By Becky Sindelar
June 19, 2014 — Jesuit Father Quentin Dupont, 34, was ordained as a priest in the Society of Jesus on June 7 after 11 years of formation, but his first memory of wanting to be a priest was when he was a young boy. His vocation journey would ultimately lead him from his hometown of Lille, France, to joining the Society of Jesus in California.
Fr. Dupont grew up in a Catholic family in Northern France, with several Jesuits on his father’s side of the family, though he didn’t know them well: one died when he was young; one was missioned to Madagascar; and one he saw infrequently. Fr. Dupont recalls “childish” thoughts of wanting to be a policeman, fireman or priest when he grew up, since they all “helped people.” When he was 12 years old at Boy Scout camp, he remembers asking the other boys in his tent to pray for a fellow Scout’s sick grandmother. The experience gave him the desire “to help people know God.”
Fr. Dupont with his parents at his ordination to the priesthood. Photo by Tara Ballenger.
During his junior year of college while studying economics abroad in Montreal, Fr. Dupont wrote to a friend that he was thinking about the priesthood but he wasn’t sure parish life and living in a rectory was what he wanted. “Of course, those are reflections from someone who didn’t know what being a parish priest meant,” Fr. Dupont says.
His idea of what it meant to be a priest would change when he headed to Santa Clara University for his senior year. The first thing that struck him at Santa Clara: Jesuits living in the dorms. "Seeing those guys in the dorms and how happy and welcoming they were — that was huge,” Fr. Dupont says. “Another turning point for me was meeting a Jesuit in the economics department of the business school and thinking, ‘I thought these guys just taught theology, but they teach everything!’”
Fr. Dupont was impressed with the openness of the Jesuits to be in the world and to work with the reality of the world. “I realized these men were real guys: they taught, they preached, they were part of life in the dorm and very involved in the reality of the university and very knowledgeable about what was going on in the world,” he says.
The fears of priesthood were dissipating. He didn’t see lonely men, but joyful brothers who shared a great bond, men who were fully engaged in the world.
“I didn’t know the reality of what the priesthood entailed, and they taught me what it means to be a priest and to walk with people very gently, but to always be there in times of need,” says Fr. Dupont.A Formation of the Heart
Fr. Dupont completed his undergraduate studies and received a degree in economics and accounting in 2002 from the Catholic University of Lille and then earned a master’s in finance and banking from the University of Paris while continuing to discern his calling.
“I had a job in downtown Paris right by the opera house and I loved life, but I would come back at night and think I want more than this. I want a job that is my life, that I can pour myself into, and with more discernment I realized that the call was to enter the Society,” Fr. Dupont recalls.
Fr. Dupont also decided that because he really met the Society at Santa Clara, God was calling him to go there, so he applied to the California Province and entered the novitiate in Culver City, California, in August 2003.
After two years at the novitiate, he studied philosophy at Fordham University in New York, where he encountered great thinkers intellectually and made great friends in the Society. “That’s one of the things I really love about the Society — to be able to meet people from all over the world and speak the common language of the Exercises and our Ignatian formation and to really connect very quickly.”
During his last summer of philosophy studies he served in Madagascar after meeting a Jesuit from the country who knew his uncle and encouraged him to come. Fr. Dupont worked in campus ministry at the University of Fianarantsoa — an eye-opening experience for him.
“I met people who live in one of the poorest countries in the world. The university is all dirt roads, there’s no heating in the buildings,” Fr. Dupont says. “The students share everything they have, and the joy they have in sharing it is so overwhelming. After three years of being so well-trained in the school of the head, encountering the most genuine school of the heart so vividly was great.”
Fr. Dupont at Ranomafana National Park in Madagascar.
For his regency, Fr. Dupont taught religion and French for two years at Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose and then economics and business ethics at Seattle University for a year, where he will return this fall for his first assignment as a priest.
During his last summer of regency, Fr. Dupont served with Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Paris, where he again met those on the margins of life. JRS Paris typically serves men, as women and children get first priority for government housing.
“They’re in a big city, they don’t speak the language, they don’t know the culture and they have nothing to do and a lot of time they sleep in the streets,” Fr. Dupont explains of the refugees, many of whom are from Iran and Afghanistan. Fr. Dupont worked with JRS to help provide education in terms of language and culture, as well as helping to find host families where the men could stay.
Fr. Dupont then studied theology at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, where he also served as chaplain to BC’s baseball team.
Fr. Dupont prays with the Boston College baseball team. He served as team chaplain while studying at BC.
“I have such gratitude to the Society and to benefactors who support the Society for those very formative and fruitful 11 years,” Fr. Dupont says. “Formation is a gift, and it is thanks to this formation that I enter this priestly ministry with great eagerness.”Prepared for a Life of Priestly Service
In April 2013, Fr. Dupont returned to France for his diaconate ordination, witnessed by 70 of his family members and friends. The next day, he was able to preach at his home parish.
His dad’s cousin, who is a Jesuit, wrote to Fr. Dupont before the ordination and those words have stayed with him: “Just remember, especially in the Society, one is ordained a deacon and remains a deacon all his life. Our life is a life of service.”
Fr. Dupont has continued to pray about those words and to draw strength and inspiration from them. “It’s something I carry with me as I head into priesthood: To have a priesthood that’s a priesthood of service and listening and that is strengthened by so many diverse experiences of being found by hospitality, by joy and by care in so many different places.”
Fr. Dupont says one word kept coming up in his prayers as he approached his priestly ordination: jubilation.
“I feel very joyful and very eager about this ordination,” he says. “I have learned so much more about the great paradox of the Gospel. It is in giving that you receive. I want to give more — not to receive more — simply for the joy of giving and sharing those moments. And this giving more for me is being part of the life of the Church as a priest. And it’s a humbling path.”
Fr. Dupont offers a blessing after his ordination to the priesthood. Photo by Tara Ballenger.
Fr. Dupont says he knows each day as a priest may not be easy, but it will be full of life. “I know that because it is in giving yourself that you receive the fullness of who God is.
“God knows me personally, and God really calls me to the fullness of life, as he calls everybody else to the fullness of life,” Fr. Dupont says. “And for me, this pilgrimage into the fullness of life is expressed through priestly ministry and life in the priesthood.”
Fr. Dupont outside of St. Aloysius Church in Spokane, Washington, where he was ordained on June 7. Photo by Tara Ballenger.
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