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2023 Ordinands

Tucker Redding, SJ

Province: USA Central and Southern

Hometown: Boerne, Texas

Highlights of Jesuit Formation:

  1. During his three-week pilgrimage, he randomly ran into another novice on pilgrimage in the middle of Manhattan, at a point when he really needed a friend to talk to.
  2. Worked at America Media as an audio/video assistant producer and created a podcast that guides people through Ignatian contemplation.
  3. Worked on The Jesuit Post for much of his formation, including as editor-in-chief for two years.

Will serve as an associate pastor at St. Francis Xavier College Church in St. Louis and work part-time in the communications department for the Central and Southern Province, helping with various multimedia projects.

Tucker (back row, second from left) with the audio/video team at America Media after wrapping on the production of an interview between Fr. James Martin, SJ, and Sr. Helen Prejean.

Bachelor’s degree, political science, Texas A&M University; Master’s degree, communication, Saint Louis University; Master of Divinity, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry

Tucker Redding, SJ, was born and raised in Texas, as the only child of Mike and Cheryl Redding. After graduating high school, he attended Texas A&M University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in political science. It was during college that Tucker grew in his faith through his involvement at St. Mary’s Catholic Center where he was a member of several student groups, including a retreat team that planned and staffed retreats for parishes in a 100-mile radius. These activities led him to become a youth minister after graduation. Having never heard of the Jesuits before, Tucker met a group of Jesuits through a student trip sponsored by St. Mary’s Catholic Center. He was intrigued by the variety of ministries they engaged in and their community life. This somewhat random encounter kick-started his discernment.

After graduation, Tucker served as the coordinator of youth ministry at St. Justin Martyr Parish in Houston for four years before entering the Jesuit novitiate in Grand Coteau, Louisiana. As a novice, Tucker did apostolic work in Kansas City, St. Louis, Baton Rouge, Nicaragua and Jamaica. He then studied philosophy at Saint Louis University, where he also earned a master’s degree in communication. During this time, he was active at St. Francis Xavier College Church, where he helped with the social outreach and winter shelter programs. Tucker then moved to Dallas where he served as a theology teacher and video producer in the advancement department at Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas.

He then moved to New York to work as an assistant producer in the audio/video department at America Media, where he helped with the production of various videos and podcasts, including the creation of his own podcast on Ignatian contemplation called “Imagine: A Guide to Jesuit Prayer.” He then moved to Boston and received a Master of Divinity at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. After his diaconal ordination in September 2022, Tucker served as a deacon at St. Brigid and Gate of Heaven Parish in Boston. After ordination, he will serve as an associate pastor of St. Francis Xavier College Church and work part-time in the Central and Southern Province’s communications department.

Tucker and his parents, Mike and Cheryl Redding, on the day of his diaconate ordination at Boston College.

Who’s your favorite saint, and why?
I love Blessed Miguel Pro because he strikes a balance between bravery, devotion and humor. After his ordination, Miguel Pro returned to Mexico where Catholics were being persecuted by the government. Even though the work would be dangerous, he felt called to risk his life for the sake of bringing the sacraments and spiritual care. He was known for his jovial spirit and his sense of humor. He used his gifts and creativity to make different disguises that allowed him to minister to people in plain sight and masterfully evade the police. He was finally caught and killed by a firing squad. Before he was shot, he cried out, “Viva Cristo Rey!”

I’m inspired by his own personal prayer life and devotion, which led him to enter into a dangerous situation for the sake of others. He was safe and doing ministry outside of Mexico, but he wanted to return in order to serve. Although he was in a serious situation, he maintained his jovial spirit and even used it as an asset to hide from the police and minister to the people. I pray to have that kind of devotion and to use my own gifts skillfully for the sake of others.

What is one hobby you’ve cultivated as a Jesuit, and why is it important to you?
As a Jesuit, I’ve had the great opportunity to expand my studies and skills in communication and, in particular, in creating videos. I did this to some degree while I was in college and in my work before I joined the Jesuits, but since I entered, I have had the chance to learn much more and develop more skills and experience in making videos. When I was in philosophy studies at Saint Louis University, I was also able to get my master’s in communication, and I focused on digital media. After that, I had the opportunity to create videos for my work at Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas and America Media. I’ve also handled much of the video production for The Jesuit Post for the past five years.

Video production is important to me because it is a great opportunity to share our stories with one another. As Jesuits, videos help us to show different aspects of our lives, which can help promote vocations, but also just help people to get to know us and what we do. I think we also have the unique opportunity as Jesuits to help give a voice to people to those who so often go unnoticed in our society. Jesuits minister to so many different groups of people, and videos are a way that we can help people to share their stories, their struggles and their lives with others. My hope is that this kind of storytelling can help build bridges in a society that has become increasingly divided.

Tucker celebrates the sacrament of baptism at St. Brigid and Gate of Heaven Parish.

What was one particularly meaningful experience you had during your formation, and why was it meaningful to you?
One of the most meaningful experiences that I had during my formation was on my pilgrimage experiment in the novitiate. In our novitiate the pilgrimage worked like this: The night before, we received an envelope with a one-way bus ticket to somewhere in the country and a $5 bill. We then had three weeks to get from the destination of that bus ticket to our next assignment. My bus ticket took me from Kansas City to Boston, and I had three weeks to get to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The whole point is that you can’t possibly make it on your own. You have to trust in God’s providence working in the kindness of other people. I spent about a week of the pilgrimage in New York. This was my first time ever visiting the city, and I wanted to see what it would be like to navigate it and find shelter and resources. I remember being about a week into my journey and I just had this constant knot in my stomach. I was anxious all the time. I had met great people, I had been cared for, I had food and shelter, but despite all of this, I couldn’t shake this sense of anxiety.

One day I visited St. Francis Xavier Church, a Jesuit parish in lower Manhattan. After daily Mass I introduced myself to the Jesuit priest and he invited me to have a cup of coffee at the Jesuit community. I didn’t stay with Jesuits or accept their help while I was there, but it was nice to meet Jesuits since I was still in my first year. I remember thinking that I wanted to seem calm and collected and make a good first impression. This Jesuit saw through all of that and just said, “Are you always this wound up?” With that, I just let it all out. “No!” I said. “But I’m so anxious right now!” I told him that I had received everything that I needed and had beautiful encounters with people, but I still woke up every day with this anxiety. It was like I was trying to reason away my feelings by saying that it was all working out fine. He asked me what I liked to do for fun. Even though I wasn’t supposed to accept money from Jesuits, he would sponsor a day of fun just to help relieve my tense nerves. I’m one of those people that when you ask for my hobbies, it’s really hard for me to answer. There are things that I like to do, but the truth is that I just like hanging out with friends and having fun with them. At that point in time, my novitiate classmates had become some of my closest friends. When I told him this, he just said, “And they’re not here.” That helped it all click for me. Even though I had most of what I needed, I felt very alone and missed my friends. This Jesuit asked if there was any way that I could get in touch with one of them, but I just said that would be impossible. We were scattered all across the country. Even if I could figure out where one was, we didn’t have phones and it would be difficult to track them down.

I left that Jesuit residence and started to head to the Catholic Worker House, where I was staying. I felt a little better because I finally understood what was bothering me, but at the same time I was frustrated because there was nothing that I could do about it. I started to get angry. All I could think about was how much I hated this experience and wanted it to end. The thing that I hated most about it was how much everyone else seemed to love it. Every Jesuit that I had met had such great experiences on their pilgrimage, but I just felt like I was floundering. I was so immersed in this rant that was taking place in my head that I went a few blocks further than I meant to. When I realized this, I turned around and started heading the other direction. All of a sudden, I heard someone call out my name. “Tucker!” Honestly, I thought I had snapped. Oh crap, I think I broke my brain. Then I heard my name called out again. “Tucker!” I looked across the street and there was one of my novitiate classmates. His bus ticket took him to Baltimore, mine took me to Boston, and we just happened to be walking down the same street in lower Manhattan less than 30 minutes after I told someone that exact circumstance was impossible.

He was staying with a group of Jesuits, including the late Daniel Berrigan, SJ, and he offered to make dinner for them to thank them for their hospitality. He was just returning from the grocery store, and he just had a feeling that he knew someone in the area. That’s when he looked across the busy street and saw me. No one in the world can ever convince me that was a coincidence. God had provided for me shelter, food, and well-being — and in this moment, God even provided me with a friend. We stayed together for the rest of our time in New York and then decided to part ways rather than continue on the pilgrimage together. I didn’t have any more anxiety during the pilgrimage after that. And now, I’m one of those people that tells stories about my pilgrimage experience.

Tucker during in a pilgrimage to Ignatian sites in Spain and Rome as part of a class in the Institute of Advanced Jesuit Studies at Boston College. The pilgrimage group is pictured on the roof of the Jesuit Curia in Rome with St. Peter’s in the background.

Where has your Jesuit vocation taken you that you never thought you would go?
Before I entered the Jesuits, I had only ever lived in Texas. I visited other states, but I had never been out of the country. When I entered the Jesuits, I moved to Grand Coteau, Louisiana, and during that time I had assignments in Kansas City, St. Louis, Baton Rouge, Nicaragua and Jamaica. My pilgrimage experience took me to Boston, New York, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Cincinnati. I spent three months in Jamaica working at a school and had the great opportunity to explore and hike on the island. I’ve been in studies at Saint Louis University and Boston College. I taught at a high school in Dallas. I worked in midtown Manhattan at America Media. I studied Spanish for a summer in Guatemala. Last summer, I visited Spain and Rome on a trip to see Ignatian places.

Almost all of my family lives in South Texas, and we’ve lived there for generations. While I’ve always liked the idea of seeing new places and moving around, I never dreamed of going to all of the places that I’ve been able to see as a Jesuit. One of the places that I was surprised to enjoy so much was living in New York. I grew up on a ranch in the country, and I never expected to love living in “the city that never sleeps.” What I loved the most was being surrounded by so many different people and cultures.

As much as I love seeing new places and scenery, I’ve loved being able to meet new people. I’ve grown the most thanks to all the wonderful people who I’ve had the privilege to know as a Jesuit.

Tucker prepares a meal for his community members. With a newly developed love for cooking, he enjoys hosting dinners and organizing fellowship around the kitchen and dinner table.

How has your spirituality changed since entering the Society?
My spirituality has changed in a few key ways. I was drawn to Ignatian spirituality because I love praying with my imagination. I have a very active imagination, and I love building different scenes and gaining insights about Scripture and God by watching how things would unfold in my imagination through prayer. While I still love to pray with my imagination, I would say that my prayer has become calmer and quieter. I used to spend so much time building up the scenes and praying with grand dramatic stories. Now, I prefer to use my imagination to picture Jesus there at my side. When I pray with Scripture, I’m less attracted to the grand scenes; now I focus more on the subtle ways that Jesus interacts with those around him. How does he treat his friends? How does he treat the stranger? How does he treat those considered outcasts?

Something else that has changed in my spirituality is the way that I view God’s plan for me and discernment. I used to think that God had a very precise plan set in place and it was my job to discover what that was through discernment. There was something really beautiful about this to me, but also worrisome. What if I didn’t follow the right path? What if my discernment was off? Then I would be forever off track. This gave a weight to every major decision, making it difficult to decide. I think this mentality delayed my discernment because I was hoping to be 100% sure that this is what God wanted for me. While I still believe that God has a purpose for each of us, I think there is room in that plan for us to move around. More than anything, God wants us to be close to him. How we get there might change. There are bound to be many twists and turns in the journey, but the destination is God. Don’t get me wrong, discernment is still important and major decisions must be considered with care, but if we are discerning between good things, then we will still be headed toward God, and God will also be with us on the journey. We don’t need to worry to the point of inaction, which is when we aren’t moving at all.