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James O'Leary (priest)

James O'Leary (priest)

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James O’Leary SJ was born (on February 29, 1952) in Chicago, Illinois. He is an American Jesuit priest currently based in Madrid, Spain. He is best known for his dedicated work with the Fe y Alegría organization in Peru from 1991 to 2005, wherein he served as both the director and an ordained minister for 11 years.


O’Leary spent his youth in Catholic education then received his higher education at Depaul University in Chicago, Illinois. After transferring to and completing his undergraduate studies at the University of San Francisco, wherein he earned a degree in advertising, James O’Leary moved back to Chicago, Illinois. There, he held a position at an advertising firm while simultaneously taking several short courses at Loyola University. Fr. James O’Leary has also obtained degrees from the Jesuit School of Theology and Harvard University.


James O’Leary applied to the Society of Jesuits in 1980 and was accepted later on in 1981. After 10 years of formation, he was ordained in 1991, in the province of Chicago.


Once ordained, Fr. James O’Leary SJ went to Peru; spending 6 years in the capital city of Lima and the following 9 years in the rural town of Jaen. He was the director of an organization called Fe y Alegria, a movement of comprehensive popular education and social promotion in Jaen, as well as the coordinator of the Jungle Network, which included five different schools. After spending 15 years in Peru, Fr. James O’Leary SJ moved to Madrid, Spain in 2007 and began teaching at Saint Louis University - Madrid Campus. As of November 2016, O’Leary is still a Theology professor and the resident Jesuit priest there.

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