V. Rev. James J. Greenfield, OSFS
August 14, 1982
September 24, 1988
June 2, 1990
Ministries: Vocation Director; Chaplain, George Washington University; Director of Postulants; Assistant Provincial; Provincial.
What living person most reflects the joy of the Gospel for you? WOW – tough to narrow my choice – but I would say that Jim Tate, who just celebrated his 90th birthday, is a man whose joy comes from being a family man. His five daughters and their spouses and children give him a joy that is contagious because he truly knows the simple, yet profound truth that love conquers all!
Pope Francis is a Jesuit who chose the name of St. Francis of Assisi. Some have said he pastorally resembles St. Francis de Sales. What is Salesian about Pope Francis? Pope Francis radiates joy – no wonder his first apostolic exhortation was named “The Joy of the Gospel.” He is also a great example of being gentle and firm in our Salesian tradition. I admired how he wanted frankness to be the quality of dialogue in the sessions of the Symbol in the Family.
What is your favorite dimension of being an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales? The Spirituality of St. Francis de Sales permeates, I hope, in my preaching, teaching, and interaction with the engine in my ministry.
How do you think Salesian gentleness can make a difference int he world? We live in such a violent and frantic world, yet St. Francis de Sales invites us to be calm and gentle in all of our dealings with others. Practicing gentleness helps us become “custodians of wonder” that Pope Francis says should be the hallmark of religious men and women.
What is the most recent book you read? Would you recommend it? “The Road to Character” by David Brooks is a masterful book which helps us rethink our priorities about what goes into a worthwhile life. Looking to the lives of some of the world’s greatest thinkers, Brooks points out that they all achieved character through dealing well with their limitations.
Name an Oblate who taught you an important lesson that has remained with you. What did he teach you? Most recently, I have been struck by the way Fr. William F. Davis, OSFS, who died on July 4, 2016, struggled with a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. He accepted the diagnosis with a determination to do all he could to fight it, but when he realized he exhausted all the options, he became very peaceful and Salesian in accepting the inevitability of his death and was quite peaceful about it!
What advice could you give to a young person interested in religious life? Sr. Helen Prejean once described vocation as that which is scary, surprising, and an adventure all at the same time! Thus, if someone is considering trying religious life, he or she should be thrilled that the scary, surprising, and adventurous are well worth the ride!
How do you think religious life serves the church and world in a way that is unique from our brothers and sisters who are single, married, or diocesan priests? Religious life is all about community! One thing our world needs desperately is communities of hope – we religious need to build them. We don’t always live up to being communities of hope in our daily interactions with one another as Oblates – but when we are at our best we can make a huge difference in the world when we commit to common prayer and a compassionate regard for all.