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2023 Ordinands

James M. Antonio, SJ

Province: USA West

Hometown: Seattle, Washington

Highlights of Jesuit Formation:

  1. Served on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in Montana as a novice.
  2. Taught and led Kairos retreats at Seattle Preparatory School.
  3. Spent a summer in the Holy Land with the Tantur Ecumenical Institute.

Post-Ordination:
Will complete his Licentiate of Sacred Theology at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.

James with a student at Seattle Preparatory School’s graduation in 2019.

Education:
Bachelor’s degree, mathematics, College of the Holy Cross; Master’s degree, philosophy, Saint Louis University; Master of Divinity, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry

Biography:
James M. Antonio, SJ, was born and raised in Seattle, among a large extended family. His immediate family includes his parents, Nemy and Ruby, and two sisters, Joyce and Janice. James went to Catholic schools his entire childhood but encountered the Jesuits when he went off to the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, as an undergrad. There, he studied mathematics and was involved in the Office of College Chaplains and Pax Christi. It was at Holy Cross that seeds of a religious vocation started to germinate. After college, James moved back to Seattle and worked for a year for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center but felt a call to volunteer work. He joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and volunteered for a year in Nashville, Tennessee, for the nonprofit Project Return, working with formerly incarcerated people. After Nashville, James did a second year of service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest in Portland, Oregon, for the nonprofit Operation Nightwatch, working with people experiencing homelessness.

Following that year in Portland, with some help from his spiritual director, James applied and entered the Society of Jesus at the novitiate in Culver City, California, in 2012. As a novice, he had experiences in rural Montana on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation and in the Philippines with Casa Bayanihan, a University of San Francisco study abroad program. James earned a master’s degree in philosophy from Saint Louis University in 2016 and taught math for two years at Seattle Preparatory School for his regency. He also spent six months in Guadalajara, Mexico, learning Spanish before the COVID-19 pandemic. He received a Master of Divinity degree at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry and ministered as a deacon at two parishes in Newton, Massachusetts. After ordination, James will return to the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry to finish a Licentiate of Sacred Theology degree in sacramental theology and ethics.

James at a building service project in Tecate, Mexico, during the second summer of novitiate in 2014.

What’s one interesting fact about yourself not everyone would know?
Being from Seattle, I love cool, misty, gray weather that only requires a light rain jacket. I’m also a fan of sun, but given the two, I’d go for the former rather than the latter any day.

James prunes trees in an apple orchard in Yakima, Washington, where he was ministering to migrant workers.

What is one hobby you’ve cultivated as a Jesuit, and why is it important to you?
Baking. I love cooking in general but, to me, baking is a much more precise art. For me, a good dessert is special because it’s like a fine piece of art — it’s meant to be beautiful, celebratory, technical in execution, balanced in flavor and complex in texture.

James baptizing a child at Our Lady Help of Christians Parish in 2022.

What was one particularly meaningful experience you had during your formation, and why was it meaningful to you?
Going to the Holy Land in the summer of 2022. It was amazing and eye-opening on so many levels. But most of all, I got to see and pray in many of the sights that I had just imagined in my prayer and while reading the Bible.

How has your spirituality changed since entering the Society?
As I move toward sacramental ministry as a priest, I have come to view the world more with a “sacramental imagination” — God as permeating our most simple everyday encounters and experiences. For me, this recognition also heightens the meaningfulness of the symbols and rituals that we share as a church.