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Institute President, Former Professor are Josephinum Alumni of the Year

The Pontifical College Josephinum is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2022 Jessing Alumnus of the Year Award – Father Robert Gonzalez ’78 of the Diocese of Tucson, AZ, and Mr. Jason Shanks ’07, President of Our Sunday Visitor Institute in Huntington, IN.


The Jessing Alumnus of the Year Award is named for Msgr. Joseph Jessing, a German immigrant priest who founded the Josephinum in 1888. Honorees are recognized for their service to the Church and community, and for their support of the Josephinum and its mission in the spirit of Msgr. Jessing.


Originally from Sierra Vista, AZ, Father Gonzalez attended the Josephinum for college and graduate theological study from 1970-1978, then was ordained in Tucson. Following a period of diocesan service and completion of advanced degrees in Rome, Father Gonzalez returned to Columbus in 1989 to teach at the Josephinum. According to Mr. Michael Fry ’85, Josephinum Alumni Liaison, “he instilled in students a love for the Church, the importance of prayer, and a respect for seminary traditions.” The beloved professor had a way of inspiring in others a love for the seminary’s founder, often using his own translations of Msgr. Jessing’s writings originally composed in German.


During his years on the seminary faculty, Father Gonzalez was an active presence in the Columbus diocese, especially at Our Lady of Peace Parish in Clintonville where he offered weekend Mass assistance.


Father Gonzalez returned to his home diocese in 2005; currently he serves at Saint John the Evangelist Parish in Tucson.  


Present to receive his award from Rector/President Very Reverend Steven P. Beseau at the Josephinum’s annual reunion celebration on October 13, Father Gonzalez said, “It is a great joy for me to accept this award. I ask God’s blessings on the seminary, its rector, and all who are part of the Josephinum family.”


A convert to Catholicism, Jason Shanks attended the Josephinum in the early 2000s, first as a seminarian and then as a lay student. Completion of a Masters in Theology in 2007 led him to serve in many leadership roles within the Church. In 2001, he founded Catholic Youth Summer Camp in Central Ohio. He was pastoral assistant and business manager at Saint Mary Parish in German Village and president of Greater Columbus Right to Life. Beyond Columbus, Jason managed the Department of Evangelization and Pastoral Life in Toledo, then was founding Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan.


Currently, Jason leads the Our Sunday Visitor Institute in its work of evangelization and outreach. Nationally, he serves on the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty and the Board of the National Eucharistic Congress.


In his acceptance of the award, Mr. Shanks noted that his experience at the seminary laid the foundation for further study and his many leadership positions within the Church. “I owe the Josephinum a debt of gratitude,” he said. “My time here informed everything I do in the work of evangelization – all of the committees and organizations I serve. What you did for me was life-giving. Please know of my prayers for the work you do here at the Josephinum, for the seminarians, and the great impact you continue to have today.”


Jason Shanks, President of Our Sunday Visitor institute; Very Reverend Steven P. Beseau, Rector/President; and Father Robert Gonzalez ’78 of the Diocese of Tucson, former Josephinum professor.


Jason Shanks receives the Jessing Alumnus of the Year Award from Father  Beseau.


Father Gonzalez shares his knowledge of Josephinum founder Msgr. Joseph Jessing – whom he has researched in great depth in both the U.S. and Germany – with fellow alumni during the seminary’s recent reunion. Pictured l-r: Mr. Rod Hartle ’64 of Fryburg, PA; Father Richard Kramer ’66 of the Diocese of Rockford; Father Gonzalez ’78; and Mr. Guy Gallo ’79 of Columbus, OH.

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