Moving from his role as a bus driver and director of faith formation to serving as Catholic Charities’ director of social concerns is a dramatic shift for Brian Jorgensen of St. Andrew Parish in Elk River. But it’s one he is ready for.
Jorgensen has spent the past three decades working in the Diocese of St. Cloud and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis as a youth minister and director of faith formation. He also taught religion at Cathedral High School for 13 years.
“For 30 years, I’ve been trying to form disciples, to help young people learn about and understand the principles of our faith, the teachings of Jesus and Catholic social teaching. In this new role, I will be responsible for putting that faith into practice,” he said.
Originally from the northwest suburbs of Minneapolis, Jorgensen graduated from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth with a degree in youth ministry and later received a master’s degree from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul in pastoral studies.
Jorgensen has two grown daughters.
“I believe what has kept the church together for 2,000 years is the Eucharist and serving people,” he said.
Jorgensen was drawn to the work his predecessor, Kathy Langer, has been doing. After a long period of working with young people, he said he was ready for a new challenge. One of his main areas of focus will be to increase the number of parish social ministry teams in the diocese as well as to identify people in parishes he can connect with about social justice issues.
“I think that’s where the rubber hits the road — at the parish level. The potential is very strong to continue the work that has been started here,” he said. “Parish social ministry is about meeting the needs you see in the community and to know you are not going to solve all the problems. It’s an opportunity for us to say, ‘Let’s help those we can and make a difference in our community.’”
Jorgensen began his new position with Catholic Charities Oct. 1, the same day a gunman opened fire on a crowd gathered for a concert on the Las Vegas strip killing 59 people. Jorgensen first heard news of the shooting the following morning while attending his first official assignment — a conference in Baltimore on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
“I will always remember that I started on the day of the Las Vegas shooting. I feel that is important,” he said. “I’m befuddled by the shooting. But there are good things that came from it — the way people pulled together, there were heroes formed that day. There will always be tragedies, and I think part of my role is going to be to look at how we respond. How can we still bring about the good?”
Jorgensen will replace Langer, who is retiring at the end of October.
“What I’m already finding about the position is that a lot of it has to do with forming relationships with those who are in need and with those who can help those in need,” he said. “I think my role will be to help bridge those people together.”