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His Spirit Soars

January 19, 2017

I'm on retreat right now in this beautiful, sacred place.  Jack was someone who naturally drew you into deep contemplation...and TJ is picture captures Jack for me.  Gentle, deep, inviting and adventuresome.  Jack was a mentor for me and always a welcoming presence.  I miss you, Jack, and I thank God for the gift of you.  

Mary Ellen, you are in my prayers as we remember Jack today.  I surround you with prayers and love!


Wishing you a Generous New Year

January 19, 2014

"It is good to be children sometimes and never better that at Christmas when its mighty founder was a child himself." --Charles Dickens

Our Glaser tradition sending family photos continues, even without dear Jack behind the camera. The grandchildren often say "He is always in our hearts."

His legacy is honored creatively by St. Jopseh Health and in kind words of rememberance by those lives he influenced.

Life moves forward.  My priorities are to advocate for healthy child development, spend time with family and friends and doing clinical social work in the community.

With love,
Mary Ellen Glaser 

A TRIBUTE TO JACK GLASER, from Deborah Proctor, St. Joseph Health System CEO

February 22, 2012

 We have already heard this afternoon from Jack’s family and friends about the beautiful, rich and complex nature of Jack Glaser. We know he was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather and friend.

It is an honor for me to reflect for just a moment on Jack as a major contributor and shaper of the Catholic Healthcare Conscience.

Throughout his ministry in Catholic theology and ethics, Jack served as a teacher and a mentor to so many people. Since Jack’s death and as recently as this week, when I attended the Catholic Health Association Board Retreat, people have shared with me the significant impact that Jack had on their professional lives. Sr. Pat Talone, vice president of mission services for CHA, told me that Jack wrote an article many years ago that called to her so deeply, it served as the impetus for her decision to seek her Doctorate in theology and ethics. When she met Jack many years later and shared this with him, in his usual humble way his response was to thank her for being one of the two or three people who read that article. I have heard this story over and over again in the last few weeks.

For those of us who worked with Jack, we know his gift for providing us frameworks for examining complex issues. One of the frameworks he set forward was three concentric circles: the individual, the organization and the society. As I reflect on Jack’s career with SJHS, I am struck by how his own contributions paralleled these circles.

In the early years, Jack was deeply involved in helping us understand and work through individual patient issues, especially at the end of life. He and Corrine explored the issues related to personal autonomy through individual cases like that of Karen Quinlan. He consulted with our ethics committees and helped us develop resources for our clinicians, pastoral care and mission leaders as they faced end of life decisions such as DNR orders and withdrawal of feeding tubes.

While these individual issues never lessened, Jack began to expand our thinking about issues on the organizational level. This past week, our President’s council reread and reflected on an article Jack wrote on the role of the organization in assuring for the common good. Jack challenged us to remember that our budget process was laden with choices that reflected the tension between individual “wants” with the larger common good. He helped us understand that these decisions were difficult not because they were a choice between the good and the bad, but because they were a choice between two goods. I know many of you can see one of Jack’s “stick person” drawings with a single yes, surrounded by so many nos.

And in collaboration with Johnny Cox, Jack brought forward to us the concept of using “personal footprints” in our process of selecting leaders. He called us to move beyond the use of resumes and traditional selection tools to look for the life evidence of a person’s values and contributions.

But nowhere will Jack be more remembered at SJHS and in Catholic Healthcare than in his dedication to the societal good as best represented in his passion for healthcare reform. Jack demonstrated this commitment from his wonderful drawing of the lopsided house of healthcare delivery, to his partnership with Sr. Nancy in creating the Center for Healthcare Reform. Through the Center Jack did more than anyone I know in helping people understand the issues at the heart of healthcare for all. We know his deep belief that the change that is required for us to truly achieve reform is a change in the hearts and minds of the people, not the politicians. He challenged us to remember the examples of child labor and slavery where true social reform was demanded by the public. He helped us shape our own Vision of Healthcare Reform that directs our work on a daily basis.

Finally, for all of us who had the pleasure of sitting with Jack in his office or ours, being with Jack in a meeting or learning from Jack in a class, we recognize that perhaps his greatest gift to us was to slow us down, to stimulate our hearts and our minds, and to ensure for the presence and time for the movement of the Spirit. I was reading through the many tributes on the beautiful life celebration page that Corrine set up and I came across an entry from Jennifer Perry where she reminded us of a typical “jack-ism”: “don’t just do something; stand there.”

Jack, we thank you for these gifts, and we pledge our adherence to using frameworks so that our discourse is not filled with wild personal rantings but is instead a thoughtful dissection of the complexities of life.

There was another entry on Jack’s page from Marty Trujillo that to me summed up all I would like to say: “He was also one of the wisest and funniest persons I've ever known. I loved his quirky and unpredictable ways. I loved how he'd sit in the dark in his office, eating apples, doodling, quoting Goethe, and flashing you his incredible gap-toothed smile. All the secrets of the universe seemed to dwell in that smile of his. I'll miss it."

We all know how Jack loved poetry and music, so I wanted to end this reflection with a poem written by William Henry Channing, Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives in 1863-64, called My Symphony.

My Symphony
To live content with small means;

to seek elegance rather than luxury;

and refinement rather than fashion;

to be worthy, not respectable;

and wealthy, not rich;

to study hard, to think quietly, talk gently, act frankly;
to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart;
to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasion, hurry never;

in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious

grow up through the common.
This is to be my symphony.

Jack, we thank you for the symphony you brought to our hearts.

Reflections at the memorial service

February 18, 2012

Every once in awhile, someone comes along who makes a profound difference in our lives; someone who calls us to our better selves. Jack Glaser was such a person. Your presence here today testifies to the truth of that.

I met Jack nearly 30 years ago, when he was at Mercy Health System in Detroit, and I was at SJHS here in Orange. We were part of a small group of people from around the country doing ethics in Catholic health care.

Whatever the subject, there was Jack, pen and paper always in hand, sketching out conceptual maps for complex issues; and naming the deeper values, no matter what the topic.

A few years later, when I needed someone to join me at the System’s Center for Healthcare Ethics,  I knew that Jack was the one I wanted.  God bless Jack and Mary Ellen for saying yes;  and bless Meg and Brian, who left everything they knew and moved to CA in the summer of 1986. 

As I was thinking about how to spend these few minutes with you, I remembered what the scripture scholar Walter Breuggeman says about prophets. He describes prophets as those who are are engaged in fearless truth-telling and fierce hope. 

Prophets are poets who employ the disarming use of language -- to translate the world as it is to the world as it might be.  

Prophets help us re-experience the social realities right in front of us. So that we can hear what God is saying to our world.  

It is not a stretch to name Jack Glaser a modern prophet.  

One example: when our HS was in the process of selecting a 4th core value, some contenders were:  Mercy, Compassion, or Hospitality. Jack lobbied for Justice. We resisted.  Justice has an edge to it. What are the implications? What might this call us to?  

Like the prophets, Jack persisted. He knew that taking justice seriously was hard work; he also knew that it was a Biblical mandate. Justice as right relationships; justice as special concern for the vulnerable and disadvantaged. Justice as unflinching advocacy in the face of systems and structures that harm people.  

Adopting this value was one of many turning points at SJHS that were initiated and nurtured by Jack. He called us to our better selves without ever calling attention to himself.  With Jack, as with the prophets, it was always about the message, never about the messenger. His expansive mind had a way of finding and translating ideas that could increase the quotient of the common good. 

Listen to Jack’s words from the eulogy he gave for our beloved Sr. Nancy O’Conner.  When it came to people, she was unable to distinguish the deserving from the undeserving; those that count from the losers. Whatever mechanism does that for most of us -- hers got dismantled.  

Because Nancy met persons on this deep level, she had a remarkable sensitivity to whatever divided, discriminated against or marginalized persons. Over and over, she joined or began efforts to dismantle the structures of injustice. 

That was Jack, wasn’t it? Unable to distinguish the deserving from the undeserving. Remarkably sensitive to whatever divided, discriminated, or marginalized; tireless advocate for justice. 

We loved Jack not only for what he did, but for the way he did it. For who he was.  Jack was a purely good man. He had a unique way of being present to and interested in everyone he was with.  Jack’s life spoke clearly of his unwavering regard for human dignity.  

His love for the dearest freshness deep down things (Hopkins) -- dearest freshness deep down things  --was especially evident in the tenderness and care he had for children -- in his own dear family and for children everywhere. 

When his friends Jim and Cath asked: What advice can you give us as new parents for our daughter?  Jack answered simply: Find out who she is.  

Our world is a much richer place because of the presence of Jack Glaser: prophet, poet, theologian, author, artist, husband, father, grandfather, colleague, friend. 

Though I miss Jack terribly, I find comfort and hope in these words, with which he concluded Nancy’s eulogy.

When the great work of God’s love is done with each of us, when we have come to the fullness of God’s dream and intent for us; when there is no more of us to be called into life because we are heaped up, pressed down and flowing over -- the Easter miracle -- it is time to say goodbye, for now.

A quote from Jack about community

February 18, 2012

To be a community that serves, that speaks, that celebrates and prays in such a way that others -- regardless of their religious belief -- encountering this community experience a revelation of life's deepest truths...about human dignity, community, success, power, growth, sacrifice, love, suffering, debility and death. Experiencing a harmony between their heart's deepest resonances and this community's character, persons go from this encounter more healed, more whole, more able to live, to love, to hope and to die. 


January 30, 2012
I met Jack in 1986 when he first came to SJHS. I was immediately in awe of his gentle spirit but powerful words. There are only a few people you encounter in your career who you recognize will have a profound effect on your way of thinking. Jack Glaser is one of those individuals. I will always see him sitting casually in his chair at a meeting, making the most intriguing "maps" of the conversation and his relevant thoughts. Sometimes he would surprise me with his simplicity and other times overwhelm me with his complexity. But always he would challenge my too-quickly formed opinions about what was right or wrong. Besides his work impact Jack impacted me personally. I loved his poetry, his photography and his smile. He officiated at the marriage of my son Britt and daughter-in-law Raven and he was a steady companion to my husband Rick as he faced the end of his life. I am forever grateful and forever changed by his friendship.

Social Change

January 30, 2012
Jack will be forever missed. I loved Jack. He was my friend, mentor, advocate, supporter and teacher. I learned so much from him about many things. I learned about unconditional love and supporting those on the margins. He opened my eyes to social injustice and the need for change. In this picture, Jack and I are at one of the many CHA meetings arguing and advocating that covered the uninsured should be the #1 priority for CHA and the catholic health ministry. Every interaction I have had with Jack, he always asked about my family and prayed for their health. Jack has had an extraordinary impact on my values, my faith, my life and family and how I lead. Jack, I miss you my friend. Rich Statuto
January 22, 2012

When I invited Jack to join me at the (nascent) Center for Healthcare Ethics in 1986, I had only a glimpse of the measure of the man. Not even he knew then how far-reaching his contributions to the systems and structures of health care would be.

Advocate for the common good, champion of social justice, questioner of the status quo, author, community builder, creator, wise counselor, courageous, respectful challenger -- Jack was these and more. 

Although his gifts and talents were "beyond the beyonds" as the Irish say, it is the content of his character that I value most deeply.   Jack was a purely good person. His love for the dearest freshness deep down things seemed to absorb the positive and deflect the negative. He had no time for meanness, resentment, selfishness. His face was turned toward beauty and truth; his heart was filled with compassion and mercy. 

The world is a much richer place because of this poet, prophet, theologian, artist, husband, father, grandfather, colleague, friend. This consoles me as I grieve the loss of his physical presence. 

C. S. Lewis wrote this poem for his friend Charles Williams.  Jack, I am saying it to you. 

Your death blows a strange bugle call, friend, and all is hard

to see plainly or record truly.  The new light imposes change,

readjusts all a life-landscape as it thrusts down its probe from the sky,

to create shadows, to reveal waters, to erect hills and deepen glens.

The slant alters.  I can’t see the old contours.  It’s a larger world

than I once thought it.  I wince, caught in the bleak air that blows 

on the ridge.  It is the first sting of the great winter, the world-waning?  

Or the cold of spring?


A hard question and worth talking a whole night on.  

But with whom? Of whom now can I ask guidance? With what friend concerning your death

is it worthwhile to exchange thoughts unless – oh, unless it were you?
















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