Xavier Benavides, SJ
Highlights of Jesuit Formation:
- Volunteered for a year at an alternative school, Escuela Espíritu Santo, based at a local parish in Guadalajara, Mexico, whose youngest student was 16 years old and the oldest 72.
- Worked as the director of campus ministry at Cristo Rey High School in Sacramento, California, and helped found the CR Social Justice Club.
- Co-led the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises at St. Ignatius Church in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.
Will serve at St. Leo Catholic Church in Tacoma, Washington.
Xavier Benavides, SJ, was born in San Antonio, Texas, and earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and English from Texas A&M University and an MBA from the University of Michigan. He worked in a variety of places before joining the Jesuits, including Microsoft, Cisco, Amazon, Oxfam America and the National Council of Churches. Xavier entered the novitiate in 2011, and as a Jesuit in Formation, he earned a master’s degree in sociology from Loyola University Chicago. During his regency, he served as the director of campus ministry at Cristo Rey High School in Sacramento and also taught geometry. He served as a spiritual director for the last five years and helped lead the 19th Annotation program at St. Ignatius Church in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, during his final year of formation. Xavier received his Master of Divinity degree from the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry and served as a deacon at Our Lady of Grace Church in Chelsea, Massachusetts, and St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Revere, Massachusetts. After ordination, Xavier will serve at St. Leo Catholic Church in Tacoma, Washington.
Bachelor’s degree, English and philosophy, Texas A&M University; MBA, University of Michigan; Master’s degree, sociology, Loyola University Chicago; Master of Divinity, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
What is your favorite book you’ve encountered since entering the Society?
“Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody: The Making of a Black Theologian” by James H. Cone. James Cone helps encapsulate the idea that we each must try to understand God from our own perspectives, looking at our shared history and traditions. He believes that before we can love anyone else we must first learn to love ourselves as God loves us. This love then becomes a bridge for all peoples to come together in unity through the love of the father and the body of Christ.
What are three words a family member or fellow Jesuit would use to describe you? (Ask someone.) Do you agree with his or her selections?
Compassionate, spiritual and hopeful. I am always humbled by being able to serve my community, to be a part of people’s joy and mourning. It is an extremely privileged place, especially during this time of adaptation and adjustment. It is important to be hopeful, to know with our whole heart that God is always with us.
What do you love about the Society of Jesus?
The Society embodies a beautiful dynamic of navigating tradition and balancing that with the current context. The Jesuits have so many wonderful traditions that are being passed down to us from the Spiritual Exercises, from discernment to our ethos of education. There are so many incredible ways to pray, but Ignatius recognized the importance of accompanying people. Spiritual direction privileges that, recognizing that as human beings we need one another and that we can find God and develop a relationship with God by developing a relationship with someone else. This dynamic though means paying attention to what is happening currently within the world and within the person next to you. It draws you out into this place and time and claims that God can be found in this space. This dynamic means that we must try to the see the world through one another’s eyes, and for me it expands what I know and can know about God.
What was one particularly meaningful experience you had during your formation, and why was it meaningful to you?
Verbum Dei High School is an all-boys school where students work at a local business to help pay for the cost of tuition, making it affordable for families to send their children to a private college preparatory school. Students are required to wear a tie and often the school will distribute donated ones to the students. One morning before school a student who is being raised by his grandmother comes into my classroom asking if I can help him tie his bowtie. His grandmother did not know how to do it and he really wanted to wear it for work. It was a small act but one with so much meaning for me. Tying his tie brings back memories of my own dad teaching me to tie a bowtie, and I felt honored to be able to do this for my student. For me, this memory demonstrates that we are doing more than teaching: We are creating a sacred family at our schools. The traditions that are being passed down not only come through normal family relationships but also through those who see us as part of their family. This is grace in action, sharing our gifts with one another and passing on the care that we have received. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Tell your vocation story. One catch: You must use only six words.
Engaging mystery, being surprised and finding love.