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September 28, 2021 — Here’s the latest from Jesuits in Canada and the U.S.

Swimming the pipeline of success

As dawn broke over Chicago, Br. Matt Wooters, SJ, plunged into the aqua waters of Lake Michigan. Five hours later, he emerged — eight miles downstream. The marathon swim, from Loyola University Chicago to downtown, was a fundraiser to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago. Ultimately, Br. Wooters raised over $27,000 for the school, one of a nationwide network of Cristo Rey schools that provide education and job training to students in low-income communities. In addition to regular classes, Cristo Rey students work one day a week at local corporations to gain leadership skills.

“The idea is that everyone deserves a college prep education,” says Br. Wooters. “After four years [at Cristo Rey] they have a solid education and four years of working in a business, which is pretty incredible for a high school student.”

Br. Matt Wooters, SJ, swam eight miles in Lake Michigan to raise money for Cristo Rey Jesuit High School (Courtesy of Eric Clayton).

Br. Wooters designed the course from Loyola to downtown to mirror the “pipeline of success” for Cristo Rey students. “I’m delighted to raise awareness of Cristo Rey,” he said.

Building an ecosystem of education

Fr. Bill Watters, SJ, stands with a parent and student outside the Loyola Early Learning Center, which will become Loyola School.

At 86 years old, Fr. William J. Watters, SJ, hasn’t lost his visionary zeal. The founder of two Baltimore schools for low-income students, Fr. Watters now aims to open a third — an elementary school.

Upon completion, Loyola School will provide tuition-free education to 200 children from low-income families. This new school is an expansion of a preschool Fr. Watters opened in 2017. The first students will come from the preschool, but eventually the K-4 facility will be open to all applicants.

“Our aim is to foster not only our students’ academic achievement but also their cognitive, affective, spiritual and social growth,” says Fr. Watters.

Loyola School will complete the “ecosystem” of Jesuit education that Fr. Watters has built for disadvantaged students in Baltimore. Fr. Watters and school administrators aim to enroll upwards of 700 students across the three schools — which include Loyola School, St. Ignatius Loyola Academy middle school and Cristo Rey high school.


First vows

Across the U.S., Canada and Haiti, 27 Jesuit novices professed their first vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in August. Following the profession of first vows, Jesuits preparing to be priests usually begin three years of studies. Those men who take vows as a Jesuit brother will usually take several theology courses.

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.

Diaconate ordinations

Eleven Jesuits were ordained to the diaconate on September 18 by Most Rev. Mark O’Connell, Auxiliary Bishop of Boston, at the Church of Saint Ignatius of Loyola in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.

Eleven Jesuits and one Franciscan stand with Auxiliary Bishop Most Rev. Mark O’Connell.


Eight Jesuits celebrated their 50th anniversary in the Society of Jesus last month. Fathers Thomas Clark, SJ, James Conroy, SJ, William Dolan, SJ, Thomas Gaunt, SJ, John Levko, SJ, Thomas McCoog, SJ, Joseph Rossi, SJ, and James Shaughnessy, SJ, profess their first vows in 1971 and have served the church and its people for the last 50 years.

Fighting COVID-19

“It is not accurate to think of science and religion in conflict with each other,” says Fr. JK Adams, SJ. “They are hand and glove.” Fr. Adams and fellow Jesuit Fr. Tom Lamanna partnered with the Washington State Department of Health to encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The public service announcement featuring Frs. Adams and Lamanna stresses the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

“As Jesuits, we want to encourage everyone to take seriously all of the science and the data.”


New positions

Fr. John Cecero, SJ.

After six years as the provincial of the Jesuits’ Northeast Province, Fr. John Cecero, SJ, will return to Fordham University. Serving as Fordham’s new vice president of Mission Integration and Ministry, Fr. Cecero will build on his 15 years of experience as a professor, board member and Jesuit community rector at the university.

“We’re in the business of not only preparing people for careers, but also informing how they see the world, how they orient themselves toward God and other people … especially the poor, the marginalized, and those members of society who are ignored or overlooked,” said Fr. Cecero.

Fordham University president Fr. Joseph McShane, SJ, will step down after nearly two decades of leadership at Fordham. His term will conclude at the end of the 2021-2022 school year.

Fr. Thomas Curran, SJ, will step down from his 16-year tenure as Rockhurst University’s president at the end of the 2021-2022 semester. The Board of Trustees thanked Fr. Curran for his service in a statement, saying, “Rockhurst today is a much stronger university than when Fr. Curran arrived.”

Gonzaga College High recently welcomed Fr. Joseph E. Lingan, SJ, as the 37th president of the Washington, D.C., school. Fr. Lingan himself graduated from Gonzaga in 1975, but he’s not dwelling on his past at Gonzaga. “I’m here to help Gonzaga move forward,” he said. “I believe wholeheartedly in Gonzaga’s mission.”

Fr. Joseph Marina, SJ, was inaugurated as the 29th president of the University of Scranton on September 24. The inauguration was attended by over 1,500 members of the university community, as well as Fr. Joe O’Keefe, SJ, provincial of the Jesuits East Province.

In his address, Fr. Marina referred to the university as a “place where hard work, dedication, and an authentic commitment to the ideals and characteristics of Catholic and Jesuit higher education converge for the benefit of the students we serve.”