Every Jesuit receives a vow cross when they pronounce First Vows.
Twelve Novices to Pronounce Vows

Aug. 6, 2019 - After months, sometimes years, of discernment, a young man enters the Jesuit novitiate not knowing quite what to expect of the two years to come.

Through this foundational time of formation, a novice learns the rigors of religious life, learns new ways of praying, and over time learns how to see the world the way St. Ignatius Loyola invites. Prayer, study and apostolic service all seek to build a friendship with Jesus – a companionship – that empowers the man through grace and courage to kneel before the Eucharist and pronounce perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. On Saturday, Aug.10, 12 novices of the USA Central and Southern (UCS) Province will do just that at the Novitiate of St. Stanislaus Kostka in Grand Coteau, La.

Watch the video of First Vows

Novitiate life is filled with many challenges. Novices study the history of the Society of Jesus, the Society's primary documents, ways to pray, and the nature and challenges of living a life grounded in the three vows. Novices enter the rhythm of the Church, praying the Liturgy of the Hours and gathering for daily Eucharist. Novices begin the process of shaping their hearts around “finding God in all things” by accompanying communities on the margins, “experimenting” with what it means to live and work at a Jesuit institution, and by taking $5 and a one-way bus ticket to become a pilgrim in the world. Novices grow in their awareness and appreciation for living together and building a healthy community life. And finally, yet most importantly, novices build their identity and vision around the Jesus they encountered in the 30-day silent retreat. 

The following twelve men have become friends in the Lord. They have been found worthy by their superiors to continue in their Jesuit formation. In the days following first vows each will be missioned to start philosophy studies at Jesuit houses of studies in Chicago, St. Louis or Guadalajara. The men taking vows are:

Nicholas Blair, SJ

Nick Blair, SJ Mr. Blair, 25, is a graduate of De Smet Jesuit High School in St. Louis and Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Mo., where he earned bachelor’s degrees in economics and business administration.He completed a year as a member of the Alum Service Corps, teaching freshman theology at Rockhurst High School and assisting with the Hurtado Scholars Program. As a novice, he worked at St. John’s College in Belize and at Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. He will start First Studies at Loyola University Chicago.

Eric Couto, SJ

Eric Couto, SJ Mr. Couto, 24, attended Belen Jesuit Preparatory School in Miami and graduated from Clemson University in South Carolina with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. He was a student manager for the men’s basketball team throughout his four years at Clemson and was active in the parish of St. Andrews. As a novice, he worked at Colegio San Ignacio in Puerto Rico and with the Jesuits at the border with Haiti and the Dominican Republic. He will start First Studies at Saint Louis University, St. Louis. (Mr. Couto is a member of the Antilles Province, but will study alongside the novices of the U.S. Central and Southern Province.) 

Hunter D’Armond, SJ

Hunter D'Armond, SJ Mr. D’Armond, 23, attended Catholic High School in Baton Rouge, La., where he was a varsity baseball player and student minister. He went to Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala., where he studied theology and philosophy, played baseball and served as prefect of the Sodality of Our Lady. During his time at SHC, he spent a summer studying in Bologna, Italy. As a novice, he worked at Dallas Jesuit High School in Dallas, Belen Jesuit High School in Miami, and with the Jesuits in Guyana, South America. He will start First Studies at Loyola University,Chicago.

Daniel Finucane, SJ 

Dan Finucane, SJMr. Finucane, 31, is an alumnus of both St. Louis University High School and Saint Louis University. He earned a Master of Theological Studies degree at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. He spent a year in Zambia, working with two Franciscan communities. Prior to joining the Society, he was a theology teacher and campus minister at SLU High. As a novice, he worked at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, El Paso and at Good Shepherd School, New Orleans. He will start First Studies at Loyola University Chicago.

John Guerra, SJ

John Guerra, SJ Mr. Guerra, 23, attended Jesuit High School of New Orleans, the University of Dallas in Irving, Texas, and Saint Joseph Seminary College in St. Benedict, La. An accomplished musician and composer, he is devoted to liturgical music ministry in various settings and wrote a Mass setting for the Abbey Youth Festival at St. Joseph Abbey in St. Benedict. Prior to joining the Jesuits, he worked at Immaculate Conception Jesuit Church in New Orleans. As a novice, he worked at Cristo Rey High School, Houston and St. George’s High School in Jamaica. He will start First Studies at Saint Louis University, St. Louis.

Justin Kelley, SJ

Justin Kelley, SJ Mr. Kelley, 23, attended Jesuit High School in Tampa, Florida, where he played lacrosse and Ultimate Frisbee, wrestled and was active in peer ministry and the pro-life club. He attended the University of South Florida in Tampa, then transferred to Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Fla., where he participated in Ultimate Frisbee and choir. As a novice, he worked at Regis Jesuit High School, Denver and at St. Peter Claver Catholic Church in Punta Gorda, Belize. He will start First Studies at Loyola University Chicago.

Kevin Kuehl, SJ

Kevin Kuehl, SJMr. Kuehl, 30, attended Christian Brothers High School in Memphis. He first met the Jesuits at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., where he earned a bachelor’s in culture and politics. He served at Farm of the Child in Honduras as a middle school teacher and assistant school director, and he earned a master’s in ministry at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., while serving as a graduate assistant with the Schlegel Center for Service and Justice. As a novice. he worked at Loyola Academy in St Louis and with the Jesuits in Guyana, South America. He will start First Studies at Saint Louis University, St. Louis.

Sullivan McCormick, SJ

Sullivan McCormick, SJBro. McCormick, 26, graduated from Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas, where he was active in student government, the men’s chorus and debate. He earned a bachelor’s in English and philosophy at Boston College, where he was a member of the Fulton Debating Society and the Liturgical Arts Group. He taught in the Alumni Service Corps at Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas, then worked at the Dallas Urban Debate Alliance. As a novice, he worked at Spring Hill College in Mobile and at Arrupe Jesuit High School in Denver. He will start First Studies at Saint Louis University, St. Louis.

Philip Nahlik, SJ

Philip Nahlik, SJMr. Nahlik, 24, is a native of St. Louis and a graduate of St. Louis University High School. He earned a bachelor’s and master’s in chemistry from Loyola University Chicago. His thesis research involved a study of environmental education at Jesuit high schools. He lived in an intentional Christian community during his undergraduate years and served as a staff and student leader for alternative break immersion trips to two Catholic Worker communities. As a novice, he worked at Regis University in Denver and at Colegio San Ignacio in Puerto Rico. He will start First Studies at Loyola University Chicago.

Chi Nhan Nguyen, SJ

Mr. Nguyen, 38, was born in Vung Tàu, Vietnam, and moved to New Orleans in 1990. He has bachelor’s and masters’ degrees in architecture from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He also attended Richland College in Dallas and Conception Seminary College in Conception, Missouri. He was an architectural designer and consultant and a member of Mother of Perpetual Help Parish in Garland, Texas, prior to joining the Society. He enjoys reading, team sports and other forms of exercise.  As a novice, he worked at Tampa Jesuit High School and at Loyola University Chicago as a hospital chaplain. He will start First Studies at Loyola University Chicago.

River Simpson, SJ

River Simpson, SJ Mr. Simpson, 25, is a native of New Richmond, Wisc. He graduated from Loyola University Chicago with bachelor’s degrees in anthropology and psychology and was involved in campus ministry. During the summer, he worked as a program co-coordinator at Lake Wapogasset Lutheran Bible Camp. He served in the Colorado Vincentian Volunteers, working at the Urban Peak Education and Employment Center. As a novice, he worked at Rockhurst Jesuit High School in Kansas City, Mo., and at Jesuit High School, New Orleans. He will start First Studies at Saint Louis University, St. Louis.

Bryan Torres, SJ

Bryan Torres, SJ Mr. Torres, 25, earned a bachelor’s in history from Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania, where he was an active member of the Newman Center. He taught English, history and sociology in a Catholic bilingual school in Juticalpa, Honduras, as a volunteer for the Olancho Aid Foundation. He was active in the English Forensic League and Model United Nations in high school. As a novice, he worked at Belen Jesuit High School, Miami and at the Jesuit parish in Santa Maria Chiquimula, Guatemala. He will start First Studies at ITESO, Universidad Jesuita de Guadalajara.

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The Ignatian Spirituality Center of Kansas City gives, fosters, and witnesses to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola by giving the Spiritual Exercises in various forms, offering ongoing formation in Ignatian spirituality and discernment, and training prayer guides to give the Spiritual Exercises.