Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Father Rick Ganz takes up the reins of University Ministry at GU this year

by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register staff

(From the April 29, 2004 edition of the Inland Register)

Father Rick Ganz SJJesuit Father Rick Ganz is the new head of University Ministry at Gonzaga University. (IR photo from Gonzaga University)

Jesuit Father Rick Ganz is the new director of University Ministry at Gonzaga University in Spokane, a post that has been vacant for a year.

Father Ganz is a Spokane native: He grew up in St. Augustine Parish and graduated from Gonzaga Prep in 1972. He entered the Jesuit novitiate in 1973, and graduated from Gonzaga University in 1978. He was ordained a priest in 1984. His mother still lives in Spokane; his father died this past winter.

University Ministry is under GU’s Vice-President for Student Mission, Jesuit Father Bill Watson. He and Father Ganz were classmates at Gonzaga Prep – Father Ganz was a year ahead of Father Watson – and they became Jesuits at the same time.

The two men have been Jesuits for 32 years. “This is the first time our paths have intersected since then,” Father Ganz said.

Since University Ministry is under Student Mission, Father Ganz will report to Father Watson and they will work together on the office’s “broad-based strategic plan for GU’s ministry program,” said Father Watston.

A committee of 20 people selected by Father Watson conducted the search for a new director. Since the post had been vacant, the search was thorough, with time to get input from everyone involved. One consensus was that “everyone wanted a Jesuit,” Father Watson said.

In announcing the new director, Father Watson said Father Ganz will “be excellent with students. He has a very sharp mind and a good way of presenting the faith to people that is attractive and compelling.”

Father Ganz will start as director “sometime this summer.”

His most recent post was as a teacher at Jesuit High School in Portland. He also taught at Bellarmine in Tacoma. He’s taught adult education and has been a spiritual director. He has served in parishes and with the handicapped. He was also Superior and business manager for the Jesuit priests’ community at Jesuit High School.

Father Ganz has studied and lived in many places in the world, but he served in Spokane a couple of times in his busy priest’s life. In 1991-92 he was a lecturer in the Classics department at GU and taught theology in Spokane parishes. In 1996-97, he returned to GU to do research and served at St. Augustine Parish. He and Jesuit Father Gary Uhlenkott led the Novena of Grace at St. Aloysius Parish last March.

Father Ganz enjoys “anything outdoors,” especially in the wilderness, including hiking and white-water rafting. A river-rafting trip in Chile in January nearly cost him his life when he was tossed out of the raft into churning rapids.

The greatest gift that Father Ganz brings to his new post will be that of listening, he said. He plans to spend time at first listening to students and staff to “find out how the Holy Spirit is functioning. It’s a matter of paying attention to what Christ is already doing and following his lead.”

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