Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham University, dedicated the renovated chapel in Lowenstein Center on the Lincoln Center campus in honor of the German Jesuit, Blessed Rupert Mayer, S.J., to close the University’s Ignatian Awareness Week celebrations on Feb. 2.
Father Mayer, “the Apostle of Munich,” was born in Stuttgart in 1876, and entered the Society of Jesus in 1900. He served as a military chaplain during World War I and had to have his left leg amputated after a grenade attack. In 1915 he was awarded the Iron Cross for his bravery in administering to soldiers at the front lines in France, Poland and Romania.
He denounced Nazi ideology (as well as Communism) from its early days, and was arrested twice by the Gestapo before being imprisoned in the Orianienburg-Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1939. The next year he was placed under house arrest at Bavaria’s Ettal Abbey. He died while preaching on All Saints Day in 1945, shortly after the war, due to health issues stemming from his long imprisonment. Father Mayer was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1987.
“Father Mayer is close to the heart of all Jesuits,” said Father McShane in his homily. “He reached out to anyone in need, and as a university chaplain, was never far removed from the concerns of students or his city.”
The dedication Mass coincided with the Feast of the Presentation, the day that Mary and Joseph presented Christ at the temple. Concelebrating the Mass were Patrick Ryan, S.J., vice president of University mission and ministry; Vincent Duminuco, S.J., rector of Fordham’s Jesuit community; Joseph Novak, S.J., alumni chaplain; Damian O’Connell, S.J., assistant director of campus ministry at Lincoln Center; Father Gil Martinez, C.S.P., the pastor of neighboring St. Paul the Apostle Church; and Jean Younes, a Maronite priest from Lebanon who is a visiting student in the Graduate School of Education.