Saturday, June 30, 2012

Fr. Jack Sewell: Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in San Clemente

Fr. Jack Sewell, who served for decades as an Air Force Reserve chaplain and 12 years as the pastor for Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in San Clemente, is leaving both jobs. He recently retired from the military and will soon be reassigned to lead a congregation in Placentia.

Sewell's last day at Our Lady will be June 30, after which he heads to St. Joseph's in north Orange County. He will be replaced by Fr. Mike Hanifin of Santa Clara de Asis Church in Yorba Linda.

Speaking at a recent Kiwanis Club event, Sewell used a military metaphor to describe the ministry.

"'We live in a world with walls that must be defended by men with guns,' " he said, quoting a famous Jack Nicholson scene from A Few Good Men. "'You want me on that wall; you need me on that wall.' "

Churches of all faiths are the spiritual walls from which the faithful defend the world against evil, he added: "We live in a world overcome by sin. You want us on those street corners; you need us on those street corners. ... It puts our communities in the presence of God. It's not the church buildings that pray; it's every man and woman of every faith."

At Our Lady of Fatima, Sewell most recently oversaw massive renovations and additions to the church.

As a 1st lieutenant attached to March Air Force base, Sewell "learned the craft of military ministry from experienced senior Catholic, Protestant and Jewish chaplains," according to a parish bulletin message announcing his retirement from the military reserves.

As a major, he deployed to Korea and Saudi Arabia as a chaplain, celebrating Mass in “tent city,” hearing confessions in a cargo aircraft at 25,000 feet, and traveling around bringing the sacraments and spiritual comfort, Sewell said in his bulletin message.

On May 1, the priest retired from the Air Force Reserves as a general.

- San Clemente Patch
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