Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Loyola pastor advocates for students’ mental health

The Maroon file photo.

Pastor James C. Simmons Jr. came to Loyola University New Orleans with one goal in mind: to be an advocate for the mental health of the student body.

He was asked to join the Loyola community in 2018 by Student Life and Ministry because they were looking for an African-American pastor who could cater to the spiritual needs of the student body.

Specifically Simmons was brought in to address the needs of African-American students and who don’t identify with the Catholic faith.

Simmons offers spiritual support and therapy to students across campus from many different backgrounds. He said he especially offers support to those from out of state, who may have lost their connection with their church home.

As an ordained church elder and pastor, Simmons currently serves as the Associate Pastor of Greater Zionfield Worship Center located in Westwego, Louisiana. He graduated from Tulane University with a master’s degree in psychology and is currently working towards a doctoral degree in Christian counseling and psychotherapy.

With over 25 years in ministry, Simmons said being a Christian counselor allows for a balance of the duties of a social worker, and the presence of God at the center of conversation.

Simmons said he feels in his heart that our Loyola community can benefit from spiritual counseling and he intends to do so through his upcoming projects which include instituting individual and group therapy/counseling sessions.

He also said he wants every student to walk away with a better understanding of who they are in Christ and not just have them focus on how they are handling school, but how they are at wearing the many hats that members of the student body wear.

Simmons said he is a huge advocate for mental health, especially Black mental health, and is all for breaking apart the stigma that seeking help often comes with. He notes that for students of color, he wishes to be the answer to the question “how can we best help these students in their time here.”

A question that he always asks his students, and implores you to ask yourselves is: how is your heart today?

Pastor Simmons said he wants the entire student body to know that he is there to aid and support them.

He said he is very excited and grateful for the opportunity to be a light to the student body of Loyola University throughout the 2023-24 school year and in the years to come.
He can be found in the Magis Lounge in the basement of the Danna Student Center, and is available in person on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12 pm through 5 pm, and can be reached via email at [email protected].

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Pharrell Every
Pharrell Every, Senior Staff Writer
Pharrell Every currently serves as The Maroon’s Senior Staff Writer. Pharrell is a freshman English major with a concentration in literature, upon graduation he plans to establish a career in secondary education. In his free time he enjoys listening to music and reading books/articles. Pharrell can be reached at [email protected]

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