March 7, 2014 — As a man of faith and a son of St. Ignatius, Jesuit Father Raymond Fitzgerald said the sobering news that he has Lou Gehrig’s Disease led him immediately into a spiritual reflection that, in one way or another, he has been living out for more than 30 years as a Jesuit.
“One of the fundamental things that we try to preach here in the formation of young men in the faith is something from the Spiritual Exercises called the principle and foundation – that man is created to praise, reverence and serve God,” Fr. Fitzgerald said at Jesuit High School of New Orleans, where he has served as president since 2011. “That’s why >we’re here. Whether we’re healthy or ill doesn’t enter into it. We can do those three things in any condition of our lives, and God gives us the grace to do each day what he asks of us each day.”
Fr. Fitzgerald first noticed a loss of grip strength in his hands about a year ago and pointed it out to his doctor, who prescribed a series of tests. One by one, other possible medical causes were ruled out. Last June, a neurologist made a definitive diagnosis of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), and another doctor concurred with the diagnosis in October.
Fr. Fitzgerald said thus far, it has not significantly impacted his schedule. He views the future as an opportunity to live out his vocation as a Jesuit.
“There are some things a 60-year-old, because he has lived that long, can do because of his wisdom and experience that a 20-year-old, however strong he might be, just couldn’t do,” he said. “So, each age and each condition gives us an opportunity to serve God, and that’s how I’m moving into a new phase of my life. But, the same basic mission is there.” [Sources: Clarion Herald, Jesuit High School]