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Meet the Jesuit Chaplain Whose Job It Is to Pray for Congress

January 18, 2017 — Jesuit Father Pat Conroy, who became the 60th chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2011, could use your help — because “a lot of prayer is needed.”


(Photo: Pat Semansky)

He recently spoke with America magazine about his role as chaplain, which includes giving the opening prayer in the House, but his duties go far beyond a daily prayer. “I am available, and I try to go where members are gathered so that I can see them and they can see me,” Fr. Conroy said. “Back when I was a college chaplain, I used to eat in the student dining hall because that is where that would happen. Here it’s being on the floor during votes.”


Video of Fr. Conroy by Fr. Jeremy Zipple, SJ

Moments of grace on the job include giving Pope Francis a blessing before his address to Congress in 2015 and when people reach across the aisles. When he first arrived in 2011, he never saw anyone from either party cross over to speak to someone on the other side, but he’s heartened by changes.

“Since then, that has really broken down. You find people that are actually talking to one another and some of them are not your usual suspects. … That is when my prayer takes place. I will see two people talking and pray: ‘Lord, whatever that is please bless that. Don't even know what it is. Send your Spirit upon that conversation.’”

Fr. Conroy knows his “congregants” are easy to criticize, but he suggests putting a human face on them. “It is easy to dump on them. But then, how about saying a blessing? ‘Lord, as angry as I am, bless these people with what they need to do the work that they have to do the best they can.’”

As a new administration begins, Fr. Conory said that “both parties will be struggling to find out how they can work with Donald Trump. One hopes they will do that admirably and nobly and that the president-elect himself, having been called to a new office, will respond with the same hope and goodwill.”

“My ministry does not change,” said Fr. Conroy. “I joke that I still pray for miracles every day. ... I have hope that God is with us.” [Source: America]





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