Just over two years ago, Fr. Jack Morris, SJ passed away. Jack was a co-founder of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps movement and a figure of great enthusiasm, wisdom, and grace to the thousands of JVs whose lives he touched. FJV Ryan O’Connell (Bethel, AK ’11-12) sent a brief memorial honoring the impact that Jack had on Ryan and all others who had the great fortune to meet him. Jack’s birthday was October 22nd, he would have turned 87.
“Fr. Jack Morris, SJ was the rarest sort of person. He was a saint. He was a man of insight who could bear out all there is to Truth in a smile. He seemed peaceful in his pursuit of peace, and lived in graceful opposition to all forms of injustice and human suffering. He was the kind of priest that makes you proud of our priests. He was passionate, not moody, and remained in love with creation through eight decades, five wars, and two atomic bombs. He floored you with his experience, his walk across the world for nuclear disarmament just one story amongst many, many others. Fr. Jack humbled me in my normalcy.
He specialized in restoration. As an architect of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, he brought forth women and men to be ruined for life and born again to a world of pain, loneliness, and change. Those of us who never before saw the world as Fr. Jack did met him for less than a week during Orientation at a camp in rural Oregon. He converted so many of us: cradled Catholics still at the age of 21. He prayed us off to the Cascades, the prairies, and the tundra while we prayed simply for the desire to pray.
He was a perfect usher to the joyful mysteries of Christian living, and the kind of man that deserves a memorial two years after losing his battle with cancer, even if he never knew my name. Thank you, Father Jack, in your language I pray:
Mighty God, Father of all,
Compassionate God, Mother of all,
Bless every person I have met,
Every face I have seen,
Every voice I have heard
Especially those most dear;
Bless every city, town, and
Street that I have known,
Bless every sight I have seen,
Every sound I have heard,
Every object I have touched.
In some mysterious way these
Have all fashioned my life;
All that I am,
I have received.
Great God, bless the world.
Father John “Jack” Morris died Sunday, September 30, 2012 at the Jesuit infirmary in Spokane, WA. He was 84 years old.”
8 thoughts on “the rarest sort of person: fr. jack morris, sj”
Very well stated!
What a beautiful tribute. I thought and prayed to Jack all day yesterday on his birthday. Thank you for this…..
Fr. Jack had a very special spirit! He shared his soul and his love of life. I was privileged to have drunk beer back in Sept. 1972 from the hat he wore into a Fairbanks, Alaskan tavern with its swinging doors and peanut shells scattered all about the floor. It was a dare I’ve never forgotten. The journey of a Jesuit Volunteer which continues even today. It was Fr. Jack who took Robert & me from life with the Jesuit Volunteers to L’Arche community with Jean Vanier. Life is a broadening treasure that Jack led us to. Blessings to all of you and to dear, dear Fr. Jack!!
This tribute captures Jack so beautifully in all his complexity and superabundant generosity.
This is a letter Fr. Jack wrote to by unborn first child upon hearing of our pregnancy. Fr. Jack presided over our wedding ceremony and was an important part of our early marriage.
“Do, Gentle Wayfarer, as you prepare for your first journey, take care of yourself till the time arrives. We’ll wait with some impatience, but that’s o.k. You may wonder what its like out here. To be quite honest, it s really quite o.k. An ancient insight allows us to call church, Mother, because we too, all the baptized recognize that we are in a situation much like your own, in the dark, totally blind, absolutely dependent for breathe, for life, for survival upon our Parent, our Mother-Father God, until we issue forth from the womb into the eternal brightness of God’s brilliant kingdom. And our passage will probably be much like your own. Our task is to help one another in these passages. Right now we are all cheering for you.
My name is Jack Morris — if it were Morse, I could tap out messages to you on your Mom’s tummy, but I don’t know the code. But we don’t need codes, do we, Baby? I’m already being saved and delighted by your communications from your silent world. Mine will be prayers for safe growth, for sufficient breathe, and a safe first passage; and health for your Mom, and sanity for your Dad. Grandparents? We’re trying to scrape them off the ceiling. What power you have!
Love and blessings,
Jack Morris, S.J.
Jack is my great uncle. I’ve been using something he gave me as a book mark and decided to Google him. I have found such lovely writings about him it’s amazing. What a neat guy he was. His younger brother Robert is my Grandpa. Me and my sister were with Grandpa, Uncle Jack, and Uncle Pat in Washington DC for a vacation and Uncle Jack kept pretending to take his eyeball out and I was so young I believed him. That’s my first memory of him. He was so much fun. He died a couple days after my daughter was born and I’m sad that she never got the chance to meet him. He was amazing!
It was really nice to read your posts about him. Thank you!
I loved Fr. Jack Morris in a very special way the first day when he visited our community, I was attending to our sick sister by then, we were just discharged from the hospital, the sisters had all gone to work. He had come to visit the community during our interaction, he asked me whether I had known him, I told him yes I knew him and I went I telling him he was the one who prepared me for my final vows them he told me if I want he can give me a treat if I like I said why not I’m ready it was for a week. The beginning of retreat the first day I went by car, the second he told me to walk, I told him Fr. I will get lost because I don’t Kampala he insisted “come on foot to Nsambya Jesus will direct you” was what he added. I had to obey, the last day, Fr. took me to Kabalagala then from there, he told me to go back to the community via industrial areas, and again I said I don’t know the place he said, “I’m going to direct you” , but in one spot he miss directed me, and I got lost I didn’t know where I was, I started looking around for a bodaboda and yet he told me to walk, unfortunately the man was very expensive, so I left him, after that my eyes were opened and I found was not far from home. I didn’t know that walking is part of sacrifice one can make in life when it comes to spirituality. Afterwards he told me he wanted me to feel tied in search of Jesus in my life, for me, I thought he had seen me through and he wanted to punish me for the wrong I had done. Fr. Jack leaved a Saintly life on earth, and he is a Saint. “May his soul rest in Eternal Peace”. God bless the family members of Father Jack Morris and his beloved institute.
I loved Jack, though I might not call him a saint , even as gifted a
Visionary as he was. I was lucky enough to walk on the Bethlehem Peace Pilgrimage in 1982-83. His vision and life and teachings continue in all those who were in his path on life’s highway. Rest in peace Jack. Rest in peace.