Father John "Jack" Morris, SJ, died in 2012 before he could finish his book, "Ruined for Life." Still, through the help of his associate Barbara Underwood Scharff, his story is largely told through his own words.
Scharff spent eight months interviewing Fr. Morris, the founder of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps movement, before his passing, learning about his philosophy and life experiences. Before he died, Fr. Morris asked Scharff to complete his then half-finished book. Over the next four years, Scharff compiled, co-wrote, researched, and edited the manuscript, drawing materials from Fr Morris's personal journal, letters, poetry, homilies, and other documents. Scharff also conducted interviews with many people who knew Fr. Morris.
The book, which bears the motto of the Jesuits volunteers, describes the interior changes of heart that happen to volunteers after a year or two of companionship with the poor; JVs will forever be challenged by Christ's counter-cultural call to service and love.
"Ruined For Life" is available for $15 in paperback and $9.99 for the Kindle version on www.amazon.com. A portion of the book's proceeds are being donated to JVC Northwest.
Scharff has been involved with the Jesuits since 2001, having served in leadership at St. Ignatius Parish in Portland and on the board of JVC Northwest for seven years. Her two sons attended Georgetown University, and one son served as a Jesuit volunteer in Tacna, Peru for two years. She says that Ignatian spirituality has transformed her life and credits Fr. Morris for living his life in such a way as to be a beacon of hope and commitment for her and thousands of others.
A pilgrim, philosopher, and gypsy at heart, Fr. Morris changed every soul he encountered by pointing the way to Christ's love and mercy. Though he has passed, his book shares his poignant memories of a life lived on the frontiers of the heart.
"Ruined for Life" has received positive reviews:
"Jack Morris was an extraordinary Jesuit who worked for peace until his death. I first met Jack in the 1990s, when we were both working with the Jesuit Refugee Service in East Africa - he in Uganda, me in Kenya. Jack's lifelong work for peace offers us a question: How do we put peace in the center of the Church's thinking? Jack was the founder of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps movement, which has enabled thousands of college graduates to serve the poor, experience Christian community, deepen their prayer, and meet God in surprising new ways."
Fr. James Martin, SJ, Editor at large, America magazine;
author of "The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything," and "Between Heaven and Mirth"
"Jack Morris's life from Sheridan, Ore., to Copper Valley, Alaska, from Butte to Bethlehem, was no ordinary adventure. His enthusiasm always carried along dozens of people in his wake. Now, in his own clarion voice, we hear the call to the depths of our own spirit to live the more authentic, more daring life of the Gospel of Jesus. Barbara Scharff has offered this further votive of love by offering up his memoir."
Fr. Patrick Howell, SJ, distinguished professor,
Institute of Catholic Thought and Culture, Seattle University