News Detail
Jesuit Father William Oulvey, with the plans for his model ship.
Jesuit’s Model-Building Hobby Inspires Tribute to His Father

February 24, 2014 — Jesuit Father William Oulvey, of the Mission and Ministry office at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Mo., said he still recalls the stories his father, William Oulvey Sr., told of serving during World War II. Those stories moved Fr. Oulvey to honor his father’s service in a unique way.

As part of the Merchant Marines, Oulvey Sr. spent the time between 1943 and 1946 on a vessel known as a “liberty ship,” delivering supplies as needed to the European theater of World War II. It was a part of history that Fr. Oulvey said he and his five siblings were introduced to through their father.

“He was very proud of his time in the service,” Fr. Oulvey said. “He sailed for three years, in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. On D-Day, he was aboard a liberty ship off of Belfast with the second wave of supplies for the invading forces. So two weeks after D-Day, he was offloading supplies onto Omaha Beach.” When Oulvey Sr. passed away in 2006, Fr. Oulvey decided to pay tribute to that service by building a detailed bass wood replica of one of the liberty ships his father served on, the SS Mark Twain.

The three-year process to build the model was a labor of love, as Fr. Oulvey said he sought to create the delicate details of the ship, bow to stern, from the lifeboats hitched to either side of the ship to the multi-ton cranes that line its decks. “Part of the reason it took me three years is because I kept staring at it and staring at the plans,” he said, laughing. “But it was therapeutic in a way. After a day of work, I would come down here and I could see something was done, I could see progress.”

Model-building has long been a hobby for the Jesuit priest, one that in the past had him building small, delicate airplanes out of super-light balsa wood and tissue paper. “I like the puzzle aspect of it,” he said. “If something is not working, I’m the kind of person who likes to take it apart and figure out how it works. Dad was the same way.”

The ship is eventually bound for its final port of call at Fr. Oulvey’s youngest brother’s house in New York State, on a mantle alongside other reminders of their father’s time in the Merchant Marines. Fr. Oulvey doesn’t know yet when that journey will take place, but he said he is aiming to give the SS Mark Twain a fitting bon voyage when it does happen.

“This thing needs to be berthed. It needs to be docked,” he said. “And someone has a small bottle of sparkling wine, so before it goes, we’ll crack it open here.” [Source: Rockhurst University]


Recent News

March 26, 2015 — Jesuit novices are serving the poor and the homeless at the Morning Glory Café as part of their novitiate experiments.

March 24, 2015 — “La Voz del Pueblo” is told from the perspective of journalists at a Jesuit-run radio station.

March 23, 2015 — Cheverus High School in Portland, Maine, has named Jesuit Father George E. Collins to succeed current president, Jesuit Father William R. Campbell.

March 20, 2015 — Thirteen schools are partnering with Jesuit Refugee Service/USA to help unaccompanied Central American children and immigrant families seeking refuge in the U.S.

March 19, 2015 — Jesuit Refugee Service marks 35 years of accompaniment.

March 18, 2015 — Jesuit Father Richard Clifford was recently honored for his service to the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.

March 16, 2015 — Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero will be beatified May 23, and the beatification process for his friend Jesuit Father Rutilio Grande has also begun.

view all news

Search news

Publications
Since St. Ignatius bought a printing press in 1556, the Jesuits have been involved in communications. Today the Society of Jesus publishes a number of award-winning journals and publications. Click below to access our latest issues.

America - 3/30/15

America - 3/23/15

America - 3/16/15



White House Jesuit Retreat Center
The White House Jesuit Retreat Center is located on a beautiful 80-acre campus on the bluffs of the Mississippi River in St. Louis.