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10/2/2012 12:53:00 PM
Founder of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps movement dies

Jesuit Father John “Jack” Morris died Sept. 30 at the Jesuit infirmary in Spokane after a long battle with cancer. He was 84.

The second of three brothers, John James Morris was born in Anaconda, Mont., Oct. 22, 1927 to John and Violet (Murphy) Morris.  After high school, he served in the U.S. Navy before attending Georgetown University and Regis College (Denver).  He entered the Jesuit Novitiate at Sheridan, in August 1950.  After the regular course of studies and teaching, he was ordained a priest on June 16, 1962, in Spokane. 

Using a nascent project at Copper Valley School in Glennallen, Alaska, in the late 1950s he organized and named the Jesuit Volunteer Corps movement.  This widely acclaimed program places young adults into settings among the poorest and powerless, challenging them to see and address unjust social structures, to live in a simple community, and to put their faith into action.  Working with Catholic Charities of Seattle in the early 1980s, he helped found the Senior Chore Service, the largest entity providing assistance to low-income seniors. 

Father Morris gathered a handful of peace pilgrims in 1982 and walked from Bangor Naval Base in Bremerton, Wash., to Bethlehem, Israel, to draw attention to the dilemma of nuclear weapons.  In the 1990s he was sent to Uganda, to work in the refugee camps and help direct retreats and recovery programs.  Father Morris returned to the United States in 2002 and carried out parish work in Rockaway, until poor health necessitated his retirement. 

He is survived by his older brother Patrick, Bethesda, Md., younger brother Robert, Anaconda, Mont., numerous nephews and nieces and cousins, as well as his brother Jesuits of the Oregon Province. 

A vigil service will be held at 7 p.m., Friday, Oct. 5, at the Jesuit House Chapel on the Gonzaga University campus.  The funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 6, at St. Aloysius Church. Gonzaga University will offer a live video link to the funeral. The web address to the video is http://live.streamvuze.com/stals. Burial will follow at the Oregon Province Cemetery. 

St Mary by the Sea Church in Rockaway Beach, where he served in his last years, will celebrate Fr. Morris' life on the weekend of Oct. 20-21, remembering him at weekend Masses and with an open house in the parish hall, Saturday, Oct. 20, 6 p.m.-7 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 21, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest (P.O. Box 3928, Portland, OR 97208) and/or The Oregon Province Society of Jesus (P.O. Box 86010, Portland, OR  97286).

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