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Moving In, Moving Up, Moving On

Aug. 27, 2018 - Every second weekend in August is a time of transitions and celebrations at the Jesuit Novitiate of St. Stanislaus Kostka in Grand Coteau, La. Every year at this time, men who have already engaged in a lengthy process of prayerful decision-making are accepted into the novitiate to continue their discernment. This year, seven men made the move to Grand Coteau to begin life as a novice: Reynaldo Belfort, Timothy Bishop, Travis Crowe, Brent Gordon, Joseph Nolla, Nicholas Reed and Sonny Vo. The following day, six other novices pronounced First Vows, bringing their own novice experience to a conclusion and sending them forth to begin the next stage of Jesuit training as scholastics. 

First Year Novices
The first-year novices (minus one) at the Jesuit Novitatiate of St. Stanislaus Kostka

During a First Vows Mass on August 11, in the presence of Jesuits from across the province, family members and friends, Ángel Flores, Joshua Hinchie, Marco Machado, Jeff Miraflor, Jorge Roque and Connor Smith pronounced perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. They committed themselves for life to follow Christ and to participate in His ministry as Jesuits. They have been approved to continue their preparation for Jesuit life and ministry. 

Recognizing that Jesuits stand on the shoulders of many who have gone before them, each of these men received the vow crucifix of a deceased Jesuit whom he admires. Now, as vowed Jesuits, these six men move on to the next stage in their formation, called “first studies,” which normally lasts three years. They have been missioned to houses of study at Saint Louis University, Loyola University Chicago and Fordham University in the Bronx to further their formation in preparation for ministry.

Vow Crosses presented
Provincial Ronald A. Mercier presents the vow crucifix of Edmundo Rodriguez, SJ, to Marco Machado, SJ.

As part of the annual transition at the novitiate, last year’s first-year novices, or primi, have become secundi or second-year novices. This group, which began their novitiate in August 2017, is composed of Nicholas Blair, Eric Couto, Hunter D’Armond, Daniel Finucane, John Guerra, Justin Kelley, Kevin Kuehl, Sullivan McCormick, Philip Nahlik, Chi Nhan Nguyen, River Simpson and Bryan Torres. 

The second-year novices, now “veterans” of the novitiate, accompany the new men as they learn the rigors and rhythms of religious life, and continue the conversation with Jesus and their superiors to discern how they are called to serve the Church. 

Another significant move this year is a change in novitiate staff. Mark Thibodeaux, SJ, who has served as novice director for ten years, moves on to become pastor at Holy Name of Jesus Church in New Orleans, following a sabbatical. Andrew Kirschman, SJ, who has served as Fr. Thibodeaux’s assistant, becomes the new director of novices. Brother Lawrence Huck, formerly a faculty member of Jesuit High School in New Orleans, comes to the novitiate as Fr. Kirschman’s assistant.

Novitiate Staff
Novitiate staff include new Director of Novices Andrew Kirschman, outgoing Director of Novices Mark Thibodeaux and Brother Lawrence Huck.

The novitiate is a two-year period with four fundamental goals: the testing of one’s vocation, a more intimate relationship with the Lord, growth in authentic self-knowledge, and an increasing love for the Church and the mission of the Society of Jesus.

For more information on Jesuit vocations and the formation program of Jesuits, please visit BeAJesuit.org.





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Our Lady of the Oaks Retreat House
Our Lady of the Oaks Retreat House, located in Grand Coteau, La., has provided a beautiful setting for retreats since 1938.