The 2014 National Assembly of Jesus Caritas Fraternity of Priests has chosen the Rev. Jerry Ragan of St. Mary on the Hill Catholic Church as its new National Responsible.
As National Responsible, he will lead the national fraternity for the next three years.
The Jesus Caritas Fraternity “is a group of five to seven priests that get together on a monthly basis to support each other, hold each other to accountability to a good, solid prayer life and support each other as we proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ,” Ragan said.
The fraternity’s way of life was based on the life of French priest Charles de Foucauld, who lived in North Africa in the late 1800s and early 1900s and was martyred there.
He lived among the Tuareg people, who were Muslim, not necessarily wanting to convert them to Christianity but to share with them the love of Jesus Christ, Ragan said.
Foucauld was hoping to encourage other priests to join him, but no one ever did.
“He pretty much lived as a hermit all his life among them,” Ragan said. “His spirituality was powerful. He believed that we needed to live the gospel. He had a deep, deep prayer life. He had a sense of just living simply among the poor people.”
Within the Diocese of Savannah, the local fraternity includes the Revs. Marvin LeFrois, Michel Smith, Thomas Peyton, Mark Van Alstine, Michael Roverse, Pablo Migone, Nick Mansell, John Brown and Thomas Healy.
Nationally, the fraternity has about 1,200 members, and there are more than 4,000 members worldwide.
Ragan was ordained a priest in 1979 and has served at St. Mary since 2002. Previously, he served as the Southeastern council member in the national organization.
As National Responsible, he plans to find a new home for the national headquarters. The current headquarters in Chicago is in a shared space with another organization that has fallen on hard times, he said.
He also plans to better organize the fraternity and form a directory of the many different groups that meet across the country. He also plans increase awareness about the fraternity to encourage new priests to join.
“I’m overwhelmed but also excited about the possibilities,” Ragan said. “The guys that I share a fraternity with have brought so much richness into my life. They’re just really, really good people, good friends.”