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The Seattle Prep Panther

Fr. Fitterer Plans for the Future

Fr.+Paul+Fitterer+retires+from+Seattle+Prep+after+serving+the+school+on+and+off+for+38+years.+Fitterer+leaves+behind+a+legacy+of+kindness+and+compassion+among+students+and+faculty+alike.
Fr. Paul Fitterer retires from Seattle Prep after serving the school on and off for 38 years. Fitterer leaves behind a legacy of kindness and compassion among students and faculty alike.

Fr. Paul Fitterer retires from Seattle Prep after serving the school on and off for 38 years. Fitterer leaves behind a legacy of kindness and compassion among students and faculty alike.

Fr. Paul Fitterer retires from Seattle Prep after serving the school on and off for 38 years. Fitterer leaves behind a legacy of kindness and compassion among students and faculty alike.

Emma Cooney, Managing Editor

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Father Paul Fitterer has been Prep’s priest for 38 years, and is going to retire after this year. He sat down with the Panther one last time to talk about future plans and, in true Jesuit fashion, to reflect upon his time at Prep.
What are your plans for the future?
The plans for the immediate future is I have a lot of weddings from May through September. I will be living at Bellarmine in Tacoma and commuting around to do weddings, so that’s the main thing on the immediate horizon when I leave. After that I have two months, or until about Christmas, to do my retreat and do some investigating about different kinds of things; looking at retreat houses to direct retreats and things like that. I love directing thirty day retreats.
What are thirty day retreats?
For Jesuits, we have to make two thirty day retreats, when we are novices we make one, and then what they call tertians, which means the third and final year of your formation before you get done with all your training. On the retreat, you meet with a director once a day, that’s the main thing, and the rest of it is in silence. And then we follow the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius. I’ve been a director during the summers for over twenty years with Jesuits, and I love that kind of work. People think, ah I can’t be quiet for thirty days, but you can, and in fact your resist and resent when people take away that time.
What about the weddings?
Well, the longer I am in a place, the more people I know. I would say most of the people who asked for me are former Prep students. A lot of people like to have someone who they know, it makes it much more personal, so they usually will call me up and ask me if I can do it, and if I’m free I will, because I like doing weddings. People are happy.
What will you miss most?
I will certainly miss the energy of the young people that are here, and the goodness of them. I will miss that a lot. Also we have a great faculty and a great administration, and you don’t often get a combination as strong as that. I don’t think I’ll find a better place to be employed. I will miss the spirituality aspect of it with the retreats, because the retreats are so good here. Especially the Junior Kairos retreat. There is a power about it and it is life changing for a lot of people so I will miss that. And when you see young people at their best, that is really good. I am privileged to do that.
Do you know the new priest?
Yes, about ten years ago I began working with our novices, I did that for four years, and he was a novice. So I directed him in a thirty day retreat. I know him well.
How has Prep changed since you have been here?
It used to be that as long as you had Jesuits in the school, it was a Jesuit school. The willingness and ability to articulate what Jesuit means, like what we want to accomplish, like the Grad at Grad and different things, just wasn’t there when I started teaching, we didn’t have that articulation. I think that has certainly grown, because nationally the Jesuits have done a lot of training of lay leaders, like Mr. Hickey and Ms. Luby. They believe it and they can talk about it, so that makes a difference. It is nice to know who you are if you want to find out where you are going. I think the quality of the retreats is infinitely better than when I started. They are really good, and a lot of that, I think, is because of lay people helping and enabling all of our faculty to go on the retreats and to give talks, so that has been really helpful. I think we are just generally stronger, academically and in the sense of forming a community.
It is doubtless that the community that has grown since Fr. Fitterer arrived at Prep has grown because of him. Thank you for all your love Father, you will be missed.

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Fr. Fitterer Plans for the Future