Story

June 19, 2020 —The Society of Jesus is proud to announce the ordination of 15 new priests in Canada, the United States and Haiti this calendar year.

Ordinands at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry

Fr. Kevin Kelly, S.J., was ordained May 23 by the Most Reverend Terrence Prendergast, S.J., Archbishop of Ottawa and Alexandria-Cornwall, in one of two ceremonies held in the empty Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Toronto. Read more about the ceremony by clicking here.

Along with Fr. Kelly, Christopher Kellerman, S.J.; Trevor Rainwater, S.J.; Oshish Tirkey, S.J.; Jean Francky Guerrier, S.J. and Adam Lalonde, S.J., were also ordained to the diaconate by Archbishop Prendergast.

Fr. Joshua M. Peters, S.J., was ordained at Ss. Peter and Paul Jesuit Church in Detroit on Saturday, June 20, 2020, at 12:30pm EDT. Bishop Donald Hanchon, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit, presided at the ordination. View the recorded livestream:

Fr. Joshua M. Peters, S.J. at his ordination.

Upcoming ordinations:

It’s safe to assume every Jesuit has been asked to tell his vocation story at least once — and probably far more times than that.

But how about boiling that story of a lifetime down to six words or less? This was one of the questions the 15 Jesuits ordained to the priesthood were asked to ponder leading up to these celebrations.

“Forgiven, healed, loved. Responding in love,” said Kevin Hughes, S.J.

“Go and do likewise (Luke 10:37),” wrote San Mai, S.J.

And Jason Downer, S.J.: “Abundant grace.”

Grace certainly abounds in the lives and vocations of these 15 men from Canada, the United States and Haiti who have said yes to their Catholic faith, yes to the Society of Jesus and yes to the call to ordained priesthood. Their witness is a sign of joyful hope. Their witness is an invitation to all of us to put our faith into action in service to God and our sisters and brothers everywhere.

The formation process (i.e., training) that leads up to Jesuit priestly ordination is a long one, typically lasting 10-12 years and including intensive stages of study, ministry, accompaniment of those on the margins of society, prayer and more — all while living in Jesuit community. This brochure is just a snapshot into the lives of these men throughout their life in the Society of Jesus, capturing some highlights from their journeys and providing a glimpse of their unique personalities. As you learn about them, please keep them in your hearts and in your prayers:

Loving God,
Like his Savior and brother, Jesus Christ,
St. Ignatius of Loyola gathered companions
for his ministry of faith, hope and love.
We are thankful that so many thousands of others
have answered the call to the Society of Jesus through the ages.
Bless these 15 men who will continue to serve
the Society, the Church and the world as ordained priests.
Never cease to enkindle their love for you and your people.
And strengthen all of us to serve with them as fellow disciples.
We pray this through Christ, Our Lord,
AMEN.

Thomas William (Billy) Biegler, S.J.

Sacramento, California
Thomas William (Billy) Biegler, S.J.

Sacramento, California

Province: USA West

Birthday: July 27, 1983

Hometown: Sacramento, California

Education: Bachelor’s degree, philosophy, University of San Francisco; Master’s degree, theatre and performance studies, Washington University in St. Louis; Master of Divinity, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry

Highlights of Jesuit Formation:
1. Taught freshmen at Jesuit High School in Portland, Oregon.
2. Studied theatre at Washington University in Saint Louis.
3. Served as a deacon/chaplain at Saint Cecilia Parish in Boston.

Post-ordination: Will serve at St. Ignatius Parish in Portland, Oregon, and work to promote vocations to the Society of Jesus.

Biography: Fr. Thomas William (Billy) Biegler, S.J., was born in Sacramento, California. The middle of three boys, Billy met the Jesuits at a young age, developing a fondness for their humor, depth and approachability. A graduate of Jesuit High School in Sacramento, Billy completed his undergraduate degree at the University of San Francisco. After undergrad, Billy worked briefly for the San Francisco Opera but returned to Sacramento to work for California Musical Theater (Sacramento Music Circus). In 2009, Billy entered the Jesuit Novitiate in Culver City, California. He completed first studies in St. Louis, finishing philosophy at Saint Louis University and completing a master’s in theatre and performance studies at Washington University. For regency, Billy worked at Jesuit High School in Portland, Oregon, teaching freshman English, freshman Spanish and senior theology. In addition to teaching, Billy led service trips, retreats and a mighty group of freshmen basketball players. For theology, Billy studied at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. Additionally, he worked at Saint Cecilia Parish in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood, serving as spiritual director, RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) instructor and chaplain to the CARES ministry (ministry to the sick and homebound). After ordination, Billy will serve in Portland at St. Ignatius Parish and help with vocation promotion. He is deeply grateful to all of those whose love has transformed his journey. (USA West Province)

Billy served as chaplain to Jesuit Portland's women's soccer team.

What is your favorite book, movie, music, or TV show you’ve encountered since entering the Society and why do you love it?
I've seen Greta Gerwig's "Lady Bird" more times than I can count. Much of "Lady Bird" reminds me of my own high school story, and Greta and I were friends in high school. But beyond the self-indulgent, Greta's depiction of home, teenage angst, the church and her consecrated religious is heartwarming. With style and reverence, Greta reveals the holy in those experiences and places so common to many of us. "Lady Bird" affirms the beautiful in the ordinary — even in Sacramento!

What is one hobby you’ve cultivated as a Jesuit and why is it important to you?
Since first studies, I've spent a lot of time with poetry. Something about the opacity of a poem lends itself to a vulnerability that resonates. Sometimes in prayer, I'll stick with a phrase or a sentence from a poem for weeks, repeating it over and over so that God can break it open. These last few weeks, I've sat with a line from Jorie Graham's "Over and Over Stitch," which concludes: "There are moments in our lives which, threaded, give us heaven."

Tell your vocation story. One catch: You must use only six words.
Came. Came to. Came to believe.

What brings you joy?
In no particular order: my family and friends, Diet Coke, Netflix, dining out, a conversation of depth, the Eastern zodiac, poetry, preaching, praying in an empty church, theater, my Jesuit community, the heat and true crime podcasts.

Billy and his family at Saint Cecilia's Boston.

Greg Celio, S.J.

Fullerton, California
Greg Celio, S.J.

Fullerton, California

Province: USA West

Birthday: May 7, 1982

Hometown: Fullerton, California

Education: Bachelor’s degree in history and master’s degree in education, University of Notre Dame; Master of Divinity, Regis College, University of Toronto

Highlights of Jesuit Formation:
1. Taught history and coached baseball and football at Bellarmine Preparatory School in Tacoma, Washington.
2. Studied Spanish at the Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico, and volunteered at Ciudad de Los Niños.
3. Served the Spanish-speaking community of Parroquia San Juan Bautista as a deacon in Toronto, Canada.

Post-Ordination: Will be missioned to Seattle to work at Seattle Preparatory School and to assist in vocation promotion.

Biography:
Fr. Gregory Celio, S.J., was born and raised in Fullerton, California, the youngest of three children. He grew up in St. Juliana Falconieri Parish and School and attended Servite High School in Anaheim, California. He studied history at the University of Notre Dame where he discovered a love for liturgical music and campus ministry. After graduating in 2004, Greg participated in Notre Dame's ACE (Alliance for Catholic Education) service-through-teaching program, bringing him to Nashville, Tennessee, where he taught for two years at St. Vincent de Paul School. He also earned a master’s degree in education. Afterward, he taught at Overbrook School, also in Nashville. While a teacher, he began discerning a religious vocation with the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), which he had heard about from family and friends, and whose spirituality attracted him. After entering the Society of Jesus in 2009, Greg worked as a novice at Santa Clara University and on the Ft. Belknap Reservation in Montana. After three years studying philosophy, theology and music at St. Louis University, he moved to Tacoma, Washington, to teach history at Bellarmine Preparatory School. He also coached baseball and football and led retreats. Greg spent his third year of Regency in Guadalajara, Mexico, learning Spanish and volunteering at Ciudad de Los Niños, a Jesuit work dedicated to lower-income children in Guadalajara. For the last three years, Greg studied theology at Regis College of the University of Toronto and served as a deacon at Parroquia San Juan Bautista. He received his Master of Divinity from the University of Toronto in May. (USA West Province)


Greg, Justin Claravall SJ, Allison Scanlin, and Tony Rehberger during a hiking retreat at Bellarmine Prep.
What is your favorite book, movie, music, or TV show you’ve encountered since entering the Society and why do you love it?
I was introduced to the TV show “Arrested Development” while teaching in regency. I love its irreverent humor, which made me laugh harder than I can remember in recent years. I also love that it is set in Orange County, where I'm from, with references (for better or worse) to Southern California culture.

Who’s your favorite saint, and why?
St. Francis of Assisi is one of the reasons that I am in religious life today. I encountered his story in high school and was deeply moved by his life and dedication to God. I held onto that inspiration until I began discerning more actively with the Jesuits. I continue to be challenged by him to live the Gospel authentically and joyfully.

What is one hobby you’ve cultivated as a Jesuit and why is it important to you?
As a Jesuit, I have spent a lot of time singing and making music. Whether singing in a large choir or playing piano alone in the community chapel, music is an important way for me to relate to God. As a novice, I began composing music while on the Ft. Belknap Reservation and had the opportunity to study music more formally while at Saint Louis University in 2011. Since then I've had the opportunities to sing in choirs and lead music as liturgies, particularly during the past few years at Regis College in Toronto. It has been a gift to get together with Jesuit brothers to sing and play instruments in the community.

What do you love about the Society of Jesus?
For me, the Society of Jesus is the friendships that we have with each other and with God. I'm very grateful for the men that I have come to know in the Society, who know me, who love me and help me to grow in love with Jesus and his people.

What was one particularly meaningful experience you had during your formation, and why was it meaningful to you?
I spent a year in Guadalajara, Mexico, studying Spanish at the Universidad de Guadalajara and volunteering at Ciudad de Los Niños, a home and school for kids from low-income backgrounds. I loved the people I met and the amazing culture, while I also experienced the difficult and humbling stretches that come with learning another language. Most mornings I helped the kids in their English classes, and in the afternoons, attended my own Spanish classes. Mixed in with this daily routine were a couple of moving experiences away from Guadalajara, including a visit to a Jesuit mission in Chiapas and a walking pilgrimage to Talpa de Allende in Jalisco. Feeling moved and grateful for these experiences, I returned to Mexico last summer to serve in a Jesuit parish in Oaxaca as a deacon and served the Spanish speaking community in Toronto as a deacon this past year.


Greg and Travis Russell, SJ, during their time living and studying in Guadalajara, Mexico.
How might you explain the Jesuit motto "ad maiorem Dei gloriam" to someone who’s never heard it before?
In the motto AMDG (for the greater glory of God) the word "greater" is key. The motto is not about perfection, but about seeking to make progress in loving and serving God and others.

Justin Claravall, S.J.

Artesia, California
Justin Claravall, S.J.

Artesia, California

Province: USA West

Birthday: June 4, 1986

Hometown: Artesia, California

Education: Bachelor’s degree, history of art and architecture, University of California, Santa Barbara; Master’s degree, philosophy, Saint Louis University; Master of Divinity, Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University

Highlights of Jesuit Formation:
1. Taught religion and community service at Bellarmine Preparatory School, Tacoma, Washington.
2. Worked with the Philippine Jesuit Prison Service in Muntinlupa City, Philippines.
3. Worked in L'Arche Noah Sealth in Seattle, Washington.

Post-ordination: Will serve at Dolores Mission Parish in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles.


Justin sitting with the high school students on a retreat in the Philippines managed by the Philippine Jesuit Prison Service. The scholars are children of inmates.

Biography:
God saved me from a meaningless life of malaise and distraction. My sister and I were born in Los Angeles County to parents who immigrated from the Philippines. After attending Catholic school in Artesia, California for a few years, I went to a public high school and the University of California, Santa Barbara. By the end of high school, I had a lukewarm faith. I felt disconnected and suspicious of the American Dream, but knew no alternative. By the end of my time in college, I met Jesus, St. Ignatius and the Jesuits. After some time tutoring in Cerritos, California, volunteering with Gawad Kalinga in the Philippines, and the Newman Center at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, God placed me in the Society of Jesus to heal from my wounds and to witness and help others heal from theirs. Since 2009, I have been formed by many people all around the world, too many to list, but I carry them all in my heart and hope to return to them what they’ve given to me. (USA West Province)

What is your favorite book, movie, music, or TV show you’ve encountered since entering the Society and why do you love it?

One of my favorite books is “The Brothers Karamazov” by Fyodor Dostoevsky. This quote from the character Zosima, as well as the unfolding of its meaning in the novel, makes it all worth it:

"Never be afraid of your own faint-heartedness in the endeavor to love, nor even too fearful of any bad actions that you may commit in the course of that endeavor. I am sorry I cannot say anything more comforting to you, for active love compared with contemplative love is a hard and awesome business. Contemplative love seeks a heroic deed that can be accomplished without delay and in full view of everyone. Indeed, some people are even ready to lay down their lives as long as the process is not long drawn out but takes place quickly, as though it were being staged for everybody to watch and applaud. Active love, on the other hand, is unremitting hard work and tenacity, and for some it is a veritable science. But let me tell you in advance: even as you may realize with horror that, in spite of your best efforts, not only have you not come any nearer to your goal, but you may even have receded from it, it is precisely at that moment, I tell you, that you will suddenly reach your goal and clearly behold the wondrous power of God, who has at all times loved you, at all times mysteriously guided you."

Justin hiking in Washington with fellow ordinand Greg Celio, S.J., and colleague Allison Scanlin, who all taught at Bellarmine Preparatory School in Tacoma, Washington.

What is one hobby you’ve cultivated as a Jesuit and why is it important to you?
Calligraphy. I need to make art or have some kind of creative practice. Since Jesuit life can be transient (so far, I haven't lived anywhere for more than three years), I found that some art mediums are more convenient or portable. Calligraphy still inspires me and challenges me, and its materials are easier to move than a drum set or a standing easel.

Tell your vocation story. One catch: You must use only six words.
I have died. Life is Christ.

What brings you joy?
Sitting around a table with lots of food, lots of friends, Jesuit and non-Jesuit, listening to laughter and deep conversation, with good music in the background, and maybe even singing along and dancing with my friends ... these things, sometimes individually and sometimes all together, they bring me joy.

Jason G. Downer, S.J.

Rochester, New York
Jason G. Downer, S.J.

Rochester, New York

Province: USA Northeast

Birthday: July 15, 1980

Hometown: Rochester, New York

Education: Bachelor’s degree, history, Canisius College; Master’s degree, college student personnel administration, Canisius College; Master’s degree in social philosophy, Loyola University Chicago; Master of Divinity, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry; Master of Theology, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry

Highlights of Jesuit Formation:
1. Accompanying a group of students from Loyola University Chicago to MAGIS/World Youth Day in Brazil in 2013.
2. Coordinating a 19th annotation retreat for members of Saint Peter’s University.
3. Serving at the Kino Border Initiative for the summer of 2017.

Post-ordination: Will do a pastoral year in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia.

Biography:
Jason G. Downer, S.J., was born and raised in Rochester, New York. In addition to his parents, Jason has two older sisters who are married and have families of their own. He is a proud uncle of five nieces and nephews. He first met the Jesuits at McQuaid Jesuit High School and then continued to be educated by them at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. Jason did a year of service with Mercy Volunteer Corps after undergrad and before starting grad school at Canisius College. After graduate school, he worked at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut, in student affairs for a few years. Jason loved being a part of the Jesuit mission and Ignatian spirituality, and so in 2008 began a two-year process of discernment. He entered the Jesuits in 2010 and has had a variety of experiences since then, including studying Spanish in Bolivia and Miami and being a chaplain at the Cook County Temporary Juvenile Detention Center. Jason has been blessed to work with young adults in campus ministry at Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City, New Jersey, and to be trained as a spiritual director and accompany people of various ages in the 19th annotation retreat. After ordination, Jason will do a pastoral year in Pohnpei, Micronesia.

What is your favorite book, movie, music, or TV show you’ve encountered since entering the Society and why do you love it?
I love the TV show The Good Place! It's a great combination of humor and depth. I love the way they have explored the relationships between the main characters and what it means to lead a good life.

Jason (second from right) with Jesuits from the Faber Jesuit Community at Boston College who ran a half marathon in the fall of 2019 in honor of Fr. Tom Stegman, SJ (center), dean of the BC School of Theology and Ministry.

What is one hobby you’ve cultivated as a Jesuit and why is it important to you?
Before I entered the Jesuits I had never even run a mile; now I've run six half marathons. I started running during novitiate as a form of exercise and since then it has become something I really enjoy. Running is a great way to start my day. I often get to see some pretty spectacular sunrises and to say a quick prayer of thanks to God.

What do you love about the Society of Jesus?
I love the relationships. Even before entering the Jesuits, outside of my family, Jesuit institutions have been where classmates and colleagues have become my closest friends. The Jesuits are inherently relationship based, starting with a personal relationship with God and from there it spreads to being in relationship with other Jesuits, fantastic colleagues, students, parishioners, those on the margins of society. Jesuits are called to live in the world, in relationship with those they are accompanying.

Jason with Loyola University Chicago students at World Youth Day in Brazil in 2013.

What was one particularly meaningful experience you had during your formation, and why was it meaningful to you?
The six weeks we spent at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx, New York, was a particularly meaningful experience during my formation. Novices have been going there for more than 40 years, and we are thrown into the deep end helping the nurses and aids care for the patients. My class started there during Holy Week, and I remember what it was like bathing a patient with all their wounds and just praying for them with the Passion narrative running through my head. It was a clear encounter with Christ.

Tell your vocation story. One catch: You must use only six words.
Abundant grace.

What brings you joy?
I find joy in being able to accompany young people as they encounter God in new ways during college. Talking with a student after a retreat or an immersion trip as they are trying to put words to the experience is just a privileged place to be.

James Ferus, S.J.

New Bedford, Massachusetts
James Ferus, S.J.

New Bedford, Massachusetts

Province: USA Northeast

Birthday: September 5, 1985

Hometown: New Bedford, Massachusetts

Education: Bachelor’s degree, government, Harvard University; Master’s degree, philosophical resources, Fordham University; Master of Divinity, Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University

Highlights of Jesuit Formation:
1. Entered the Jesuit novitiate after spending two years in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.
2. Taught violin to students in the Bronx during philosophy studies at Fordham University.
3. Played with the inmate choir at San Quentin State Prison during theologies studies in Berkeley, California.

Post-Ordination: Will continue serving in his current ministries at San Quentin and Our Lady of Lourdes in Oakland, California, as he completes a Licentiate in Sacred Theology.

Biography:
Fr. James Ferus, S.J., was born and raised in the coastal city of New Bedford, Massachusetts, the only child of Nancy and the late Paul Ferus. James’ Catholic faith was nourished by his family, parochial schooling, and years as an altar server. While he didn’t attend a Jesuit school, his interest in studying the Bible and asking many questions of parish mentors likely suggested his future life as a Jesuit and educator. James began to seriously consider priesthood through his involvement in campus ministry while an undergraduate at Harvard, where he met many Jesuits from around the world who were studying theology nearby. Eager to continue his discernment while living a life of service, James spent two years in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, first at Cristo Rey New York High School and then at Operation Nightwatch, a community center for the homeless, in Portland, Oregon. Once his first Jesuit spiritual director pointed out to James how much he loved his students and community, he felt Jesus nudging him to make a lifelong commitment to religious life. Since entering the novitiate in Syracuse in 2009, God has always been gracious and resourceful with James’ prayerful desires and talents. Gifted with music lessons as a boy, James taught violin to students in the Bronx while studying philosophy at Fordham and later played with the inmate choir at San Quentin State Prison while studying theology in Berkeley, California. In between, he greatly enjoyed his years in Maine teaching students and accompanying them and their families at Cheverus High School. Most recently, James served as a deacon both at San Quentin and Our Lady of Lourdes in Oakland. Next year he will continue in these ministries as he completes a Licentiate in Sacred Theology. James will celebrate Masses of thanksgiving at Fordham and his home church, St. Lawrence, Martyr.

What is your favorite book, movie, music, or TV show you’ve encountered since entering the Society and why do you love it?
After full days of reading or teaching, I’ve grown to appreciate cooking shows, especially competitions such as “Chopped,” “The Great British Baking Show,” and most recently, “Nailed It!!” They not only inspire culinary creativity, but they also teach me the important lesson of time management when cooking in my own communities. (Despite my best-laid plans, I almost always run over time.) And watching a cooking series with housemates gives us a chance to bond after dinner, and maybe a little humility to recognize our own limitations as cooks!

What’s one interesting fact about yourself not everyone would know?
I learned to play violin as a small child and was a member of orchestras throughout high school and college. Yet, it’s been during my time as a Jesuit that I’ve developed a deep appreciation for the gift that music is in my life. Each of my superiors has strongly encouraged me to continue cultivating this gift and share it with others. I’ve had numerous opportunities to teach students and to contribute to liturgical music in both elegant churches and prison chapels. But I’ve also been able to savor the everyday moments of rehearsing with friends in small groups playing piano trios and string quartets. Sharing a common passion for music lends to extending hospitality and rich spiritual conversation, especially with colleagues from different religious traditions (or none at all) whose souls are profoundly stirred by the sounds we produce. Much of what I have learned about collaboration in parishes and schools has been cultivated within the intimate space of music-making.

James gives violin lessons at St. Ignatius School in the Bronx in 2013.

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?
The day I entered the Jesuits I would have never imagined that within a couple of years my father would be diagnosed with cancer and pass away. Looking back on this sad event that changed my responsibilities within my family and shaped my formation, I’d encourage myself to trust just how supportive my brother Jesuits would be. So many have asked with great care and interest about my mother’s well-being, and a few of my close friends and classmates even write her notes and call her on occasion. Spiritual directors and community members have provided me with compassionate support while I mourned, a privileged environment that many people don’t have access to. Over the years, each of my superiors has encouraged me to make additional family visits for special events, and sometimes just because. My mom has enjoyed wonderful hospitality in my communities, and she in turn has extended hospitality to my brothers. During these recent years when I’ve lived across the country, I’ve still felt connected to my family and my roots. And so, on day one I’d remind myself – or anyone else for that matter – that the Jesuits will not only become your extended family, but truly integrate with your biological family.

Who is one important mentor who has accompanied you on your journey? What made them a good mentor?
Fr. Jack Fagan, S.J., arrived in Portland, Maine, the same week as I did in the summer of 2014. I was beginning my regency at Cheverus High School, and Jack, his appointment as superior of my community. We quickly established a pattern of sharing stories of our daily ministry in our house’s living room while listening to classical music on the radio. Jack’s enthusiastic questions not only helped me focus my prayer on how God had been present throughout my day in the lives of my students and their families, but also helped me imagine new possibilities for evangelization to the youth. Using his wisdom from decades of creative pastoral ministry on the margins, Jack’s responses to my stories reflected on how seemingly minor interactions with folks may have actually made a major impact on their days. Such creative visions came true when we entertained the Cheverus students three straight years singing humorous duets at the annual karaoke fundraiser. Jack modeled wonderful care for the Jesuits in our community as our superior and invited me to assist him with some of his administrative responsibilities, which gave me a valuable perspective on his important role and a greater sense of ownership in spite of being the youngest member. We were also privileged to participate together on several Kairos retreats, and I was fortunate to witness the impact his compassionate priestly ministry had on the students. Moments like these moved me forward toward the later stage of formation with eagerness to be ordained a priest. Throughout the years, Jack has shown me the importance of hospitality — to teacher colleagues and especially to family and friends — and that what matters most is spending quality time with the people we love. It’s both an obvious choice and an honor to have Jack vest me at my ordination this summer.

James (right) with Fr. Jack Fagan, S.J., (left) and then-novice Brendan Gottschall, S.J., en route to an island near Portland, Maine.

Kevin Cahill Hughes, S.J.

Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Kevin Cahill Hughes, S.J.

Cherry Hill, New Jersey

Province: Maryland

Birthday: September 13, 1985

Hometown: Cherry Hill, New Jersey

Education: Bachelor's degree, biology, La Salle University; Master's degree, biology, Saint Louis University; Master of Divinity, Regis College, University of Toronto

Highlights of Jesuit Formation:
1. Worked with deaf Catholics in St. Louis, Toronto and Rochester, New York.
2. Taught math and science at McQuaid Jesuit High in Rochester.
3. Did a summer emersion with fellow Jesuit scholastics in China.

Post-Ordination:
Will serve as parochial vicar at Our Lady of Hope Parish in Portland, Maine.

Biography:
Kevin Cahill Hughes, S.J., grew up in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, with his parents and sister, where he attended his local parish grammar school. Kevin’s grandmother suggested that he consider St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia for high school, which was a wise suggestion because this is where he first met the Society of Jesus. He always loved science and throughout high school aspired to do some kind of research in the field of biology. High school was a difficult time for Kevin, as it is for many, and he did not care to put much effort into developing a relationship with God. After graduating from high school, he attended La Salle University in Philadelphia where he majored in biology. During his freshman year, Kevin had an experience of God. He always struggles to adequately describe this experience, but regardless, in the moment of encounter he felt and knew that he was deeply loved by God and called to relationship. Kevin wanted to understand his experience and what it might mean to be loved and called by God, so he went back to talk with one of the Jesuits he knew and trusted from his high school, Fr. Tom Clifford, S.J. Over the next four years of undergrad he examined what it means to be loved by God and began to discern how best to make a response in love to the God who loves him. Kevin decided that he wanted to give back with a life of service to God and God’s people. By the end of his senior year, he had applied and been accepted to the novitiate, and Kevin has loved continuing his journey of discernment about how best to respond to God’s love and Christ’s call to follow him. As a Jesuit in formation, Kevin taught math and science at McQuaid Jesuit High School in Rochester, New York; did a summer immersion with fellow Jesuit scholastics in China; and earned a Master of Divinity degree from Regis College in Toronto. After ordination, Kevin will serve as parochial vicar at Our Lady of Hope Parish in Portland, Maine.

Kevin baptizing his cousin Andrew’s son Ashton; serving as a deacon and performing baptisms brought Kevin great joy.

Who’s your favorite saint, and why?
My favorite saint is Mary Magdalene. We learn from Luke’s Gospel that she is a woman from whom seven demons had been cast out. Her healing encounter with Jesus caused in her a complete and total transformation, so that she becomes a companion of Jesus during his ministry. We also learn from John’s Gospel that Jesus appears to her after his resurrection and charges her with the mission of telling his disciples the Good News. Mary Magdalene is my favorite saint because I admire her response to follow Jesus after being healed, and I desire to emulate her eagerness and willingness to be sent by Jesus on mission to bring the Good News of him to others.

What is one hobby you’ve cultivated as a Jesuit and why is it important to you?
One hobby that I have cultivated as a Jesuit is playing board games. I have found this to be a fun and creative outlet from studies and the stresses of the day. For me, playing board games is a communal activity during which I can be present to my brothers in community and just have fun. The games themselves are enjoyable, but the fellowship, the banter and the fraternal interactions that they facilitate are what make the games worthwhile. Especially now when most people are totally engrossed in their cellphones, tablets or computers, it is awesome to be able to finish dinner and do something together that does not involve any screen time.

Kevin at dinner with some of his Jesuit friends while on vacation. From left, Jonathan Harmon, S.J.; David Lugo, S.J.; Alex Llanera, S.J.; Kevin; and Bryce Deline, S.J.

Tell your vocation story. One catch: You must use only six words.
Forgiven, healed, loved. Responding in love.

Who is one important mentor who has accompanied you on your journey? What made them a good mentor?
Br. Jim Lemon, S.J., was one important mentor to me during my time in formation. I lived with "Bro" during my long experiment as a novice and would often talk with him about my day, week, struggles, etc. During one occasion in which I was complaining about the attitude of another community member he asked me a simple question that has stayed with me ever since, and which I find myself going back to regularly. He said, “Kevin, I hear you and I understand what you’re saying, but I have one question: For whom did you enter the Society of Jesus?” This immediately put everything into perspective. He helped me to realize and remember that I did not enter the Society of Jesus for myself or for anyone other than Christ. Br. Lemon’s question continues to help me remember to bring my focus back to Christ, because it is Christ who sustains me. This also helps me to remember to give thanks to Christ for the many blessings I have received in my life through my family, my friends and in my fellow Jesuits.

Kevin Andrew Kelly, S.J.

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Kevin Andrew Kelly, S.J.

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Province: Canada

Birthday: February 5, 1971

Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Education: Honours Bachelor of Science, human physiology, University of Toronto; Master of Theological Studies, Regis College, University of Toronto; Master of Divinity, Regis College, University of Toronto

Highlights of Jesuit Formation:
1. Worked with the African Jesuit AIDS Network in Nairobi, Kenya, including helping to develop HIV awareness programs for local parishes and schools and supporting women living with HIV in starting their own businesses.
2. Worked at the Jesuit Forum for Social Faith and Justice in Toronto, leading discussions on social justice issues.
3. Helped launch the Ignatian Spirituality Project in Toronto, a retreat program that supports those in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction and who have experienced homelessness.

Post-Ordination: Will serve as director of Villa Saint-Martin, the Jesuit retreat center in Montreal.

Biography:
While Kevin Kelly, S.J., was born in Ottawa, Ontario, he spent much of his childhood and adolescence with his two brothers and parents at their cottage in Perth, a small town located an hour from his home. Kevin was an altar server for many years at the parish there. After high school and two years of acting in local amateur and professional theatre productions, Kevin attended the Herbert Berghof Studio, a theatre school in New York City. While this was a very formative experience, Kevin decided to leave New York and begin studies in physiology and virology at the University of Toronto. After graduating, he was hired by Merck & Co., an international pharmaceutical company. Kevin held several different leadership positions during his 12-year tenure at Merck in the areas of vaccine research, sales and marketing and medication approval and access. He was also afforded the opportunity to live in many cities in Canada, the United States and Europe. Kevin met the Jesuits in Zurich, Switzerland, and entered the Canadian Province’s novitiate in Montreal in 2011. As a Jesuit, Kevin has had a number of different formation experiences. Working with AJAN, the African Jesuit AIDS Network in Nairobi, Kenya, he helped develop HIV awareness programs for local parishes and schools, assisted medical clinics in gaining access to HIV medications and supported women living with HIV in starting their own businesses. He worked at the Jesuit Forum for Social Faith and Justice in Toronto, leading small discussion groups in a spiritual conversation process on a variety of social justice issues. He also helped launch the Ignatian Spirituality Project in Toronto, a retreat program that supports those in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction and who have experienced homelessness. He attended Regis College at the University of Toronto and completed his Master of Theological Studies in 2015 and his Master of Divinity in May 2020. Kevin was ordained a transitional deacon in October 2019, and his apostolic interests include spiritual and retreat direction, integrating Ignatian spirituality into the business context and working with those in recovery from addiction. Kevin will start his new role as the director of the Jesuit Retreat Centre in Montreal, Villa St. Martin, in July 2020.

Kevin with his family at his diaconate ordination at St. John the Baptist Church in Perth, Ontario.

Who’s your favorite saint, and why?
St. Claude de la Colombière was a Jesuit priest born in 1641 in southeastern France. He was a teacher, a preacher, spiritual writer, the rector of a large Jesuit community and most notably a spiritual guide. It was in this role of confessor and spiritual director for the nuns of the Monastery of the Visitation Sisters in Paray-le-Monial for which he is best known. There, he met St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, who received private revelations from Christ calling her to promote devotion to his Sacred Heart. Much of St. Margaret’s community spurned and ridiculed her, not believing her mystical visions to be real. St. Margaret was told by Jesus that he would send her a “faithful servant and perfect friend,” one who would guide and care of her. He sent her St. Claude who not only believed in St. Margaret and her visions, but became her ardent supporter and zealous apostle of the Sacred Heart devotion. We are all called to be faithful servants and perfect friends, caring for those who may be excluded and misunderstood, supporting them when the world seems to push them aside. St. Claude models servant leadership beautifully: not needing to be the centre of attention, but the one who cares for and guides others in realizing God’s plan and call for them.

What’s one interesting fact about yourself not everyone would know?
I was the class clown throughout all of high school. This led to desiring a bigger stage and being in several school and local amateur theatre productions. After high school, I worked full time in professional theatre in Ottawa and other parts of Canada. I then auditioned for theatre schools and was accepted into a two-year program at the Herbert Berghof Studio in New York City. I loved this time in my life: I met many interesting people, some of whom went on to be successful in theatre, TV and movies, as well as many others who struggled to find themselves and a working life in the arts. I was lucky to learn early on that I had been a medium-sized fish in a very small pond back in Canada. It helped to make the decision to return home and go to university when my theatre program ended. I am so grateful for the skills that I learned throughout this process, many of which I used in my career before the Jesuits, as well as now in leading retreats and preaching at Mass. It was during this time that I also began to realize that I had a vocation to the priesthood and first became aware of discernment and movements of the Spirit in our lives.

Kevin with an Ignatian Spirituality Project retreatant

What was one particularly meaningful experience you had during your formation, and why was it meaningful to you?
The Ignatian Spirituality Project (ISP) provides spiritual support for men and women who have experienced homelessness and who are currently in sober living houses in recovery from addictions and trying to refocus and redirect their lives. Like all of us, these individuals need spiritual support but often lack the resources to access it. I helped to launch ISP in Toronto almost five years ago. Our retreat team facilitates weekend retreats, follow-up days of reflection and ongoing spiritual companionship to help these individuals find this support. Through a blend of Ignatian and 12-Step spiritualities, ISP attempts to lay a foundation of hope and healing for those living on the margins. This retreat team is wonderfully diverse. Its 18 members (nine women and nine men) are of different faith traditions, span almost five decades in age, are comprised of religious and lay people, and, while most are in some type of study program (e.g., spiritual direction, theology or pastoral counseling), everyone has unique education and employment experiences. Some members of the team are in recovery themselves or are alumni of ISP retreats. This diversity allows the group to capitalize on its many strengths and meet each ISP retreatant where they are in their recovery journey. Each facilitator also tries to embrace their own brokenness, never seeing themselves as advising or teaching others, but rather offering their own strengths and vulnerabilities in the hope of modeling healthy choices based on their own life experience.

Who is one important mentor who has accompanied you on your journey? What made them a good mentor?
My brother Paul was born with Down Syndrome. He was a very important part of my life, influencing not only my experiences of family, God and faith, but how I see, care for and work with others. Paul passed away in October 2019 after living with dementia for almost three years. Paul naturally assumed the best in people. He was able to see people’s struggles and brokenness even when they were not open to seeing them or sharing them with others. His strength was his ability to bring people together and make anyone feel as though they were the most important person in his life; and there were. Paul modelled many gifts that I seek and try to cultivate as a Jesuit (though, not always successfully): He was gentle, focused on the other and relied on others’ support for him as much as he supported others with their own needs. Paul also loved a party, a good laugh and other simple joys … things that many of us lose sight of when life gets too busy.

David Lugo, S.J.

Houston, Texas
David Lugo, S.J.

Houston, Texas

Province: USA Central and Southern

Birthday: January 14, 1987

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Education: Bachelor’s degree, physics, Texas A&M University; Master’s degree, philosophy, Saint Louis University; Master of Divinity, Regis College, University of Toronto; Bachelor of Sacred Theology, Regis College, University of Toronto

Highlights of Jesuit Formation:
1. Served in a Jesuit parish in rural Guatemala.
2. Taught theology and mathematics at Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas.
3. Studied spiritual theology and Ignatian spirituality at Comillas Pontifical University in Madrid, Spain.

Post-Ordination: Will return to Madrid to finish his Licentiate in Sacred Theology at Comillas Pontifical University and serve as a priest at a Jesuit parish in Madrid.

Biography:
David A. Lugo, S.J., was born in the Dominican Republic and immigrated to the United States at a young age with his parents and two older brothers. Eventually they settled in Houston, Texas, where David attended public school and a diocesan parish. After feeling called to the priesthood at a young age, David began to think about a life of priestly ministry. Following his parents’ advice, he went to Texas A&M University to complete a bachelor’s degree in physics before considering seminary formation. It was at A&M that David met the Jesuits. He began to discern religious life in the Society and requested admission to the novitiate upon completing his undergraduate work. In the fall of 2009, he entered the novitiate in the former New Orleans Province. From his time in the novitiate, David recalls many wonderful experiences, but he especially remembers his months serving the Jesuit parish in the hills of rural Guatemala. It was on that experiment that he experienced the joys and opportunities that were open to him as a Jesuit. After vows he studied philosophy at Saint Louis University and was then missioned to teach theology and mathematics at Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas. He remembers those three years with great fondness and looks forward to returning to the classroom in the future. After completing his Bachelor of Sacred Theology and Master of Divinity at the Jesuit Theologate in Toronto, David requested to study spiritual theology and Ignatian spirituality at the Comillas Pontifical University in Madrid, Spain. After his ordination to the priesthood, David will return to Madrid to finish his Licentiate in Sacred Theology and serve as a priest at a Jesuit parish in Madrid.

David with a group of fellow Jesuits from his master’s program in Ignatian spirituality at Comillas Pontifical University in Madrid on a trip to Ávila. From left: Andrés Hernández-Caro, S.J. (Colombian Province); José Antonio Rubio, S.J. (Central American Province); Andy Liberato, S.J. (Antilles Province); and David.

What is your favorite book, movie, music, or TV show you’ve encountered since entering the Society and why do you love it?
My students from regency will roll their eyes if they read this, but my favorite movie from the last few years is “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Though the movie was hated by pretty much everyone, I loved seeing how the animosity between “brothers” can lead to chaos, but that their reconciliation is precisely what will bring about peace and justice.

What is one hobby you’ve cultivated as a Jesuit and why is it important to you?
A fellow Jesuit and I have been recording weekly podcasts to help us prepare for our Sunday homilies. This has been a fun side project that taps into my love for preaching and my love for digital technology.

What was one particularly meaningful experience you had during your formation, and why was it meaningful to you?
The Easter Triduum 2017 was particularly meaningful. That weekend our varsity soccer team played in the state tournament and I was able to go with them and lead them in three prayer services, each modeled after a different Triduum liturgy. It was a wonderful experience of being a priest “on the road” with my students. To top it all off, that’s the year we won state.

David with his theology class students at Jesuit Dallas in 2016. 

What brings you joy?
My nieces and nephews. When I first saw the oldest of the bunch it sparked such joy. In that moment I was so happy to see my family grow and my brother become a father. I know now that even though I won’t have my own kids, that this boy and his siblings and cousins will be for me a great source of life and love. Whenever I’m down, I look through the pictures my brothers share with me of their children and I can’t help but smile.

San Mai, S.J.

Portland, Oregon
San Mai, S.J.

Portland, Oregon

Province: USA West

Birthday: November 11, 1967

Hometown: Portland, Oregon

Education: Bachelor’s degree, computer engineering and Master of Business Administration, Santa Clara University; Master of Divinity, Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University

Highlights of Jesuit Formation:
1. Taught math and science at St. Andrew Nativity School in Portland, Oregon.
2. Served as a deacon and leader of children’s faith formation at Our Lady of Lourdes in Oakland, California.

Post-ordination: Will serve as associate pastor at St. Aloysius Parish in Spokane, Washington.

View recorded livestream of Fr. Mai's ordination below:

Biography:

Fr. San Mai, S.J., was born in Saigon, Vietnam, with his two sisters. He immigrated with his family to Portland, Oregon, in 1975 at the age of seven. San attended Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California, where he met the Jesuits. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering in 1989 and a master’s in business administration in 1994. Although he was noticeably impressed with the joy and zeal he saw in the Jesuits at Santa Clara University, San did not feel called to religious life but rather to pursue the Silicon Valley dream. Prior to entering the Society of Jesus, San worked for 20 years in the Bay Area as a product management and marketing executive for various public and private technology companies. Calling his vocation “late and surprising, yet incredibly consoling” given his career in the corporate world, San entered the Society of Jesus in 2011. As a novice, he worked as a teaching assistant at Jesuit High School in Portland, Oregon. San then studied philosophy at Loyola University Chicago in 2013. Missioned next to St. Andrew Nativity School in Portland, Oregon, he worked for two years as a math and science teacher. This past May, San earned a Master of Divinity degree at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, California. He also served as a deacon and leader of children’s faith formation at Our Lady of Lourdes in Oakland, California. (USA West Province)

Who’s your favorite saint, and why?
My favorite saint is Peter Faber, S.J. Peter Faber is known for being simple, humble and unassuming and this is why he is called the Quiet Companion, which may explain why it took so long for him to be canonized. After Ignatius himself, the early Jesuits respected and loved Peter Faber the most. This is because Faber possessed the gift of friendship to a remarkable degree. Simão Rodrigues, one of the early Jesuit co-founder, says this about Faber: he was "endowed with charming grace in dealing with people, which up to now I must confess I have not seen in anyone else. Somehow he entered into friendship in such a way, bit by bit coming to influence others in such a manner, that his very way of living and gracious conversation powerfully drew to the love of God all those with whom he dealt.” This gift of friendship enabled Faber to become a master at giving the Spiritual Exercises, which is all about deepening one’s friendship with Jesus. Ignatius himself acknowledged that no one was better than giving the Exercises than Faber. Although Faber was a quiet and unassuming introvert, he was extremely effective as a preacher and retreat director. Just as many people flocked to Jesus to hear him proclaim the Kingdom of God, many people flocked to Jesus’ disciple, Peter Faber, to engage him in spiritual conversation and receive his guidance for their souls. Faber had more requests from priests, prelates, and princes to make the Spiritual Exercises than he himself could handle. Ignatius once said Faber had enough work in one town for more than ten Jesuits. Faber's humility enabled him to dialogue with all, even the most remote and even with his opponents, and this is something we desperately need today in this divisive country of ours. Pope Francis considers Faber one of his favorite saints and so do I.

From San’s diaconate ordination in October 2019 at St. Mary’s Chapel, Moraga, California. From left to right: Howie Mai (sister), Hanh Le (brother-in-law), Sydney Le (niece), Bich Hoang (mother), San, Sy Mai (father), Han Mai (sister) and Brian Smith (brother-in-law).

What’s one interesting fact about yourself not everyone would know?
During my years of studying theology in Berkeley, California, I learned how to play golf. Alas, I wished I had learned to play golf when I was younger because it is not an easy sport to learn. There are three reasons why I love golf, even though I continue to be a terrible golfer. First, I love spending time outdoors in the quiet beauty of God’s creation on the links where I can pause to admire the towering trees, the whispering grass, and the rolling hills of Berkeley. Second, golf requires a lot of patience, a virtue I lack, not only because of the time required to play a full round but also because it is a hard sport to master. Finally and most importantly, golf has revealed something important about my relationship with God. As a novice golfer, I have a tendency to grip my clubs very tightly. When I do so, I tend to swing rather poorly. This tendency reflects my need to be in control of many aspects of my life. In contrast, when I hold my clubs more loosely, my swing is freer and often more consistent. This has been an important reminder for me to loosen my grip on life because I am not in control. God is in control.

From left: Fr. Perry T. Petrich, S.J.; Fr. David Romero, S.J. and Fr. San Mai, S.J.

What was one particularly meaningful experience you had during your formation, and why was it meaningful to you?
For my regency assignment, my provincial missioned me to St. Andrew Nativity School, a Jesuit inner-city middle school in Portland, Oregon, for underserved young people. To be clear, this was not my first choice because I was hoping to be missioned to a high school or university. Having worked in the corporate world for many years and being the oldest Jesuit scholastic at the time, I had many reservations about working with middle schoolers. Would I be able to connect with them given our age differences? How would I deal with classroom management given that many of them would be going through all kinds of hormonal changes? Would I even remember the math and science I learned so many years ago when I was their age? Despite these initial reservations, I had an incredibly consoling and affirming experience during regency. I love St. Andrew Nativity and I especially love my students. In retrospect, what I have learned is that while the math and science I taught to my students was important, loving them and receiving their love in return was much more important. Although my “official” ministry as a regent was to teach math and science, I think it is more accurate to describe this regency assignment as a ministry of love, which is really what Jesus’ ministry was all about. I am grateful to my former students for teaching me how to be more patient, kind and loving as they are essential qualities that I pray will make me a good Jesuit priest.

San’s eighth-grade students from St. Andrew Nativity School in Portland, Oregon, June 2017.

Tell your vocation story. One catch: You must use only six words.
“Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:37

How has your spirituality changed since entering the Society?
As many Jesuits will attest, the Spiritual Exercises have transformed my relationship with God, and in particular, Jesus, who I now see as a faithful friend and companion who is always with me at every moment of my life. The Spiritual Exercises have helped me to understand and embrace that I am a loved sinner. As a Jesuit, I have never felt more loved by Jesus than right now as I look forward to serving the Church and the Society as a Jesuit priest. And, my love for Jesus has grown as I have come to better know Him through the people of God I accompany in my studies and ministries. In the fourth week of the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius asks us to contemplate how God loves us in deeds, and shares with us, and we with God — it is this mutuality and reciprocity that informs everything I do as a Jesuit.

Levelt Michaud, S.J.

Léogane, Haiti
Levelt Michaud, S.J.

Léogane, Haiti

Province: Canada

Birthday: December 26, 1986

Hometown: Léogane, Haiti

Education: Bachelor’s degree, philosophy, Centre Bono, Dominican Republic; Bachelor’s degree, theology, Centre Sevres, Paris

Highlights of Jesuit Formation:
1. Served with the Jesuit Refugee Service, doing pastoral work with Haitian students.
2. Worked with Haitians in a batey, where sugarcane cutters live, in the Dominican Republic.
3. Studied theology in Paris, where he also accompanied a Christian Life Community and led an interreligious group for migrants.

Post-ordination: Will continue working on his Licentiate in Sacred Theology at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.

Biography:
Born in Léogane, Haiti, Father Levelt Michaud, S.J., is the second in a family of seven children. When he reflected on the question about following Christ, he was still in the third year of secondary school in an Anglican high school. Through his cousin, an Anglican seminarian, he discovered the presence of the Jesuits in Haiti. Fascinated by their lifestyle and charism, he entered the novitiate in Port-au-Prince in 2008. In 2010, he began philosophy studies in the Dominican Republic. Through the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), he did pastoral work among young Haitian students. Later, he discovered the subhuman living conditions of his Haitian compatriots in sugarcane fields, known as bateyes. Deeply touched by their situation, he asked to be allowed to work in a batey: It was an experience that made him more sensitive to the most vulnerable. Along with other Haitian scholastics, he invested himself creating a liturgical review in Creole to better help Haitians to live Sunday Masses. By the end of his studies, Nietzsche’s critical writings had captured his imagination; his thesis was on Nietzsche. In 2014, he returned to his country for regency, teaching philosophy at the major seminary and at a high school. He also served both as minister and bursar of his community. He continued with the publication of the liturgical review in Creole in Haiti by assuming the role of director. In addition, he accompanied the Christian Life Community (CLC). In 2016, he was sent to Paris for theology. He continued with the accompaniment of the CLC in Paris. He also led a small interreligious group for migrants for JRS France. During the summer of 2017, he went to Athens to work with migrants. He successfully tutored an asylum seeker through JRS France. For his final dissertation, he made a comparative study of the meaning of suffering in Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the survivors of the earthquake in Haiti in 2010. Currently, he is in his first year of studies for his Licentiate in Sacred Theology at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry where he is majoring in ethics. He will be ordained a priest in Haiti on August 1, 2020. His first Mass will be at his home parish, Immaculate Conception. Afterward, he will return to Boston to complete his studies.

Levelt with his sister Kathiana in Haiti just before he left for Paris for theology studies in 2016.

What is your favorite book, movie, music, or TV show you’ve encountered since entering the Society and why do you love it?
Book: “The Little Prince”; movie: “Amistad”; music: “Heal the World” by Michael Jackson.

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?
Calm, faithful and hard worker.

What is one hobby you’ve cultivated as a Jesuit and why is it important to you?
Bicycling and writing poems. Bicycling because it was my mode of transportation to go to school in my hometown and writing because it’s a way I express my feelings.

What’s one interesting fact about yourself not everyone would know?
I love philosophy.

What do you love about the Society of Jesus?
The universality of the Society and its openness.

What was one particularly meaningful experience you had during your formation, and why was it meaningful to you?
To be able to study with other Jesuits around the world.

Tell your vocation story. One catch: You must use only six words.
Prayer, service, gratitude, study and work.

How has your spirituality changed since entering the Society?
I try to find God in everything.

Levelt in Nsiamfumu, Democratic Republic of Congo, in July 2019.

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?
Be myself and be confident in others and be open to the novelty.

What brings you joy?
Working with others and finding sense in what I do.

Who is one important mentor who has accompanied you on your journey? What made them a good mentor?
Etienne Ganty, S.J., because with him I discovered a taste for philosophy.

How might you explain the Jesuit motto "ad maiorem Dei gloriam" to someone who’s never heard it before?
I would quote this phrase from St. Irenaeus: "The glory of God is the standing man."

Joshua M. Peters, S.J.

Detroit, Michigan
Joshua M. Peters, S.J.

Detroit, Michigan

Province: USA Midwest

Birthday: September 29, 1978

Hometown: Detroit, Michigan

Education: Bachelor’s degree, American studies, University of Dayton; Master’s degree, social philosophy, Loyola University Chicago; Master’s degree, theology, Xavier University of Louisiana; Master of Divinity, Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University

Highlights of Jesuit Formation:
1. Worked on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations in South Dakota.
2. Taught at Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory School in Chicago and sang in the gospel choir at St. Benedict the African Catholic Church.
3. Studied theology in the Spring 2019 semester at Hekima University College in Nairobi, Kenya.

Post-ordination: Will serve as an associate pastor at Christ the King Parish/Trinity Vicariate in Detroit, Michigan.

View recorded livestream of Fr. Peters' ordination below:

Biography:
Father Joshua M. Peters, S.J., was born in Detroit, Michigan, to his parents, Michael and Helen, both career-long Catholic school teachers. He and his brothers Drew and Seth were raised in the small town of Auburn Hills and represent the eighth generation of Peters from Detroit soil. The Brothers Peters all attended University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy. They received a valuable education from the Jesuits who chose to stay in the city of Detroit when all other Catholic high schools closed or moved to the suburbs. Joshua was then formed by the community-oriented Marianists at the University of Dayton in Ohio, where he completed a bachelor’s degree in American studies with minors in English and human rights. Post-college, after serving the country for two years through the AmeriCorps Program, Joshua worked as a carpenter, laborer and associate retreat director before being asked to serve as the campus minister of his alma mater, U of D Jesuit. After re-encountering the missionary spirit of the first companions of the Society of Jesus, he knew God was calling him to enter the novitiate at Loyola House in Berkley, Michigan, in 2009. He worked in Manderson, South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Reservation as a novice and took vows in 2011. Joshua received a master’s degree in social philosophy at Loyola University Chicago before being missioned to teach at Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory School on Chicago’s West Side. Singing in the choir and worshipping at St. Benedict the African Catholic Church in Englewood was remarkably formational during his six years in Chicago. Joshua completed a Master of Divinity degree from the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, California, and is working on a master’s degree in theology from Xavier University of Louisiana’s Institute for Black Catholic Studies. After ordination, he will serve as an associate pastor at Christ the King Parish/Trinity Vicariate in Detroit.

What is your favorite book, movie, music, or TV show you’ve encountered since entering the Society and why do you love it? 
Cyprian Davis O.S.B.’s “The History of Black Catholics in the United States” is one of my favorite books. Davis is an excellent storyteller who conveys American history in a way that illuminates the many people who have shaped this country and the Catholic Church despite being largely ignored because they are black. Before the United States ever existed, there were black Catholics here. I love that.

Joshua with members of the Jesuits’ Christ the King Catholic Parish Eucharistic Youth Movement (EYM) in the Kangemi neighborhood in Nairobi on Good Friday. These EYM youth were acting in the Way of the Cross.

Who’s your favorite saint, and why?
One of my favorite saints is Saint Oscar Romero, whose feast day is on March 24. In 2005, on the 25th anniversary of his death, my family journeyed to San Salvador, El Salvador, as pilgrims to pray and reflect on his extraordinary life. Romero’s example gives me the courage to live my priestly vocation with boldness and humility.

What was one particularly meaningful experience you had during your formation, and why was it meaningful to you?
In the spring semester of 2019, I was given an opportunity to study theology at Hekima University College in Nairobi, Kenya. It was the fulfillment of a dream and my first visit to the continent of Africa, let alone Eastern Africa. Even though professors have been regularly exchanging between the universities, I am grateful to the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, California, and to Hekima University College for helping me become the first exchange student in more than five years. Since the bright future of the Jesuits and the Catholic Church is largely African and Indian, I benefited from the richness of the international Society of Jesus, especially in the African context.

Through their gracious hospitality, the Jesuits at Hekima helped me instantly feel at home. I was deeply consoled to live in Nairobi for almost six months in such an apostolically vibrant environment. The Jesuit scholastics took me around to their works doing Bible study, youth ministry, caring for young ones in orphanages, accompanying vulnerable teens in group homes and introduced me to the Missionaries of Charity. I ended up working with the Missionaries of Charity Brothers in the Kibera slum twice a week for my entire time in Nairobi. The Brothers run a loving care facility called the New Life Home for men who are physically, mentally and developmentally disadvantaged. Working alongside the Brothers and their colleagues and getting to know the residents offered me a new life of prayer and purpose.

Fr. Joshua M. Peters, S.J. at his ordination.

The other thing I benefited from was being in a culture where “Black is Beautiful” is a way of life! Kenya and the Eastern African nations of Tanzania and Uganda are beautiful in every sense of the word. I was not aware of how much the United States is permeated by a culture of white superiority until I lived outside of it for almost half a year. Eastern Africa is not without its issues but no one there has to fight for their right to say that they are black and proud like I have observed here in the U.S. This translates into a culture where blackness is celebrated and reveled in by just waking up, greeting the day and praising God with one’s life. I felt deeply privileged to watch this glory unfold on a daily basis while in Eastern Africa.

Tell your vocation story. One catch: You must use only six words.
Jesus called me. I answered, "Yes."

Who is one important mentor who has accompanied you on your journey? What made them a good mentor? 
The most important mentor I have had during my 11-year journey with the Society of Jesus is the indomitable Rev. Dr. Joseph A. Brown, S.J. He has offered me a balanced amount of support, prayer, and loving challenge since I was a novice in 2009.

His support has taken on many facets over the years. When I was a novice, he encouraged me to deepen my engagement in ministry to the incarcerated by giving me a signed copy of Michelle Alexander’s, The New Jim Crow. At another point he gifted me with Kendrick Lamar’s album DAMN.and J. Cole’s 4 Your Eyez Only so that I could get a flavor of what modern-day Spirituals sounded like. After I found out that I would be missioned to regency at Christ the King in Chicago, he made a point to find me at our Province gathering to say: “The Black Catholic community is supporting you!” His sincerity and confidence in my abilities helped me courageously step into my first apostolic mission. While at CTK, Joseph made a point of not letting me feel like I was doing cross-cultural ministry alone. He was instrumental in helping the Jesuit Anti-Racism Sodality (JARS) grow into the robust organization that it is today. Joseph’s support has buoyed my spirits when very few have understood what I was experiencing.

Joshua at the 2019 graduation for Christ the King Jesuit College Prep (CTK) in Chicago, where he taught as a Jesuit in formation. In this "Peters Fam" selfie, from left: Joshua with Ms. Martinka Peters and her daughters, Jenelle Peters (CTK '19) and Mya Peters (CTK '14).

Fr. Joseph’s support has also helped me to be a prayerful Jesuit. When I shared some poems that I had written during prayer periods through the years, he gave me some pointers and encouraged me to keep writing. I often write new poems on retreat or when the spirit moves me to put pen to paper. When he bequeathed a volume of his collected poems called, "The Sun Whispers, Wait," his inscription read, “Joshua, you have more songs than we know – and words for the telling. Join the Chorus – We need you – Joseph.” His book, "To Stand on the Rock," became a staple in my library because of his treatment of what it means to be “authentically Black and truly Catholic.” I think his most influential prayer suggestion to me has been to attend the annual Archbishop Lyke Conference which celebrates Black Catholic liturgy and musical tradition. The first Lyke Conference I attended gave me such a sense of joy and exhilaration that I lived out of it for almost an entire year.

Fr. Brown has also challenged me to expand my mind and heart. He pushed me to pursue the master’s degree in theology at the Institute for Black Catholic Studies (IBCS) at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA). He said that it is important to have proper credentials if I hope to work in the Black community in the future. XULA is the only Catholic Historically Black College and University in the country. Joseph has also challenged me to expand my heart. In November 2017, he and Tim Kesicki, S.J., invited me to Baltimore with several other non-Black Jesuits to attend a meeting of Black Jesuits from the United States, Jamaica, and Haiti. The Black Jesuit group calls us non-Black Jesuits the “extended family.” I am so grateful to call Joseph a Companion of Jesus and I consider him family, which is why I have asked him to be my vesting priest at my priestly ordination.

Perry T. Petrich, S.J.

Tacoma, Washington
Perry T. Petrich, S.J.

Tacoma, Washington

Province: USA West

Birthday: December 28, 1984

Hometown: Tacoma, Washington

Education: Bachelor’s degree, theatre and theology, Fordham College at Lincoln Center; Master’s degree, social philosophy, Loyola University Chicago; Master of Divinity, Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University; Master’s degree, Catholic educational leadership, University of San Francisco

Highlights of Jesuit Formation:
1. Coaching the Sacred Heart Nativity School track team to their first gold medals.
2. Serving on the founding team of Cristo Rey De La Salle High School in Oakland, California.
3. Making music with fellow ordinand James Ferus, S.J., throughout theology studies.

Post-Ordination: Will wrap up his master's thesis on lay leadership in Jesuit schools while sheltering in place in Berkeley, California, before moving to Sacramento to serve as a campus minister at Jesuit High School.

View recorded livestream of Fr. Petrich's ordination below:

Biography:
Fr. Perry Petrich, S.J., was born and raised in Tacoma, Washington. Perry attended Bellarmine Preparatory School in his hometown before graduating from Fordham College at Lincoln Center in New York with a degree in theatre and theology. Highlights of his time at Fordham include stage managing both the New York premiere of “Dead Man Walking” and Duran Duran at the Statue of Liberty. From New York, he moved to Cazadero, California, where he worked for the Caritas Creek program, leading outdoor education trips for Bay Area Catholic grade schools. Perry entered the Society of Jesus in 2008. He has taught theatre both to students at Jesuit High School in Portland, Oregon, and to migrants on the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. As a Jesuit, he has also worked in schools in Chicago, Phoenix, San Jose and Oakland. He will continue to work in secondary education serving as a theology teacher and campus minister at Jesuit High School in Sacramento. He holds master’s degrees in Catholic educational leadership from the University of San Francisco and in social philosophy from Loyola University Chicago as well as a Master of Divinity from the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, California. In addition, he has written for The Jesuit Post and America Magazine, taught sailing at summer camps in the Archdiocese of Seattle and played guitar with the Grammy-award winner Tim Kubart. (USA West Province)

What is your favorite book, movie, music, or TV show you’ve encountered since entering the Society and why do you love it?
Otis Redding’s "Try a Little Tenderness" has followed me like an angel, goading me on when times are hard and sharing my hope and joy when times were better. The earnestness of Otis’ pleas to just be a little better to each other gives us all faith that a little bit of kindness can transform us. The chromatic guitar shows your gut that this tenderness can make the world a better place. And the freak out at the end of the song demonstrates — as well as anything else I’ve ever seen or heard outside of Scripture — the animating power that comes when you have faith that your lover will never leave you. Also, it is a bring-down-the-house karaoke jam.

Perry (far right) working at Kino Border Initiative in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico.

What is one hobby you’ve cultivated as a Jesuit and why is it important to you?
Playing music with others continues to sustain me. The attentiveness to shared rhythms and subtleties of each individual musician forces a kind of deep listening that connects people and makes you forget yourself. And there is little more satisfying than spontaneously creating something new and beautiful in collaboration with others.

Fr. Petrich at his ordination.

What was one particularly meaningful experience you had during your formation, and why was it meaningful to you?
Eight days after the 2016 election, I was at a parent meeting of the middle school I was just sent to by my provincial. All of the parents at the school were either immigrants or children of immigrants from Latin America. We invited an immigration advocacy group to give a “know your rights” presentation. The president of the school and I sensed that something in the room wasn’t right — there was too much fear and hurt to process any kind of learning. We made eye contact, and I interrupted the presentation. I thanked the presenters for coming and then turned to the parents and just asked how everyone was feeling. It turned into a conversation among the parents where fears were shared and support was offered. It ended up being, at that particular moment, exactly what our community needed.

Perry at his family Christmas party in Kent, Washington, in 2014.

After the meeting ended, the president mentioned how it was God’s Providence that I was sent to the school for that year. From that night, I came to more deeply believe that God sends us where we are needed and then provides the grace for us to respond to that need. I learned a little bit more what it means that God will provide.

Tell your vocation story. One catch: You must use only six words.
God never stops calling you, gently.

Douglas J. Ray, S.J.

New York, New York
Douglas J. Ray, S.J.

New York, New York

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.

Biography:
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.

David Romero, S.J.

Northridge, California
David Romero, S.J.

Northridge, California

Province: USA West

Birthday: September 27, 1986

Hometown: Northridge, California

Education: Bachelor’s degree, theological studies, Loyola Marymount University; Master’s degree, philosophical resources, Fordham University; Master of Divinity, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry

Highlights of Jesuit Formation:
1. Worked with alternative study abroad program, Casa Bayanihan, in the Philippines, accompanying students and marginalized communities in Metro Manila.
2. Taught religion, helped in campus ministry and with immersion experiences and served as chaplain for the theatre program at Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, California.
3. Served as chaplain at the Suffolk County House of Corrections in Boston and as a deacon at St. Michael Parish in Bedford, Massachusetts.

Post-Ordination: Will join the team of Christus Ministries in Los Angeles, which serves young adults.

View recorded livestream of Fr. Romero's ordination below:

Biography:
Fr. David Romero, S.J., was born and raised in Northridge, California. He was an altar server and Eucharistic minister for many years in his home parish, Our Lady of Lourdes in Northridge. He graduated from Crespi Carmelite High School in Encino, California, in 2005 and then attended Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles out of a desire to pursue acting in a sitcom. God had other ideas! David first met the Jesuits at LMU and became more involved with campus ministry and the Center for Service and Action. These opportunities to live a life of faith and justice led him to study abroad with the Casa de la Solidaridad program in El Salvador, which deepened his discernment to enter the Jesuits after graduating in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in theological studies and a minor in business administration. As a novice, he volunteered as a hospital chaplain at St. Francis Hospital in Lynwood, California, and at the Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative, worked at St. Anne’s Primary School in Kingston, Jamaica, and taught at Verbum Dei High School in Los Angeles. After professing first vows in 2011, he was sent to Fordham University in the Bronx, New York, for first studies, where he earned a master’s degree in philosophical resources and helped in the campus ministry office of Cristo Rey New York High School in East Harlem. For his regency, David was sent to work for one year with the alternative study abroad program, Casa Bayanihan, in the Philippines, accompanying students and marginalized communities in Metro Manila. He was then missioned for two years to Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, California, where he taught religion and helped in campus ministry and with immersions, as well as served as the chaplain for the theatre program. In 2017, he was missioned to the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, where he earned his Master of Divinity degree while serving as a chaplain at the Suffolk County House of Corrections and then as a deacon at St. Michael Parish, in Bedford, Massachusetts. After ordination, he will join the team of Christus Ministries in Los Angeles, which serves young adults. (USA West Province)

What is your favorite book, movie, music, or TV show you’ve encountered since entering the Society and why do you love it?
It’s so hard to choose just one! I would have to go with Walter Ciszek, S.J.’s "He Leadeth Me," which offers a look at the spiritual learnings he experienced during his 23 agonizing years in Soviet prisons and labor camps in Siberia. I first read it during my first week of the Spiritual Exercises and it later influenced my decision to visit his grave in Wernersville, Pennsylvania for my pilgrimage. What struck me then were his reflections on Providence and his deep trust in God. Months before leaving for the pilgrimage, I had begun to expect that every moment at the novitiate should be comparable to a “light bulb moment.”  My pilgrimage was good for me because I was able to experience God's gentle love and grace without it having to be a big production with fireworks. Ciszek's book helped me realize that I had been too preoccupied with looking at the novitiate and my novice brothers with my own scrutinizing eyes, telling me what I should see, instead of looking more closely with God's eyes at what actually is and discovering God's will for me in that. It was, for me, a greater call and invitation to look at the mundane and routine of daily life as a religious and to love and take delight in it as God does, trusting that each moment and person is fitting into God’s yearning for me. Over the course of my Jesuit life, this has helped me to be open and free to take a loving look at the real more often, to deeply value each moment as it is — for what it is — because I have faith that God is in some way present.

David on an L.A. immersion trip with students from Bellarmine College Prep, visiting Homeboy Industries.

What’s one interesting fact about yourself not everyone would know?
I learned how to cut hair in the novitiate, and I love it! Within the first few weeks of novitiate, in order to save money, our assistant novice director asked for two volunteers to learn how to give haircuts. I figured, “Why not? New life. New things to learn.” What I didn’t realize was how much I would enjoy it! I’m a details-kind-of-guy, and so it’s a great opportunity to pay attention to detail, to grow as a better communicator by understanding and responding to different requests, to express my care for my brother Jesuits by serving them in this way and to have all sorts of interesting conversations.

What was one particularly meaningful experience you had during your formation, and why was it meaningful to you?

During my first year of regency in the Philippines, I had the opportunity to accompany families in a very poor and marginalized part of Manila through an organization called Tulay ng Kabataan (“Bridge for Children”). I would help the teachers with whatever I could in the small classroom they had in the middle of the community. And I had a moment where I saw a child, five-year-old Hannah, crying, and felt her longing to be recognized and held in her pain.

The staff and I had just finished lunch, so I walked outside of the center to see what games the kids were playing. When I looked over, I saw Hannah (who was always the very meek, sweet and more quiet one) sobbing as she was standing behind her older sister, who was playing a game with some of the other kids. I saw that Hannah was also holding a huge rock in her hand, ready at any moment to smash it over her sister’s head. I didn’t see what happened to Hannah to provoke her, but the scene was that of a volcanic eruption. As this was going on, many of the other kids were practicing a new dance and song routine. But Hannah just stood behind her sister, crying and holding the rock with a gripping intensity. I knew that the kids there could be fairly tough with each other, but this was a whole new ballgame.

What was confusing to me, though, was how Hannah’s sister turned around to see Hannah crying and holding the rock aimed at her, but did not seem scared at all — she didn’t even flinch. The other kids noticed, as well, but no one was doing anything about it. No one was responding to Hannah.

Fr. David Romero, S.J., at his ordination.

All of this was happening so quickly, and my immediate inclination was to run over and solve the problem by taking the rock from her hand and then trying to cheer her up, mostly out of my own sense of feeling uncomfortable with the whole situation. But before I could move I made eye contact with Hannah, and we just stared at each other.

It was one of those moments where everything around us seemed to stop. I felt connected to her in a way, as if I could feel her sharing her whole vulnerable self in that moment. I felt like I was likewise baring my whole self to her through an expression of loving sadness and compassion, which I hope she felt. I couldn’t imagine what pain she was feeling to get her to that point. She probably just wanted others to notice her pain.

Even still, I could also see how she didn’t have it in her to actually throw the rock. I was nevertheless incredibly nervous about the whole situation and needed to respond. Rather than trying to fix things with a “come on and cheer up” attitude, I calmly walked over and kneeled down beside her, gently held the rock with her with one of my hands and rubbed her shoulder softly until she let go of the rock…it seemed like an eternity.

I don’t think Hannah’s pain was taken away at that moment by any means, or even began to completely heal shortly thereafter. It felt like God was calling from that place: “Do you notice me here? Will you be with me in this place and hold this pain with me?”

I don’t know if my default fix-the-problem-attitude would have worked. If I chose that option, I think she might have heard: “How you’re feeling right now is not important. You need to feel differently.” She would have heard me not acknowledging how she was feeling, but instead, my own need to “fix” her so I could feel better. But — and this is the reminder I need to hear over and over — it’s not about me. It’s about the unique and unrepeatable gift in front of me. She wanted to be acknowledged, to be embraced; not fixed.

As I held that rock with Hannah, I could feel my heart breaking open and expanding. And somehow through that could also feel God holding the both of us, wanting that divine life to live in us, in the depths of our reality, and to have the last word.

Adapted from my article on The Jesuit Post: https://thejesuitpost.org/2015/07/hearts-in-need-practicing-presence-embracing-reality/

Family photo during David’s sister's wedding.

Tell your vocation story. One catch: You must use only six words.
Desire to love and be loved.

How might you explain the Jesuit motto "ad maiorem Dei gloriam" to someone who’s never heard it before?
I would say that it's a call to have everything we say and do in life point to God, the loving creator and giver of life. Instead of doing something great that communicates to others, "Look at how good I am," it's the disposition to say and do things that acclaim, "Look at how great God is!"

Matthew C. Stewart, S.J.

St. Louis, Missouri
Matthew C. Stewart, S.J.

St. Louis, Missouri

Province: USA Central and Southern

Birthday: June 12, 1980

Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri

Education: Bachelor’s degree, music, Saint Louis University; Master’s degree, theology, Saint Louis University; Master’s degree, philosophical resources, Fordham University; Master’s degree, choral conducting, University of Denver; Licentiate in Sacred Theology, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry

Highlights of Jesuit Formation:
1. Worked with immigrants and refugees in the Bronx, New York, during first studies at Fordham University.
2. Taught theology, supervised the Peer Ministry program and helped coordinate liturgies at Regis University in Denver.
3. Served as a deacon at St. Brigid and Gate of Heaven parishes in South Boston.

Post-ordination: Will serve as parochial vicar at St. Francis Xavier College Church and assist at Loyola Academy, a Nativity-model middle school, both in St. Louis.

Biography:
Matthew C. Stewart, S.J., was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, by his two wonderful parents alongside his younger brother. He met the Jesuits while a student at St. Louis University High School (SLUH). He attended Saint Louis University (SLU) where he majored in vocal performance, was involved in campus ministry and was an active member of his fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon. After college, he joined the Alum Service Corps (ASC) and taught theology and music at Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, Missouri. After this volunteer year, Matt was hired at his alma mater, SLUH, where he worked for the six years prior to entering the Society, serving as a theology teacher, director of campus ministry, assistant racquetball coach and assistant music director for most of the school's musicals. While teaching, Matt received his master’s degree in theology from SLU. Matt did his novitiate in Grand Coteau, Louisiana, and did apostolic work in New Orleans, Nicaragua, Denver and the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. After first vows, Matt studied philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx, New York, and was able to take classes at The Juilliard School. While in first studies, he taught English as a Second Language to immigrants and refugees at St. Rita’s Center in the Bronx. After graduating, Matt went to Denver to pursue a degree in choral conducting at the University of Denver while doing his regency at Regis University. While there, he taught theology, supervised the Peer Ministry program and coordinated liturgy alongside his colleagues in university ministry. Matt next earned his Licentiate in Sacred Theology at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry focusing on liturgical theology. He also served as a deacon at St. Brigid and Gate of Heaven parishes in South Boston. Currently, he serves as the Ignatian Formation Coordinator of the ASC in the USA Central and Southern Province. His first Mass will be at his home parish of Christ, Prince of Peace. After ordination, Matt will be serving as parochial vicar at St. Francis Xavier College Church and assisting at Loyola Academy, a Nativity model middle school, both in St. Louis.

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?
I was actually pretty moved by people’s responses to this question. They said: musical, culinary, extroverted, engaged, curious, faithful, magnanimous and sensitive. It’s not so much that I’m surprised. I’m just very touched by the ways my fellow Jesuits responded.

Who’s your favorite saint, and why?
As a Jesuit, I know it's a cliche, but it's St. Ignatius of Loyola. Since college, I've been fascinated with his story and have been deeply formed by the spiritual tradition that he founded. I find his way of praying with the imagination by placing myself in the Gospel stories to be a dynamic and engaging way of encountering God in my life. I find his method of discernment of spirits — of learning how to listen to God in prayer — to be a moving and enlightening addition to my spiritual life. Most of all, I love the way he desires that all people become a companion, a true friend, of Jesus. The way Ignatius teaches the church how to pray, his exciting and engaging story, and his deep love for Jesus make him my favorite.

Matt playing piano at Mass at Regis University in Denver.

What is one hobby you’ve cultivated as a Jesuit and why is it important to you?
After regency, a colleague gave me one of his used sewing machines, and I've been using it ever since. I've been able to learn how to hem things, turn old long-sleeved shirts into short-sleeved ones and have even learned how to make whole shirts. I’ve also made two albs for myself and a set of altar cloths for our house. Ever since I was a kid, I've loved being creative and making things. Sewing is a way not only to engage my creative impulses, but also to make things that can be helpful for the community.

What’s one interesting fact about yourself not everyone would know?
Most people don't know that when I was in grade school, I had the opportunity to attend Space Camp in Alabama. Also, I think people might be surprised that I love shopping malls, and even though I love to cook and eat nice food, I love fast food like Taco Bell and Jack in the Box.

What do you love about the Society of Jesus?
Throughout my Jesuit life, I have been blessed with some of the best friends that I could have ever hoped to have. There is something so rewarding and so moving about having friends with whom I share this same common life and common mission. Even though we don’t see each other all the time, there is a tie that binds us which is supernatural — the life of prayer and grace that we share as members of the Society. I love that when I meet a fellow Jesuit, no matter where I am in the world, we automatically have something in common. Not simply the “S.J.” after our names, but that same common life and common mission that I share with my closest Jesuit friends.

Tell your vocation story. One catch: You must use only six words.
Learned. Heard. Waited. Avoided. Surrendered. Entered.

What’s one thing about life in the Society of Jesus other people might not realize?
It’s full of introverts! Since Jesuits often hold very public jobs as teachers, school administrators, retreat directors and pastors and can be so apostolically effective, people assume that community life can be very extroverted as well. As an extrovert myself, I have found the opposite to be true. Jesuits in community life are generally fairly quiet and to themselves. I love a really active community with a lot of lively conversation, and Jesuit life can have that as well. But most of the time, life is actually fairly normal and quiet.

Matt preaching to kids at St. Brigid Parish in South Boston.

How has your spirituality changed since entering the Society?
I think that since entering the Society, my spirituality has become less about heavy internal lifting and more about being present to the Lord. As a novice, I had to spend a lot of time getting to know my insides better — knowing myself better and the ways that God likes to be with me, the ways that I respond to God’s invitations and the spiritual traps I fall into. After 10 years, I find that a lot of that more active kind of spiritual life has settled down, and I find my spirituality more about being attuned to God’s movements and simply being with the Lord in prayer. I find that years of Jesuit life have made me more attentive and conscious of the feelings of other people and have helped open my heart to their desires, perspectives and struggles, and to be more empathetic.

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?
“You’re in the right place.” For some guys, including myself, novitiate is really difficult. Particularly entrance day. For me, I was very aware of the pain I felt in leaving my family and friends back in St. Louis, my job teaching and all the things I had gotten used to and enjoyed doing. I think that “past me” needed to hear that showing up to explore the vocation that had been quietly nagging at him for years was the right decision. I knew that I wasn’t going to get more data unless I showed up and tried it out, but I was very uneasy about it and was very anxious. Now, I see the immense joy that life in the Society of Jesus has brought me, the innumerable people whose lives I have been able to be a part of and the countless ways in which God’s presence has been made known to me, and I am so grateful for taking that initial risk.

How might you explain the Jesuit motto "ad maiorem Dei gloriam" to someone who’s never heard it before?
Most people have an innate awareness of how important it is to give credit where credit is due. People know how important it is to be grateful and to say “thank you” when someone does something nice. AMDG is about cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” that always gives credit to the one who has given us everything. AMDG is about living a life so that when people see me, they see not only me, but the one who made me, the one who loves me and the one who has sent me.

Download the 2020 ordination booklet here.

Do you want to learn more about vocations to the Society of Jesus? Visit beajesuit.org for more information.

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