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Ministering in the 21st Century
Father Salvatore Ragusa, SDS fosters community at Holy Names
Father Salvatore Ragusa, SDS
Father Salvatore Ragusa, SDS

Father Salvatore Ragusa, SDS, co-director of campus ministry and chaplain for the University, facilitates celebrations of the Mass and sacraments and, along with co-director of Campus Ministry Jenny Girard Malley, fosters a sense of community at HNU through storytelling, meal sharing, and service opportunities.

Fr. Sal felt called to a life of service from a young age. At four years old he stood on a church pew and proclaimed that he wanted to become a priest. He went on to receive both his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in theological studies with an emphasis on liturgy and sacraments, from the University of Saint Thomas in Houston, Texas.

After he was ordained to the priesthood in 1988, he met members of the Society of the Divine Savior (the “Salvatorians”). He immediately felt at home amongst the Salvatorians’ diverse membership of priests, brothers, sisters, and laypeople, and he appreciated that they offered service to the community while living in the community.

Fr. Sal joined the Salvatorians and has served as a campus minister for 28 of his 30 years as a priest. He served at Saint Mary’s College of California for 24 years before joining the HNU community.

“Coming to HNU was the best thing that ever happened to me, ” said Fr. Sal. “Collaborating with the Sisters of the Holy Names–women actively committed to social justice–and serving such a diverse institution is a blessing. Students and staff are overwhelmed with the issues of our times: immigration, homelessness, broken families, financial and food insecurity. I leave my door open to provide them with spiritual direction and pastoral counseling. I let them know they are not alone, there is a God.”

Fr. Sal lives on campus and believes his continued presence in everyday spaces, like the laundry room and cafeteria, helps to open new lines of communication. He also connects with students in the digital world through social media, texts, and emails. “This is how we need to preach in the 21st century,” says Fr. Sal. “We need to translate the richness of Catholic traditions to a new audience and meet them where they are.”