'This land is home to me'.
Jesuit priest Joseph R. Hacala, 61, former special assistant to the
secretary of the Department of Health and Urban Development during the
Clinton administration, died of a rare organ disease in February while
receiving care at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Hacala, a
West Virginia native, had served most recently as the president of
Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia. Haeala's first mission
after his ordination in 1975 was to the poverty-stricken coal fields of
southern West Virginia. A fierce commitment to the poor and to social
justice shaped his ministry throughout his life.
Prior to his work at HUD, Hacala was executive director of the
Catholic Campaign for Human Development and director of the National
Office of Jesuit Social Ministries, and he served pastorally at St.
Aloysius Church in Washington, D.C. He was profoundly impacted by the
Appalachian Catholic Bishops" pastoral letter, "This Land is
Home to Me," issued in February 1975, which declares, "The
living God, the Lord whom we worship, is the God of the poor."