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Gasper F. Lo Biondo, S.J.
Father Gasper (Gap) Lo Biondo is a Jesuit priest from Rosenhayn, New Jersey. He was ordained in 1968, and trained as an economist. He currently serves as Director of the Woodstock Theological Center, a Jesuit center for theological reflection on the human problems of today, located at Georgetown University. Prior to becoming Director, he was a Senior Research Fellow at Woodstock, and directed the Center’s Global Economy and Cultures project. His areas of expertise include economic globalization and grass-roots research in developing countries, based on his seven years’ experience in Chile. His personal interests include cooking, gardening, and opera.
Other service and memberships
Selected talks and retreats
Selected Activities as a Woodstock Fellow
During January to March of 2004, Gasper Lo Biondo, S.J., gave a panel presentation at the Inter-American Development Bank's Ethics and Development Day on January 16, 2004. He is a member of the advisory committee of the Bank's Inter-American Initiative on Social Capital, Ethics and Development. On February 20, 2004 he addressed a gathering of 80 Catholic Campaign for Human Development diocesan directors on social justice spirituality and Catholic Social Teaching. The title of his talk was "Mission, Tradition, and Hope: Reaffirming our Work in a Time of Challenge."
During April to June of 2002, Gasper F. Lo Biondo, S.J., traveled to Manila, Philippines, and coordinated the East Asia/Oceania regional meeting of the Global Economy and Cultures (GEC) project. Fr. Jose Magadia, S.J., director of the Ateneo Center for Social Policy and Public Affairs, hosted and participated in the meeting. Jesuits representing social centers in eight countries participated in this five-day meeting at the East Asian Pastoral Institute (EAPI), located at Ateneo de Manila University. Participants discussed working documents on narratives from South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines, with comparative reflections on the other narratives from Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Micronesia. They analyzed the relationship between the narratives, the opening up of their countries to the global economy, and ways in which this opening up affects the local cultures referred to in the narratives. Participants also agreed to form an East Asian/Oceania GEC electronic network.
During January to March of 2002, Gasper F. Lo Biondo, S.J., facilitated the Global Economy and Cultures project (GEC) meeting for the region of the United States and Canada on December 26-29. The meeting took place at the Romero Retreat Center in Camden, New Jersey and was hosted by Richard Malloy, S.J. This was the third in a series of six regional GEC meetings at which narratives are presented, interpreted, and analyzed. Father Lo Biondo attended the annual meetings of the Association for Social Economics, January 3-6, in Atlanta, Georgia, where he gave a paper at the session on "The Social Economics of Globalization and Economic Development." He has been invited to serve as a peer reviewer for the World Bank project on social exclusion and poverty reduction in Latin America.
During July to December of 2001, Gasper F. Lo Biondo, S.J., facilitated the first two regional meetings of the Global Economy and Cultures (GEC) project. The first, from September 2-5, held entirely in Spanish, was hosted by the Jesuit-run Centro Cultural de Brasilia in Brazil. He was accompanied by Woodstock associate fellow Juan Floriani and Woodstock research associate Mark Allman, who are analyzing the documents written by the 13 participants at the meeting. Participants represented nine Jesuit social centers in as many countries of Latin America and the Caribbean region. At the second regional meeting in Bangalore, India, in October, 14 Jesuits and three lay people from eight Jesuit social centers followed the same Ignatian method as those who met in Brazil. Father Lo Biondo, assisted by Father James Redington, S.J., guided the work of the meeting as participants shared their narrative data, chose common themes, and worked together in small groups that produced written explanations of how globalization occurs in their local cultures. The documents produced by these two regional meetings become the basis for further analysis and reflection leading to the next international GEC meeting. While traveling in India, Father Lo Biondo gave a talk to 200 students and faculty at Loyola College, Chennai (Madras), on Globalization and Cultures. He also spoke to a group of about 100 people of different religions at the Jesuit center for religious dialogue, AIKIYA ALAYAM.
During April to June of 2001, Gasper Lo Biondo, S.J., was a panelist at Howard University's (Washington, D.C.) international conference, "The Challenges and Opportunities of Globalization at the Dawn of the Millennium," on April 10-13. The panel discussed "Regional and International Perspectives on Globalization." His paper was on "The Impact of Globali-zation on Nations and Cultures Around the World." He prepared a short curriculum entitled Linking Theology and Economics for the Woodstock fellows' theological reflection seminar. Father Lo Biondo facilitated discussions on narratives from Africa related to the Global Economy and Cultures project at a May 25-28 meeting of 20 Jesuits from diverse countries of Africa who are currently studying in the United States and Canada. The meeting was sponsored by the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus and the Woodstock Theological Center, and hosted by Woodstock. During June and July he supervised the Global Economy and Cultures project work of two Jesuit summer interns, Jaime Badiola, S.J., from Loyola, Spain, and Aaron Salzer, S.J., from New Orleans. On June 26, Dr. Joseph Ramos, an economist from the University of Chile and the Universidad Jesuita Alberto Hurtado, completed a semester-long reading course on Bernard Lonergan's Method in Theology, under Father Lo Biondo's direction.
During January to March of 2001, Gasper Lo Biondo, S.J., presented a paper on "The Ethical Responsibilities of Development Actors," at an international meeting on ethics and development at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, D.C. He also gave a paper on "The Global Economy and Cultures" and participated in a panel discussion on Globalization and Religion at the International Studies Association Conference in Chicago.
During July to December of 2000, Gasper F. Lo Biondo, S.J., traveled in July to the Jesuit Universidad Iberoamericana located in Puebla, Mexico where he presented a paper, "Microenterprise Development and the Common Good," at the Fourth International Symposium on Catholic social Thought and Management Education. He also reported at the Seventh World Forum of the International Association of Jesuit Business Schools on the progress of the Global Economy and Culture's Project. Fr. Lo Biondo then traveled to Africa, where he conducted a workshop on "Globalization, Ethical Values, and Ignatian Discernment," for the staff of Silveira House, the Jesuit Social Center, located in Harare, Zimbabwe. He also visited the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection in Lusaka, Zambia. From October 16-20, he coordinated a Global Economy and Cultures Consultation, convened by the Woodstock Center. Representatives of Jesuit social centers from 15 countries participated in the consultation. Participants included: Xavier Alb√≥, S.J., Bolivia; Edward Arroyo, S.J., United States; Berilengar Antoine, S.J., Chad, Michael Doss, S.J., Bangalore, India; Vincent Foutchanste, S.J., Cameroun; Tom Giblin, S.J., Ireland; Francis Jayapathy, S.J., Palayamkottai, India; Bernard Lestienne, S.J., Brazil; Jos√© Magadia, S.J., Philippines; Josep M√°ria, S.J., Spain; Peter McIsaac, S.J., Jamaica; Munhumeso Manenji, Zimbabwe; Stanislaus Obirek, SJ, Poland; Pierre-Andr√© Ranaivoarson, SJ, Madagascar; Jes√ļs Vergara, SJ, Mexico; and Debi Yomtou, SJ, Chad.
During January to June of 2000, Gasper F. Lo Biondo, S.J., is tutoring Daniel Concha, S.J., from Chile, and Berilengar Antoine, S.J., from Chad, this summer on "ethical/theological reflection method." Both are studying at the Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cam-bridge, Massachusetts. A U.S. chapter is being inaugurated for participation in the Global Economy and Cultures project. They join with 35 other centers in this worldwide study. The U.S. chapter met on June 23-25 and shared accounts of ways in which globalization is culturally affecting people in a variety of geographical and ethnic/racial contexts.
During July to December of 1999, Gasper F. Lo Biondo, S.J., facilitated Woodstock's Global Economy and Cultures (GEC) Consultation from September 10-17. He then traveled to New Delhi, India, where he participated in an international Jesuit Colloquium on Population, Poverty, and Social Issues. He gave an overview of the work carried out by the international Jesuit network on the GEC. Afterwards, further south, in Hyderabad, he visited the site on the Musi River, where human rights data for the GEC project was gathered. He continued south to learn about the work of Savarimuthu Lazar, S.J., and Aloysius Irudayam, S.J., at the prestigious Jesuit Indian Social Institute in Bangalore. Then, in Chennai, at the Jesuit regional school of theology, Arul Kadel, Frs. Vincent Sekhar, S.J. (former Woodstock visiting fellow) and Michael Amaladoss, S.J. accompanied him to Madurai, where Fr. Francis Jayapathy, S.J. director of the Folklife Resource and Research Center at Jesuit-run St. Xavier's College in Palayamkottai, took them into the villages, where the lower caste people and their cultures are experiencing the impacts of the global economy. He even reached scenic Cape Comorin, the southernmost tip of the Indian subcontinent, where St. Francis Xavier walked the beach with the Mukkuvar fishing people, who remain Christian till today. On his return, he gave a lecture on November 16 to MBA students at Georgetown University on "Ethics and Micro-Credit for the Poor."
During January to March of 1999, Gasper F. Lo Biondo, S.J., has hosted a number of international visitors to the Woodstock Center since January, to learn about Woodstock, its history, its mission, and its programs. The visitors were: Fr. Luiz Fernando Klein, S.J., assistant to the president of the Jesuit Conference of Brazil; Fr. Benoit Vermander, S.J., director of the Ricci Institute, Taipei, Taiwan; Fr. Pablo Figueroa, S.J., doctoral student in philosophy, from Buenos Aires, Argentina; Fr. Xabier Gorostiaga, S.J., former rector of the Jesuit University of Managua, Nicaragua; and Mr. Anselmo Lee Seong-hoon, director, Pax Romana, Geneva, Switzerland.
During April to December of 1998, Gasper F. Lo Biondo, S.J.'s, essay on microenterprise ethics, informal economic education for adults, and solidarity appeared in a recently published volume entitled, √Čtica y Econom√≠a: Econom√≠a de Mercado, Neoliberalismo, y √Čtica de la Gratuidad (Bonum: Buenos Aires, Argentina; June, 1998). In July, Father Lo Biondo presented a paper, "Solidarity and Efficiency in Microenterprise Development," at a conference on microenterprise development convened by CERIS, the research center of the Brazilian Bishops' Conference in Rio de Janeiro. In mid-October, he participated in a conference on the Ethical Dimensions of International Debt at Seton Hall University. Later in October, he was a panelist and gave a paper, "Basic Economic Development and the Church: Microenterprise Development" at the conference, The Church and the World in a New Century: Faith and Responsibility in a Global Future, at Princeton Theological Seminary. In Prague, Czech Republic, in early November, Father Lo Biondo delivered a keynote address on Woodstock's approach to business ethics at the Second Annual John T. Garrity Conference sponsored by Woodstock Theological Center. In November, he met with individuals at the Jesuit research center, Institut F√ľr Gesellschaftspolitik, in Munich, Germany, who are participating in Woodstock's Global Economy and Cultures project.
During January to March of 1998, Gasper F. Lo Biondo, S.J.'s, article, "North-South Cultural Dialogue: Our Response to the Gift of Internationality," appeared in France in La Colombe, a publication of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit. As part of his work on the global economy and its impact on cultures, he traveled to the Czech Republic in early March with Mike Miskovsky (Chairman of the Woodstock Board) to attend a conference entitled "Czech Society Towards the End of the Millennium" at Charles University in Prague. The conference was part of the John T. Garrity Advanced Management Institute Program.
During July to December of 1997, Gasper F. Lo Biondo, S.J., participated in the Seventeenth Annual Seminar of Latin American Jesuit Philosophers in Guadalajara, Mexico, in July. The theme of this year's seminar was "The State and Politics in Latin America Today." During September he guided the reading and theological reflection of short-term visiting fellow, Guillermo Perdomo, S.J., who had been the pastor of a very poor parish in Santo Domingo for several years. Mr. Ronald Schmidt, S.J., spent the month of October at Woodstock under Father Lo Biondo's guidance in conjunction with his Jesuit philosophical formation program at St. Michael's Institute in Spokane, Washington. Joining Father Lo Biondo as a research fellow with the North-South Dialogue program is Rev. Mr. Frank LaRocca, S.J., of the New York Jesuit Province. Recently ordained to the diaconate, Frank will assist Fr. Lo Biondo this year in initiating Woodstock's new project, "The Cultural Impact of the Globalized Economy." Francisco Chamberlain, S.J., director of the Jesuit Institute for Development Policy and Applied Ethics in Lima, Peru, spent the first week of December with Father Lo Biondo planning a new long-term collaborative project responding to the need for public policy dialogue in Peru. Microenterprise development issues will be a major component.
During April to June of 1997, Gasper F. Lo Biondo, S.J., wrote a brief introduction to and commentary on (published in the June 1997 issue of the National Jesuit News) the joint letter of the 18 Latin American Jesuit Provincials on "Neoliberalism" (a type of global capitalism). On May 24-25, he took part in a round table discussion with people from Canada, Latin America, and the United States, on the "Special Assembly for America" (Synod of North/Latin American Bishops that will take place in November, 1997). He represented Woodstock, a co-sponsor of the conference on "Social Responsibility in the Age of Globalization," May 27-29 at Marquette University. The conference was sponsored by the Center of Concern in celebration of its twenty-fifth anniversary, and by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, in celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Bishops' pastoral letter on the U.S. economy. On April 26 he spoke on theological reflection at a seminar entitled "The Next State of Catholic Social Thought," convened by the Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs USA/ Pax Romana, in Washington, D.C. See also: "Microenterprise Development in El Salvador: Village Banking, Changing Values, and Informal Education," by Gasper F. Lo Biondo, S.J. with Rafael A. Pleitez.
During January to March of 1997, Gasper F. Lo Biondo, S.J., led 27 Jesuits from the United States and Mexico through a group discernment on future initiatives for Hispanic ministry in the United States at a meeting in El Paso, Texas, in January. He was a panelist at a Microcredit Summit on February 2, in Washington, D.C., on current research related to sustainable development. His article, "Microenterprise Development in El Salvador: Lessons for Both Sides of the Border," was published in Building Community, Social Science in Action, edited by Philip Nyden et al, Pine Forge Press, Thousand Oaks, California, 1997.
During November to December of 1996, Gasper F. Lo Biondo, S.J., conducted a seminar with Didier Thys, director of Catholic Relief Services' Small Enterprise Development Technical Unit, entitled "Ethical Dimensions of Microenterprise Development" at the annual membership meeting of The Small Enterprise Education and Promotion (SEEP) Network. He made a presentation entitled "Microenterprise Development and the Common Good" to 40 people from 12 Latin American countries at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, D.C. He coordinated a U.S. advisory group of economists which provided critical comments on drafts of the Latin American Jesuit Provincials' public letter and document on "neoliberalism" that was published in Mexico in November. He contributed a case sudy, "Microenterprise Development in El Salvador: Lessons for Both Sides of the Border," to Building Community: Social Science in Action, edited by Anne Figert, et al. See also Micro-Enterprise Development and the Common Good.
During July to October, 1996, Gasper F. Lo Biondo, S.J., spent two weeks in Peru launching Woodstock's new ethical reflection project in collaboration with the Jesuits of Lima. In his first round of research he conducted 13 focus group sessions with microentrepreneurs in the low-income neighborhood where the Jesuit parish and social center are located. He also presented a paper entitled "An Ethical Reflection on Microenterprise Development" at the Sixteenth Annual Gathering of Latin American Jesuit Philosophers in Cochabamba, Bolivia, July 11-17. In Santiago, Chile, he conducted a one-day workshop entitled "Ethical Dimensions of Credit for Microentrepreneurs" for representatives of nongovernmental agencies which promote microenterprise development and want to reflect on ethical values.
During April to June of 1996, Gasper F. Lo Biondo, S.J., completed the first round of the North-South Dialogue's economic justice project in Mexico with observations and qualitative analysis of grass roots data. The title is: Microenterprise Development in Mexico: Ethical Aspects of Institutional Development. This material is being used in the ongoing training of field workers in Mexico. On April 26-28, at Loyola Retreat House in Southern Maryland, he gave a retreat to 15 members of the twinning committee of St. Aloysius and Holy Trinity parishes of Washington, DC.
During January to March of 1996, Gasper F. Lo Biondo, S.J., and Daniel J. Cardinali, S.J., traveled to Mexico, where they did preliminary research for Woodstock's second microenterprise development project. Woodstock and the Jesuit-related Institute for Social Policy Analysis will strengthen an already existing program called Center for the Support of Microentrepreneurs. The project will study microenterprise development in the Valley of Chalco located just outside of Mexico City, where the conditions of deep-seated poverty keep close to one million people marginalized from Mexico's mainstream economy.
During September to December of 1995, Gasper F. Lo Biondo, S.J., presented a paper at the annual meeting of the Latin American Jesuit Philosophical Group held in the Dominican Republic. The theme was ethics and economics. In September, at the invitation of the Jesuit director of FAPRODE (a fund for social assistance and development), he participated in a seminar on Debt, Development, and the Rule of Law in Mexico City. At the Latin American Studies Association meeting held in Washington, D.C., he participated on a panel about The Catholic Church and Indigenous Peoples, and he organized and chaired another panel on Selected Educational Issues in Microenterprise Development.