Especially if you have your ear to the ground, and you listen to what people need, you go where you are sent! -Eddie Fernández, SJ
Man At Work: Eddie Fernández, SJ

May 7, 2019 - Father Eduardo “Eddie” Fernández, SJ, plays a critical role in forming Jesuits and lay people. A professor of pastoral theology, missiology and ministry at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, Calif., since 1997, Fr. Fernández specializes in Latino theology, Mexican and Southwestern history, social justice, intercultural ministry, inculturation and the celebration of the sacraments in multicultural contexts.

He enjoys collaborating with students, especially in writing a thesis or dissertation. “It’s my job to help students discover what they’re interested in, as one does in spiritual direction, exploring God’s great desires and invitations to them at this point in their life. When we begin to discover how we can work together, we each experience an affirming glow and encouragement.”

Born in El Paso, Texas, about five minutes from the U.S.-Mexico border, Fr. Fernández grew up around Jesuits. He attended a Jesuit parish run by the Mexican Province in the mission town of Ysleta. He worked in the rectory through high school, and during his time there he was always impressed by the generous and apostolic response of the Jesuits to people who came to the parish seeking help.

“They showed me the depth of my Mexican culture that I didn’t always get in school,” Fernández said. The profound influence of the Society made him eager to join the Jesuits upon graduating from high school. The former New Orleans Province encouraged him to take time before entering.

Though disappointed at first, Fernández was eventually grateful for this time. He enrolled at Loyola University New Orleans. There he came to know and to study with Jesuits who inspired him and helped him to grow. Father Joseph Fichter, SJ, ignited his interest in the sociology of religion, which he continues to teach and study today to some degree.

While he was discerning, his teacher Fr. C.J. McNaspy, SJ, inspired Fernández by volunteering to go to Paraguay. Fernández thought, “If C.J. can go to Paraguay at 65, I can go to Grand Coteau at 22!”

After the novitiate, Fernández spent time ministering in many places: “My dream was always that I would be a barrio priest. I admired Fr. Edmundo Rodríguez and Fr. Harold Rahm very much.” Though he desired to be one of those men in the grassroots, “It was a real surprise to me when I enjoyed studies as much as I did.”

He finished two degrees in Rome and spent time discerning his vocation within a vocation. “There are very few U.S. Latino Jesuits with degrees in theology. I saw a real need there, an area where I could contribute passionately.”

Eighteen years after he’d left El Paso for New Orleans, Fernández returned to serve at Sacred Heart Parish and teach at the University of Texas El Paso. As it happened, those were the last years of his father’s life. “It was a real blessing to be able to be near him.”

Even with his busy academic schedule, which has included several scholarly publications, Fernández strives to serve pastorally. “I like giving retreats and helping out at parishes, along with lots of workshops to pastoral agents. These opportunities get me out there with the people de la base. The pastoral feeds the academic and the academic feeds the pastoral.”

The approach he takes with his students is not unlike the approach he takes in his ministry. Fernández embodies a spirit of open readiness, which helped him understand the vow of obedience, and the mission to stand with the other: “Especially if you have your ear to the ground, and you listen to what people need, you go where you are sent!”

Recent News

July 11, 2019 - Brother William J. Dardis, SJ, died Wed., July 10, 2019, in the residence at Jesuit High School New Orleans, where he had lived for 55 years. He was 79 years old, a Jesuit for almost 61 years and in final vows for 45 years.

July 5, 2019 - The province has two changes secondary education staff. Ronald Rebore has been appointed the new provincial assistant for secondary and presecondary education (PASE). Kenneth Leucke will serve the province as the new associate assistant for secondary and pre-secondary education.

This summer the Jesuit Grants Collaborative says goodbye to Director of Grants Katy Quigley, as she retires after 10 years of service.

Time, talent and treasure: the golden wish of every nonprofit professional fulfilling a robust mission with lean staff on even leaner budgets. It’s a common problem, requiring an uncommon solution.

The Encuentro Project is a new collaborative and inter-congregational ministry offering experiences of encounter along the U.S.- Mexico border in El Paso, Texas.

June 27, 2019 - Jesuit Social Research Institute, along with the ACLU of Louisiana and Solitary Watch on June 25, 2019, released a new research report on the incidence and impact of solitary confinement on inmates in Louisiana state prisons.

June 19, 2019 - Father Paul Osterle, SJ, died June 14, 2019, in Opelousas, La. He was 91 years old, a Jesuit for almost 73 years and a priest for 60 years.

view all news

Search news


White House Jesuit Retreat Center
The White House Jesuit Retreat Center is located on a beautiful 80-acre campus on the bluffs of the Mississippi River in St. Louis.