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2024 Ordinands

Chia-Yang “C-Y” Kao, SJ

Province: USA East

Hometown: Taipei, Taiwan

Highlights of Jesuit Formation:

  1. Accompanied the sick and their families in the hospital in Syracuse, New York; the Bronx, New York; and Boston.
  2. Provided spiritual care for the unhoused population in Chicago.
  3. Supported minoritized and first-generation university students in San Francisco.

Post-Ordination:
Will pursue a doctorate in education at Columbia University while offering sacramental ministry at St. Francis Xavier Parish in New York City.

C-Y and his colleagues promote the graduation ceremonies that honor cultural diversity at the University of San Francisco.

Education:
Bachelor’s degree, diplomacy, National Chengchi University; Master’s degree, foreign service, Georgetown University; Master’s degree, social philosophy, Loyola University Chicago; Master of Divinity, Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University

C-Y and his parents

Biography:
Chia-Yang “C-Y” Kao, SJ, was born and raised in a Catholic family in Taipei, Taiwan. His journey toward the priesthood began during middle school when he attended a diocesan vocation event, igniting a deep-seated desire to serve in the priesthood. This calling has remained a guiding force throughout his life, leading him to actively engage in various church ministries. Having pursued diplomacy studies at National Chengchi University, renowned for its emphasis on humanities and social sciences in Taiwan, his exposure to the Jesuits deepened through his involvement with the Christian Life Community (CLC). It was during this time that he developed a keen interest in Ignatian spirituality. Following two years of military service, he ventured to the United States to pursue a graduate degree at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Throughout this period, he maintained connections with Jesuits in the Washington, D.C., area. Prior to entering the Jesuit novitiate in Syracuse, New York, he dedicated eight years of his professional life to designing educational development projects worldwide, supported by the U.S. Department of State and USAID.

During his Jesuit formation, he participated in hospital chaplaincy in Syracuse and Boston, provided spiritual care for the unhoused population in Chicago, and supported minoritized and first-generation university students in San Francisco. In his regency, he supported academic research in missionary history in China at the Ricci Institute and participated in fostering equity and inclusivity at the University of San Francisco, grounded in its Catholic, Jesuit mission. He carried this valuable experience into his theology studies at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, where he explored the evolving dynamics of Jesuit higher education within an increasingly diversified U.S. context.

As a deacon, he served at St. Ignatius Parish in San Francisco and Chinese Catholic Missions in Oakland, California. His first Mass will take place at the University Church at Fordham University in the Bronx, New York. After ordination, he will pursue a doctorate in education at Columbia University while offering sacramental ministry at St. Francis Xavier Parish in New York City.

What are three words a family member or fellow Jesuit would use to describe you? Do you agree with his or her selections?
Reflective, open, friendly; yes.

C-Y prepares a meal for his Jesuit community in Berkeley, California.

What is one hobby you’ve cultivated as a Jesuit, and why is it important to you?
Cooking. I’ve enjoyed preparing meals for friends and Jesuit brothers. I believe that good food is a universal language, bringing people together and fostering connections. The act of cooking goes beyond nourishment; it becomes an expression of care and a sharing of cultures. In the busy Jesuit life, cooking becomes a valuable tool to slow down, connect with friends and savor the simple pleasures as divine gifts, contributing to the overall well-being of both the body and the spirit.

What’s one piece of Jesuit history that you find really inspiring?
The story of Matteo Ricci continues to inspire me in my work. As a Jesuit missionary, he dedicated his life to finding God and bridging cultural gaps in 16th-century China, emphasizing understanding and respect. Through his scholarly pursuits, Ricci sought to integrate Western and Chinese traditions, leaving a lasting legacy of cross-cultural exchange and mutual enrichment in the field of missionary work.

In hospitals, I’ve witnessed the profound impact of compassion and spiritual support on patients and their families of diverse faith backgrounds, echoing the Jesuit commitment to caring for the whole person. Similarly, in Jesuit universities, I’ve been involved in fostering a sense of community and spiritual growth among colleagues and students of diverse backgrounds and beliefs. Guided by Ricci’s legacy, I strive to bring the Jesuit spirit of service and understanding to diverse communities, embodying a commitment to faith, justice and the well-being of those I am privileged to serve.

C-Y participates in an academic seminar about missionary history in China at the Ricci Institute of Chinese-Western Cultural History.

What was one particularly meaningful experience you had during your formation, and why was it meaningful to you?
During my novitiate, I served as a hospital chaplain and witnessed authentic vulnerability and faith in patients and their families. This sense of the human condition often led to profound conversations about fears, hopes and God. Their strength in the face of suffering broadened my imagination about God’s presence. Every room held a unique story of struggle but also of resilience and resurrection. Repeatedly, I experienced awe and deep respect for the human spirit’s capacity for healing and grace.

These experiences have stayed with me, reminding me that faith can bloom even in the darkest corners and that miracles sometimes come in the form of courage and compassion. These stories are true narratives of the Paschal Mystery, lived out in human life.

One particularly poignant aspect of my chaplaincy was the diversity of belief systems among the patients and their loved ones. I engaged in conversations with individuals from various faith traditions and those who identified as spiritual but not religious. These encounters allowed me to appreciate the richness of our shared humanity and the universal need for connection, understanding and hope. Regardless of religious affiliations, the underlying theme of resilience and the quest for meaning in the face of adversity permeated each dialogue.

As I reflect on those days, I am reminded that the hospital served not only as a physical space for medical care but also as a sacred arena where the human spirit confronted its vulnerabilities and found strength amid uncertainty. These experiences continue to shape my understanding of the interconnectedness of faith, compassion and the indomitable human spirit. The lessons learned during my novitiate have become an enduring source of inspiration, guiding me in my journey of service and spiritual exploration.

Tell your vocation story. One catch: You must use only six words.
Surrendered to love; growing in freedom.

Where has your Jesuit vocation taken you that you never thought you would go?
Jesuit formation has led me across the globe, from mainland China and Peru to Canada and Great Britain. Jerónimo Nadal, one of Ignatius’s earliest companions, famously said, “We [Jesuits] are not monks. The world is our cloister! The world is our house!” Yet, these journeys aren’t mere résumé highlights or anecdotes for dinner conversations. They are profound experiences that continually propel me inward, challenging and reflecting upon my beliefs and identity. Beyond the surface, each expedition serves as a catalyst, urging me to go deeper into self-discovery.

C-Y visits Huaraz, Peru, with his Jesuit brothers from Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru.

As a bicultural Jesuit, navigating both Taiwanese and American identities, I embark on a continuous journey of self-understanding. Immersed in diverse cultures, I find inspiration to explore my unexamined beliefs. These encounters foster agility in shifting perspectives, cultivating a more profound humility and love for others. For me, the Jesuit formation, therefore, transcends the physical boundaries of cultures; it becomes a sacred sojourn into the realms of self-discovery, cultural empathy and spiritual enrichment.