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August 29, 2019 — Twenty-eight Jesuit novices in the United States and Haiti professed first vows of poverty, chastity and obedience this month. A novice spends two years at the novitiate for the first stage of Jesuit formation, culminating in the public profession of first vows in the Society of Jesus.

Twelve Jesuits professed first vows at Saint Charles Borromeo Church in Grand Coteau, Louisiana, on August 10. Back row, from left: Nick Blair, SJ; Daniel Finucane, SJ; Philip Nahlik, SJ; and Eric Couto, SJ. Middle row: River Simpson, SJ; Justin Kelley, SJ; Kevin Kuehl, SJ; and Hunter D’Armond. Front Row: John Guerra, SJ; Chi Nhan Nguyen, SJ; Sullivan McCormick, SJ; and Bryan Torres, SJ.

Vow Day Masses were held at Sacred Heart Chapel on the campus of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles; Saint Thomas More Catholic Church in St. Paul, Minnesota; the Chapel of Saint Joseph on the campus of Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia; Saint Charles Borromeo Church in Grand Coteau, Louisiana; and the church of Notre-Dame de la Merci de Galette Roches Blanches in Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti.

Vow crosses, which novices receive during the first vows Mass.

At the Mass, each Jesuit novice makes the profession of vows individually in front of the Eucharist, just as St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, and some of his first companions did. They also receive a vow cross that they will keep for the rest of their lives.

Five Jesuits professed first vows on August 10 at Saint Thomas More Catholic Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. From left: Michael Pederson, SJ; Conor Sullivan, SJ; Matthew Bjorklund, SJ; Matthew Zurcher, SJ; and Jonathon Wojtkowiak, SJ.

During their two years in the novitiate, the novices prepared to become vowed members of the order by learning about the Society, participating in local ministries and living in Jesuit communities. They also embarked on pilgrimages, performed community service and completed the Spiritual Exercises — a 30-day silent retreat developed by St. Ignatius.

Ketler Lysius, SJ, pronounced first vows at the church of Notre-Dame de la Merci de Galette Roches Blanches in Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti, on August 6.

Novices also experience life as a Jesuit, including living in community and ministering in different settings — from hospitals and third world countries to soup kitchens and Jesuit high schools.

Four novices pronounced first vows at Saint Joseph’s University’s Chapel of Saint Joseph in Philadelphia on August 10. From left: Christopher Holownia, SJ; Brian Engelhart, SJ; Bryan Galligan, SJ; and Matthew Briand, SJ.

By the time a novice kneels at the altar to pronounce vows, he is prepared and ready to speak the words of the vow formula to God, which concludes: “And as you have freely given me the desire to make offering, so also may you give me the abundant grace to fulfill it.”

Five Jesuit novices pronounced first vows at Loyola Marymount University’s Sacred Heart Chapel in Los Angeles on August 10. From left: Oscar Danilo Mendoza Rugama, SJ; Dominic Heesang Chai, SJ; Myles Kelley, SJ; Chinh Nguyen, SJ; Frederico G.B. Gianelli, SJ; and Vincent Truong, SJ.

“As you take this step further into your own vocation, my brothers, into the life of the Society of Jesus, and into the heart of Christ and his people, my prayer is that you continue to be as open as possible to God’s grace,” said Fr. Stephen Corder, SJ, director of novices at the Jesuit Novitiate in Culver City, California, in his homily during the Mass in Los Angeles. “All of the people that you have walked with are with you in this endeavor and are praying for you.”

Fr. Stephen Corder, SJ, delivered the homily at the vow Mass at Sacred Heart Chapel in Los Angeles.

Following the profession of first vows, Jesuits preparing to be priests usually begin three years of studies: two years of philosophy studies, combined with one year of graduate-level theology courses. Those men who took vows as a Jesuit brother will usually take several theology courses. Click here to read more about the steps of Jesuit formation at

Watch the livestream of the Jesuits West Province first vows Mass below: