Jim Reagan is a full time resident and volunteer at St. Joseph House, part of the Catholic Worker Movement in New York City, while also serving as an associate editor of its historic Catholic Worker newspaper. A parishioner of Saint Viator Catholic Community in Las Vegas, Mary Rector, met Reagan last fall while volunteering at St. Joseph House. Once she introduced herself and her home parish, Reagan made the connection.
He describes it as his conversion story, which he often shares while making public appearances advancing the mission of the Catholic Worker Movement. His life-changing journey began with a Viatorian priest.
Fr. Wayne Dupuis, CSV, passed away in 2004 in Las Vegas, where he had spent 12 years of his ministry as associate pastor of St. Viator Catholic Community, after spending 13 years as a counselor at Saint Viator High School in Arlington Heights. Both assignments are relevant to this story.
Reagan moved to Las Vegas in 1994 following his divorce. A self-described fallen away Catholic, he found himself suddenly drawn to the church down the street, St. Viator, and began attending morning Mass, often said by Fr. Dupuis.
Reagan would later describe the parish community at St. Viator as extremely welcoming to a returning Catholic. But it was Fr. Dupuis, he says, who changed his life.
“I asked if I could meet with him and he immediately took me to his office,” Reagan says. “I began telling him my story and that I wanted to make my confession so that I could receive communion.”
The way Reagan tells it, Fr. Dupuis said, “Oh, heck, we’re already doing that. Go on.”
“It was his honesty and willingness to bypass formalities that struck me,” Reagan says. “He wasn’t judgmental. He saw in me a sincere desire to draw closer to God.”
Reagan would go on to meet with Fr. Dupuis every week before he ultimately moved back to his roots on the East coast. He has been with the Catholic Worker Movement nearly since he arrived in New York.
He corresponded with Fr. Dupuis until his death and he still remembers some of his tenets, namely: “Ask yourself whether what you’re doing will bring you further away or closer to God,” and “Repentance is turning around and facing God fully.”
“I am extremely grateful to Fr. Wayne,” Reagan says. “He absolutely changed the course of my life.”