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Pastor of St. Ignatius Joseph Costantino To Depart in July

Joseph Costantino, S.J., will depart the Jesuit Parish of St. Ignatius of Loyola in July after serving as its pastor since 2016. Change, Costantino said, is ingrained in the life of Jesuits. 

“One of the things in the gospels is, ‘The son of man has no place to rest his head,’” Costantino said. “So, packing up and moving again is a small way of sharing in that dynamic of Jesus, of moving from town to town, place to place, and sharing your gifts for a little while.” 

Costantino will become the new Jesuit superior of the St. Peter’s Jesuit Community in Jersey City, N.J. There, he will oversee St. Aedan’s: The St. Peter’s University Church as it builds a new Jesuit residence, which Costantino said he will help complete and move Jesuits into.

“So I’ll be there kind of spurring them on, helping the Jesuits but also helping the communities there stay true to their mission,” he said. 

Before arriving at St. Ignatius, Costantino held a variety of roles in the Jesuit community, from the president of Canisius High School in Buffalo, N.Y. to the pastor of St. Francis Xavier Church in New York City, where he said he organized a $13.5 million renovation of the church. 

According to Costantino, he loves being a pastor, so he was eager to begin his work at St. Ignatius after a year-long sabbatical. Costantino said that the previous pastor at St. Ignatius had been there for 27 years, so his arrival was an adjustment for parishioners.

“People were very used to having him as pastor,” Costantino said. “So this new face, this new person, it was quite a transition for them. But the people here embraced me, and we moved forward together.”

Costantino spearheaded the start of ongoing conversations between the University and the parish about deepening their relationship, said Michael Sennett, director of communications and media specialist at the parish.

“He’s fostered a lot of connection within our community and within the BC community, which I think is definitely important going forward in deepening the relationship between BC and the parish,” Sennett said.

Costantino said he’s looking forward to seeing where the conversations with the University will lead.

“We’re an independent diocesan parish, but we’re the gateway to the campus, so most people think we’re part of BC,” he said. “And BC has the resources to help us with certain aspects of this. And also, perhaps, maybe expand how we collaborate together more. 

Beyond initiating talks about collaboration with BC, Costantino founded several social justice outreach programs during his time at the parish, he said.

“The parish had been very good in its outreach mission,” he said. “We’ve always done a lot of outreach programs to help the poor. What I came and brought was a Peace, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission that involves the advocacy work that Jesuits do.”

The Peace, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission consists of four subcommittees: racial justice, immigration issues, the green team, and LGBTQ+ Catholics. Each subcommittee aims to help parishioners “better understand the root causes of injustice” and inspire action among the parish, according to the parish’s website.

Sennett said a big part of Costantino’s lasting impact on the parish will be the commission.

“Prior to him being pastor, there wasn’t really an active social justice group,” Sennett said. “But when he came, he got that started, and it’s flourishing so well now. There’s a bunch of different areas that we focus on, and it’s all really thanks to him and his energy and getting that off the ground with his passion in supporting all these different issues.”

Some of his favorite memories of his time in Chestnut Hill, Costantino said, are of the special services including Christmas pageants with children, Holy Week services, and midnight mass on Christmas. 

“But I realized that those liturgical events will no longer be mine to do, because I won’t be the pastor of a parish,” Costantino said. “So as we come around next year to Christmas, I will very much feel a loss that I won’t be doing the pageant. I’ll be watching it online.” 

Sennett said one of his favorite memories with Costantino is the Easter service St. Ignatius put on in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That was a month after everything had shut down because of the pandemic, and we got online pretty quick,” he said. “We all kind of felt like we were in the dark, [but] he really offered the guidance and the strength the staff needed to pull it off.”

Costantino led the parish courageously, Sennett said.

“He’s a fantastic leader—he really cared deeply about the parish staff,” he said. “He’s always giving us input and seeking our opinion as well and really taking into account our perspective at the end of the day.”

Though Costantino said he will miss St. Ignatius, he said moving on from mission to mission is an important part of the Jesuit journey.

“It’s a way of sharing in the paschal mystery—the death and rising of Jesus Christ,” Costantino said. “With every change in life … something dies, something’s lost. But you go on to something new.”

Featured Image Courtesy of St. Ignatius Parish

February 10, 2022