CHICAGO — In the Madonna della Strada Chapel at Loyola University here, the otherwise peaceful sanctuary erupted in cheers and applause as Father Patrick Gilger was ordained as a Jesuit priest.
Father Gilger, 32, was raised in New Orleans until the age of 12 when his family relocated to Salem. After graduating from South Salem High School in 1998, he attended Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., where he met Jesuits who were interested in social justice and philosophy, a combination of intellectual and spiritual pursuits that lit a spark in him that would lead him to immediately joining the Society following his graduation in 2002 with a degree in philosophy.
After entering the Society of Jesus and spending two years at the novitiate, Father Gilger was sent to Loyola University Chicago where he earned a master's degree in philosophy. For his three-year regency assignment, he worked at the Red Cloud Indian School located on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation founded by the Jesuits in 1888 to serve reservation families. In addition to teaching English, he managed Red Cloud’s volunteer program, which places recent college graduates for multi-year assignments at the school every year.
In an effort to draw a connection between contemporary culture and spirituality using a language and tone to which young adults can relate, Father Gilger and a few fellow Jesuits co-founded The Jesuit Post. Launched in January of 2012, The Jesuit Post is filled with blogs, essays, photos, and videos aimed at a generation known more for its devotion to pop culture than to religion. Since the site’s launch, it has experienced tremendous growth and received positive feedback.
He has been assigned as associate pastor of St. John Parish at Creighton University.