Fr. Garinger, travelling around in the name of Jesuit service

The Rev. Grant Garinger prefers Onyx and ACID cigars over Cubans, has had three stints at Marquette University, enjoys the arts and is the third in a “close-knit extended” family of 40 to graduate from college.

Fr. Garinger grew up in Milwaukee, attended Marquette University High School and has been on the move ever since, traveling across the country from school to school, teaching and learning.

He started at UW-Milwaukee but left in his second year to volunteer at Marquette High for a year to explore the idea of a Jesuit life. After a year Garinger left for the Jesuit Novitiate in St. Paul, Minn. to become a Jesuit.

He can only explain his decision in terms of magnetic forces.

“I think we all have a magnet within ourselves that attracts us to something genuine,” Garinger said. “Initially it was art, but then I noticed a strong pull towards God.”

Garinger said his desire to be a Jesuit was triggered in fourth grade and grew stronger towards the end of high school.

“I couldn’t think about being committed to God at that time,” Garinger said. “My mind was saying, ‘No, I want to be an artist,’ so I went to UWM. Then the invitation from God came, and I knew what I had to do.”

Garinger remembers telling his family, more specifically his grandfather, of his decision to enter Jesuit life.

“I remember sitting in the living room with my grandfather, who was always a silent man, and he said, ‘Oh, that’s good,’” Garinger said. “I knew at that point I made the right decision.”

After going through training at the Novitiate in St. Paul, Garinger earned his bachelor’s in painting and philosophy from St. Louis University in Missouri in 1989. He then taught at Creighton Preparatory High School in Omaha, Neb. in the theology department until 2002 while he was a lecturer and part-time staff member in the performing arts. He also served as assistant director of Campus Ministry at Marquette until 1999.

But after working in Campus Ministry and as a Jesuit in Residence at Loyola Marymount University in California from 2002 to 2011, Garinger wound up back in his hometown, where he is currently an artistic assistant professor in the College of Communication and the Jesuit in Residence at Mashuda Hall.

Many Mashuda residents see Garinger outside smoking a cigar or two while socializing with students. To Garinger, it’s a way to be accessible to students.

“I’m a present, visible and available person to students, guys or girls,” Garinger said. “… I want students to think that I am accessible and reliable, someone that they can just talk to.”

Liam Briick, a sophomore in the College of Health Sciences, is a Mashuda resident who has friends who smoke cigars with Garinger on a weekly basis and often sees Garinger outside in the evenings with his cigar.

“My friends came outside on the first week and saw him smoking a cigar and said, ‘Hey can we smoke with you?’ and from then on they smoke a cigar a week with him outside and talk about whatever is on their mind,” Briick said.  “He’s a chill dude who understands everyday student issues.”

Brian Timmreck, a sophomore in the College of Communication and a resident assistant in Mashuda, said he considers Garinger to be a very approachable, understanding guy who fits in well with the residents.

“Fr. Garinger is definitely someone to lean on and talk to,” Timmreck said. “He loves smoking cigars and sharing his appreciation for theater. Someone is always out there with him and is most likely one of the more down-to-earth fathers that I have met.”

Mashuda is sponsoring a cigar night for male residents to bond, and Garinger will be in attendance with cigar in hand. Garinger also said he wouldn’t mind getting in touch with Marquette’s Cigar and Pipe Social Club of Marquette.