Jeffrey R. Dorr, SJ
Highlights of Jesuit Formation:
- Lived and worked at one of the L’Arche communities in Toronto during the novitiate.
- Studied the intersection of religion and race in American, and specifically St. Louis, history.
- Co-led support groups for men at a residential recovery facility in San Francisco during theology studies.
Will serve as vicar/associate pastor of Gesu Parish in Detroit, Michigan.
Jeffrey R. Dorr, SJ, was born to John and Pat Dorr in Milwaukee. His childhood would be spent in the Milwaukee suburb of Cedarburg with his parents, older siblings, Julie and Jonathan, and his grandparents, aunts and uncles never too far off. Despite attending a parish and parochial school with a Jesuit namesake, St. Francis Borgia, Jeff’s meaningful interactions with Jesuits did not occur until he attended Marquette University High School. While he didn’t know it then, by the time high school ended he was caught on a Jesuit hook. For college, Jeff attended Xavier University in Cincinnati, where he studied history and education and spent his final semester in the university’s service-learning program in Nicaragua. Immediately after graduating from Xavier, Jeff moved to Omaha, Nebraska, to begin the MAGIS Catholic educator program at Creighton University. Through that program, he taught middle school at Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. After those two years of teaching Jeff entered the Jesuit novitiate in Berkley, Michigan. From Berkley, Jeff and the rest of the novitiate moved to Saint Paul, Minnesota, for the second year. During first studies at Saint Louis University, Jeff completed the required philosophy classes and pursued a master’s degree in American history focused on race and religion. Regency was split between teaching at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha and working at the Jesuit Archives and Research Center in St. Louis. Jeff’s theology studies were completed in Berkeley, California, at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University. There he had the chance to work with men and women in addiction recovery and serve as a deacon at St. Columba Catholic Church in Oakland. Following ordination, Jeff will serve as associate pastor of Gesu Parish in Detroit.
Bachelor of Arts, history, Xavier University; Master of Education, Creighton University; Master of Arts, American history, Saint Louis University; Master of Divinity, Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University
What is your favorite book you’ve encountered since entering the Society?
My favorite book that I have encountered since entering the Jesuits is Graham Greene’s “The Power and the Glory.” I’m so fond of this book because of the way that Greene depicts internal and external human conflicts particularly in terms of religion, faith and sense of self.
What is one hobby you’ve cultivated as a Jesuit, and why is it important to you?
As a Jesuit, I learned to bake. I found baking in the midst of a dark and difficult time. The choice to start my mornings with baking helped me to recognize that joy could be chosen and that something simple like a loaf of bread could be a means of connecting with other people.
What’s one interesting fact about yourself not everyone would know?
One of my most frequent forms of exercise is doing barre workouts, a modified set of ballet exercises. I love both the ways that they physically challenge me as I am not naturally flexible and how on a psychological level they invite me to embrace myself as I am with my struggles and imperfections.
What do you love about the Society of Jesus?
I love that the Jesuits are a worldwide religious order with radical diversity, yet a community of men connected both by our experience of Christ through Ignatian spirituality and our living in and through Jesuit structures and traditions.
What was one particularly meaningful experience you had during your formation, and why was it meaningful to you?
During my first studies in St. Louis I served as chaplain for a group of undergraduate students who sought to feed and connect with women living on the streets. In accompanying students and building relationships with people living outside, the questions and concerns of housing, employment and health care took on a personal, as opposed to solely a conceptual or policy, dimension.
Tell your vocation story. One catch: You must use only six words.
Loved and loving; knowing God present.
How has your spirituality changed since entering the Society?
When I entered the Jesuits I could say that I had experienced God in prayer and had many ideas about God. Since being a Jesuit I have become one who has a relationship, as mysterious as it still is, with Christ. Also, I used to struggle with how God could possibly be able to listen to and respond to so many diverse prayers. As a Jesuit, I have stopped asking those intellectual questions and instead simply embraced with a trusting faith what God does.
Imagine you could travel back in time and meet yourself the first day you entered the Society of Jesus. What’s one piece of advice you’d give to yourself?
In the words of Rainer Maria Rilke, “Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final. Don’t let yourself lose [God].”
What brings you joy?
I love going for walks and just being present. These can be having a conversation with a dear friend or by myself either wandering through a small town with a cup of coffee looking at the shops or out on a trail taking in nature.
Who is one important mentor who has accompanied you on your journey? What made them a good mentor?
Fr. Joseph Brown, SJ Before I encountered Joseph, I knew what it meant to make noise, but I didn’t know what it meant to have a voice. Before I spent time with Joseph, I knew the phrase “child of God,” but only in time with him did I come to embrace it as my core identity.
How might you explain the Jesuit motto “ad maiorem Dei gloriam” to someone who’s never heard it before?
I love this question! The Jesuit motto “ad maiorem Dei gloriam” translates as “for the greater glory of God.” We use this as our motto because it can serve as a check on why we do the things we do. However, we still need to ask, how do we know if something is for the greater glory of God? I think we can know by answering two questions: First, does what we are doing help people to recognize, to understand and to experience that they are loved; and second, does what we are doing help to communicate how wonderful the world, saturated with God’s presence and love, really is? That is, I believe, what “ad maiorem Dei gloriam” is really about.