Tim Breen, SJ
Province: USA West
Hometown: Redondo Beach, California
Highlights of Jesuit Formation:
- Spent three summers throughout his Jesuit formation serving at Dolores Mission Parish in East Los Angeles, including one summer as a deacon.
- Served as a coach or chaplain for several high school and college sports teams.
- Taught Spanish during regency and taught confirmation, first reconciliation and first Communion classes in Spanish at several parishes during first studies.
Will pursue a master’s degree in sports administration at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, where he will also do pastoral work on Gonzaga’s campus and in town.
Bachelor’s degree, philosophy and Spanish, Loyola University Chicago; Master of Divinity, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry; Master of Theology, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
Timothy Breen, SJ, was born and grew up in Redondo Beach, California, where he, his parents and his brother, John, were all very involved in the local parish. He first got to know the Jesuits at Loyola High School of Los Angeles. Tim began college at Loyola University Chicago where he was a member of the Ignatian Leadership Learning Community. Sister Jean, chaplain of the men’s basketball team at Loyola, recommended him for a job in campus ministry, but vocation questions were stirring. Tim left college after his freshman year to enter the Jesuit novitiate in Culver City, California. As a novice, Tim served as a hospital chaplain at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, California, and later studied at the University of San Francisco while ministering at St. Ignatius Parish. After making first vows, he returned to Loyola Chicago, graduating with a double major in philosophy and Spanish. While in Chicago, Tim taught confirmation classes in Spanish at St. Procopius Parish. He also served as chaplain to the Loyola Chicago men’s soccer team and briefly was the goalkeeping coach for Loyola women’s soccer, including for a trip to Italy.
Tim spent his first two years of regency at Gonzaga Preparatory School in Spokane, Washington, where he taught Spanish, coached boys’ and girls’ soccer, and served as assistant athletic director. He then was missioned to Omaha, Nebraska, joining the coaching staff of Creighton University’s men’s and women’s soccer teams. Tim studied theology at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, completing Master of Divinity and Master of Theology degrees while serving as a deacon at St. Ignatius Church in Chestnut Hill and as chaplain for Boston College’s baseball team. He will celebrate his first Mass at his home parish, American Martyrs in Manhattan Beach, California. After ordination, he will pursue a master’s degree in sports administration at Gonzaga University in Spokane while doing pastoral work on campus and in town.
Who’s your favorite saint, and why?
I took Stanislaus as my vow name for St. Stanislaus Kostka. I was initially drawn to him in my novitiate as one of the young Jesuit saints, as I was still quite young when I took vows. But I also admire his deep commitment to the Eucharist and prayer, as well as his single-minded dedication, especially in making that long walk to Germany when the Jesuits were afraid to accept him in Vienna where he was studying, as his wealthy and influential parents opposed his entry to religious life.
What is one hobby you’ve cultivated as a Jesuit, and why is it important to you?
Cooking has become a hobby I enjoy. It’s been a nice surprise! Of course, there are times when we need to cook regularly for our community. But in one of my regency communities, when we only had to cook occasionally, it became a practice I really enjoyed. I found cooking to be something relaxing and even meditative. After a day of doing school-related things, it was so nice to come home and do something with my hands, using a different part of my brain, and creating something to enjoy and share. In theology studies, it’s been something I’ve really continued to enjoy. It’s even meditative and prayerful and a good break from the busyness of studies, giving the brain a bit of a break.
What was one particularly meaningful experience you had during your formation, and why was it meaningful to you?
A really meaningful and impactful experience from my formation has been my time ministering at Dolores Mission. I am really thankful I got the opportunity to spend three different summers there. I still remember the pastor and other Jesuits saying to the people when I got there that I was there to learn from them what it meant to be a Jesuit and a priest. And I certainly have learned a great deal. The deep faith, compassion and commitment of the people there continue to inspire me. They have shown me how to be joyful people of faith in the midst of great challenges. They have always been so welcoming to me and so many others — and so patient. They have shown me so much through their prayerfulness and passion for justice. In reflecting now on the time I have spent there, it occurs to me that Dolores Mission is the place where, over the past several years, I have most experienced our new Universal Apostolic Preferences in action.
Where has your Jesuit vocation taken you that you never thought you would go?
I’ve so enjoyed continuing to be involved in sports throughout my formation. This was something I thought I had left behind when I entered the Society, and I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity and support to stay in that world. It was almost by accident that I got back into sports in first studies. I was very close friends with the men’s soccer team’s goalkeeper when we were freshmen at Loyola University Chicago together, and when I returned to Loyola during formation, he asked if I would run a Christian Life Community for the team. From there, the coach invited me to practice to help out, and I became team chaplain. As I prepared for regency, my superiors kept asking me about that work, encouraging me to stay with it. So, while at Loyola, I also did my coaching certification to prepare for coaching in regency. I also filled in as goalkeeping coach for the women’s team for a little while, which meant accompanying the team on a trip to Italy. That trip was such a wonderful experience on so many levels. Within a couple days, I got to preach at the Church of the Gesù in Rome and then coach against a professional team in Florence. Later, for my second stage of regency, I went on to coach soccer at Creighton University, which was another amazing experience I never could have anticipated. That job, too, led to an international trip to Germany and Austria, again competing against professionals and exploring historic parts of Europe. Most recently, I have served as Boston College’s baseball chaplain, which has meant playing games at historic Fenway Park. Even early in my formation, I never would have imagined myself in any of those places or how I would get there.
What does Jesuit community mean to you? What’s one example of this lived out?
Jesuit community has been such an incredible gift to me. As I was discerning a priestly vocation, it became quite clear to me that I was most called to religious life. The experience of living in community and sharing the vocation with brothers always appealed to me, and it has been a real grace. The point in my life when this was abundantly clear was when I needed a kidney transplant at the end of my regency. I had been diagnosed with kidney disease when I applied to the novitiate, and so I am incredibly thankful to the Society for its willingness to care for me and my health from day one. And when my kidneys failed, I was incredibly well cared for. The men of the community I lived in were so kind in supporting me and looking out for me. And, when it came time to find a donor, many Jesuits lined up to check if they were compatible, even some I did not know. After the transplant, Jesuits came and visited me and celebrated Mass for me as I recovered. So, what does Jesuit community mean to me? It means brothers who support and care for one another, prayerfully and intentionally. I am incredibly thankful to share this life and this mission with them.