Aric Serrano, SJ
Province: USA Central and Southern
Hometown: Pecos, Texas
Highlights of Jesuit Formation:
- Taught music to students at St. John Chrysostom School in the Bronx, New York, during first studies.
- Directed the pit band at Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, Colorado, for the musical “Sister Act.”
- Served as deacon for Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Oakland, California.
Missioned to St. Peter Claver Parish in Punta Gorda, Belize.
Bachelor’s degree, music education, Eastern New Mexico University; Master’s degree, philosophy, Fordham University; Master of Divinity, Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University
Aric M. Serrano, SJ, was born in Mankato, Minnesota. One of 13 children, his family moved several times before his parents settled in Pecos, Texas. He learned about the Jesuits from reading about the lives of Ignatius and Francis Xavier. His connection to the Jesuits came through his aunt, Sr. Teresa of the Eternal Father, OCD, in Lake Elmo, Minnesota. He studied music at Eastern New Mexico University where he played the euphonium in marching band and wind symphony. He also played guitar in both jazz and ska bands. While he was an undergrad, he attended Jesuit discernment retreats and loved sitting in silence and praying with Scripture. After graduation, Aric entered the Jesuit novitiate at Grand Coteau, Louisiana, in 2012.
As a novice, he did apostolic work in Kansas City, New Orleans, Tampa and Guyana. After first vows, he was sent to study philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx, New York, and had the chance to attend conducting classes at the Juilliard School. He also had the opportunity to be a part of the European American Musical Alliance summer session in Paris, studying conducting. His apostolic work included teaching elementary music to the students at St. John Chrysostom School in the Bronx. Aric completed regency at Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, Colorado, where he taught both boys and girls theology, guitar, and band and directed the freshman girls retreat. Aric then studied at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, completing a Master of Divinity. He served as a deacon at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in downtown Oakland. After ordination, he will serve at St. Peter Claver Parish in Punta Gorda, Belize, where he will join two other Jesuits to help provide sacraments to over 30 Mayan villages.
Who’s your favorite saint, and why?
My favorite saint, besides the many Jesuit saints, is St. Therese of Lisieux. I tend to read her autobiography when I am on my eight-day silent retreat. Each time I revisit her life, I am struck by the simplicity with which she lives her faith. She reveals the secret to living the spiritual life through doing small things with great love. Sometimes, I do small things with great spite. Her life is a constant reminder of abandoning oneself to the grace in the present moment.
What is one hobby you’ve cultivated as a Jesuit, and why is it important to you?
In my spare time, I have come to enjoy producing electronic music. Music is a big part of my life, and I enjoy both performing and writing. There are limitless options for creativity with the tools of electronic music production. I have enjoyed spending many hours the last few years playing with synthesizers and samplers. I’ve learned that nearly any sound can be incorporated into a song, from white noise to coins rolling on the counter. This translates into almost any sound serving as musical inspiration.
What do you love about the Society of Jesus?
There are so many things that I love about the Society of Jesus. An immediate one is that I am grateful for the formation experience. I feel that I have grown as a person intellectually, spiritually and emotionally. There have been many hours spent studying in the classroom and many hours of being out in the world, working with people. There have also been many hours spent in silent prayer, bringing all of these experiences together and seeking who God is calling me to be. I feel like I have a firm foundation of knowing who I am, being a loved sinner, and deepening this feeling of being available for missioning. Growing into the charism of the Society has left me incredibly grateful for this life.
What was one particularly meaningful experience you had during your formation, and why was it meaningful to you?
The experience of being on retreat with students during regency was incredibly meaningful for me. Many students would open up about issues they had in life with family, friends, and mental and physical health. I would often listen, ask questions, but mainly be present with them, hopefully, being a presence of love as Christ is. The retreats were special places of encounter. Much of my time in the Society has been in awe of who am I to be in these positions of trust, as people share their struggles. I just hope to continue being with people, letting them know that they are not alone.
How has your spirituality changed since entering the Society?
I use to spend a lot of time praying over big questions early on in Jesuit formation: Who am I? Who are you, God? What is the point of life? Ignatian contemplations were important in feeling these questions out as I asked where God wanted me. I feel that my spirituality, both in how I pray and what I pray with, has gotten simpler over the years. My feelings in prayer are relatively stable. There are some stronger consolations and desolations that come about, particularly in relation to discerning big decisions that come in life, but I feel that the major swings don’t happen as often as they did early on. The rosary has become much more meaningful for me, as has the Liturgy of the Hours. I love praying with Scripture very much, particularly the Psalms. The petition I ask for each day is that Jesus gives me the grace to love as he loved when he walked in our world.
What brings you joy?
What brings joy for me are the simple moments of the day. Some of my favorite times are when I can settle down and spend time in silence and solitude. I enjoy doing spiritual reading. I also enjoy going to happy hour with a friend. I also feel good after a good day’s work and just being around the people at whatever apostolate I find myself. I find a lot of meaning in small moments.