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October 13, 2023 — Here’s the latest news from the Jesuits in Canada and the United States.

Fr. Tom Smolich, SJ, Concludes Service as Head of JRS

Fr. Tom Smolich, SJ, concluded eight years of service as the international director of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in September, with Br. Michael Schöpf, SJ, of the Central European Province Jesuits succeeding him. During the past eight years, Fr. Smolich visited JRS works in 45 countries.

“I was fortunate to meet those we serve, listening to their hopes and challenges, their requests and their belief in JRS. I was grateful for and impressed by the accompaniment and service of our teams throughout the world … in complicated, dangerous situations, never shying away from dirty hands and open hearts.”

Jesuits Participating at the Synod on Synodality

The XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is currently taking place in Rome through October 29, and several Jesuits from the U.S. and Canada are taking part. Fr. James Martin, SJ, editor-at-large at America magazine, and Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator, SJ, dean of the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, are voting members appointed by Pope Francis. You can follow Fr. Martin on Facebook, Instagram and X with updates from Rome.

Fr. Alan Fogarty, SJ, a Canadian Jesuit and CEO of Salt and Light Media, was appointed by Cardinal Mario Grech as a collaborator for General Assembly, and Fr. David McCallum, SJ, a U.S. Jesuit who directs the Discerning Leadership Program headquartered at the Jesuit Curia in Rome, is serving as a non-voting expert at the Synod.

Follow America magazine for the latest news on the Synod.

Jesuit Astronomer Helps NASA in Historic Mission

NASA needed help with a mission. Br. Bob Macke, SJ, curator of the Vatican Observatory’s meteorite collection, came to the rescue. He built a custom device for studying material from the first U.S. mission to collect a sample from an asteroid. Read more.

Bishop Dolan Celebrates Jesuit Presence in Phoenix

Bishop John P. Dolan of the Diocese of Phoenix celebrated a Mass in gratitude for the Jesuit presence in the Phoenix area on September 17. The Jesuit works there include Brophy College Preparatory, Kino Border Initiative, St. Francis Xavier Catholic Community and Creighton University’s Phoenix campus.

“The beautiful gift of the Jesuit community is they come into a particular region of the Lord’s vineyard, and they encounter Christ in each and every person,” Bishop Dolan said. Read more.

Meet Our New Novices

The Society of Jesus in the United States, Canada and Haiti welcomed 34 new Jesuit novices this August at novitiates in California, Minnesota, New York and Haiti. Meet them here.

U.S. Jesuits Ordained to the Diaconate

Five Jesuits, including three from the U.S., were ordained to the diaconate on September 23 at St. Ignatius Church at Boston College by the Most Reverend Mark O’Connell, Auxiliary Bishop of Boston: Jae-seok Choi, SJ; Yoon-ho Do, SJ; Thomas Elitz, SJ; Brendan Gottschall, SJ; and Minh-Hoang Le, SJ.

They are currently studying theology at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.

New President Named for Loyola Blakefield

Fr. Dennis Baker, SJ, has been named the next president of Loyola Blakefield High School in Baltimore, effective July 1, 2024. Fr. Baker spent five years as president of Xavier High School in Chuuk, Micronesia, where he oversaw considerable growth at the school, as well as leading it through the global pandemic. He has most recently served as director of engagement and planned giving at Xavier High School in Manhattan.

U.S. Jesuit Honored for Work in Belize

Fr. Leo Weber, SJ, was awarded the Order of Distinction by the Government of Belize for his years of dedicated service to the people of the nation, which included, among other things, helping to draft the preamble of the Constitution. He also served as president of St. John’s College in Belize City for two terms. This year also marked Fr. Weber’s 80th anniversary in the Society of Jesus.

Fr. Weber was unable to attend the ceremony, so Fr. Matt Ruhl, SJ, accepted the honor on his behalf.

Street Renamed in Honor of the Late Jesuit in San Diego

Fr. Richard Brown, SJ, who passed away at age 93 in 2020, earned the nickname “El Padrecito del Barrio” (Father of the neighborhood) for his 50 years serving at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in San Diego. On October 7, Beardsley Street, which runs by the parish, was renamed “Father Richard H. Brown SJ Street” in his honor.

Fr. Brown was not Latino, but he spoke fluent Spanish and had a deep knowledge of Mexican culture and customs. He brought a mariachi band into Mass and instituted a blessing of the lowriders, sprinkling the cars with holy water. When he died, hundreds of lowriders processed through the neighborhood in his honor.

Final Vows

Fr. Stephen Surovick, SJ, pronounced final vows in the Society of Jesus at St. Joseph Prep’s Mass of the Holy Spirit in the Church of the Gesu in Philadelphia on September 15. He serves as senior director of mission and ministry at St. Joseph Prep.

Fr. Brian Reedy, SJ, pronounced final vows in the Society of Jesus on September 10. Fr. Reedy, a professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and a chaplain in the U.S. Navy, he was also promoted to Lt. Commander that same day. Fr. Reedy received his new rank insignia from Fr. Jeff Johnson, SJ, president of Strake Jesuit College Preparatory in Houston, who is also a lieutenant in the Navy.

Jubilarians

The 2023 jubilarians of the USA Central and Southern Province were recognized in a Mass in St. Louis this fall.

Jubilee Masses were also held this fall at Fordham University Church in the Bronx, New York, and Boston College High School for the 2023 jubilarians of the USA East Province.