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50 Years a Jesuit

Denver, Colorado

Father Patrick Quinn, SJ

Celebrating 50 years as a Jesuit in 2024, Fr. Patrick Quinn, SJ, is a pastor at heart.

“There has always been something special to me about parishes,” he said. “Everything happens there, from marriages to funerals, from baptisms to first communion and confirmations, from Christmas pageants to the candlelit Easter Vigil. It is in parishes that I really came to see the presence of what Pope Francis calls ‘ordinary saints.’”

Father Quinn has come to value service as the core of his Jesuit vocation, though it began in a setting far from the parishes where he has most recently ministered: university campus computer systems.

“There’s a certain satisfaction of having fixed a problem or solved a dilemma to make things all of a sudden come back to life. But there’s a greater satisfaction from simply being with people,” Fr. Quinn said.

The third of six children, Fr. Quinn was inspired by the dynamism of the Jesuits he encountered at St. Louis University High School, from which he graduated in 1973, and at Saint Louis University. He entered the Jesuit novitiate in 1974 and was ordained a priest in 1988.

“I was always drawn toward mathematics,” said Fr. Quinn. He spent his regency teaching math at Regis Jesuit High School in Denver and later earned degrees in computer science and electrical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis. He also earned a master’s in computer engineering from Marquette University in 1993.

Father Patrick Quinn, SJ, celebrates a baptism with a family at St. Ignatius Loyola Parish in Denver.

This led to years of service supporting computer information systems in Jesuit colleges and universities, including Rockhurst University, Wheeling Jesuit College and Spring Hill College. “The computer department is a service department, although it’s not listed that way. You’re doing service for other people, not yourself,” he said.

He found the work life-giving as it allowed him to encounter many different people throughout the day.

“Whatever you do is not simply technical. It’s not simply mathematics,” said Fr. Quinn. “It’s making people feel that they’re known and they’re contributing to the greater project of the university.”

In addition, Fr. Quinn assisted with campus ministry at Saint Louis University from 2004 to 2013. He professed final vows in the Society of Jesus in 2007.

Father Quinn reads from the Book of Blessings during a drive-by blessings event for commuting students at Regis University in January 2024. Image courtesy of Regis University.

Then came a “major shift” to parish ministry in 2013, when he was missioned to St. Matthew the Apostle Church in St. Louis. He discovered a richer experience of his own vocation as he was “immersed in people’s everyday lives.”

“There’s really a grace that’s received from the families when they share what’s going on in their lives,” he said. “People feel like they’re known, that they belong, that they’re welcomed, that they’re part of something bigger.”

Father Quinn was inspired by the pastoral ministers he worked alongside, including Cheryl Archibald, the former parish life coordinator at St. Matthew, Kathy Murzyn, Camarin Porter, and Rosemary Pesco, essential staff from St. Ignatius Loyola in Denver. Brief encounters with the people he ministered to in the pew or on campus also inspired him.

He also points to the influence of many different Jesuits throughout the years. During his time at Saint Louis University, Fr. Charlie McDermott, SJ, tirelessly worked to regain his stamina after a stroke so that he could tackle the staircase at the College Church and return to the confessional.

“He spent so many hours just walking in front of Jesuit Hall, having measured off the distance, and then worked on getting up the steps. I realized the value of his ministry, even on a weekday when it seemed like nothing was happening. His encounter with individuals was inspiring,” said Fr. Quinn.

In 2018, he was missioned to Denver, where he served first at Regis University as mission coordinator for staff outreach, and later as associate pastor of St. Ignatius Loyola Parish.

Reflecting on his approach to pastoral care, he draws on his personal experience, which has taught him the importance of accompaniment. “When I was going through a tough time in my own Jesuit life, I had someone just come to sit with me and be with me. I began to understand that God isn’t so much a fixer as someone who’s present. To have someone else not say anything, not do anything, but just be there taught me that’s probably how God is acting in my life.”

He has carried this into his own ministry with humility and understanding. “When I go to a hospital and I cannot fix it, but I can be there, that teaches me that I’m bringing God in a different way. It’s different to be with than it is to be alone, and to recognize that difference and how much of a difference it does make in people’s lives changes the way in which we do ministry,” he said.

A collage of snapshots reflects Fr. Quinn’s ministry at St. Ignatius Loyola Parish in Denver.

Health issues and the departure of the province in 2023 from the administration of St. Ignatius Loyola have given Fr. Quinn a break from ministry. “After a year of rebuilding – two new knees and two cataract surgeries – I’m looking forward to a new assignment,” he said.

“It probably won’t be the technical stuff that I was originally trained for, probably more the pastoral that I was formed in. Wherever and whatever, I’m sure it will be a blessing, because God has shown me such for now 50 years,” said Fr. Quinn.

He added, “I hope that my knees are good enough.”

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