June 8, 2019 – And just like that, there were four new priests to glorify God through their lives.
Jesuits Matthew Baugh, Peter Gadalla, Jonathan Harmon and Stephen Kramer, having been found worthy by their Jesuit superiors and the people of the Church, were ordained to the priesthood on Saturday, June 8, 2019, at Holy Name of Jesus Church in New Orleans. The Most Reverend Gregory Aymond, Archbishop of New Orleans, presided at the beautiful and ancient Rite of Ordination.
“Jesus spoke directly to your hearts,” Archbishop Aymond said to the ordinandi in his homily. “He said, ‘Come, follow me.’ … You took a leap of faith. You said yes.”
Father Provincial Ronald Mercier, SJ, called each man by name and presented him to Archbishop Aymond, who approved their selection on behalf of the Church. The congregation voiced approval through applause.
Later, the four men lay prostrate on the floor in a gesture of humility. Of this posture of total surrender, Archbishop Aymond said, “God cannot fill what is full; he can only fill emptiness. Empty yourself every day. What is empty will be filled with the grace of the priesthood.”
Through a laying on of hands, more than 100 priests offered their blessings to the four new clerics. Following a ceremonial vesting and anointing of their hands, the four joined the archbishop in the consecration of the bread and wine for the first time as priests.
The four new priests of this province are among 22 Jesuits to be ordained to the priesthood this year in the United States, Canada and Haiti.
The new priests of the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province are:
D. Matthew Baugh, SJ, was born in the small town of Casa, Ark. (population: 202), where he spent most of his childhood before his family moved to Mendham, N.J., and later to Raleigh, N.C. After graduating from Ravenscroft School in Raleigh, he attended Duke University on a full academic scholarship, studying international development and serving as chair of both the Honor Council and Undergraduate Judicial Board. During two extended stays in rural Haiti, Baugh worked with an American Benedictine sister and local youth to produce radio broadcasts on matters of public health. For Baugh, this was a profound experience of Christ’s presence in the poor, which sparked initial stirrings of a vocation to the religious life.
He was named a Rhodes Scholar in 2001 and attended Oxford University for three years to study international relations. It was there that he first met the Jesuits, who were active in both the intellectual and spiritual life of the university. He returned to the United States to study law at Yale University as a Truman Scholar, while continuing to discern his religious vocation.
In 2007 he entered the Jesuit Novitiate of St. Stanislaus Kostka in Grand Coteau, La. As a novice, he served on the U.S.–Mexico border; in the L’Arche Community in Mobile, Ala.; at Jesuit High School New Orleans and in a parish in the mountains of El Salvador. He pronounced his first vows in 2009.
Baugh returned to Oxford for one year (2009-10) to complete the doctorate he had put on hold to enter the Society of Jesus. He then studied philosophy at the University of Toronto from 2011 to 2013. He was sent to Spring Hill College in Mobile for regency from 2013 to 2016, serving as assistant professor of political science and law and assisting with the spiritual formation of students, staff and faculty. He also helped to reactivate the old college sodality, originally founded in 1847 and now thriving once again. While completing his theology studies at Boston College over the past three years, Baugh has ministered to inmates at Boston’s main prison and has served as deacon and director of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) at Boston University Catholic Center.
Following his ordination, he will serve as associate pastor of St. Francis Xavier (College) Church in St. Louis.
Peter Gadalla, SJ, began to discern his vocation to the Society of Jesus while designing propulsion plants for the U.S. Navy.
Gadalla, a Coptic Catholic, was born in Houston and raised in both Cairo, Egypt, and Destin, Fla. After graduating from St. George College in Cairo, he studied mechanical engineering in Mobile, Ala. After graduating, he worked for the Navy and studied Ignatian spirituality at Spring Hill College in Mobile. In 2008, he entered the Jesuit Novitiate of St. Stanislaus Kostka in Grand Coteau, La.
As a novice, he served at the Rosebud Indian Reservation and Arrupe Cristo Rey High School in Denver. He earned a master’s degree in philosophy from Saint Louis University in 2013. He taught philosophy and theology at both Belen Jesuit High School in Miami and the Bethlehem University in Palestine, he also served as the campus minister. Next, he completed his theological studies at Regis College at the University of Toronto.
Gadalla has always served at various local oriental churches where he studied, such as St. Raymond’s Maronite Cathedral in St. Louis; The Virgin Mary Melkite Catholic Church in Bethlehem; Holy Family Coptic Catholic Church in Toronto; and St. Andrew Coptic Catholic Church in Rome. ?
He was ordained a deacon by His Beatitude Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac in Cairo, Egypt in July 2018. Currently, he is in Scriptural Studies at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, which he will continue following his ordination.
Jonathan Harmon, SJ, was born in Tyler, Texas. His family attended Immaculate Conception, the cathedral parish, for many years and then became one of the first families to help start a new parish in the small city of Whitehouse, Texas. Harmon met the Jesuits when he was studying graphic design at Tyler Junior College. At the time, he worked at St. Mary Magdalene Parish in Flint, Texas, teaching middle school catechism.
Harmon entered the Society of Jesus in 2008 at the Novitiate of St. Stanislaus Kostka in Grand Coteau, La. As a Jesuit novice, he served in many ministries and locations including pastoral work on the U.S.-Mexico border, the L’Arche Community in Mobile, Ala. and in Belize, Central America. After pronouncing first vows in 2010, he moved to St. Louis, where he was missioned to study philosophy. While at Saint Louis University, he was involved with campus ministry and led a Christian Life Community (CLC) group.
He served at Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas for his regency (apostolic ministry) assignment. There he taught in both the fine arts and theology departments and, in his third year, helped with campus ministry. Ordained a deacon in October of 2018, Harmon is finishing theology studies at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, Calif., where he has been working at a local parish, directing the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) program.
Following his ordination, he will serve as associate pastor at St. Ignatius Loyola Parish in Denver.
Stephen Kramer, SJ, was born and raised in St. Louis, part of a devout Catholic family. Tied for the last of six children, he and his twin sister received Catholic education from kindergarten through college. For Stephen, that included St. Louis University High School and Saint Louis University, both Jesuit schools.
It was at St. Louis University High School that Kramer first met the Society of Jesus. He was intrigued by the lively, intelligent and loving Jesuits he found there. His affection for the Society deepened after his older brother, Fr. Mark Kramer, SJ, joined the Society. Eventually, in 2006, Stephen entered the Jesuit novitiate in St. Paul, Minn.
Throughout his formation, Stephen fell in love with teaching after serving in various places, including at a prison in Belize, Central America; Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, Colo.; De Smet Jesuit High School in St. Louis and Jesuit High School of New Orleans. In addition to teaching, he has become devoted to all work related to the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius, from giving retreats to spiritual direction.
Kramer is completing a master’s degree focusing on Ignatian Studies and a Master of Divinity degree at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. After his June ordination, he looks forward to serving as a parochial vicar at Immaculate Conception Jesuit Church in New Orleans.