By Doris Yu
June 1, 2017 — The Society of Jesus is proud to announce the ordination of 31 new priests in the United States, Canada and Haiti. We invite you to get to know each of them by clicking on their photos in the right column.
Here in the USA Central and Southern Province, ordinations will take place June 10 at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in New Orleans. Most Reverend Gregory Aymond, Archbishop of New Orleans, will preside. Four men will be ordained to the priesthood: Jesuits Marcus Fryer, Stephen Pitts, Sean Salai and Sylvester Tan.
The first ordination Mass this year was held on May 20 at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Toronto. Additional liturgies will take place in June at the Church of the Gesu in Milwaukee; Fordham University Church in the Bronx, New York; Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Los Angeles; and the Chapelle des Frères de l’Instruction Chrétienne in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Each Jesuit undergoes a thorough formation process, lasting between 10 to 12 years, before he is ordained a priest.
These ordinands earned multiple degrees from Jesuit universities, worked at Jesuit high schools and colleges, and ministered to the poor and marginalized. They studied, taught and served across the U.S., Canada and Haiti, and around the globe. The men will draw on the lessons and experiences they’ve learned along the way in their new assignments as priests.
From left to right: (standing) Brad Held, Daniel Corrou, Brian Taber, Marcus Fryer, Michael Rossmann, Stephen Wolfe; (seated) Christopher Calderón, Richard Nichols, Joseph Simmons and Philip Sutherland at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.
“I’d like to share people’s stories and give voice to people who don’t have a voice,” says Brendan Busse, SJ. Busse, who will be ordained on June 10, will serve on the pastoral team at Dolores Mission Parish in Los Angeles after ordination. “My vocation is about that. It’s about listening to people’s stories, as a spiritual director, as a friend, as a Jesuit, as a confessor and as a future priest. Listening to people’s stories in a way that helps people find healing, joy and justice in their lives — and find God ultimately.”
Many of the newly ordained met the Jesuits early in their lives. Seventeen of the 31 being ordained attended a Jesuit school. Marcus Fryer attended Strake Jesuit College Preparatory in Houston, where on a retreat his junior year he began to think about the priesthood.
Brad Held, SJ, had a part-time job working with Carmelite friars in high school and “showed up at Marquette University with a sense that I might become a priest.” The Jesuits he met there became mentors for Held, who entered the Society immediately after graduating from Marquette.
Held was not alone, as eight other Jesuits entered the Society after graduation, including Stephen Pitts. Others took more circuitous routes: serving in the military, earning multiple advanced degrees, volunteering with service programs, working for corporations and nonprofits, teaching and completing fellowships.
From left to right: Stephen Pitts, Ryan Rallanka, Jacob Boddicker, Angelo (A.J.) Rizzo, Luke Hansen, Brett McLaughlin, Christian Wagner, Rodolfo (Rudy) Casals, Richard Fichtinger and Sean Salai at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, Berkeley, California.
Daniel Corrou, SJ, did a bit of everything: first teaching in Micronesia for two years at a Jesuit school with Jesuit Volunteers International (JVI); returning to the U.S. to earn a master’s in theological studies at Harvard; working on a trading desk at Fidelity Investments for two years; taking a job with JVI headquarters at Georgetown University; and working in campus ministry at the College of the Holy Cross before becoming a Jesuit.
Richard Nichols, SJ, spent the six and a half years before entering the Jesuits in the U.S. Navy, mostly on nuclear submarine duty in the north Pacific Ocean. Sylvester Tan, SJ, completed a prestigious Watson Fellowship in Africa and Asia, studying the changing face of Catholicism.
Both Stephen Pitts and Sean Salai entered the Catholic Church as college students.
No matter what each man did before joining the Jesuits, however, they all went through the same experience of sensing God’s voice calling them to something greater.
Fr. John O'Brien, SJ, at his ordination on May 20.
As Fr. John O’Brien, SJ, who was ordained on May 20, describes it, “I started hearing a small voice in my prayer life, saying, ‘Follow me.’ As a layperson, I figured I was doing everything I could to serve the Lord. So ‘follow me’ meant for me, maybe, something a little more. Something different, like maybe priesthood, or maybe consecrated life.
“I knew with the Jesuits, or with the Ignatian method, there was a way to navigate that and discern that properly.”
Now that the preparation is over, each new priest is eager to serve the Catholic Church. They have been assigned to a variety of ministries, including working at parishes and retreat centers, serving migrants in Haiti, teaching at Jesuit schools and continuing their studies toward advanced degrees.
Fr. O’Brien is now a chaplain at Campion College at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, while also serving as a vocation promoter for the Society. "I hope that my priesthood will help serve as a bridge that reconciles people to one another and to God, and that helps build the kingdom of God, with Christ at the center," he says.
Watch videos of the UCS Jesuits' vocation stories:
Do you want to learn more about vocations to the Society of Jesus? Visit www.jesuitvocations.org for more information.