John W. Guyol, SJ
Highlights of Jesuit Formation:
- Taught theology and coached volleyball and javelin at Jesuit High School in Portland, Oregon.
- Worked with kids living on the streets and Jesuit Refugee Service in Cameroon.
- Sang with different choirs throughout formation, including St. Matthew’s Choir in St. Louis and Our Lady of Lourdes Choir in Oakland, California.
Will serve at St. Francis Xavier Church and St. Ignatius Mission in Missoula, Montana.
John W. Guyol, SJ, was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, surrounded by two loving parents, three siblings and a large extended family. He began thinking seriously about religious life while attending Chaminade College Preparatory. He went on to Villanova University, where he majored in theology and religious studies and dedicated much of his time to the performing arts. He was an active member of the theater and different choirs on campus. After college, John decided to discern his religious vocation while working with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest in Hays, Montana, on the Fort Belknap Reservation with the Assiniboine and Gros Ventre peoples. Upon meeting the Jesuits and learning about Ignatian spirituality, John quickly knew where God was calling him. After his volunteer year as a music and youth minister, school bus driver and substitute teacher, John entered the novitiate in Portland, Oregon. Next, he returned to St. Louis for first studies, where he studied philosophy and music. He also worked with the Missionaries of Charity in North St. Louis, collaborated with campus ministry at Saint Louis University and sang with the St. Matthew Catholic Church choir. Next, John worked at Jesuit High School in Portland, Oregon. He taught theology, coached volleyball and javelin, and went on many retreats. For his third year of regency, John was missioned to Cameroon to study French and work with the Jesuit Refugee Service. He also spent much of his time at Le Foyer d’Esperance, a center of support for children. John returned stateside to continue his formation at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, California. During his studies, he had the privilege of singing with the choir at Our Lady of Lourdes in Oakland and worked at Bishop O’Dowd High School, where he learned and taught about the church’s call to care for creation. In his final year of formation, John served as a deacon at Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church in San Jose. After ordination, he will serve at St. Francis Xavier Church and St. Ignatius Mission in Missoula, Montana.
Bachelor’s degree, theology and religious studies, Villanova University; Master of Divinity, Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University
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?
My cousin, a character designer, describes me as hairy, holy and hilarious. I certainly aspire to the holiness that God calls all of us. I laugh at myself often enough, and I hope I can make other people laugh, too. I certainly have had a significant amount of hair on my head and face throughout my formation as a Jesuit.
Who’s your favorite saint, and why?
There are many saints who have inspired me, but one saint that continues to challenge me in the best of ways is St. Peter Faber, SJ, a companion of Ignatius, who loved deeply. Our world is in need of gentleness and reconciliation. I can think of no better example than him. His words impel me to do all I can for all I meet: “Take care, take care, never to close your heart to anyone!”
Tell your vocation story. One catch: You must use only six words.
Unrelenting, acquiescence, trust, surprise, joy, surrender.
How has your spirituality changed since entering the Society?
One of the great spiritual lessons I have learned since entering the Society is to allow my spirituality to change. God continues to reveal more and more of who God is through different avenues. I have learned about the creativity of God through music and beauty. I have learned about the love of God through family and strangers. I have learned about the patience of God in prayer. The experiences of my life as a Jesuit have helped me to open myself up to the surprising new ways through which God is trying to teach me. This has granted me a greater sense of freedom, and I await the goodness that is waiting for me wherever I am sent.
What brings you joy?
So many things in life present opportunities for joy. God lifts my heart most regularly through Creation. I am awed by blossoming flowers, songbirds and trees of all kinds. I am also gifted with joy through music and singing. On top of it all, the gift of simply passing the time with friends and family may be the greatest source of joy in my life.