Father John J. Schwall, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, has been given the Christ the Teacher award, presented by Utah Catholic Schools.
The information from the award citation, which was read during the March 8 Mass for the schools’ Professional Employee Day follows.
Fr. J.J. (as he is popularly known) was born in Detroit, Mich. attended schools in Denver, Colo.; Yakima, Wash.; and Milwaukee, Wisc.
It was at Sacred Heart School of Theology in Milwaukee that Father J.J. earned a Master’s of Divinity in 2006. That same year, Bishop George H. Niederauer ordained him on May 18, 2006 for the Diocese of Salt Lake City.
After ordination, Fr. J.J. was assigned to St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Logan, Utah as parochial vicar.
Ministry in the parish included working with students at Utah State University. Father Joe Delka (parochial vicar of the Cathedral of the Madeleine) was one of those students.
Fr. Joe says, “For us college students, Fr. J.J. very quickly became ‘our priest.’ He was always present at the Newman Center. He was there to listen to us, help us, pray for us and with us ... and also to kick our butts when necessary! Through it all he was truly a father who worked hard to show us Jesus.”
In August of 2008, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Salt Lake City became home to Fr. J.J., where he is now serving in a second term as the pastor.
The parish school is considered an integral part of the parish and is fully supported by Fr. J.J., who celebrates liturgy and other occasions with the students.
Mrs. Tina Bergquist, principal of the school, says, “Father J.J. is an outstanding priest with a big heart. He always has a warm smile for the students. He has a wonderful sense of humor and is very kindhearted. With the teachers and myself, he is very supportive and respectful. The students, teachers and I truly love having him lead our school.
With gratitude for his support and his dedication to our schoolchildren at Our Lady of Lourdes School, we honor Fr. J.J. with the “Christ the Teacher Award.”
Fr. Schwall was not able to attend the Mass at which the award was presented. Bergquist accepted it on his behalf.