Santa Clara University

Santa Clara Magazine

Daniel Germann, S.J., in memoriam

From the time he arrived at Santa Clara University in 1970, and later through his struggle with Parkinson’s disease, Daniel Germann, S.J., never stopped believing in the power of faith and of social justice. When he died Monday, Sept. 24, at the Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, he left behind a legacy of love and commitment that will serve the University for generations to come.

“Dan Germann was an extraordinarily kind and pastoral Jesuit who welcomed anyone and everyone into his friendship,” said President Paul Locatelli, S.J. “His leadership of Campus Ministry at Santa Clara built a liturgical and pastoral program that was recognized as among the best for Catholic universities across the country.”

Known for his gentle nature and engaging sense of humor, Fr. Germann was a consummate community-builder. He understood and championed those in need—from the homeless in San Jose to the destitute in poverty-stricken, emerging nations.

“Dan wanted people to find God—be it in a liturgy or in the search for social justice,” said Sonny Manuel, S.J., rector for the Jesuit community at SCU, and, along with Germann, a co-founder of the Eastside Project. “The core of his work was to meet the needs of other people.”

Father Germann traveled on one of the University’s first immersion trips to Mexico, impressing upon students the importance of becoming involved in the world around them. The trips, he believed, were critical to the education and spiritual development of those who participated in them.

“Dan’s inclusiveness touched us all in so many ways,” said Jennifer Konecny ’68, member of the SCU board of trustees. Konecny worked with Fr. Germann in the Campus Ministry soon after she graduated from Santa Clara. “The core of everything Dan did centered on his ability to bring diverse people together and build a community based in faith and love.”

Dan Germann had been a Jesuit for 57 years, 44 years an ordained priest. He was born in Los Angeles on Nov. 9, 1929. He graduated from Loyola High School, attended Loyola University and the Los Angeles Junior Seminary, and entered the Jesuit novitiate at Los Gatos in 1950. He came to Santa Clara in 1970.

In addition to holding a faculty position in the religious studies department, in the 1980s Fr. Germann cofounded the Eastside Project, which became the Arrupe Partnerships, and is now a major part of the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education. The project was established to mutually benefit SCU and San Jose’s Eastside neighborhood. It brought the concern for social justice firmly within the University’s curriculum, giving students a chance to learn from and develop relationships with people most in need. The project also resulted in many community-based learning sites at schools, parishes, and agencies across Silicon Valley.

Recognizing his 25 years of service to SCU and his life-long commitment to faith and justice, more than a decade ago the University created The Daniel V. Germann, S.J., Endowed Fund for Ministry and Community Engagement, intended to support the University’s internship programs and immersion trips. For his part, Germann also created the Alumni For Others program—which Jim Purcell, vice president for University relations, commends for providing alumni a “vehicle for helping the needy and allows them to carry out the University’s mission of making the world a better place even after they graduate.”

Robert Senkewicz, professor of history at SCU and a longtime friend of Germann’s, notes, “Dan was known and loved by generations of Santa Clara students. His gentleness, humor, patience, and understanding made him a Jesuit who had a profound influence upon Santa Clara students, faculty, staff, and alumni. He transformed a traditional ‘chaplain’s’ office into an inclusive and inviting campus ministry office, which was marked by collaboration between clergy and laity, openness to a variety of religious traditions, and an emphasis on liturgy and worship as an expression of the community’s genuine concerns.”

One manifestation of the affection the Santa Clara community returned to Fr. Germann: He was asked to officiate at more weddings, funerals, and baptisms than any other Jesuit priest on the Santa Clara campus.

A Mass was held for Fr. Germann Sept. 28 in the Mission church. Donations can be made in his memory to The Daniel V. Germann, S.J., Fund for Ministry and Community Engagement.

—Deepa Arora