June 12, 2021 – During the Rite of Ordination, there is a simple and profoundly beautiful moment when each ordinand is called by name and presented to the ordaining prelate. Once assured of the men’s worthiness, the bishop says, “Relying on the help of the Lord God and our Savior Jesus Christ, we choose these, our brothers, for the Order of the Priesthood.” To which the superior replies, “Thanks be to God.”
And the congregation cheers.
Thanks be to God, indeed. Cheering is appropriate, even in a church, because the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province gained five new priests in June. Twenty-five Jesuits were ordained for the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States. But more importantly, we the Church gained 25 new priests. These men are indeed worthy. They were chosen, not just by the Society of Jesus, or the Roman Catholic Church; they were chosen by God.
Father Daniel Mora Arenas, SJ, was ordained on June 3, 2021, at San Javier (Francis Xavier) Parish in Bogotá, Colombia. The Archbishop of Bogota, Mons. Luis José Rueda, presided at the sacred liturgy. A native of Colombia, Fr. Mora did his theology studies in Bogotá. Photos from Fr. Mora’s ordination are available on Flickr.
Jesuits Louis Hotop, Christopher Kellerman, James Page and Brian Strassburger were ordained at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in New Orleans, on Saturday, June 12, 2021. The Most Reverend Gregory Aymond, Archbishop of New Orleans, presided. The Mass is available on YouTube. See photos on SmugMug.
With gratitude to God, we introduce the newest priests of the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province:
Father Louis R. Hotop, SJ, came to know the Jesuits while a student St. Louis University High School in St. Louis. In his teens, Fr. Hotop was active in service groups and in campus ministry at school. These activities helped to form and solidify his desire to dedicate his life to the good of others, and he entered the Society right out of high school.
As a Jesuit novice, Fr. Hotop served at L’Arche in Kansas City, Mo., Regis Jesuit High School in Denver and St. Peter Claver Parish in Punta Gorda, Belize. He earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy and Russian studies at Saint Louis University, spending a summer with the Jesuits and the Catholic communities in Siberia.
Father Hotop’s ministerial experience was at St. John’s College in Belize City, Belize, and at Arrupe Jesuit High School in Denver. After three years, he was sent to the Jesuit School of Theology (JST) of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, Calif., where he earned a Master of Divinity degree. While at JST, he worked closely with the homeless on the streets of San Francisco through an outreach program called the Gubbio Project, which opens empty churches to provide people with a place to sleep during the day.
After ordination, Fr. Hotop will serve in the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas, ministering to migrant communities on the U.S.–Mexico border and helping with sacramental supply in diocesan parishes.
Father Christopher Kellerman, SJ, was born in Arlington, Texas, has been a political junkie from a young age. He attended Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, where he studied music and political science and was an active member of the Catholic Student Association. He went on to earn his master’s degree in theology from the University of Dallas in Irving, Texas, where he began seriously discerning a religious vocation.
He entered the Jesuit Novitiate of St. Stanislaus Kostka in Grand Coteau, La., in 2011. After two years, he went to St. Louis, where he studied philosophy at Saint Louis University and served for a year at St. Louis University High School.
Fr. Kellerman’s ministerial experience was at Regis Jesuit High School in Denver. He then earned his Master of Divinity degree at Regis College at the University of Toronto. For the past year, he has been a visiting research fellow at the Jesuit Social Research Institute (JSRI) at Loyola University New Orleans, as well as serving as a deacon at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Baton Rouge, La.
Following ordination, Kellerman will serve as a priest at Immaculate Conception Parish in Baton Rouge, while serving as interim director of JSRI in New Orleans.
Father Daniel Mora Arenas, SJ, was born and raised in Palmira, Colombia. He studied public accounting at the Jesuits’ Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Cali, Colombia, and after graduation, worked as a financial auditor for several years. In 2007, he moved to Puerto Rico to pursue an MBA. In 2008, after seeing a film about the life of St. Alberto Hurtado, SJ, he contacted the Jesuits on the island and began the discernment process. He entered the Society of Jesus in 2009 at the novitiate in Santiago de los Caballeros in the Dominican Republic. There he accompanied a community in the neighborhood of San Fermín, celebrating the Word, visiting the sick, assisting in the catechesis of young people, visiting families and giving the Spiritual Exercises. He was then sent to Chicago to take a year of English as a Second Language (ESL) and studied philosophy for two years.
In Chicago, Fr. Mora served at St. Procopius Parish as a confirmation catechist and accompanied a Christian Life Community called “Spanglish CLC” for Latino students at Loyola University Chicago. His regency – ministerial experience – was at Colegio San Ignacio in Puerto Rico, where he served as an assistant in the community service office and taught a class for seniors called “Magis commitment.”
Mora studied theology in Colombia at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. He served as a deacon in the Jesuit parish of St. Francis Xavier in Bogotá while finishing his Bachelor of Theology from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. After ordination, he will serve as associate pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in El Paso, Texas.
Father James R. Page, SJ, was born and raised in New Orleans. He attended Pomona College for undergraduate studies and majored in economics, while also becoming involved in a number of Bible study groups across the campuses of the Claremont Consortium. Entering the second semester of his junior year, he met Fr. Donald Hawkins, SJ, at that time the pastor of the Holy Name of Jesus Church in New Orleans. Father Hawkins was the first person to suggest that Page consider a vocation to the priesthood. He entered the Society of Jesus after college.
As a novice, Fr. Page did apostolic work in a number of different places: living in a L’Arche community near Kansas City, Mo., tutoring children in Nicaragua and working in high schools in Denver and Houston, among other ministries. He then studied philosophy at Regis College at the University of Toronto. During his three years in Toronto, he also worked in catechetical programs, a L’Arche community, and participated in a number of interreligious dialogues hosted by the university.
After graduating, Fr. Page taught scripture at St. Louis University High School. While there, he also helped in the school’s retreat programs and started a Philosophy Club. He then went on to earn his Licentiate in Sacred Theology at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, with a focus on Scripture. He was part of the RCIA program at St. Ignatius Church, and during his diaconate year, he worked at St. Michael’s Church in Bedford, Mass. His first assignment as a priest will be serving at St. Francis Xavier College Church in St. Louis and assisting in Saint Louis University’s campus ministry.
Brian A. Strassburger, SJ, was born in St. Louis, then lived in five states in his first 10 years, until his family settled in Denver in 1994. He went to Regis Jesuit High School and was active in the Boy Scouts, earning the rank of Eagle in 2001. Father Strassburger returned to his birthplace when he went to Saint Louis University, where he majored in mathematics, with a certificate in business administration and a minor in philosophy.
After graduation, Fr. Strassburger joined the Augustinian Volunteers (AVs), a post-graduate volunteer program. For his first year, he lived in the Bronx, N.Y., where he worked for a non-profit called Water for Waslala, which builds clean water systems in Nicaragua. During his second year with the AVs, he went to Durban, South Africa, where he worked three days a week in an elementary school and boys’ home and two days a week in a hospice for AIDS patients. After two years of volunteer work, he was hired by the Augustinian Mission Office in Villanova, Penn., where he worked for two and a half years.
Father Strassburger entered the Society of Jesus in 2011. As a novice, he served at Cherith Brook Catholic Worker House in Kansas City, Mo.; Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Houston; and in the interior of Guyana, South America. After pronouncing first vows, he went to Fordham University, where he earned a master’s degree in international political economy and development (IPED), and spent a summer working for Jesuit Refugee Service in South Africa.
For his ministerial experience, Fr. Strassburger was missioned to Managua, Nicaragua, to work at the Roncalli Association/John XXIII, a Jesuit-founded nonprofit. He helped with small business development projects in rural communities and ran a youth formation program.
Father Strassburger earned a Master of Divinity degree and a Master of Theology degree at the Boston College School of Ministry and Theology. While in Boston, he was the chaplain to the Boston College men’s basketball team, worked as a prison chaplain and served as a deacon at St. Mary of the Angels Parish.
Throughout his formation, Strassburger has contributed to The Jesuit Post (TJP), an online platform run by Jesuits in formation with articles and videos. For the last two years, he has served as TJP’s editor-in-chief.
After ordination, Strassburger will serve in the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas, to respond to pastoral needs in the area, with a particular focus on the migrant community.