Six ordinands lie prostrate during the 2016 Mass of Ordination at St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parish in Spokane, Washington.
June 13, 2016 — This month, the Jesuits are celebrating the ordination of 20 new priests in the United States, Canada and Haiti.
The diverse group of Jesuits hails from the U.S., Canada, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Colombia and Costa Rica. Among them are a doctor, a nurse, a Navy serviceman and several teachers. We invite you to get to know the ordinands by clicking on their photos in the right column or videos in the left column.
The first ordination Mass was held on May 21 at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Toronto. Additional ordinations took place in June at the Church of the Gesu in Milwaukee; Fordham University Church in the Bronx, New York; St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parish in Spokane, Washington; St. Francis Xavier College Church in St. Louis; and the Chapelle des Frères de l’Instruction Chrétienne in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
“This is a joyful time of year for the Jesuits because we are celebrating the ordinations of so many fine men to Jesuit priesthood,” Fr. Timothy Kesicki, SJ, president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, said. “During the ordination ceremony, the bishop says, ‘May God who has begun the good work in you, bring it to completion.’ There’s something special about seeing our newly ordained Jesuits as they begin their priestly work for the people of God.”
Five Jesuits were ordained in St. Louis: (from left) Fathers Sam Wilson, Andres Vall-Serra, Juan Carlos Rivera Castro, Roy Joseph and Jason Brauninger, with Most Reverend Robert Carlson, Archbishop of St. Louis. (Photo: Vincent Orlando, SJ)
During the formation process, which can take from eight to 12 years, the ordinands earned degrees from Jesuit universities, served at Jesuit high schools and colleges and ministered to the poor and marginalized. Part of an international Society, the ordinands also studied and served across the globe during their formation, including in Nepal, Colombia, Rome, Toronto, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Mexico, El Salvador, Indonesia and China.
Some men knew the Society or were called to the priesthood from a young age. Seven of the 20 men being ordained attended a Jesuit high school or university. The uncle of Fr. Andrés Vall-Serra, SJ, was a Jesuit for 63 years. “He was a man who excited me, in the stories that he would tell, the type of work he was doing.”
Fr. Javier Díaz, SJ, a native of Costa Rica, grew up wanting to be a missionary. He thought being a doctor would serve him well in this role so he went to medical school before joining the Jesuits. During his formation, he served as a family physician to immigrant patients at a Washington, D.C., clinic and hopes to continue to serve this population as a priest.
Others began careers — but God had other plans. Fr. Jason Brauninger, SJ, joined the fire department at age 18 and was trained as a fire, arson and explosion investigator before God called him to the priesthood and he entered the Society.
Growing up, Fr. Sam Wilson, SJ, played blues guitar and even built his own guitars by hand. While working as a university professor, he began feeling a call to the priesthood. He put it on the back burner until he could no longer ignore it: “Finally, it felt like God kind of nagging me in a way.”
Fr. Kevin Spinale, SJ, attended the Jesuits’ Boston College High School and College of the Holy Cross and then served in the Peace Corps in Romania before teaching in a public school in Brooklyn, New York. “I realized that the only way I could continue in that work and do it well was with a life of prayer. It got into my head somehow, ‘Why don’t you try the Society?’ ”
As they begin their first assignments as Jesuit priests, the newly ordained will embark on a variety of ministries, including working at parishes and retreat centers, serving migrants at the Haitian border, teaching at Jesuit schools and continuing their studies toward advanced degrees.
The new priests are looking ahead joyfully to serving the Catholic Church. “I’m more than excited. It’s 10 years in the making,” said Fr. Brauninger said. “Let’s get this show on the road!”
Do you want to learn more about vocations to the Society of Jesus? Visit www.jesuitvocations.org for more information.