From the Irish Echo today, on an American Jesuit's work for justice:
The Rev. Joseph Mulligan is the kind of person who can see the up side and the down side of a situation. It’s a quality that has helped him in the 24 years he’s worked as a pastor in Nicaragua.
He’s had to deal with the fatalism associated with religion in Latin America, such as the idea “that God is inflicting all kinds of suffering on people” and other “generally very dehumanizing notions that are still very much part of the traditional religiosity of the people.”
The Jesuit reminds people of the line from the Lord’s Prayer that asks that God’s will be done, which suggests that it is not being done.
But the church in Latin America is one, too, still inspired by the 1968 conference of bishops in Medellín, Colombia, that sought to introduce the ideas of Vatican II to the hemisphere and that condemned the “oppression of institutionalized violence” and “economic dictatorship and the international imperialism of money.” The church leaders urged the religious to work for the “liberation” of the poor, who constituted the great majority of the populations of their countries.
Mulligan, whose maternal grandparents were from West Clare (his father’s roots in Ireland proved hard to trace), had by that stage already spent five years as a seminarian with the Society of Jesus and was swept up with an enthusiasm for Vatican II.
In an earlier time, the late 1940s and 1950s, he’d been impressed with the priests and nuns he encountered in Our Lady of Mount Carmel, a large parish in Astoria, Queens, though the nuns were often less than enamored with his behavior. He got good grades, nonetheless. When he was 14, his father got a job promotion and the family moved to Detroit.
The idea of a vocation had been raised a few times when Mulligan was at the Jesuit-run University of Detroit High School, but he went on to the University of Detroit Mercy with vague notions of becoming a doctor. “I admired it as a caring profession,” he said, though believes in retrospect that he was resisting the idea of joining the Jesuits. “I put it in the back of my mind,” he said.