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Douglas J. Ray, S.J.

Province: USA Northeast

Birthday: July 9, 1973

Hometown: New York, New York

Education: Bachelor’s degree, history, Princeton University; Juris Doctor, Harvard Law School; Master’s degree, philosophical resources, Fordham University; Master of Divinity, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry

Highlights of Jesuit Formation:
1. Worked in campus ministry at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
2. Mentored students in the corporate work study program at Cristo Rey New York High School.
3. Directed the retreat program for campus ministry and taught business law at Fairfield University.

Post-Ordination: Will work at St. Peter Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Douglas J. Ray, S.J., was born in Yonkers, New York, and grew up in the Bronx and Manhattan. He met the Jesuits in kindergarten at his grammar school, St. Ignatius Loyola, before attending Regis High School in New York City. Doug did his undergraduate studies at Princeton University in New Jersey, where he earned a degree in medieval history, before studying law at Harvard. He practiced securities law in New York, first at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, and then at AXA Equitable Life Insurance. Doug began discerning a call to the priesthood soon after graduating from law school but was uncertain how to answer that call. His experience as the third generation of his family to be taught by Jesuits helped attract him to learn more about the Society. After several years of spiritual direction, he entered the novitiate in 2010. As a novice, Doug worked in campus ministry at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. After professing his first vows, he then studied philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx, New York. During his time at Fordham he volunteered at Cristo Rey New York High School, where he mentored students in the corporate work study program. Doug then worked at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut, where he directed the retreat program for the campus ministry department and taught business law at the Dolan School of Business. While working toward his Master of Divinity degree from the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, Doug also served as a deacon at Saint Ignatius Loyola Church in Chestnut Hill and worked with the RCIA program there. After ordination, he will work at St. Peter Church, the Jesuit parish in Charlotte, North Carolina. He hopes to celebrate his first Mass at St. Ignatius Loyola Church in Manhattan.

Doug receiving his First Communion at St. Ignatius Loyola Church in New York City in 1981 from Fr. Victor Yanitelli, SJ (deceased). He hopes to celebrate his first Mass in that same church.

What are three words a family member or fellow Jesuit would use to describe you? (Ask someone.) Do you agree with his or her selections?
Thoughtful, prayerful, and thorough. (Yes, I agree.)

What is one hobby you’ve cultivated as a Jesuit and why is it important to you?
A few years ago, I spent a summer working at St. Francis Mission on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. A Lakota elder taught me the basics of bead weaving, and I have enjoyed doing that ever since. It is a quiet, contemplative practice that allows me to express myself by creating designs for bracelets and other decorative items. It requires a great attention to detail, but does not involve words, which has made it a relaxing escape from my philosophy and theology studies. I also enjoy the experience of taking a pile of different colored beads and some thread and watching them take shape into something beautiful under my hands.

Doug with his extended family on the day he professed first vows in Society in 2012.

How has your spirituality changed since entering the Society?
Before I entered the Jesuits my image of God was of a remote, benevolent figure. He was omnipotent, and loving in an abstract way, but he was not someone with whom I could have a relationship, because he was utterly beyond my comprehension. In novitiate, I came to know Jesus primarily as a friend. He was someone who would listen to me when I needed to talk and wanted to spend time with me. The biggest development in my spirituality in the last few years has been my acceptance that both of these images are true: God is an all-powerful, transcendent being and at the same time someone who is close to me and wants to be in a very personal relationship with me.

Imagine you could travel back in time and meet yourself the first day you entered the Society of Jesus. What’s one piece of advice you’d give to yourself?
I would tell myself to relax. I spent a lot of my formation trying to be the “perfect” Jesuit before I realized that there is no such thing. A lot of our formation is about learning to live in freedom, and my desire to do things exactly right often got in the way.