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Our 2022 Jesuits West jubilarians have served in a variety of ministries at apostolates across the western United States. We asked some of this year’s jubilarians to reflect on the greatest grace of their Jesuit vocation.

Fr. Al Naucke, SJ
70 Years in the Society

My family lived very close to the Jesuit parish of St. Joseph’s in downtown San Jose where I, like my parents, was baptized, and I began serving Mass and benediction at a very early age. I linked in with the fathers and brothers and gradually took on duties in the church and rectory, including answering the phone and counting the collection. I also served Mass at the Jesuits’ Holy Family Parish, right around the corner, serving the Italian community.

At around age 12, I knew that my early desire to pilot a steam locomotive was childish, and the Lord wanted me to serve him in the Society of Jesus. Four years at Bellarmine College Prep strengthened that insight. The greatest grace is knowing I have been blessed to follow the Lord’s call.

Fr. Naucke assists in the Jesuits West provincial office and prays for the Church and the Society at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, California.

Fr. L. John Topel, SJ
70 Years in the Society

This question handcuffed me. At first, I thought of the events of my 70 years in the Society—but none of these could be called the greatest.

Then I remembered why I entered—to share the community of joy and love I saw in the scholastics at Seattle Prep. So perhaps my greatest blessing is the community I have experienced—trustworthy superiors to whom I confessed my weakness and who discerned my future; above all, the men with whom I lived. I always had someone to guide me and men to emulate.

But my greatest grace is the presence of God in my life. I always sought God in all things, but only when Jesus had inoculated me against our culture’s viruses—pleasure, possessions, power, prestige—did I start finding God everywhere: in nature, in ministry, in community, in faith sharing, in my failing frame, and even in personal prayer. The Contemplatio is the grace of my Jesuit vocation.

Fr. Topel is professor emeritus at Seattle University, where he assists in pastoral ministry.

Fr. Craig Boly, SJ
60 Years in the Society 

As a new priest working as a hospital chaplain, I was told that the old woman in room 749 was riddled with cancer. Her only reason for living was to carry a white-hot flame of hatred for the husband who had deserted her years before. The doctors said that she was a Catholic—perhaps I could give her peace.

When I entered her room, she saw my collar and said, “Get out.” When she had fallen asleep, I tried again, praying quietly by her bed. When she stirred, I took her hand and asked if I could anoint her. She was too tired or too lonely to say no.

On her forehead, I applied the fragrant oil with the words, “Through this holy anointing, may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit.” And on her hands, “May the Lord who frees you from sin, save you and raise you up.”

Immediately, her appearance changed. Her face relaxed, a warm light seemed to emanate from her, and a tear rolled down her cheek. She lay there holding my hand for about three more minutes. Then she died. She didn’t say anything. She didn’t need to do anything. She simply received the deliverance she needed to die peacefully. From that moment on, I have trusted the reality of resurrection because I have seen it myself.

Fr. Boly is chaplain at Jesuit High School in Portland, Oregon.

Fr. Peter Byrne, SJ
60 Years in the Society

What image captures the grace of 60 years in this Company of Jesus? Companion. First a companion of Jesus, then a companion with other Jesuits, some living, others gone ahead, still others called to another way; a companion with gifted lay men and women in our call to labor together for the reign of God, in five parishes; as a companion with young students in three high schools; in formation work with new Jesuits; and now walking as a companion with the Coeur d’Alene people on their reservation in Idaho.

How blessed have I been! Always walking with, not ahead, but together learning from each other, hoping together, always rooted in the primary companionship with Jesus. Poet Andrew King offers this answer in “Why You Leave Your Nets and Follow”: “because he’s called you by name and the heart in you swims toward that love, toward joy, toward home,” as a Companion of Jesus.

Fr. Byrne is pastor at Sacred Heart Mission in De Smet, Idaho.

Fr. John Mitchell, SJ
60 Years in the Society, 50 Years in the Priesthood

My greatest grace has always been my Jesuit companions. In the early years, I was inspired by my classmates and by the older fathers and brothers, who had borne and were continuing to bear the “heat of the day,” quietly and peacefully. Now I find myself inspired by young scholastics and priests, who witness to me an extraordinary zeal for souls. They are prayerful and happy, their sleeves are rolled up, and they are immersed in their ministries. Our future lies in good hands.

I have found another profound grace in the people for whom and with whom I have ministered. They range from young, vibrant, never-quiet students to senior citizens whose bodies may be frail but whose eyes are vibrant with interior energy and joy. These people of God are the Church, and we are blessed to serve them, for they serve us in countless ways.

Fr. Mitchell is superior of the St. Ignatius Jesuit Community in San Francisco.

Fr. John Mossi, SJ
60 Years in the Society

What? Attempt to pinpoint the greatest grace in my 60-year adventure as a Jesuit? Quite an impossible assignment! Why? Everything has been and is grace in Imax abundance on this roller coaster pilgrimage. Certain grace moments are easy to underscore: entrance day, the Spiritual Exercises, first and final vows, ordination, celebrating the sacraments and, most recently, serving our dedicated benefactors who support Jesuits West.

A surprise expected grace occurred through teaching the Nicene Creed at Gonzaga University. I grew in deeper appreciation of the vibrant role of the Trinity in daily life along with the critical prophetic-service mission of the Church as pivotal journey coordinates. The Creed calls us all to be “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.” This mission only strengthens our godlike essence. With Trinitarian appreciation, I now engage the Nicene elements of creation, human dignity, imagination and Church synodality as life-affirming priorities. Truly, a major grace.

Fr. Mossi serves in benefactor relations for Jesuits West.

Fr. Michael Moynahan, SJ
60 Years in the Society

The last words of the young priest in Georges Bernanos’ Diary of a Country Priest are “grace is everywhere.”

God’s grace/gifts/love have touched me in my family of origin, in my Jesuit family, in the students I have taught, in companions in mission, in the people I have anointed or mediated God’s mercy to, in the families I have consoled, in all of the faith communities I helped remember and give thanks through the liturgies we celebrated. The poet Jeanne Lohmann shouts my gratitude and hope for these past sixty years:

“At the end there may be no answers and only a few very simple questions: Did I love? Finish my task in the world? Learn at least one of the many names of God? At the intersections, the boundaries where one life began and another ended, the jumping-off places between fear and possibility, at the ragged edges of pain, did I catch the smallest glimpse of the holy?“

And I would answer, “Yes. Yes. Grace was everywhere.”

Fr. Moynahan is pastor of St. Ignatius Parish in Portland, Oregon.

Fr. William Muller, SJ
60 Years in the Society 

I entered the Jesuits after high school when I was 17 years old, so I count it a great grace to have “grown up” in the Society of Jesus and at a time right before, during and immediately after Vatican II and the 31st General Congregation of the Society—two “moments” that the Spirit used to move the Church and the Society into the modern world. I have been fortunate to have had many opportunities for ministry in high schools, in the province and with the Jesuit Schools Network—all great graces and most of which I hope I have responded well to. And what a great grace to be a priest, even in a time of priestly scandal, to accompany people in prayer and in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist; to be with Christ witnessing weddings, baptizing, absolving sins, anointing the sick and burying the dead. God’s Grace!

Fr. Muller is VP for mission and identity at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix.

Fr. Mario Prietto, SJ
60 Years in the Society 

As I reflect on my 60 years as a Jesuit, my greatest grace is gratitude.

I am deeply grateful for my immigrant parents, Consuelo and Pablo, for imbuing me and my siblings with love of family and faith. I am grateful to St. Ignatius, for the incredible gift of the Spiritual Exercises and his profound understanding of human nature and what it means to be a free and happy person. I thank God for my Jesuit brothers and for the wonderful people I have met and become friends with in my ministries at Loyola High School, St. Ignatius Prep, Santa Clara University, USF, Our Lady of Sorrows Church and Bellarmine Prep. And I thank God for the gift of sacramental ministry, which has allowed me to bless and be blessed by the many baptisms, weddings, anointings, reconciliations and Eucharists I have celebrated over my 49 years as a priest.

Thank you, one and all!

Fr. Prietto is a campus minister at Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, California, and superior of the Jesuit community.

Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ
60 Years in the Society

When I entered the Jesuits as a 17-year-old in 1962, I was a shy, Goldwater Republican who hated to write or speak in public. No one would describe me that way today, and that is due to my life as a Jesuit.

After my entrance, the Church and the Jesuits changed dramatically because of the Second Vatican Council. I was surprised by the changes, but as I began to understand them, I enthusiastically embraced the direction the Spirit is taking the church.

The Jesuit commitment to justice, peace and the environment give meaning and purpose to my life. I enjoy preaching, celebrating the Eucharist and hearing confessions. I feel supported by my Jesuit community and the people I have met in my ministries.

I have never been very good at Jesuit discernment when looking into the future, but looking back, I believe the Spirit has been with me.

Fr. Reese is a senior analyst for Religion News Service in Washington, D.C.

Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ
50 Years in the Society

In his meditation on the Two Standards, St. Ignatius writes, “See Jesus standing in the lowly place.” Jesus isn’t outside the place, asking us to go there. He’s standing there. It has been the grace of 50 years as a Jesuit to want to stand there with him. It’s mainly the desire for the desire to stand there, but still. Jesus stands there, not because it’s a grim duty, but because it is where the joy is. All one wants, then, is to stand with Jesus at the margins, with the poor, the powerless and the voiceless. With the demonized and disposable. With those whose burdens are more than they can bear. With those whose dignity has been denied. With the easily despised and readily left out. Jesus stands there and says, “Come on in, the water’s fine.” And indeed, it is. “My joy yours…your joy complete.”

Fr. Boyle is the founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles.

Fr. Kevin Dilworth, SJ
50 Years in the Society

If I could choose one word to summarize my last 50 years as a Jesuit, it would be gratitude.

I am so grateful for the many people who have shared their lives with me on this journey and the many families who have counted me as one of their own. Never having seen myself in front of the crowd, it has been a grace for me to walk beside so many people and share their faith and personal experiences of God—whether it was in the high school classroom, through pastoral ministry, during the years I spent in television news or these last 10 years working with future health care practitioners at Creighton University’s Health Science Campus in Phoenix. I am filled with gratitude to God for this invitation to follow him more closely with my brothers in the Society of Jesus and with gratitude for all who have shared the journey.

Fr. Dilworth is chaplain at Creighton University’s Phoenix campus.

Fr. Mike Engh, SJ
50 Years in the Society

The question posed to me is something like inquiring, “Which drop of water in the ocean is your favorite?”
In my flood of memories, I am overwhelmed with the tsunami of graces received through the many people whom I have known since 1972. In my attempts to serve them, more often than naught, they have been the source of blessings that have nourished and sustained me through five decades. Family, friends, students and colleagues have revealed God’s warm and loving presence. In these interactions, they have called me to do more than I ever imagined possible in places and situations I never anticipated. Along the way, fellow Jesuits have accompanied me in community organizing, teaching high school and college, research and writing, and serving in educational administration. Which was the greatest grace? God knows! And I am profoundly grateful.

Fr. Engh is chancellor of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

Fr. Steve Lantry, SJ
50 Years in the Society

On the back of my ordination card were three quotations; one of them was the opening line of a Theodore Roethke poem: “In a dark time the eye begins to see.” In 1981, I had no idea how prescient those words would be.

Grace is always mediated in some incarnate way—God is always coming through our flesh-and-blood door. In 1983, through the mediation of Chris Gjording, SJ, I began recovery from the family disease of alcoholism, which like all addictions, is primarily a disease of the soul. One of its central effects is to shut down feeling, to close the door to one’s own affect. As I entered into recovery, poetry reopened that door for me; since poetry is composed of images drawn from actual life, through the years it has offered me multiple openings into God’s presence in the world, myriad facets of the Incarnation.

My novice director, Gordon Moreland, SJ, once said that “the Lord is the one who takes away my shame.” That was only possible for me when I became willing to surrender. Rumi says it this way:

“You are the fountain of the sun’s light;
I am a willow shadow on the ground.
You make my raggedness silky.”

This grace has been continually mediated to me by other sober Jesuits.

Life in the last 50 years has been ordinary, unremarkable, yet full of gifts that have taken me years to see. In the years to come, I hope to be merely grateful for each loss. Peace.

Fr. Lantry is superior of the Ravalli Jesuit Community and associate pastor of St. Francis Xavier Church in Missoula, Montana.

Fr. Peter Neeley, SJ
50 Years in the Society

The special grace that comes to mind is the one I experience in Ignatius’ “Contemplation for Obtaining Love.” That love is incarnate in the many people Divine Providence has allowed to enter my life. Many of the graces of that love are the fruits of my vocation to live as a message of God’s love as it has been preached to me through their lives.

I am especial gratefully for family and lifelong friends who have always supported my “strange” choice to be a Jesuit. Many did not understand why, but supported me anyway, out of their love for me. I am grateful for my college buddies, “the boys of ‘71,” who have always supported my vocation and my various social apostolates, even if they didn’t agree with the politics. I am especially grateful for the past 12 years on the border, where I have been able to be that bridge I have always envisioned between people I love dearly, both in the north and the south of this continent. “I have chosen you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit.”

Fr. Neeley is associate director of education for the Kino Border Initiative in Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico.

Fr. Robert Niehoff, SJ
50 Years in the Society

Although I knew nothing about Bellarmine in Tacoma, a man my father worked with whose son attended, recommended it. My father said, “You are going to Bellarmine.”

I so admired the Jesuits, both scholastics and priests, that I met at Bellarmine. They were the first Jesuits I’d ever met. I wondered if I could be like them. I saw some of the challenges younger Jesuits experienced, even as a student; some of our teachers were here one day and gone the next.

I graduated from Bellarmine in June and was at the novitiate in mid-August. I felt I had to test this call. These were not easy years for the Society. I loved my Jesuit classmates and the novitiate. Over the years, when so many were leaving, I would often ask the Lord—“Why am I still here?!” I felt called and God has blessed me. Thus far by grace!

Fr. Niehoff is provincial assistant for higher education for the Jesuits West Province.

Fr. Cornelius Michael Buckley, SJ
60 Years in the Priesthood

For me, a tall, scrumptious sundae made with Neapolitan ice cream reflects the graces I’ve received as a priest. The sweet strawberry layer at the bottom mirrors my joining the Santa Clara faculty, teaching and involved with the long-defunct Project 50 program. Then, the vanilla: the challenge as president of St. Ignatius in San Francisco to bring right thinking to young teenagers. Next, long stretched-out chocolate years at the University of San Francisco, made yummy by the former St. Ignatius Institute. Finally, the topped maraschino cherry, Thomas Aquinas College, with its prestigious committed Catholic faculty and serious, fun-loving students. No part of the sundae is separate from the whole; each part was confected by God’s grace, Mary’s guidance and the support of the Society of Jesus, enabling me, for 60 years, to bring Christ to others daily in the Eucharist and the sacrament of penance. See why I’m so grateful?

Fr. Buckley prays for the Church and the Society at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, California.

Fr. Richard Cobb, SJ
60 Years in the Priesthood

The greatest grace of my Jesuit vocation? Only one word comes to mind: people. As a Jesuit I have met so many incredible individuals. I have served in a number of apostolates. I was often assigned to areas that did not appeal to me, but I was always happy. I have met Jesuits, lay people and professionals who were kind, generous, loving and spiritual. For example, during my 35 years at Bellarmine Prep in San Jose, there was never a day that I was not happy to go to work. I am so grateful to the Society for the wonderful opportunities I have enjoyed, as I never dreamt these things would happen to me. I have met so many great people—my heroes. These people have been God’s gift to me. My most extraordinary memory is of my 30-day long retreat on the Mount of Olives just outside of Jerusalem that I made with 14 other Jesuits in 1981. It was a monster grace in my life.

Fr. Cobb is infirmary chaplain and prays for the Church and the Society at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, California.

Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ
50 Years in the Priesthood

As I have said repeatedly for years, my greatest blessing as a Jesuit priest has been the people I have worked with. At the St. Ignatius Institute (University of San Francisco), Ignatius Press and Ave Maria University, I have been surrounded by co-workers—priests and fellow Jesuits, religious sisters, but primarily committed Catholic laymen—who love the Lord and the Church and have worked tirelessly in the Lord’s vineyard.

Fr. Fessio is director of Ignatius Press in San Francisco.

Fr. Bartholomew Murphy, SJ
50 Years in the Priesthood

“Homeless and yet everywhere at home.” This was a prayerful mantra of the Celtic monks borne of their experience of having left their homes to spread the Gospel throughout Europe and beyond, never to return to their place of origin. Their journeys led them to foreign lands and peoples, with cultures, religions, languages, foods and more, far different from their own. Homeless and often alone, but still “everywhere at home.” Why? How? Because they knew that God was with them and gave their lives plan and purpose, and that he was their source of ever-present guidance, strength and joy. The confusions encountered in today’s rapidly changing world and the many disorientations brought on by the aging process continue to remind me that I am “homeless” here, but a personal relationship with the Lord assures me at the same time that I am truly “everywhere at home.”

Fr. Murphy is a retreat guide in Nairobi, Kenya.

Fr. G.J. Max Oliva, SJ
50 Years in the Priesthood

I was 24 years old when I realized I had a vocation to be a Jesuit. Although everything in my life was going very well at the time—good job, full social life—I felt there was something missing. Over the years, I have looked back to see how God led me step-by-step to the conclusion of my vocation. Still, it took me by surprise. In the novitiate, while on the 30-day retreat, it became clear that what had been missing was deeper meaning in my life. It was as if my interior had been a lot of loose wires. On the retreat they were fused, and I knew without a doubt that this is where I belong. That feeling is still there. Next year I will celebrate 60 years in the Jesuits.

In addition to God’s grace, I am who I am as a priest because of the many faithful people I have met and served over the last 50 years.

Fr. Oliva is a pastoral minister in Spokane, Washington.

Fr. Stephen Privett, SJ
50 Years in the Priesthood

In the mid-70s, I spent a summer doing pastoral work in the Bahamas. One afternoon when I was enjoying the sun and surf on Paradise Beach, an old station wagon pulled up and out sprung a group of Bahamian kids followed by a woman. The woman and a very young boy sat down on the sand right next to me, while the rest of the kids ran into the ocean. The kids who were swimming immediately started to taunt the little boy, who was clearly afraid of the water. The woman got up, ambled into the water and then motioned to the boy to come join her. He jumped up and walked through the water into his mother’s arms—his fears dispelled. It was his mother who called, and she would never ask him to do anything that would harm him. He was not walking into dangerous waters, but into his mother’s loving embrace.

That story has become an overarching metaphor. What has been my greatest grace as a Jesuit/priest? As the dying priest in the novel Diary of a Country Priest says, “What does it matter? All is grace.” All of it.

Fr. Privett teaches theology at Loyola High School of Los Angeles and is president emeritus of the University of San Francisco.

Fr. John Privett, SJ
50 Years in the Priesthood

Gratitude!

When I look back over my Jesuit years, three words come to mind. Gratitude! Gratitude! Gratitude! I am grateful for the people I have served, the work I have been able to do, the Jesuits and lay folks who have accompanied me during my Jesuit years, and even for the bumps along the way.

Fr. Privett prays for the Church and the Society at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, California, where he served for many years as superior.

Fr. Thomas P. Rausch, SJ
50 Years in the Priesthood

Reflecting on my years in the Society, I am enormously grateful for so many blessings. When I think of the missionaries and explorers, the scholars, the priests and pastors, those who have taught so many for over five centuries, I am humbled to be a part of such a company. Men like Canisius, Ricci, Campion, Rupert Mayer, Rahner, de Chardin, Ellacuría and his companions, Dulles, and Pope Francis. But the greatest grace has been the companions along the way, the teachers and mentors, fellow Jesuits I first met more than 60 years ago and who are still friends today—those who are still with us—others with whom I’ve taught and ministered and lived, friends I can relax with and share concerns both large and small at the end of the day. Sometimes at the community liturgy I look around at these talented, generous men and can only praise our gracious God.

Fr. Rausch is the emeritus T. Marie Chilton professor of Catholic theology and acting director of the Huffington Ecumenical Institute at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

Fr. Richard Schneck, SJ
50 Years in the Priesthood

Some of the graces of the past 50 years:

On February 3, 1979, I took my final vows with Father General Pedro Arrupe in the city of Puebla, Mexico.

Another wonderful moment came on May 29, 2004, when Fr. Will Combs was ordained. About 10 years before, I had met Will at the Catholic University in Quito, Ecuador. He was not a Catholic, and I helped him through the catechism, and now he is a pastor in San Antonio.

In May of 2010, I was visiting the children’s hospital in Quito, Ecuador, where I discovered Siamese twins joined together at the heart. It was obvious to me that the baby girls would not live long, so I asked a nurse to be a witness to their baptism. I gave the twins the names of two saints of Ecuador, Mariana and Mercedes. The babies died soon after, and I hope that they bless me from heaven.

Fr. Schneck is emeritus professor of Sacred Scripture at the Pontificia Universidad Católica of Ecuador.

Fr. Daniel Sullivan, SJ
50 Years in the Priesthood

Eighty years old, 62 years a Jesuit and 50 years ordained a priest. Wow, that is a lot of years. Generally speaking, half of my Jesuit life was devoted to secondary education and the other half to spiritual and pastoral ministries. Certainly, I did not accomplish this on my own. Yes, I do believe in the indwelling Holy Spirit. I constantly remember the five promises of Jesus in sending us the Spirit as found in the Gospel of John, chapters 14-16. Ignatius and the Spiritual Exercises are absolutely foundational in all I do. My prayer this day are the words of Pedro Arrupe, SJ, on the 50th anniversary of his life as a Jesuit: “Give me that grace, that sense of Christ … so that I may live all of my life, interiorly and exteriorly proceeding and discerning with your spirit, exactly as you did during your mortal life.”

Fr. Sullivan is senior priest at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Phoenix.

Other Jesuits Celebrating Jubilees this Year

75 YEARS IN THE SOCIETY
Father Kenneth W. Baker, SJ
Father Louis A. Peinado, SJ

70 YEARS IN THE SOCIETY
Father Joseph T. Angilella, SJ

60 YEARS IN THE SOCIETY
Father J. Leon Hooper, SJ
Brother Thomas J. Koller, SJ

50 YEARS IN THE SOCIETY
Father Kevin D. Ballard, SJ
Father John D. Fuchs, SJ
Father John K. Ridgway, SJ
Father Anthony E. Sholander, SJ

25 YEARS IN THE SOCIETY
Father Charles T. Barnes, SJ
Father Denis G. Donoghue, SJ

60 YEARS IN THE PRIESTHOOD
Father James R. Laudwein, SJ
Father Anthony P. Via, SJ

50 YEARS IN THE PRIESTHOOD
Father Paul D. Devot, SJ

25 YEARS IN THE PRIESTHOOD
Father David J. Anderson, SJ
Father Doan T. Hoang, SJ
Father Thomas J. Lamanna, SJ
Father Edward J. Siebert, SJ
Father John F. Vu, SJ

IN LOVING MEMORY
Father Robert James Egan, SJ
(60 Years in the Priesthood)
Father Andrew L. Maddock, SJ
(60 Years in the Society)
Father Robert J. Welch, SJ
(75 Years in the Society)

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