Andrea Bianchini, SJ
Province: USA Midwest
Hometown: Mantova, Italy
Highlights of Jesuit Formation:
- Worked one summer with migrants at the Kino Border Initiative at the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona.
- Trained as a hospital chaplain for a summer at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois.
- Volunteered as a kindergarten teacher’s aide at St. John Chrysostom School in the Bronx, New York.
Will do a residency program in clinical pastoral education at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois.
Bachelor’s and master’s degrees, electrical engineering, Politecnico di Milano; Doctor of Philosophy, applied physics, University of Michigan; Master’s degree, philosophical resources, Fordham University; Master of Divinity, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
Andrea Bianchini, SJ, was born in Mantova in northern Italy, the hometown of St. Aloysius Gonzaga. He has two younger sisters who, like his parents, are still living there. During elementary and high school, he was active in his parish as an altar server, catechist and youth minister. After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering at Politecnico di Milano in Milan, he moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to pursue a doctorate in applied physics. His research focused on laser spectroscopy. While in graduate school, he attended St. Mary Student Parish, where he met the Jesuits and felt for the first time a call to join the Society of Jesus. After three years of discernment and defending his dissertation, Andrea entered the novitiate of the Jesuits’ Midwest Province in St. Paul, Minnesota. One of the highlights of his time as a novice was spending six weeks with people with various disabilities in a L’Arche community in Cleveland. After professing first vows, Andrea moved to New York where he studied philosophy at Fordham University and volunteered as a teacher’s aide at St. John Chrysostom School in the Bronx. As a regent, he was missioned to John Carroll University in University Heights, Ohio, where he taught physics for two years and worked in campus ministry for one year.
Spending a summer with migrants and accompanying college students to the Kino Border Initiative in Nogales, Arizona, were two deeply transformative experiences that marked his regency. Andrea studied theology for the past three years at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, earning a Master of Divinity. He also volunteered at a local hospital as a Eucharistic minister and, after his diaconal ordination, he served at Saint Mary of the Assumption Parish in Brookline, Massachusetts, where, among the other things, he greatly enjoyed preaching and celebrating baptisms. After ordination, Andrea will do a residency program in clinical pastoral education at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois.
What’s one interesting fact about yourself not everyone would know?
I played the flute for three years in grade school and volleyball for five — and I was terrible at both.
Who’s your favorite saint, and why?
St. Teresa of Ávila because of the depth of her spiritual writings and the fortitude she constantly displayed in front of incredible challenges. I especially admire her unwavering trust in her mystical experiences despite the opposition of many reputed church ministers. She’s a true testimony to Ignatius’ conviction that God can communicate directly to people “like a schoolmaster teaches a pupil.”
What was one particularly meaningful experience you had during your formation, and why was it meaningful to you?
Volunteering at the Kino Border Initiative at the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Mexico. Spending time with migrants and refugees showed me how God is present and can be encountered in a unique way in the poor and marginalized. I also learned how faith in God can be a source of hope and strength amid the gloomiest predicaments. This experience profoundly influenced my approach to ministry and made me more aware of my responsibility to announce the Gospel.
Tell your vocation story. One catch: You must use only six words or less.
Put out into deep water.
Where has your Jesuit vocation taken you that you never thought you would go?
A female federal jail in Dublin, California, to offer spiritual direction to the inmates. Although I went there to help the inmates with their prayer, it was actually my own prayer that benefited the most. Seeing God so conspicuously at work in the lives of these women made me more attuned to and responsive to God’s voice.