The “truth of the rainbow” at USF
Jesuit university’s new director of University Ministry aims to help people “be better, whatever they are.”
A Jesuit priest who told the London Daily Mail this year that “being gay is not special” – “it’s simply another gift from God who created us as rainbow people,” has become the Jesuit University of San Francisco’s director of University Ministry. Fr. Donal Godfrey, who has been the ministry’s associate director, took over the directorship from Jesuit Fr. John Savard, who stepped down Aug. 1.
In a university news release, Godfrey praised Savard for “opening up University Ministry in many ways.” Godfrey said he himself wants to “respond to new challenges.” Godfrey finds it paradoxical “that it is precisely at a Jesuit Catholic university that we can find God’s image in people whose color, faith, culture, language, background, and sexual orientation is different from our own.” Godfrey wants the ministry “to help celebrate that we are Jesuit, Catholic, and a place that welcomes those of all faiths and none, all at the same time.”
Godfrey wants to see more interfaith dialogue at USF, seeing his “aim as helping people to be better, whatever they are.” He wants to offer a wider variety of retreat options, with, perhaps, one-day, on-campus retreats focusing on spirituality and faith formation. He said he might expand into using technology, such as podcasts and internet gathering sites such as Facebook, to reach out to more students.
Godfrey is no stranger to San Francisco. In 1993 and again from 2000-2003, he served as a resident minister at the university and led the Pedro Arrupe Social Justice projects in poor neighborhoods in San Francisco and Tijuana. After serving as resident minister and adjunct faculty member at Loyola University, Chicago, he returned to the University of San Francisco in Fall 2005.
Godfrey has been a fixture at San Francisco’s Most Holy Redeemer, a parish deeply involved in homosexual activism, including participation in the city’s yearly Gay Pride parade. Last October, Godfrey presided at a prayer service (broadcast by the BBC on April 22) celebrating homosexuality. At the service, Godfrey said, “most often our churches make it difficult to acknowledge, let alone celebrate, the truth of the rainbow. But in all of this I believe it is God who calls and loves all of us, whatever our sexual orientation.”