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2024 Ordinands

Thomas Elitz, SJ

Province: USA East

Hometown: Cinnaminson, New Jersey

Highlights of Jesuit Formation:

  1. Spent a semester teaching math and English classes at Yap Catholic High School in the Federated States of Micronesia.
  2. Taught English as a second language classes to immigrants living in the Bronx, New York.
  3. Traveled to Lisbon, Portugal, for MAGIS and World Youth Day in the summer of 2023.
Tom with a group, mostly from the Boston College Clough School of Theology and Ministry, after they ran the Cambridge Half Marathon in November 2023. From left: Matthew Pinson, SJ; Tom; Michelle Vaccaro; William Manaker, SJ; Katie Brown; Nathan Brown; Halie Goldwire; Marissa Browne; and Kayla Powers.

Post-Ordination:
Will serve at Saint Raphael the Archangel Catholic Parish in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Education:
Bachelor’s degree, accounting, Saint Joseph’s University; Master’s degree, philosophical resources, Fordham University; Master of Divinity and Licentiate in Sacred Theology, Boston College Clough School of Theology and Ministry

Tom with family at the wedding of a good family friend in December 2023; it was the first wedding he officiated at as a deacon. From left: His mom, Jackie; his brother, Dan; his brother’s fiancée, Kylee Horwath; Tom; and his dad, Steve.

Biography:
Thomas Elitz, SJ, was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Cinnaminson, New Jersey, where he was raised by his two wonderful parents, along with his younger brother. He attended Catholic school his whole life and met the Jesuits during his undergraduate studies at Saint Joseph’s University, where he studied accounting. After graduation, he worked as a financial analyst and internal auditor for two years at Johnson & Johnson. While he enjoyed his work, he felt a persistent call from God to religious life in the Society of Jesus. He entered the Jesuits in August of 2014.

During his novitiate, Tom was assigned to teach math and English at Yap Catholic High School in the Federated States of Micronesia. After professing vows in 2016, he studied philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx, New York. While studying at Fordham, Tom also taught English classes part-time to immigrants living in the Bronx. For his regency, he was assigned to Scranton Preparatory School, where he taught math and theology and worked in campus ministry. His experiences in the classroom implanted in Tom a passion for teaching and for ministering in a school environment. After working at Scranton Prep, he was sent to the Faber Jesuit Community in Boston to complete a Master of Divinity and a Licentiate in Sacred Theology at the Boston College Clough School of Theology and Ministry. After being ordained to the transitional diaconate in September of 2023, Tom served as a deacon at St. Columbkille’s Parish in Brighton, Massachusetts, teaching RCIA classes and assisting at weekend liturgies. Tom is an avid runner, having run five marathons during the course of his formation. After priestly ordination, he will spend a year working at St. Raphael the Archangel parish in Raleigh, North Carolina.

During first studies at Fordham University, Tom taught English classes to immigrants in the Bronx, New York.

Who’s your favorite saint, and why?
My favorite saint is St. Faustina Kowalska, the 20th-century Polish nun and mystic. I first encountered the writings of St. Faustina when I was 18 years old, and her message of Divine Mercy is something that spoke to me in profound ways.

Throughout my years as a Jesuit, I have reread her diary a few times and have regularly read excerpts from her writings. I find that some of the joys and struggles that she had as a religious are the same as mine. Her insights into prayer and her relationship with Jesus have helped me grow in my own spirituality. Because of that, I feel a real communion with St. Faustina and often pray for her intercession and guidance.

Tom running the Bay State Marathon in October 2022, one of the five marathons that he did while in formation.

What is one hobby you’ve cultivated as a Jesuit, and why is it important to you?
I am an avid runner and have continued to cultivate this hobby throughout my years of formation. On an individual level, I love the physical and mental benefits of running. I also love setting goals for myself and working to achieve them. Additionally, running has allowed me to connect with people and build quality friendships — including with brother Jesuits and fellow religious. I have a deep sense of gratitude for all those who have been running companions of mine over the years.

What do you love about the Society of Jesus?
I love the Society’s availability in service to the church. Jesuits can be found working in the highest-ranking offices of the church, as well as in some of the poorest and most dangerous slums in the world. But each Jesuit has prayerfully discerned — individually and with his provincial — how best to bring greater glory to God with his life. I find this shared desire to bring greater glory to God a great inspiration as I continue to discern how God calls me to live out my own vocation as a Jesuit.

Tell your vocation story. One catch: You must use only six words.
A profound encounter with Divine Mercy.

Tom (left) with his late grandfather, Tom King, and his brother Dan. During a family visit while Tom was in the novitiate. He greatly admired his grandfather, who passed away during his second year of novitiate.

Where has your Jesuit vocation taken you that you never thought you would go?
I came into the Society with a background in business and with a very basic exposure to philosophy. In all honesty, I had no idea what to expect when I began my philosophy studies and was even a little unsure of the value of philosophy.

However, during my studies at Fordham, much to my surprise, I discovered that I really enjoyed philosophy. Specifically, I found it to be intellectually stimulating to talk about God in a philosophical setting. Because of that, philosophy has very much been a part of my Jesuit formation. In addition to studies, I have found myself attending conferences, lectures and listening to talks on philosophy. Never in my life had I anticipated that this field would be such an important part of my Jesuit formation. I hope to continue to cultivate my interest in philosophy and use it at the service of the church.