Father Patrick Fairbanks, SJ, is the pastor of St. Xavier Church in Cincinnati. A man with a love of etymology, he spends his spare time reading Greek and Latin. More importantly, he has transformed his appreciation of language into a lifelong devotion to God.
Making his way to the Society of Jesus was a process of discovery — much like the saint who founded his order.
“Saint Ignatius didn’t start the Jesuits out to be teachers. It started with the sacraments and tending to poor, sick souls. His method of education became so well known, demand started in the larger cities.”
Father Fairbanks actually moved in the opposite direction — he started his career with teaching. He felt called to instruct students in writing, language, and religion in Catholic schools.
After eight years, he achieved a position near Cincinnati, where the Jesuit parish was pretty much “the greatest show in town.” It was there that he connected with his spiritual director, Fr. Jack Kramer, SJ. Father Fairbanks was drawn to the priest’s words, which warmed him to the idea of being a Jesuit teacher.
“I was always comfortable in religion but had never wanted to be a priest,” he said. “Slowly but surely, I decided I can do this.”
During this time, Fr. Fairbanks drove to St. Xavier Church — where he is now pastor — and found the last vocation pamphlet in the pew. This was a pivotal moment. The words in that brochure spoke to Fr. Fairbanks.
||Fr. Patrick Fairbanks, SJ, (right)|
“Christ is the small light of God that is in every person.”
“I read through it, and that’s when I knew I had to do this. So I sent it in. But it was years before I entered to begin my training,” he said.
Step by step, Fr. Fairbanks grew to know and love the Jesuit way of life. Finally at the age of 35, Fr. Fairbanks became a novice.
Studying Scripture through the lens of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius proved life-changing for him. Theology proved to be what he calls “a language of its own.”
“Ignatian Spirituality affects the way you pray. You learn to be mindful.”
We all know prayers are a way to communicate with God. But it is their meaning that transcends to something higher — and defines Fr. Fairbanks’ mission. “Prayer is how souls can break out of their earthly prison and become free.
“Prayers don’t have to be rote or memorized. I want to teach people to be happy in their own searches for God.”
This companion of Saint Ignatius is dedicated to lifting people up so they can find the ultimate in freedom. It comes down to each person’s own, unique approach to prayer. We are all different. But Fr. Fairbanks’ message is clear and consistent.
“The mystery of language is in what you can’t see. We are spiritual beings trying to make it through our humanity. Because of God’s mercy, we can go with him.” Father Fairbanks’ words speak volumes to all of the faithful.
We hope you will continue to support Jesuits like Fr. Patrick Fairbanks in their vocation. Your generosity allows the Jesuits to continue to spread the Gospel through their ministries.
Saint Ignatius and a small group of his companions founded the Society of Jesus — the Jesuits — in 1540 to serve ad maiorem Dei gloriam, “for the greater glory of God.”
From the beginning, this “company of Jesus” has worked together with lay women and men. The root of the word company refers to people who shared bread — an ancient symbol of life and essential part of the Eucharist.
Company encompasses ministry, mission, and community. The Jesuit company includes students and alumni, parishioners and retreatants, and people like you.
With your prayerful support, our Circle of Companions in Christ finds God in all things and serves where the need is greatest.