Save the Date!
2013 BRENNAN AWARD DINNER
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Hilton San Francisco Union Square
This year we are proud to annouce our Honoree Reverend Raymond Allender, S.J.
Rev. Raymond Allender, S.J., has made his mark on San Francisco - from his work helping turn St. Ignatius College Preparatory into a co-ed school to shepherding one of the most diverse and dynamic parishes in the Archdiocese.
Born July 19, 1944, to Ray and Genie Allender, young Ray was the third of four children. He would eventually follow his older brother, Tom, into the Society of Jesus, but he took a decidedly different path. Like his brother, Ray became familiar with the Jesuits at an early age thanks to his father’s love for the Society. He also gained a deep respect for the work of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, as his father and Frank Brennan were close friends, each formed by the 12-step program and its reliance on God and spirituality. (For this reason, Fr. Ray is accepting this year’s Brennan Award in memory of his father).
“Both my parents had a deep spirituality, and both formed my faith,” said Fr. Ray. “My mother’s was a lived faith. I’ve never seen anyone as inclusive as she is. She reaches out to everyone with a real love and joy. She still does this, at 97.”
Two priests also shaped Fr. Ray, including Fr. Joseph Donworth. “I have never seen a finer priest than this Irishman,” he noted. “He would stand in front of St. Stephen’s, where I went to school, and greet everyone. He was the best friend to every family and a real role model to me. He would always tell me, ‘Ray, someday you’ll take my place.’” The second priest was the one who inspired him to join the Society, Fr. Ray McGrorey, S.J., who had taught Ray’s father at St. Ignatius. “When my father was struggling, Fr. McGrorey was there to help him.”
At St. Ignatius, Ray joined the Sanctuary Society and the Sodality. “Fr. Leonard and Fr. Ryan were also great influences on my life. All my teachers were Jesuits, and you just can’t help being influenced by that. They seemed happy and fulfilled, and I could picture myself living such a life.”
He studied at USF for one year before joining the Society of Jesus in 1963,six years after his brother entered the order. “I visited him at Los Gatos and Spokane and got to know his confreres, who were impressive people. They gave witness to a kind of life that was fulfilling.”
In his career as a priest, Fr. Ray served at SI on three different occasions for a total of 15 years, first as a scholastic (1969 to 1972), then as a newly ordained priest (1975 to 1981) and then as superior to the Jesuit community (1985 to 1991). In that latter role, he was one of four trustees faced with the decision in the late 1980s of opening SI’s doors to young women. “I truly believe that coeducation is a better environment for young people, as the world is made up of both women and men. Two of the trustees were on the fence, but after much prayer, we voted unanimously. Later, when I worked at the all-boys Bellarmine Preparatory in San Jose, my perception softened. I realized that for some, co-education is better and for others, single-sex education is better.”
At St. Ignatius, Fr. Allender is known for helping pioneer a meditation class, one that asked students to do what St. Ignatius did in his Spiritual Exercises. He inherited the class from Rev. James Erps, S.J., and saw that “it met a need for many young people. I had some students in the class who were great students and others who were crooks and cowboys. They all needed a place in their lives to find stillness and to encounter the person of Jesus. I tried to make the class more relaxed and more pastoral.”
Fr. Ray was able to extend that pastoral approach as a parish priest in Sacramento for one year and at St. Agnes since 2007, where he now serves as pastor. He calls the church “the Jewel of the Haight. It’s an extraordinary parish community that’s so diverse. Parishioners are young and old, gay and straight and from different ethnic groups. Everyone gets along in a supportive environment. Come to a 10:30 a.m. mass and you’ll see so much enthusiasm and joy. You can’t help being moved by what goes on in the church.”
Fr. Ray also is proud of his parish’s commitment to groups outside his parish, including the St. Vincent de Paul Society’s Wellness Center. “We have had a stake in the development of this center since the early days, and I’m happy and honored to continue that tradition.”
His real pride comes not from what he does but from what others do. “I can empower others to ministry. I don’t have to do everything. The work isn’t about me – it’s about us. I have the opportunity to allow others to use their gifts for the greater glory of God. I’ve been able to use my background as a Jesuit educator and as someone who has led 30-day retreats to preach about the need for parishioners to be contemplatives in action. In all, this has been an extraordinary experience for me to move into during the latter part of my life.”
We hope you can join us and pay tribute to the great work of Fr. Ray!
Sponsorship opportunities are available, please contact Heather Ripley, Event and Communications Manager at 415-977-1270, x3079.
Dinner invitations will be mailed in July.