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August 31, 2021 — Twenty-seven Jesuit novices in the United States, Canada and Haiti professed first vows of poverty, chastity and obedience this month. A novice spends two years at the novitiate for the first stage of Jesuit formation, culminating in the profession of first vows in the Society of Jesus.

Nine Jesuits professed first vows on August 14 at Saint Thomas More Catholic Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. Front row: Brian Burtka, SJ; Ryan Serfas, SJ; David Herr, SJ; and Min Keun Park, SJ. Back row: Noah Banasiewicz, SJ; Benjamin Jansen, SJ; John Wahlbrink, SJ; Thomas Doran, SJ; and Nathaniel Cortas, SJ.

Vow Day Masses were held at the Chapel of St. Ignatius at Sacred Heart Chapel at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles; Saint Thomas More Catholic Church in St. Paul, Minnesota; the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse, New York; St. Charles Borromeo Church in Grand Coteau, Louisiana; Villa Saint Martin in Montreal; and the Missionary Sisters of Christ the King in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. 

Three Jesuit novices pronounced first vows at Sacred Heart Chapel at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, on August 14. From left: José Abrham Oros Ponce, SJ, Chris Castaneda, SJ, and Kevin Lee, SJ

At the Mass, each Jesuit novice makes the profession of vows individually in front of the Eucharist, just as St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, and some of his first companions did. They also receive a vow cross that they will keep for the rest of their lives.

Five Jesuits professed first vows at the Missionary Sisters of Christ the King in Port-au-Prince, on August 6. From left: Mahens Mondésir, SJ; Anderly Azémar, SJ; Fr. Jean Denis Saint Félix, SJ (superior for Haiti); Fr. Stanley Charles, SJ; Lucson Célestin, SJ; Petherson Lys, SJ; and Miteau Andréus, SJ.

During their two years in the novitiate, the novices prepared to become vowed members of the order by learning about the Society, participating in local ministries and living in Jesuit communities. They also embarked on pilgrimages, performed community service and completed the Spiritual Exercises — a 30-day silent retreat developed by St. Ignatius.

Four Jesuits professed first vows at Saint Charles Borromeo Church in Grand Coteau, Louisiana, on August 14: Richard Joubert, SJ; Manuel Luna Vega, SJ; Joseph Seiter, SJ; and Giovanni Díaz Jiménez, SJ.

Novices also experience life as a Jesuit, including living in community and ministering in different settings — from hospitals and third world countries to soup kitchens and Jesuit high schools.

Bryan Manning, SJ, (pictured with his father) professed first vows on August 15 at Villa Saint Martin in Montreal.

By the time a novice kneels at the altar to pronounce vows, he is prepared and ready to speak the words of the vow formula to God, which concludes: “And as you have freely given me the desire to make offering, so also may you give me the abundant grace to fulfill it.”

Five Jesuit novices pronounced first vows at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse, New York, on August 14. Front row: Mario Verde, SJ; Robert Lorenz, SJ; and Ronald Jacobs, SJ. Back row: Christian Zombek, SJ; and Luke Lapean, SJ.

Following the profession of first vows, Jesuits preparing to be priests usually begin three years of studies: two years of philosophy studies, combined with one year of graduate-level theology courses. Those men who take vows as a Jesuit brother will usually take several theology courses. Click here to read more about the steps of Jesuit formation at beajesuit.org.

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