The Society of Jesus in the United States, Canada and Haiti welcomed 40 new Jesuit novices in 2020 at novitiates in California, Louisiana, Minnesota, New York, Quebec and Haiti. They have taken the initial step on their journey toward Jesuit priesthood or brotherhood, known as “Jesuit formation,” which can take a total of eight to 12 years. (Meet all the novices below.)
In these first two years as novices, the men will learn what it means to live in community, adopt the rhythm of daily prayer and deepen their understanding of God’s call to the Society. They have selflessly devoted their lives to the service of the marginalized, to the church, to God and to each other.
Novices in Montreal with the novitiate team
St. Ignatius of Loyola, who co-founded the Society in 1540, first defined the elements of Jesuit formation in his Jesuit Constitutions. Jesuit novices still follow this plan today — adapted to the modern world.
“The novices best support the needs of the church in the modern world by preaching the Gospel in a way that all sorts of people can receive it,” says Fr. William O’Brien, SJ, novice director at the Jesuit Novitiate of St. Alberto Hurtado in St. Paul, Minnesota. “For this mission, they must learn to discern God’s presence in the wide range of cultures, sensibilities and human experiences that they will encounter.”
Thus begins a comprehensive program of service, ministry, study and prayer, methodically devised to help Jesuits grow in their relationships with Christ and identify how they can best serve him and all humankind. The new Jesuits attend orientation sessions, take on house jobs, share vocation stories and visit local Jesuit ministries.
Novices in Culver City, California
Fr. Joseph Sands, SJ, director at the Jesuit Novitiate of St. Andrew Hall in Syracuse, New York, draws parallels between the novitiate and academics (something the Society knows a thing or two about). “I would compare entering the novitiate to starting college. I think they’re pretty courageous for it,” he says. “They may be anxious because they don’t know exactly where it leads, but once they get in, they find it a very positive and human environment.”
Typical days at the novitiate consist of classes taught by the director and his assistant (known as the Socius), as well as daily Mass, group prayer and discussion of their spiritual journeys.
As for the work outlined in St. Ignatius’ Constitutions, the novices complete a series of “experiments” to explore their vocations and help them discern the specific ways they might be called to serve the church.
Novices in Syracuse, New York
“The purpose is to find that at the heart of our mission is a call to be with people on the margins, enter the struggles of the world and find the face of Christ,” says Fr. Andrew Kirschman, SJ, novice director at the Jesuit Novitiate of St. Stanislaus Kostka in Grand Coteau, Louisiana. “All these experiences help the novices grow in awareness of Christ laboring with us in the world today.”
Novices also make St. Ignatius’ 30-day Spiritual Exercises silent retreat, which they commonly regard as the most meaningful part of the novitiate.
“It surprises the novices,” says Fr. Sands. “They’re grateful for the way they encounter God’s attention, care and love for them.”
The novices and novitiate team of Haiti
The novices aren’t the only ones on a path of discovery. Fr. Stephen Corder, SJ, novice director at the Jesuit Novitiate of the Three Companions in Culver City, California, has found his duties allow him to view the Society through each novice’s fresh eyes.
“I’m always impressed with their generosity, compassion and desire to walk with people,” he says. “They have a good sense of humor and openness to God’s grace.”
The novices of the Jesuit Novitiate of St. Stanislaus Kostka in Grand Coteau, Louisiana
In the second year of their novitiate, novices are missioned to an assignment at a Jesuit-run organization, similar to an internship. Called a “long experiment,” this segment of the novitiate lasts several months.
As novices, Jesuits in the U.S. and Canada spend one of their summers at Regis University in Denver at a conference on Jesuit history, delving more intensely into St. Ignatius’ life while meeting their peers at other novitiates.
After two years, the hope is that novices will have become confident in their vocations, nurtured a more intimate relationship with God and developed a profound love for the Society of Jesus. At the end of their time as novices, they profess first vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. No longer novices, they are called “scholastics” as they continue to the next stage of Jesuit formation, First Studies, for two years of graduate-level philosophy courses.
Novices in St. Paul, Minnesota
For those considering religious life, whether with the Jesuits or elsewhere, Fr. Kirschman suggests young adults “begin by looking for Christ in the suffering around you.”
“Can you find Christ present in the messiness and brokenness of our world, of our cities and church, of your own heart?” Fr. Kirschman asks. “If so, Christ might be calling you to labor with him as a companion.”
The next step, Fr. Corder advises, is to “pray, let God love you and find a spiritual director you can talk to.”
Above all, Fr. Kirschman says, “Trust Christ … and come and see!”
Do you want to learn more about vocations to the Society of Jesus? Visit beajesuit.org for more information.
David, 46, graduated from Althoff Catholic High School. He went on to receive a bachelor’s in law enforcement and justice administration from Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois. He served for 20 years as a police officer with the city of Belleville and retired in August 2020. During a period of discernment, David got to know the Jesuits while attending a Come and See weekend in Chicago and he felt an instant connection. David enjoys outdoor activities, golf, cooking and landscaping. (USA Midwest Province)
Jean Isnaïder Adam
Jean, 25, took an English course at the Haitian American Caucus and then studied journalism. He also has experience in teaching languages and computer graphics. He is a former member of Kiro Catholic Youth Group and the Saint Ignatius Choir in Croix-des-Bouquets. He is passionate about sports, reading, and music.
“I entered the Society of Jesus to follow Jesus wholeheartedly by serving others through the vision of St. Ignatius.”
Luis Gabriel Ganzon Alde
Vancouver, British Columbia
Luigi, 21, was born in the Philippines and lived in Vancouver for most of his life. Prior to joining the novitiate, he studied chemistry for three years at the University of British Columbia. He then worked in two laboratories, including the National Research Council of Canada. During his university years he sensed a call to the priesthood and eventually left his studies to apply to enter the Society of Jesus.
“While I was at the Come-and-See weekend in Montreal, my desire to become a Jesuit only grew… What attracts me about the Jesuits is their ability to see God in all things—from the minute, little things to prayer and the world. The life of a diocesan priest is focused on the sacraments. A Jesuit, though, might teach at a university, engage in ministry, work as an engineer, or be involved in a variety of other things. I find that beautiful, to see God everywhere.”
Nicholas, 22, attended a Catholic high school and then Saint Louis University, where he graduated with a bachelor’s in theology and Catholic studies. Nick enjoys reading, fitness and photography, and took up cycling as a quarantine hobby. A Spider-Man comic enthusiast, he has long been drawn to Ignatian Spirituality and was moved to join the Society after getting to know several Jesuits during his time at SLU. (USA Central and Southern Province)
Antonio, 22, finished formal studies in 2017. He has taught catechesis at Collège Saint Bertin and Collège Sainte Thérèse in Port-Margot, and loves music.
“After much reflection and discernment, I decided to enter the Society of Jesus in order to respond freely, fully, and consciously to the Lord’s call to serve Him, serve the Church, and serve the world. Another motivation is to better know and live Ignatian spirituality and the Jesuit charism.”
New Orleans, Louisiana
Jason, 26, is a native of the New Orleans area and a graduate of Jesuit High School, New Orleans. He completed his undergraduate education at the University of Dallas, earning degrees in history and politics. After graduation, Jason returned to Jesuit High to teach English and assist in campus ministry as a member of the Alum Service Corps. He then continued to work at Jesuit High, helping coordinate a capital campaign. He enjoys collecting vintage books, duck hunting and raising chickens. (USA Central and Southern Province)
Angelo J. Canta
New Milford, New Jersey
Angelo, 25, earned a bachelor’s in theology from Loyola University Chicago, where he conducted research in contemporary Marian devotional practices in Rome and Beijing. Prior to entering the Society, he completed an M.T.S. at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. He was a Joseph A. O’Hare Media Fellow at America Media. Angelo enjoys swimming, rock climbing, hiking, traveling and beekeeping. (USA East Province)
Michelangelo, 51, is of Italian, Syrian, and Lebanese origin, and grew up on three continents. He studied mechanical engineering in Cleveland, Ohio, graduating in 1990, and then moved to Canada to work in computer sales, marketing, and support. His path of discernment towards the priesthood began when he worked for the Archdiocese of Newark in New Jersey. He studied philosophy for a year, applied for admission to the diocesan seminary, and was sent to Rome for theology studies. It was then that he began to consider a vocation to the Society of Jesus. He entered the local Jesuit novitiate but had to leave to attend to family matters. For the past twelve years, he has worked as a home care worker and as a teacher at the Collège Sainte-Marcelline in Montreal. Michelangelo speaks a number of languages and loves painting, photography, cooking, and gardening.
“While at mass at the Collège Sainte-Marcelline, I heard a clear calling to the priesthood… The nuns became my spiritual mothers who nourished and revived my vocation. This was the inspiration for starting my application process.”
Brennan, 23, grew up in Bremerton, Washington and graduated from the University of Notre Dame with majors in the Program of Liberal Studies and German. During his time at Notre Dame he also studied in Munich, Heidelberg, and Jerusalem. Brennan began discerning a vocation to the Society of Jesus in college after meeting a few Jesuit priests during his studies and reading several works by Jesuit authors. He enjoys hiking, playing the piano, and running. (USA Midwest Province)
Patrick, 22, graduated from Skutt Catholic High School in Omaha. Patrick continued his education at Creighton University graduating with a degree in Secondary Education and Theology. While at Creighton, he became more acquainted with the Jesuits and began to discern a call to The Society of Jesus. Patrick continued to lead retreats at Creighton and found joy in the deepening of his own spirituality and that of others. He enjoys reading, playing board games, and watching or participating in most sports. (USA Midwest Province)
Ft. Campbell, Tennessee
Jaden, 22, graduated from Harvard University in 2019, where he majored in chemistry and physics and minored in the comparative study of religion. Jaden was active in the Harvard Catholic Student Association as an altar server and sacristan and has a special interest in comparative liturgy among Christianity, Japanese Buddhism and Judaism. He spent the past year in Japan studying the Japanese Tea Ceremony. He enjoys preparing and sharing coffee and tea. (USA Central and Southern Province)
Will, 28, first discerned Jesuit life while living in Cincinnati, following a retreat at Ignatius Jesuit Centre in Guelph, Ontario. He spent several months praying with Fr. James Martin, S.J.’s books and Examen podcast. A few months later, Will left his career as an investigative reporter at the Dayton Daily News and moved to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota to live and work as a donné (a live-in volunteer) with Red Cloud Indian School’s Jesuit community. A native Michigander born in Ann Arbor, Will grew up in Toledo, Ohio, and attended St. Francis de Sales School. He graduated from the University of Dayton in 2014. He enjoys hiking, swimming, reading, and cooking. (USA Midwest Province)
A. Marco Garcia
El Paso, Texas
Marco, 23, was born in El Paso, Texas, where he attended Cathedral High School. He attended Georgetown University, where he earned a degree in foreign service. Marco spent the last year with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Houston, working as a legal assistant at the Cabrini Center for Immigration. His experience at Georgetown and time with JVC led him to discern a vocation to the Society of Jesus. He enjoys painting, music and podcasts. (USA Central and Southern Province)
Beau, 26, grew up in the Houston suburbs and attended Strake Jesuit College Preparatory before pursuing a degree in biology at Saint Louis University. After college, Beau was a member of the Alum Service Corps at De Smet Jesuit in St. Louis before being hired at Strake Jesuit, where he worked as a science teacher and liturgy coordinator. His experience on immersion trips working with people with disabilities and the imprisoned led him to commit to a life of serving others. He is pursuing a master’s in theology at the University of Notre Dame and is interested in piano, hiking and cooking. (USA Central and Southern Province)
Cyrus, 38, earned a bachelor’s in English Literature and Middle Eastern Studies at Columbia University, an MLitt in English at Oxford, and a law degree at Yale. Over the past decade he has practiced law, taught at Seattle University, and served as a legislator and as the Lt. Governor of Washington State. An only child, his faith is rooted in the love he received from his parents, from the community of faith he found at Seattle’s St. James Cathedral parish, and from his desire to serve those on the margins. He enjoys music and books of all genres and traveling to new places. (USA West Province)
Alec B. Hufford
Rye, New York
Alec, 26, received a bachelor’s in religion at Colgate University. Raised in a Jewish family, Alec came to the Christian faith his first year of college, was baptized as a sophomore, and entered the Catholic church after experiencing the 19th Annotation Spiritual Exercises. Alec spent a total of 10 months serving the migrant community with the Hebrew-speaking Catholic church in Jerusalem, then two years serving at Canisius High School in religious studies, English, and campus ministry. (USA East Province)
Stanley Frico Jean-Charles
Stanley, 21, graduated in 2019 from the Lycée Jacques Roumain in Martissant/Haiti. He volunteered with the community of L’Arche Carrefour and has a passion for reading and music.
“I decided wholeheartedly to enter the Society of Jesus, to follow Christ in the footsteps of St. Ignatius and to better serve others.”
Pierre Coeur-Saint Jean-Claude
Pierre, 34, studied in Venezuela where he obtained a bachelor’s in computer engineering. He worked for more than four years at the Haitian Prime Minister’s Office as an analyst/programmer. He loves listening to sacred music and reading.
“My long-held idea of embarking on an adventure with the Jesuits was finally decided after a 40-day period of spiritual renewal to celebrate my 33rd birthday.”
Suffren, 23, is a graduate of Bac II and is passionate about music and reading.
“I appreciate the Jesuits for their way of praying and their way of relating to people. In fact, it is through these attitudes that I have felt challenged to experience life more deeply, so that in return I can bear witness to following Christ in the Society.”
Austin, 23, graduated in 2019 with a psychology and philosophy degree with honors from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. During his studies, Austin participated in a missionary program in Uganda, Africa, and an internship program with the Lasallian brothers in Brisbane, Australia. For the last year, Austin worked as the general manager of a Dunkin’ restaurant in his hometown. Austin first discovered the Jesuits in his final year at Saint Mary’s and spent the last year learning about the order and discerning the call to join. Austin loves reading, playing board games with friends, traveling, and running. (USA Midwest Province)
Fr. Max Landman
Port Lavaca, Texas
Fr. Landman, 33, is a priest ordained for the Diocese of Victoria, Texas. He most recently served as parochial vicar of Our Lady of the Gulf Catholic Church in Port Lavaca, Texas. Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Max attended Texas Christian University before entering Holy Trinity Seminary. He enjoys golf, following the news, travel and hiking. His experience of Ignatian Spirituality led him to discern his vocation to the Society of Jesus. (USA Central and Southern Province)
Des Moines, Iowa
Stephen, 32, is an Eagle Scout. He recently received his Ph.D. in sociology at Kansas State University, where he conducted research to help farmers better manage groundwater. A 2014 convert to Catholicism, Stephen has studied abroad in Egypt, South Africa and Uganda. In 2016, his parish priest encouraged him to be more intentional in his discernment, and he began to consider a Jesuit vocation. He enjoys hiking outdoors, reading and discussing philosophy and working with difficult social issues. (USA Central and Southern Province)
Brian, 23, was raised in Carmel, Indiana, a suburb of Indianapolis. He attended Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis, where he first encountered the Jesuits and began discerning his vocation. He continued his studies and discernment at Marquette University, where he studied biochemistry, philosophy, and peace studies. At Marquette, Brian was also deeply involved in campus ministry and the Center for Peacemaking. Brian just completed a year of service with Jesuit Volunteer Corps, working as the Outreach Coordinator at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Baltimore. He enjoys reading, singing, playing guitar, exploring cities, and keeping in touch with friends. (USA Midwest Province)
Eduardo Mata, Jr.
San Francisco, California
Ed, 32, earned his bachelor’s in philosophy from the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Davao University in the Philippines, which he attended since preschool. He volunteered in the Eversley Childs Sanitarium (Leprosarium) in Cebu, Philippines. Ed worked as an investment banker and then as a private banker after moving to California. He enjoys photography, hiking, lounging on the beach, taking road trips and playing with his bulldogs, Zeus and Chewie. (USA West Province)
Abin Sunny Mathew
Abin, 28, was born in Saudi Arabia, where he lived for twelve years. He then moved to India, where his parents are from, and stayed for four years before settling in Canada in 2009. After completing a degree in psychology in St. Albert, Alberta, in 2019, he began to discern a possible vocation to the Society of Jesus and joined the Jesuit House of Discernment in Toronto. His hobbies include cooking, watching movies and some television programs and, more recently, riding his bicycle around beautiful Montreal.
“I had been thinking about the priesthood since 2014 and only began to consider the Jesuits in 2019. I usually go on retreat when I visit India, and during one of my visits my spiritual director, who knows me quite well, recommended that I think about the Jesuits… I like the variety of missions. You can teach, do spiritual direction, work in different places…”
Edgardo Morales Snyder
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Edgardo, 41, has a bachelor’s in computer science and a master’s in computer information systems and worked as a project manager and application analyst and developer in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He has a private pilot’s license and is an Eagle Scout. Edgardo enjoys movies, reading and exercise and has traveled to Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Japan, Panama and several places in the U.S. (USA Central and Southern Province)
Tuan Anh Nguyen
San Jose, California
TA, 27, graduated from San Francisco State University where he received his bachelor’s in human physiology. He volunteered as a fifth-grade catechist and as a youth ministry leader at Most Holy Trinity Church and Our Lady of La Vang in San Jose. He enjoys writing poetry, cooking, and photography. (USA West Province)
Justin M. Reyes
Staten Island, New York
Justin, 27, went to St. Peters Boys High School on Staten Island, New York, as well as St. Peter’s University, where he earned a bachelor’s in life science. He also earned a bachelor’s in nursing at Warner College on Staten Island. Among his many interests are basketball, mixed martial arts, dancing, Filipino stick fighting, drawing, Marvel and DC comics and video games. (USA East Province)
Robens, 19, finished formal studies in 2019. He was an active member of the Kiro Catholic Youth Group and an altar server in the parish of Saint Pius X in Ducis. He loves soccer and reading. Sometimes he writes short poems to express his feelings.
“My motivation to enter the Society of Jesus is to put myself entirely at the service of the Catholic Church and to follow Christ in the manner of St. Ignatius of Loyola.”
Kansas City, Missouri
Joshua, 33, grew up in northwest Kansas. He has a bachelor’s in philosophy and a master’s in public administration. Josh never considered a vocation to the religious life until a friend gave him a copy of The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything. Ignatian Spirituality resonated with him, but he did not immediately respond to the call to religious life. He worked for the State of Kansas and as a budget analyst for the city of Kansas City, Missouri. Searching for a deeper meaning in his life, he felt called to enter the Society of Jesus. (USA Central and Southern Province)
Mike, 23, first felt called to the Jesuits at Cathedral High School in the fall of 2015, when his theology teacher took him to see Pope Francis in Philadelphia. He graduated with a bachelor’s in physics and mathematics from Georgetown University, where he was active in the Knights of Columbus, Georgetown Right to Life, and the university's Gregorian chant schola. In his free time, Mike enjoys hiking, watching major league baseball, and discussing philosophy and theology with friends. (USA Midwest Province)
John Paul Kegod Sacedor
John Paul, 25, graduated from Ateneo de Davao University in the Philippines with a bachelor’s in interdisciplinary studies, minor in language and literature. There, he worked as a sacristan in the university chapel where he also served as a choir member, lector, and altar server. He was drawn to the Jesuits through the example of the priests at the Jesuit Community in Davao. Previously, he volunteered as a catechist at St. Mary’s Parish in Centralia and as an assistant at the L'Arche community in Tacoma. He enjoys history, music, and reading. (USA West Province)
Peterson, 24, studied Haitian civil law and was a teacher at the Marie Esther Christine Blondin School, run by the Sisters of Saint Anne. Passionate about reading the lives of the saints, he also enjoys writing. He strives to work for peace and joy that will last, and after a long discernment, he chose to follow Christ in the footsteps of Saint Ignatius. (Canada Province)
John Frederick Saul Simon
John, 30, completed a bachelor’s in history at the University of Toronto, minoring in both Christianity and culture and East Asian studies. After graduating, he worked in Toronto's financial district for a year and a half. He then joined the local diocesan seminary for a year before leaving. While pursuing a master’s in medieval studies, he began his vocational discernment to become a Jesuit, eventually joining the Jesuit House of Discernment. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and knitting. (Canada Province)
“At the Come-and-See discernment weekend, we did an examen. During the prayer, as I was considering applying, I felt a rush of consolation and grace, which confirmed my thoughts. I also had similar consolations when learning about Ignatius and his early companions, such as Jerome Nadal. All this helped me make the decision to join.”
Brandon, 25, attended the University of Alabama, where he earned a bachelor’s in history. As a student, Brandon participated in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and was confirmed and received into the Catholic Church in March 2016. Last summer, he participated in this province’s Three Weeks as a Jesuit program, which helped to solidify his decision. He is into CrossFit and enjoys watching, reviewing and discussing films. (USA Central and Southern Province)
Patrick Michael Smith
Patrick, 29, completed degrees in political philosophy and English literature at McGill University. After attending law school at the University of Alberta, he practiced as a litigation attorney for two years. He then decided to work in a L’Arche community for five months, which strongly inspired his Jesuit vocation. Living with people with intellectual disabilities gave him a sense that there was a “different world out there.” Patrick is fully bilingual and enjoys creative writing and doodling. (Canada Province)
“Law was very fulfilling in some ways, but it wasn’t very relational. It was more competitive and, in some ways, superficial. L’Arche was all about entering into friendship and building community. That’s the real world. Those are the things that matter most.”
“The influence of my dad helped me finally take the leap [to enter the novitiate]. The way he lived his life… There were times in his life when he was offered positions that were more lucrative, more status focused. But his conscience led him to turn them down. He was able to break away from what the crowd was doing. That’s not something that comes naturally to me. His example gave me a deep sense of love, of hard-won, bittersweet love that I knew was somehow connected to God. It was really difficult, but I followed it. It felt like scuba diving towards a light that was deep down in the ocean.”
Denulson B. Theodore
Denulson, 22, was an altar boy in the parish of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima. After formal studies, he completed a course in silkscreen printing and then began to study business administration (level three). He is certified as a level-two soccer coach and has taught physical education and sports. He considers himself cheerful and easy-going, and likes sports, music and reading. (Canada Province)
“I’m entering the novitiate because I want to experience a deep and transformative relationship with Christ. What motivates me to enter the Society is the desire to nourish my Christian faith and to be available to serve others, wherever they may be, in order to lead them all to God.”
Jacob, 22, graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a bachelor’s in history. While at UCSB, Jacob became actively involved at St. Mark’s University parish by volunteering to teach First Communion classes, serving as sacristan and bringing communion to the sick. Jacob enjoys reading, running and studying the history of the martyrs of El Salvador. (USA West Province)
Kyle, 27, graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a bachelor’s in chemistry and a master’s in physiology. Afterward, he spent two years working in a research lab studying iron metabolism. He then entered the seminary in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati for a year and a half. Desiring to reach those on the periphery, he first began discerning a Jesuit vocation at the advice of a trusted mentor and priest. Kyle enjoys golf, movies, and watching the Cincinnati Bengals. (USA Midwest Province)
Nico, 22, is a graduate of Cristo Rey Jesuit College Preparatory School of Houston. He graduated from Texas Tech University with a bachelor’s in political science and international studies. Nico was part of retreat teams in high school and college. He likes to play the drums, draw, read and hike. His primary reasons for joining the Society include the mentorship of many Jesuits and his time at Cristo Rey, which allowed him to immerse himself in Ignatian spirituality. (USA Central and Southern Province)