From the Director
He’s known as the white ghost! This tall, middle aged man with a fair complexion and salt-and-pepper colored hair, can be seen walking the streets of neglected neighborhoods in Chicago at any time of the day, and on any day of the year. Since he has walked those same streets for more than thirty years, he is instantly recognized and warmly greeted by women on their way to the store, by groups of men chatting at corners, and by gang members stalking their territory.
As a young man, Jim Fogarty had come from Pennsylvania to Chicago in order to attend the Columban seminary. The program involved community living, prayer, study, and pastoral ministry. As a seminarian, he met Bill Tomes, a youth worker who was committed to doing pastoral outreach to gang members. Jim accompanied Bill around the city from time to time, and soon came to appreciate the importance of his ministry.
A few years later, Jim came to the realization that he was not being called by God to journey to the furthest corners of the earth as a Columban missionary priest, but rather to remain in the neglected neighborhoods of Chicago as a Catholic layman. He left the seminary but completed his theology degree. A few years later he became a husband and father.
During these past three decades, Jim has remained a beacon of light and hope for countless young people who struggle to find direction in an environment dominated by poverty and crime. He does whatever it takes to assure them that someone cares: joins them for a basketball game and then for a burger and fries; accompanies them to a job interview or to a court case; gives them a ride to a hospital or to a detention center; and prays with them as they come to terms with the death of a friend as a consequence of drugs or violence. Jim’s availability, patience and kindness has earned him the street title, Superman!
Over the years, Jim has introduced many Columban seminarians to his ministry in Chicago’s neglected neighborhoods. He has shown them how to become an instrument of God’s peace by combatting hatred with love, despair with hope, and darkness with light. He has helped them realize that, while God invites some to travel with the Gospel to distant lands, He calls others to journey with the light of Christ into dark and desolate places close to home. Jim has also helped them to understand that every baptized person, whether married or single, lay or ordained, is called to live as a messenger of God’s care for those on the margin of our world.