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2024 Ordinands

Pierce Gibson, SJ

Province: USA Midwest

Hometown: Austin, Texas

Highlights of Jesuit Formation:

  1. Studied German at the University of Munich and the University of Innsbruck for several summers during his formation.
  2. Initiated an event at Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago called “Latin Days,” in which students performed Latin skits, built and designed catapults and chariots, and raced the chariots for trophies.
  3. Helped create, manage and moderate an academic conference on contemporary art in an abandoned prison on the island of Favignana off the coast of Sicily.
Pierce with students from Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago, where he taught during his formation

Post-Ordination:
Will pursue a master’s degree in art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London.

Education:
Bachelor’s degree, philosophy, University of Dallas; Master’s degree, classical languages, Columbia University; Bachelor of Sacred Theology, Pontifical Gregorian University

Biography:
A convert to Catholicism from Austin, Texas, Pierce Gibson, SJ, entered the church as a teenager in 2004 and deepened his faith through the study of philosophy during his undergraduate years at the University of Dallas. Following graduation, and after discerning with the Franciscans for two years, he first met the Jesuits in Chicago and subsequently joined the Chicago-Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus in 2014 after a year of teaching Latin and coaching lacrosse at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati.

After completing his novitiate in St. Paul, Minnesota, Pierce made his first vows in 2016 and was sent to New York City for first studies, where he earned a master’s degree in classical languages from Columbia University. During regency, he taught Latin, Greek and theology at Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago, where he also coached golf. For the past three years, Pierce studied theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in preparation for ordination to the priesthood while living at the Collegio Internazionale del Gesù. While in Rome, Pierce also taught Latin at the Gregorian University. After ordination, he will pursue a master’s degree in art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London.

Pierce at Beit She’an, an archeological site in the Holy Land

What is one hobby you’ve cultivated as a Jesuit, and why is it important to you?
Since studying in Italy, I have gradually cultivated a “hobby” in languages. I originally studied Latin and Greek because I wanted access to the literature and philosophy of those cultures, and I originally studied German and eventually Italian because of necessity. It was only recently that the languages themselves have become not merely a useful tool in an international setting, but a real delight.

Pierce at a Cubs game

What’s one piece of Jesuit history that you find really inspiring?
I am very inspired by the creation of the Ratio Studiorum and the management of our schools in the 17th and 18th centuries before the suppression of the Society. Our commitment to a carefully calibrated humanistic education, whose aim was the formation of the soul in virtue and intellectual acuity, was the source of a massive corporate initiative engaging the vast majority of Jesuits during that period. To my mind it bore serious apostolic fruit.

Pierce with a student at Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago

What was one particularly meaningful experience you had during your formation, and why was it meaningful to you?
The father of one of my students died while I was in regency, and I was invited to preach at the funeral. It was not something I was initially prepared to handle, and I struggled with trying to set the perfect tone while accompanying the family in their grief. The experience taught me a lot about the nature of loss, grief and the ways in which our faith works during these times in our lives.

Pierce with some of his classmates from Rome at Loyola Castle in Spain

Where has your Jesuit vocation taken you that you never thought you would go?
I had no intention when joining the Society to live for an extended period overseas. I had, only much later, suggested the idea of studying theology in Paris, but after the pandemic set in and it seemed increasingly unlikely that I would be able to seriously study French, I had assumed I would be studying theology at either Boston or Berkeley. It ultimately came as a surprise when I was told I would be going to Rome for theology studies, and the experience of living in a large international community (men from 33 different countries) has been, overall, an enriching experience.