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“Being on the Journey" 2

By Sharon L. Miller, BSN Director, Cathedral Social Ministries, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County

“Being on the Journey"

Stan Fitzgerald of San Jose was honored earlier this year as a finalist for the national Catholic Charities 2021 Volunteer of the Year Award.

Stan calls himself a “social justice junkie.” He retired after 38 years in corporate human resource management.  

In 1993, Stan Fitzgerald created a parish partnership with Cathedral Social Ministries through his parish, St. Francis of Assisi. He links affluent parishes with poor parishes and Catholic Charities. Stan supports the Catholic Charities free primary healthcare clinic serving the homeless, immigrants, and migrant workers. He volunteers with our homeless drop-in office, "The Window," providing donations of toiletries, service navigation, a place to receive mail, and sandwiches. He created sandwich-making teams serving 150 people a day. He volunteers with the Day Worker Center, ConXion, assisting immigrants with employment. Pre-pandemic, he provided space and volunteers in his parish for Catholic Charities Senior Day Care Services, artistic activities, exercise, and lunch while families were at work or home in need of respite relief.

Stan Fitzgerald grew up in a large catholic family in New York, the son of a doctor who took care of the poor. Stan graduated from a Jesuit Military School, then Fordham University.  He married, had six children, three of whom became Jesuit Volunteers. Stan's soul was set on fire to serve through the gospel and the social teachings of the Church through Jesuit Superior General Pedro Arrupe.

Fitzgerald cites his Jesuit education as providing a grounding in Ignatian ideals. He describes the Examen, a method of reflection and meditation that is taught through part of the Companions program, as giving his spiritual life an immense boost: “the pause that refreshes.” Not surprising, the sense of companionship is also key. “Being on a journey with people who have similar goals and aspirations,” Fitzgerald says, “is a joy and a delight.”

Stan also volunteers with the Campaign for Human Development and writes reflections for Catholic Charities USA. He developed St. Vincent DePaul's Voice of the Poor advocacy letter-writing project. Inspired by Brian Massingale, he created a presentation on "The Structure of Social Sin and Racism," presenting the material in many parishes. Stan visits our young adult Jesuit Volunteers in their community home, Casa Arrupe, bringing books on social justice and facilitating conversations.  Stan is known for the phrase "Did you Know?" which is his entry to educate, advocate, and introduce you to other people who serve the poor, changing the world for good, mobilizing the catholic community and all people to make a difference. Stan has created relationships amongst programs and people that long surpass the expectations of one person, creating a soul-filled legacy empowering others.

"I am truly grateful to Catholic Charities' Cathedral Social Ministries for allowing me to join with them in serving the poor and marginalized here in Silicon Valley," shares Stan Fitzgerald. "We have many who are homeless, many who have not been 'invited to the table' or not had their voices heard. Yet, we are able to impact their lives with the help of Catholic Charities and the support that enables us to accompany them on their journey. This is work that God truly blesses."

Stan Fitzgerald

Stan Fitzgerald