The Irish Echo on an American Jesuit in Nicaragua

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.

Read the rest here.

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Margaret Nuzzolese
7 years 10 months ago
Dear Fr. Martin,

Thank you for highlighting one of the best Jesuits around!  In addition to Joe's work with the Christian-based communities in Nicaragua, he has served for over 10 years as the In-Country Coordinator for the Jesuit Volunteers (JVC) who live and work for two years in Nicaragua.  He has been instrumental as a caring guardian to the JVs, a spiritual companion and friend, and an inspiration of what it means to live a life of faith doing justice.  As one who worked as a Jesuit Volunteer in Nicaragua with Joe and now as a staff member for JVC, I know that We are truly blessed to have him and I am grateful for your recognition of his works.  

Margaret Nuzzolese


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