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2024 Ordinands

Raymond Anthony Parcon, SJ

Province: USA West

Hometown: Orange, California

Highlights of Jesuit Formation:

  1. Lived and worked with Yu’pik communities in different villages in Alaska, including Newtok, Alakanuk and St. Mary’s.
  2. Accompanied the sick as a hospital chaplain at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago for two years.
  3. Gave the Spiritual Exercises retreat to people behind bars at San Quentin State Prison in California as a prison chaplain for two years.

Post-Ordination:
Will spend one month working with Jesuit Refugee Service Europe in Brussels, Belgium, and then head to Georgetown University to pursue a master’s degree in international migration and refugees.

While working with JRS Romania in the summer of 2023, Raymond’s Ukrainian students surprised him on their last day of English class with a Ukrainian flag they had signed as a thank you gift.

Education:
Bachelor’s degree, mechanical engineering, Ateneo de Davao University; Master’s degree, software engineering, National University; Certificate, advanced computer security, Stanford University Center for Professional Development; Master’s degree, cyber security and information assurance, National University; Master’s degree, social philosophy, Loyola University Chicago; Master of Divinity, Regis College, University of Toronto

Biography:
Raymond Anthony C. Parcon, SJ, was born and raised in the Philippines and is the eldest of two children. He met the Jesuits while studying at Ateneo de Davao University for his mechanical engineering degree as an undergrad. After college, he served briefly in local politics and then went to the United States to pursue graduate studies in software engineering at National University. After working in a variety of positions in sales engineering for a few years, Raymond went back to school to pursue graduate studies in cyber security at National University before joining Jesuits West.

As a novice, Raymond accompanied Yu’pik communities in Alaska; worked with the Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative (JRJI) by visiting detention centers and prisons in California; and worked as a prison chaplain at San Quentin State Prison. After professing first vows, he studied social philosophy at Loyola University Chicago while volunteering as a hospital chaplain at Loyola University Medical Center. For his regency, Raymond was missioned back to San Quentin State Prison. He gave the Spiritual Exercises retreat of St. Ignatius of Loyola to people behind bars; was chaplain for the English and Spanish choir; ministered to people on death row; and provided pastoral support to corrections officers. He also was active with the Catholic Prison Ministries Coalition. Raymond studied theology at Regis College at the University of Toronto, earning a Master of Divinity degree while serving as a deacon and spiritual director at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish. During his summer breaks, he accompanied refugees from Africa, the Middle East and Ukraine through the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Malta and Romania. He will celebrate his first Mass at San Quentin State Prison. After ordination, Raymond will spend one month working with JRS Europe in Brussels, Belgium, and then head to Georgetown University to pursue a master’s degree in international migration and refugees.

Raymond and his family from the Philippines and Hong Kong attending Christmas Mass at the Sacred Heart Chapel at Loyola Marymount University.

What’s one interesting fact about yourself not everyone would know?
I have friends or know people named after saints, but what not everyone would know about me is my parents waited five years for me, which is how my name, “Raymond Anthony,” came about.

I am the eldest of two children but was not born immediately after my parents married. They tried, but Mom was not able to conceive. Meanwhile, their relatives and friends who got married after them were able to conceive and have children. Dad and Mom wanted to have children and were worried as time went on that this would not happen. So, they started a devotion to St. Raymond Nonnatus, the patron saint of childbirth, and St. Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of lost causes, to intercede for them in asking God for a child. After five years of praying to God, asking for intercession from the two saints, and patiently waiting, I was born. My parents named me after Saints Raymond of Nonnatus and Anthony of Padua as a thank you to them. I also like my name, so it worked out well.

Raymond, his vow class and Eric, a layperson volunteer, spent their summer in Alaska living and working with Yu’pik Eskimos. The main highlight was going to two different villages, Newtok and Alakanuk, to remodel old rectories for the winter.

Who’s your favorite saint, and why?
I have many favorite saints, so I have to give two favorite saints as an answer because, without them, I don’t think I would be here today with my Jesuit vocation: St. Francis of Assisi and St. Thérèse of Lisieux.

During my discernment and while recuperating from an injury, I watched movies about their lives, and it sealed the deal for me, so to speak, to join religious life. Any hesitations or questions I had about joining religious life completely disappeared. While watching those movies, I was drawn to St. Francis of Assisi and St. Thérèse of Lisieux and wanted to do what they did. First, both saints put God first and center in their lives. They completely devoted their lives in service to Jesus. Everything was with and for Jesus. Second, I was drawn to St. Francis’ service to the poor and St. Thérèse’s doing small things with great love for God.

Even though my work and educational background before entering the Society of Jesus was in the tech industry, mainly in software engineering and cyber security, I ended up doing ministries serving the poorest of the poor. I couldn’t be more at peace and joyful with my Jesuit vocation and what I am doing now, and I also hope to be a loving, caring and humble priest after ordination serving the poor. Thanks to my two favorite saints — Saints Francis of Assisi and Thérèse of Lisieux.

Raymond (right) and Fr. Derek Vo, SJ, prepare to do ministry inside San Quentin State Prison, where highlights for Raymond were bringing the Holy Eucharist to the people on death row and providing pastoral support to corrections officers.

Tell your vocation story. One catch: You must use only six words.
I heard the call and responded.

Where has your Jesuit vocation taken you that you never thought you would go?
During my theology studies at Regis College in Toronto, I was missioned to work with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Malta and Romania for two consecutive summers. In Malta, working with JRS was a joy and a blessing. The team was and continues to be ably and professionally led by highly motivated women very committed to the JRS ideals of accompanying, serving and advocating for forcibly displaced people. We were also very international, with staff and volunteers from Spain, Germany, Libya, Kenya and, of course, Malta. I was integrated with a team that helped refugees from Africa and the Middle East obtain local documentation, find employment and visit a detention center weekly after work. I also learned about the complex migration system by joining consultation meetings with refugees about their cases.

During his ministry with JRS Romania, Ukrainians prepared a full Ukrainian dinner for Raymond, bringing delicacies from their region when they found out he had yet to eat Borscht soup. The three-hour dinner was a joy and a blessing for Raymond to be with people with loving and caring hearts.

JRS Romania is also very capable, highly motivated, and committed to the mission. The team also had volunteers from different countries around the world. They are very adaptable to the changing situations on the ground. Our office was always busy and full of people from morning until evening because of the need and the diversity of programs offered to refugees. This opened doors for me to teach English classes, assist in programs such as chess and IT for young adults, and help deliver meals to schoolchildren, aside from being part of a six-person Ukrainian team that provided refugees with legal, medical, mental health and psychosocial support (MHPS).

After Romania, I attended the Pedro Arrupe Summer School in Forced Migration at the University of Oxford to learn about forced displacement and refugees. The Oxford summer school built on our class discussions about refugees and migration laws at the University of Toronto, where I am currently enrolled in the Master of Divinity program. I learned about the ethical responses to forced displacement from philosophers and theologians from Oxford, different worldwide migration emergencies from fellow participants, and the church’s response to the various humanitarian crises.

During my time with JRS, I moved around many Jesuit communities and met fellow Jesuits doing a variety of ministries for the church and the people of God. I now know what it means by the Jesuit expressions “Friends in the Lord” and “The world is our home.” I also learned how to navigate different cultures simultaneously, work with a diverse group of laypeople and collaborate in an interfaith setting, all with a common goal: to bring the love of Christ to everyone and confront the challenges our world faces today.

Raymond after his 2023 diaconate ordination in Toronto with fellow Jesuits. From left: Fr. Mark Hoelsken, SJ; Fr. Steve Corder, SJ; Raymond; Fr. Tony Sholander, SJ; Fr. Tim Godfrey, SJ; and Peter Berger, SJ.

Where has your Jesuit vocation taken you that you never thought you would go?
During my theology studies at Regis College in Toronto, I was missioned to work with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Malta and Romania for two consecutive summers. During my time with JRS, I moved around many Jesuit communities and met fellow Jesuits doing a variety of ministries. I learned how to navigate different cultures simultaneously, work with a diverse group of laypeople and collaborate in an interfaith setting, all with a common goal: to bring the love of Christ to everyone and confront the challenges our world faces today.

What’s one thing you would tell someone considering entering the Society today that you wish you had known?
Be open because Jesuit life is a joyful life, and God is full of surprises. So, if you hear the call, don’t ignore it.