El Salvador -- a war that lasted from 1979 to 1992 with an estimated 75,000 deaths, mostly civilians. The root cause of the conflict, as is usually the case in poor Third World countries, was distribution and ownership of land. However, it was packaged in the all-too-easy label of freedom vs. Communism. There were human rights atrocities on both sides but the vast majority were perpetrated by the military. The Reagan and Carter administrations provided military aid of $1-2 million per day which included significant training of troops.READ MORE