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Father John Whitney is new head of Jesuits’ Oregon Province
the Inland Register
(From the Jan. 17, 2002 edition of the Inland Register)
Father John Whitney, 43, has been named provincial of the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus.
The Province consists of five states: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.
Worldwide, there are some 21,000 Jesuits, making the Society of Jesus the numerically largest Catholic Religious order. Of those 21,000, 271 are in the Northwest; of those, 172 are in Washington State itself.
Father Whitney teaches religion and English at Seattle Preparatory School and is the Superior of the Jesuit Community there.
In the role of Provincial, Father Whitney’s status towards the Jesuits will be equivalent to that of a bishop towards his priests. As a bishop is in charge of the priests in his diocese, a provincial is the superior for the Jesuits in his area. The ultimate superior for Jesuits, as all Catholic clergy, is the pope.
The announcement came from the head of the Jesuits world wide, Father General Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, at the Jesuit Curia in Rome. After extensive consultation with the men of a Province, the Father General makes the decision of who will be Provincial.
Father Whitney entered the Society in 1983 and was ordained a priest in 1994. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University prior to entering the novitiate, and completed his Master of Divinity degree at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley in 1994.
Most of Father Whitney’s priestly life was spent at Seattle University. There he worked in campus ministry, taught philosophy, served as the Jesuit Community Minister, and was Alumni Chaplain.
The current Provincial, Father Robert Grimm, released the news of Father Whitney’s selection to the Jesuit community.
“Prior to submitting our recommendations to Father General, my consultors and I completed a four-month discernment process which included consultation with local communities and superiors,” he said. “We heard a call for a man of prayer and vision. We heard our brothers looking for a man with generosity of spirit, one who could readily love the brothers and make that love felt, one open to the universal mission of the Society, which is a ‘Faith that does Justice.’ We also heard them looking for someone who could make tough decisions, and one graced with intelligence, articulateness, and stamina, who can related well with lay colleagues and the larger public. John Whitney has the qualities we need in a leader.”
After learning the news, Father Whitney said he was “amazed, honored and hopeful that the prayers of the province” will sustain him as he works to be a part of God’s plan.
He will be installed on July 31, 2002, the feast of the Jesuit founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola.
Within the Province, Jesuits sponsor two universities, four prep schools, a middle school, and head seven parishes. In addition, Jesuits serve on eight Native American Reservations, do retreat work and spiritual direction, serve as prison and hospital chaplains, and work with the poor.
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