Rev. Richard Berg, C.S.C. | University of Portland

Rev. Richard Berg, C.S.C.

Fr. Richard Berg, CSC, ’54, ’69 lives the gospel in concrete ways. When he was a young priest teaching at a Texas university, a man struggling with unemployment and the effects of drug use asked Fr. Berg, “Do you think you could take care of me?” What did Fr. Berg do? He took the man under his roof and worked with him until he found work and healing. Out of this interaction, what Fr. Berg calls a “community of caring” began, an ecumenical community for men, women, and families. This idea of a community of caring, in one way or another, is a persistent thread through Fr. Berg’s life and career. A Portland native, Fr. Berg attended Columbia Prep. He later went to Notre Dame and became a priest in Rome in 1963, during Vatican II. The day after Berg’s ordination, Pope John XXIII asked Fr. Berg to offer him a blessing, Berg’s first as an ordained priest. A pretty cool way to start things. Berg earned a doctorate in psychology at UP, later taught psychology, neuropsychology, and whole-person healing, and eventually became Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences for 13 years. While he was dean, he was asked to take on another not-small job as the pastor of St. Andre Bessette Downtown Chapel. Fr. Berg said yes. Then he asked for God’s help. He began to see the isolation that many experiencing mental illness and urban poverty were feeling. In response, he founded Maybelle Center for Community in Northwest Portland, an assisted living facility to care for those who could not live independently, and the first Medicaid-only residence of its kind in the US. Since 2001, Fr. Berg has served as the chaplain at Mary’s Woods, a local retirement community. Never in his wildest dreams would he have thought he’d need to teach a nurse how to perform the anointing of the sick over Zoom, but the pandemic made such partnerships necessary. Some of his recent work has involved walking with veterans who suffer from PTSD. He has turned some of their narratives into a book called SCARS, the Effect of PTSD on Family, Work, and Relationships; he is working with a screenwriter to adapt the book into a feature film. Fr. Berg is 85 years old, and he will never stop working for God. He is an example and an immense blessing to University of Portland.