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Statement on the Passing of Father Jake Foglio

Author: Will Repko

On Monday, we learned of the passing of Father John “Jake” Foglio.

Whether you knew him as “Assistant Professor”, “Chaplain”, or simply “Jake,” Father Foglio was a selfless and warm presence that served our campus community in many capacities for more than 50 years.

Perhaps less known was the astonishing access and counsel Father Jake extended to athletic and academic programs across the University. The Debate Team was no exception.

The classic stereotype of Religious leadership is one of pristine orderliness. Jake, however, rarely shied from a good old-fashioned disagreement. That may explain the love and support he extended to the MSU Debate program.

More likely, however, is that we were one of many stops on his daily tours of our campus. Jake found a way to check-in with students from across so many disciplines.

Father Jake baptized me. He officiated my wedding.

That surprisingly loud voice yelling from the stands at my high school sporting events – it was indeed Father Jake. In time, he was my doubles partner in the Faculty tennis league.

I – like many – have quite literally known Jake my entire life.

It is fair to say that Father Jake did not require a religious ceremony to offer one of his memorable sermons. That said, my favorite was on my wedding day. In it, he encouraged the audience to journey through life with “abbondanza” (an Italian word that translates to “abundance”, but means much more). His sermon ended with an audience cheerfully chanting: ““abbondanza !!!, “abbondanza” !!!

It’s not how I anticipated my wedding ceremony would end. I’m honestly not sure it’s how Jake intended the ceremony to end. But it landed with enthusiasm and joy – just like everything Father Jake touched.

More than anything, his smile stands out. For me, it tempers the sorrow of the moment.

He patted you on the back when you were down. He cheered when you succeeded. In every way that matters, Father Jake lived a life of abundant warmth.

This week I will do two things. I will root for some Italian – any Italian – to win the French Open Tennis Tournament. Along the way, I remember that I am blessed – blessed to have lived in a community with one of the finest people one could ever encounter.

Thank you, Jake. Thanks for the kindest that you showed my students. Thank you for the kindness you extended to this community.


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