Jonathan Jerome, director of the National Shrine of St. Rita of Cascia, Philadelphia

A longtime university campus minister has been named the director of the National Shrine of St. Rita of Cascia.

Jonathan Jerome becomes just the second lay leader of the shrine in South Philadelphia that is run under the auspices of the Augustinian friars. He began his duties Oct. 7.

Augustinian Father Michael F. Di Gregorio, prior provincial of the Augustinian Province of St. Thomas of Villanova, said he was confident in Jerome’s leadership of the shrine “especially as it expands its service to the local community with new senior housing at St. Rita Place and the wider national community who come to learn about and to pray to St. Rita,” he said.

At a 2018 meeting of the province’s friars, the Augustinians made a commitment “to partner with the laity and promote lay leadership in our ministries,” said Father Di Gregorio.

Jerome most recently served as a campus ministry intern at Villanova University while he also earned a certificate in church management from the Villanova School of Business. Previously he was a campus minster at the University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown, and St. Joseph’s Prep.

He earned an undergraduate degree from the Catholic University of America and a master’s in theology from Villanova.

“The National Shrine of St. Rita of Cascia in South Philadelphia has been a spiritual home to thousands of Catholics for over 100 years,” Jerome said. “While the place itself has religious and cultural significance, it is the life of St. Rita that invites all people — of all ages and faith experiences — to encounter the timeless virtues of peacemaking, healing, forgiveness and reconciliation. Through the intercession of Saint Rita, countless people have experienced the abundant grace and mercy that God so readily offers to each of us.

“As the new director of this national shrine, my goal is to continue to collaborate with the Augustinian Friars, the dedicated staff and the local community to promote these virtues as we invite others into deeper relationship with God. My prayer is that the life of St. Rita continue to serve as a model for us all as we pray for the troubled parts of our world, and the troubled parts of our hearts.”