Fr. John O’Brien, SJ (right), at his ordination on May 20 with Most Reverend Wayne Kirkpatrick, Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Toronto.
By Doris Yu
June 1, 2017 — The Society of Jesus is proud to announce the ordination of 29 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.
The first ordination Mass was held on May 20 at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Toronto. Additional ordinations 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; Holy Name of Jesus Church in New Orleans; St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cathedral in Parma, Ohio (for Cyril Pinchak, SJ, who will be a bi-ritual priest in both the Roman and Byzantine Catholic Churches); 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.
“I’d like to share people’s stories and give voice to people who don’t have a voice,” says Fr. Brendan Busse, SJ. Fr. 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 29 being ordained attended a Jesuit school. Fr. 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 Fr. Held, who entered the Society immediately after graduating from Marquette.
Fr. Held was not alone, as eight other Jesuits entered the Society after graduation. 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.
Fr. 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.
Fr. Sylvester Tan, SJ, completed a prestigious Watson Fellowship in Africa and Asia, studying the changing face of Catholicism.
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.
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.
Do you want to learn more about vocations to the Society of Jesus? Visit www.jesuitvocations.org for more information.