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Institute for Pastoral Initiatives News

Marianist Priest brings expertise to Virtual Community

A conversation with Fr. Paul Fitzpatrick, S.M., who arrives at UD from Chaminade University in Hawaii:

Tell us about your journey to become a Marianist priest.

I was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and, before grade school, we moved to Long Island. There I’d thought about being a teaching Brother and the fascination only grew stronger when I got to Chaminade High School (Long Island). At the end of my sophomore year, I entered the Postulate in Beacon, N.Y., where I finished high school. Yes, that was way too young, but that’s the way it was done back then. After First Vows (at 18), I gave myself permission to leave anytime before I made Final Vows, which I did six years later. I grew in a sense that I wanted to spend my life supporting others in their faith and being supported by them.  Over the last 57 years, I have not been disappointed in that desire.

How did you first hear about the Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation?

After 45 years of ministry on the east coast, I was invited to coordinate a credit program for the academic training of the permanent deacon candidates and their wives for the Diocese of Honolulu. In an effort to get ready, I asked Sr. Angela Ann Zukowski if I could go through her training program for course facilitators. That was the beginning of my association with the university's VLCFF.

What VLCFF online course are you facilitating ?

Introduction to Scripture. It is the first of three e-courses I’ve been asked to teach in the program. (Old Testament and New Testament). My doctorate is in Old Testament, a dissertation on Ezekiel 38-39, and how its final form fit into the overall structure of the book. When I was deciding on a discipline to choose for doctoral studies, Fr. Jack McGrath suggested that I choose something that I would have the energy to spend studying for the rest of my life. I chose scripture, and I have yet to exhaust my desire to learn more.

Describe your teaching style.

I have always felt I had the ability to take complicated topics in scripture and simplify them so that folks with less background could understand them. Preparing religious educators to teach in diocesan programs across the country will give me a chance to do that.   Locally, I will provide Hispanic Ministry for Fr. Satish Joseph at Immaculate Conception Parish and St. Mary's in Dayton.

Where do you live on campus? 

I live in Alumni Hall with 13 other Marianists. As sacristan for Our Lady of Good Counsel, I work closely in the house with Bro. Gary Marcinowski who does art and environment there and with Fr. Jim Russell, who retired as Sacristan but is a wealth of information on how to keep the ark of faith afloat. Fr. Pat Tonry is also in the community, and I've known him since our time together at Chaminade High School on Long Island. Also, Bro. Tom Oldenski, whom I worked closely with during the three times I taught in the UD Program in Bangalore, India. My primary ministry will be Sacramental Ministry, in Sacramental Reconciliation, every Wednesday for about 90 minutes and celebrating Eucharists in Immaculate Conception Chapel when Fr. Kip is away at Provincial Council meetings.

VLCFF Classes are year-round. Click on our calendar for dates of each cycle start and classes offered.  Cost for a five-week course is $50 for participating dioceses and University of Dayton alumni. Scholarships are available to those that qualify.  University of Dayton human resources covers the cost for university employees.  Follow us on Facebook.

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