by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D. Profiles in Catholicism
Dr. Knight: You are the pastor of St. Francis of Assisi-St. Blaise Parish , what does that mean?
Msgr. Jervis: I am fulfilling my assignment by the bishop of Brooklyn, Most Rev. Nicholas Di Marzio in ministering to the spiritual needs of a mostly Caribbean Community in central Brooklyn, New York and also being engaged with their social upliftment.
Dr. Knight: How did you receive your call to be a priest? How has this call changed over time? .
Msgr. Jervis: I first became attracted to the priesthood as an 11yr. old Altar server. During the thirty-seven years of my priesthood I learned that my task is not necessarily to convert the world for Jesus Christ but to make his presence visible to others through my ordinary day to day priestly ministry.
Dr. Knight: I see you are the postulator for Msgr. Bernard J. Quinn. Could you tell us what that means?
Msgr. Jervis: As the former diocesan postulator for Msgr. Bernard J. Quinn Canonization Cause, I was tasked by making a strong, convincing case based on my research and interviews with people who knew him. The diocese having reviewed my work then presented the findings to the Congregation for the causes of Saints. The Vatican is now doing their own investigation to judge the merits for his canonization
Dr. Knight: How about an easy question: what is your favorite film at this time? Book? Have you seen “Quiet Place” or “Won’t You Be my Neighbor?”
Msgr. Jervis: My favorite film is The Mission starring Robert De Niro, though not recent, it has left a profound effect on me. Among books I enjoyed was Prayer is Good Medicine by Larry Dossey, M.D. I am about to purchase Rage by Bod Woodward.
Dr. Knight: What was it like to move from Guyana to the United States? Did you receive support from your family?
Msgr. Jervis: As a nineteen year old young man, I was able to adjust fairly well as an immigrant to the United States. My family counted on my support as they came shortly afterwards; my parents and siblings
Dr. Knight: Do you think/feel that the use of social media in our parishes can assist young people to think about knowing/loving/serving God through their ‘cyber-neighbor’?
Msgr. Jervis: Yes of course. Social media is a technological instrument of communicating all that is noble and worthy for wholesome human development in promoting love of God and neighbor. At the same time this media can promote hatred, racism and all that devalues the integrity of our humanity.
Dr. Knight: As a pastor you are able to educate and spiritually form many people in the society through your work. What issues are predominantly on your mind and heart?
Msgr. Jervis: It is very challenging to desire a full spiritual formation of Catholics who want only to be satisfied with the cultural approximation of their religious Faith.
Dr. Knight: There have been very influential Bishops throughout the ages including saints. Who influenced you the most?
Msgr. Jervis: Archbishop Francis Rummel (Oct 14, 1876- Nov 8, 1964) of New Orleans who showed leadership in ending racial segregation in the churches of his archdiocese.
Dr. Knight: It seems that this interview would help us understand your leisure activities and purposeful work that would be of interest to our readers such as the book you wrote on Msgr. Quinn about obliterating racism? Could you tell us about what this entails?
Msgr. Jervis: My book Quintessential Priest is not about obliterating racism which seems that it will always be with us as long as we human beings live on this earth. The book shows that individuals can make a profound impact as Msgr. Quinn who combated racism in his time by his all-out embrace of African Americans whom he loved as Jesus commanded us to love each other.
Dr. Knight: What other issues do you have as a priority for our work as a society?
Msgr. Jervis: Our society should have as a priority to promote the inalienable dignity of the human person from conception to natural death and both Democratic and Republican Parties have failed in doing that.
Dr. Knight: Thank you for doing this interview to help all of us understand your work better and to live a life in Communion with Christ. Thank you for being the postulator for my great-uncle Msgr. Bernard Quinn. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share my priestly ministry with you but I try not to be the focus.