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2024 Ordinands

Daniel Everson, SJ

Province: USA Central and Southern

Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri

Highlights of Jesuit Formation:

  1. Completed a two-week novitiate pilgrimage in the state of Texas, spending some nights in Jesuit parishes, other nights in homeless shelters and other nights on Greyhound buses, all the while learning to rely on God.
  2. Served as chaplain to the Loyola University Chicago softball team from 2016 to 2018.
  3. Enjoyed a camping trip with friends and colleagues from Arrupe Jesuit High School in Denver that encouraged him to be a priest who listens to and walks with women in the church.
Dan assists a student in a freshman theology class at Arrupe Jesuit High School in Denver.

Will return to Arrupe Jesuit High School where he was a regent, to serve as assistant principal for mission.

Bachelor’s degrees, journalism and Spanish, University of Missouri; Master’s degree, social philosophy, Loyola University Chicago; Master of Divinity, Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University

Dan Everson, SJ, was born in St. Louis and baptized shortly thereafter in a small chapel at Jesuit Hall on the campus of Saint Louis University. He attended grade school at Our Lady of Sorrows in South St. Louis before enrolling at St. Louis University High School, where he served as sports editor of the school newspaper. Dan’s interest in journalism led him to the University of Missouri, where he earned bachelor’s degrees in both journalism and Spanish. While at “Mizzou,” he became an active parishioner at the St. Thomas More Newman Center and began to notice a call to the priesthood. Dan first discerned with the Dominican Friars who ran the Newman Center, but he took to heart the words of an elder Jesuit he met during his discernment: “Don’t forget about us!” After graduating from Mizzou, Dan joined the Alum Service Corps (ASC) of the Jesuits’ Missouri Province, which afforded him an opportunity to spend ample time with Jesuits and discern whether he might be called to become a Jesuit himself. As an ASC volunteer, teaching sophomore English at De Smet Jesuit High School, Dan fell in love with the work of Jesuit education. That fall, during a “Come and See” retreat at the same Jesuit Hall where he was baptized, Dan decided to apply to the Society of Jesus. Dan entered the novitiate in Grand Coteau, Louisiana, in 2013. After making first vows, he completed a master’s degree in social philosophy at Loyola University Chicago. Dan thrived as a regent at Arrupe Jesuit High School in Denver, where he taught freshman theology and coordinated the community service program. Dan served as a deacon at St. Ambrose Parish in Berkeley, California, while completing a Master of Divinity degree at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University. After ordination, he will return to Arrupe Jesuit High School to serve as assistant principal for mission.

Dan (second from left) enjoys a game night at Xavier Jesuit Center in Denver with (from left) Travis Crowe, SJ, Ryen Dwyer, SJ, and Br. Glenn Kerfoot, SJ. Little did they know, as they played the game Pandemic, that a true pandemic would dramatically change their lives in a matter of weeks.

What’s one interesting fact about yourself not everyone would know?
I like to relax by playing games, either with other people or by myself. (One fact about me that many people do know is that I am an introvert. I certainly don’t mind a bit of time to myself!)

During both my rounds of graduate studies — first at Loyola University Chicago and now at Jesuit School of Theology — one of my favorite ways to spend a Friday or Saturday night is to host a game night for friends and classmates, both lay and Jesuit. (Really, I’ve been blessed to live with another of this year’s ordinands, Bryan Paulsen, who is a game-night host extraordinaire!) Some of my favorite games for nights like these are Catan, Pandemic and the Catholic Card Game — which, if you haven’t tried it, is awesome!

I also do like to play games on my own. In fact, at any given moment, I am usually “hooked” on a one-player game of one sort or another. For example, at various points in my Jesuit life, I’ve been hooked on Sudoku, Hearts, Tetris, FIFA 2020, RollerCoaster Tycoon and a game called World of Airports. (I have found that Jesuit life takes me to many airports, so I thought I might try to manage an airport or two on my own!) My most recent gaming fascination is with crossword puzzles. Around Christmas, I accepted a deal to subscribe to the NYT Games app for half price, and now I am hooked!

As I think about it, whether I am playing alone or with others, I tend to like games that challenge my mind, but without the stress that can come from work or school. (But of course, it’s important to make sure my work gets done before I allow myself to indulge in a game!)

What is one hobby you’ve cultivated as a Jesuit, and why is it important to you?
A hobby I’ve cultivated as a Jesuit is running. When I entered the Jesuits, I was able to run about three miles at a time for exercise, but I didn’t really like it. As a Jesuit, though, I’ve come to appreciate running as an opportunity not only to exercise my body but to relax my mind and, ideally, to connect with God in nature.

Running first became a genuine “hobby” of mine in the novitiate, during the 30-day silent retreat. A day on silent retreat involves a lot of sitting still, so it is important to take at least some time each day for physical exercise. During my 30-day retreat, I slowly began to extend the distance I ran. I never knew precisely how far I went because, as a novice, I did not have a device that could track my distance. But every day, I ran for two more minutes than the previous day, and by the end of the retreat, I was surprised how far I could go!

I must admit, my running habit did not last long after the retreat. And it took me several years to get back to it. But during my regency in Denver, I was motivated to try to run the Pikes Peak Ascent, a half-marathon that consists of running/hiking up Pikes Peak. My dad’s family is from Colorado, and it has become a sort of a family tradition — among at least some of my uncles, aunts and cousins — to participate in that race. In order to run the Pikes Peak Ascent, I had to qualify by completing a “normal” half-marathon (read: not up a mountain) within a certain time. So during regency, I began to carve out time after school some days, and after Mass on Sundays, to train for a half-marathon. I successfully qualified for the Pikes Peak Ascent, which I eventually ran twice — once alone with my dad, in 2020, when the official event was canceled because of the pandemic, and once in 2021, as part of the official event.

In training for these half-marathons, I came to really enjoy the moments I carved out for running. These were opportunities to get outside and be alone for a while. They were opportunities to listen to my favorite music. They were opportunities to explore the city of Denver. And on special occasions — for example, while on retreat at Sacred Heart in Sedalia, Colorado, or during the Pikes Peak Ascent itself — running was an opportunity to get into the mountains and enjoy the majesty of God’s creation.

Little did I know, before I moved to theology studies in Berkeley, California, that my new home would sit essentially at the base of the Berkeley Hills. Fresh off my participation in the official Pikes Peak Ascent, I began running up into the hills, where it is possible not only to enjoy mountain-like scenery (albeit at a much lower elevation than in the Rockies), but also to look out over the San Francisco Bay, crowned in the distance by the Golden Gate Bridge. At some point, I learned there was a Golden Gate Half Marathon, which included an opportunity to run on the Golden Gate Bridge itself. I aspired to run that race before I finished my studies in the Bay Area. (As the “Most Interesting Man in the World” might put it, “I don’t often run half-marathons, but when I do, I run them on national landmarks.”)

I cannot say I that I immediately began training for the Golden Gate race. But last semester, I finally resolved to carve out the time for training. The race itself was fine. There’s no denying that there’s something special about running on the bridge, looking eastward across the bay and westward out to the ocean. What I really came to love, though, were my weekly “long runs” in the Berkeley Hills. As I built up the endurance for longer and longer runs, I got to explore more and more terrain in these hills. Some days, amid the trees, dirt paths, rock formations and majestic vistas, it felt like I was playing on a playground — a playground that only God could build. It was a truly prayerful experience. This running thing, which I used to dread, has turned out to be so life-giving. It is good not only for my body but also for my soul.

Dan with Aric Serrano, SJ, watching the annual boys soccer match between the two Denver area Jesuit high schools: Arrupe Jesuit, where Dan was a regent, and Regis Jesuit, where Aric was a regent.

What do you love about the Society of Jesus?
In a homily on a recent vow renewal retreat, a Jesuit priest spoke to my community about a close lay friend of his, with whom he is able to be honest about his occasional frustrations with the Society of Jesus. Inevitably, the priest said, his friend will respond: “Well, you’re a very human group.” The preacher echoed this point: “We are a very human group. And thank God.”

What I love about the Society of Jesus is our humanity. It is what impressed me most when I joined the Alum Service Corps (ASC) and began spending significant time with Jesuits young and old. The Jesuits in charge of our formation, namely Drew Kirschman and Matt Stewart, were so down-to-earth. They knew how to laugh and tell jokes. They were capable of cooking dinner, leading prayer, analyzing short stories by Flannery O’Connor, and hopping into the pool to join us for a game of water polo. They were well-rounded human beings who, it so happened, had vowed poverty, chastity and obedience for the greater glory of God. Their vows had not required them to withdraw from the world or to assume any sort of air of superiority. If anything, their vows enabled them to be in the world but not of it.

The humanity of the Jesuits continued to strike me as I got to know the Jesuit communities in St. Louis, where I was serving as an ASC volunteer. I fondly remember the simple but reverent liturgies we would share in the cozy chapel at the St. Louis University High (SLUH) community or around a coffee table in the living room at St. Matthew’s Parish.

Dan tends to the altar at his diaconate parish, St. Ambrose in Berkeley, California, on the Second Sunday of Advent.

One night, while we were at dinner at SLUH, the house received a phone call to inform them that a beloved Jesuit, Fr. John Kavanaugh, had died. A hush fell over the ordinarily jocular dining room. These men clearly loved this deceased brother of theirs, and their sadness was palpable. Another night, we lingered after dinner to watch Notre Dame play in the college football championship game. After a few minutes, I noticed the Jesuit in the chair next to me — the president of my school, no less! — was snoring. It was all so human — so relatable, so accessible, so understandable.

Whatever made these men “different” — be it their poverty, their chastity, their obedience, their priesthood — really did not make them all that different at all. They still liked to have a drink with dinner, they still felt pain when their loved ones passed away, and they knew what it was like to work hard enough to be exhausted and fall asleep in front of the TV at the end of the day.

To be sure, some encounters with the Jesuits’ humanity were more edifying than others. Sometimes one Jesuit or another would be in a sour mood while we were at their house, and so he might not greet us as warmly as we might have hoped. Other times, we witnessed Jesuits being rather short with one another, or even with us. But even these moments were signs of their humanity — signs that, no matter how dedicated they were to God, they were people like us. And if they were like us, yet dedicated to God, then we too could be dedicated to God. Their humanity made it possible for us — for me, at least — to imagine myself drawing closer to the divine. This is not, of course, to say any one of the Jesuits was Jesus, who humbled himself to share in our humanity so that we might come to share in his divinity. But it is, perhaps, to say that these Jesuits were true companions of this Jesus. They knew how to be human even as they strove to dedicate their lives to the divine.

Now, in my 10 and a half years as a Jesuit, I have witnessed countless moments of Jesuit humanity. Sometimes it is inspiring. Sometimes it is funny. Sometimes it is, frankly, frustrating. But ultimately, our humanity is what I love about the Society of Jesus. I believe it is what makes us relatable and effective disciples. And I hope I will never lose touch with my own humanity, my fundamental equality with every other man and woman, even as I receive the gift of priestly ordination.

Dan holds his niece and goddaughter, Ember, as they celebrated her first Christmas.

What brings you joy?
At every stage of my Jesuit life, work with young people has brought me joy. Even before I was a Jesuit, the joy of teaching in a Jesuit high school assured me I was making a good decision to join the Jesuits. And the joy I continue to receive from working with young people — whether in schools, parishes or any other environment — continues to assure me that I am in the right place as I prepare for ordination to the priesthood.

I first discovered this joy as an Alum Service Corps volunteer at De Smet Jesuit High School in St. Louis. I was fresh out of college, and I had never not been a student — until now. And boy was there a difference! I thought I worked hard as a student, but I worked even harder as a teacher. And yet, as a teacher, I found myself happier than ever. I looked forward to being with my students in the classroom, and I looked forward to seeing them outside the classroom as well — at their sporting events, band concerts, theater performances, etc. I just loved my students. I loved spending time with them. And I loved working for them.

There, I think, lies the key: I loved working for them! I had always been a hard worker, but as a student, the reward for all my hard work was most immediately my own. I worked hard, and I earned good grades. As a teacher, though, I was working hard not for my own success, but for my students’ success. I was giving of myself not for my own sake but for the sake of others. And as Jesus himself said, “whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Mt 16:25).

These words have continued to ring true throughout my Jesuit life, especially when I am working with young people. As a novice, I enjoyed “experiments” at the parish school in Grand Coteau, the Good Shepherd School in New Orleans and Hopeworks in Camden, New Jersey. I especially enjoyed my “long experiment,” during which I got to teach once again in a Jesuit high school —this time in Dajabón, Dominican Republic. Once again, I got joy not just from teaching my classes but from all the other activities that took place before, during and after school. I just loved this work — the work of Jesuit education — and now I was a Jesuit myself!

Jesuit formation, of course, involves significant periods of study, but, wisely, even during these times, we are required to be involved in some kind of ministry — some activity that enables us to give of ourselves in ways that ultimately, as Jesus promised, restore us to life. During my three years in Chicago, I made weekly visits to a shelter for migrant youth who, under 18, had crossed the border without a parent or legal guardian. Those visits — coloring pictures, playing cards, sharing a meal, chatting in the hallway, etc. — were often the highlight of my week. Here in Berkeley, likewise, the best parts of my week are often the times I spend with young people, whether it be leading a “Spanglish” faith-sharing group at Santa Clara University or teaching confirmation class at St. Ambrose Parish, where I serve as a deacon.

Any discussion of my work with young people would be incomplete without reference to Arrupe Jesuit High School, where I did regency and where I will return for my first mission as an ordained priest. It is not for nothing that I wrote, in my autobiography, that I thrived at Arrupe. I got to be the sort of well-rounded, fully human minister that so inspired me when I was discerning with the Jesuits: I taught classes, led service projects, prepared the Music Club to play at Mass, coached baseball and volleyball, and more. But in all of this, as at De Smet, the purpose was not my own success but that of others. And as at De Smet, even as I worked harder than I ever had before, I also experienced more joy than I ever had before. Once again, Jesus’ words proved true: When you lose your life for his sake, or for the sake of his loved ones, you get it back.