We recently interviewed our head chaplain, Father Juan Pablo Duran, to learn more about his life and work with students on campus. Read about how his experiences have shaped his ministry, his approach to serving students, and more.
You’ve lived and studied in a variety of places across the globe. How have these experiences shaped your faith and influenced your ministry?
Living in so many different places has given me a deeper appreciation for the value of individuals and individual cultures. I love Pope Benedict’s phrase: “There are as many paths to God as there are people.” Each of us is uniquely created in the image of God, and there are many different ways for us to glorify Him in our lives. I am constantly awed by how the Lord works through people, and the way he has shaped entire cultures. The miracle of the Church is that it transcends these differences in culture, class, and language – our shared faith connects us all!
How do you oversee the spiritual formation of students at HSP?
As chaplain, I have the responsibility of leading students closer to God. Every day at HSP is permeated with the faith; we pray every morning, before classes, and before meals. We have regular retreats and a weekly Mass where the Upper School comes together to pray, listen to the Word of God, and participate in the Eucharist. Above all, HSP believes in the personal flourishing of every single student. As chaplain, I try to meet them where they are and engage in conversations about faith, listen to their questions, and walk with them as their relationship with God deepens. I enjoy preparing my homilies and organizing retreats, but what I most enjoy are the times I get to speak one-on-one with students about their lives and faith.
HSP’s motto is: Ministrāre non ministrārī: “To serve, not to be served.” How do you teach students to live this out?
My experience has been that most of our students learn this at home. At HSP, we support this by creating a culture of service through the House System and offering the students countless opportunities to serve others. Upper School students serve the younger ones through programs such as “Girls with Pearls” and student government, and we have had a long tradition of serving in various initiatives with the homeless, single moms, and the unborn.
What do you enjoy most about being a priest?
As a Legionary priest, I am part of the Regnum Christi spiritual family. Our charism is to help the lay faithful discover their gifts and talents, and place them at the service of Christ and His Church – the mission to extend His love in our communities and around the world. It is a charism that connects very closely with the mission of HSP. I am reminded of the Latin etymology of the word “education”: to lead or bring out – in other words, to help someone discover and cultivate the treasure that God has planted in their soul. Whether I’m working with empty nesters or high schoolers, I do my best to accomplish this. It is exciting and rewarding, and of course takes a lot of patience, prayer, and humor.
The world can be chaotic and confusing – especially for youth as they transition to adulthood, and it can be easy to get distracted from walking closely with the Lord. What advice would you give a student who is struggling to hear God’s voice and see His will for their life?
I have a very simple prayer that, at first, might seem too simple to be useful, but here it is: “_________, Lord.”
Instead of simply thinking about our life, our dreams and difficulties, our anxieties and fears, it is a way of inviting God into them and thus taking our first steps in prayer. Instead of “I wish I had more time,” we can think “I wish I had more time, Lord,” or “I can’t wait for summer vacation,” “I can’t wait for summer vacation, Lord.”
You get the point. It’s an easy way to involve the Lord in your life. Then, He will undoubtedly become more present, and your relationship with Him will grow.
What is your daily prayer for HSP students, and what do you hope they take away from their time at HSP?
I would love for every student at HSP to discover a personal relationship with Jesus, and this is my daily prayer. I believe each one is a treasure, created, blessed and sustained by God. And when they draw closer to Him, then the good that He endowed them with becomes all the more radiant. I pray daily for the students, their families, and all their intentions.
Fun facts about Father JP
My favorite place on campus is the Chapel, then Mr. Cole’s room, where I teach Catholic Social Doctrine.