Celebrating Jesuit Brothers
Henry W. Perez, SJ
Current Ministry: Providing a safe place for our housing challenged to relax and have lunch at Genevieve’s Garden at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Hollywood.
Br. Henry Perez, SJ, was born in Norwalk but was raised in Bellflower, California. His father owned a typesetting company in Los Angeles and his mother was a stay-at-home mom for him and his four sisters, all of whom attended Catholic school. During high school, he was very active at St. John Bosco High School (SJB) and participated in many activities. The priests and brothers at SJB became friends and helped him see that a religious life could be something to consider. Yet, after much discernment, Henry felt God was calling him to be a parent. After high school, he joined the Marine Corps Reserve and was accepted to the business program at California State University in Long Beach.
Henry had a 30-year career in advertising. He was married and had a son. Though he and his wife divorced after several years, they spent as much time as they could together raising their son. When his son turned 19, he and Henry both went to Le Cordon Blue and studied culinary arts. Now that his son is grown, he was able to focus on his true passion which is helping the homeless.
After some discernment with several religious orders, Henry decided to join the Society of Jesus as a brother. The opportunities he has had and ministries with which he has worked while being a Jesuit are numerous, and Henry truly feels that he is doing the work Jesus wants him to do. During first studies, he was able to finish his undergraduate degree at Loyola University Chicago in applied psychology. He is currently working on his master’s degree in marriage and family therapy with art at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He’s doing all this while working at the ministry he started: Genevieve’s Garden at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Hollywood for the homeless.
Academic Degrees: Bachelor’s degree in applied psychology from Loyola University Chicago; Master’s degree in marital and family therapy from Loyola Marymount University (in process)
What drew you to become a Jesuit? What drew you to become a brother?
I was drawn to the Jesuits because of their passion for education and working with those who are excluded from our society.
Describe one moment in your ministry life that has impacted you.
There are so many times that my life has been impacted by my ministry. Manny, one of my guests at Genevieve’s Garden, gave me a thank you card with a pin that had a picture of an umbrella. He says the umbrella symbolizes shelter, which I provide him.
What is your favorite book, movie, music, or TV show you’ve encountered since entering the Society and why do you love it?
Any show that we watch in community. It is just fun to take a break from work and hang out with my brothers. Whatever we watch.
Who is a spiritual hero of yours? Why?
Miguel Pro, SJ, is a spiritual hero of mine because of his passion for the church and his compassion for his fellow man. Even when it came to his death.
What’s one interesting fact about yourself not everyone would know?
I love Kraft Macaroni and Cheese from the blue box.
Describe the life of a Jesuit brother. One catch: You must use only six words.
I get to focus on ministry.
What does the spirituality of a brother mean to you? How have you lived it out?
Being a priest is a beautiful thing, but I get to focus on the work that Jesus did. Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and tending to the sheep. I know you are able to do these things as a priest, but the work I want to do would be interrupted by priestly responsibilities, especially at a parish.
What does the “magis” mean to you? How do you live it out?
Magis is being a brother in the Society of Jesus. Doing more for Christ for the Greater Glory of God. That’s why I am a Jesuit brother.