Singer Harry Connick Jr. said his personal relationships with Jesuits and other faculty made all the difference when he was a student at Jesuit High School in New Orleans.
Connick said his religious upbringing and approach to Catholic high school were different than those of his classmates, but he was welcomed at the school nonetheless.
Connick had gone to church with his father and sister since he was a child but wasn’t baptized as a baby. His mother, who was raised in the Jewish faith, wanted her children to decide for themselves later in life which faith tradition to follow. They chose Catholicism. Connick was baptized Catholic at 14 by Fr. Nick Schiro, SJ, a member of this province.
He said in a recent interview with Sean Salai, SJ, for America magazine that Jesuit Fathers Schiro, Norman O’Neal and Eddie Gros made an impact on his life.
The Jesuits and other lay faculty at Jesuit High School in New Orleans both influenced him and treated him as an individual, he said.
“They understood that I was on a slightly different path from some of the kids who went there and I had come from a different place from them,” he said. “And they made me feel important and welcome. So, I would say it goes back to the personal relationships.”
The 90-year-old Father O'Neal remains in touch with him even today.
Connick also said he’s been a big fan of Popes John Paul, Benedict and Francis.
Salai interviewed Connick about his show business career and Catholic faith and how his faith influences his personal life.
Fathers O’Neal and Schiro, 89, who spent much of their Jesuit careers at Jesuit High School in New Orleans, live at the Jesuit home for seniors, St. Alphonsus Pavilion, in Grand Coteau, La. They were honored there recently with a photo of their famous former student.
Father Gros, 66, was a teacher and chaplain at Jesuit High School New Orleans from 1981 to 1985. He is pastor of Holy Name of Jesus parish in New Orleans.