July 31, 2014 — Today, on the feast of St. Ignatius, Jesuit Father Timothy P. Kesicki was welcomed as the new president of the Jesuit Conference of the United States with a Mass at the Leonard Neale House Jesuit Community in Washington, D.C. The Conference also bid farewell to Jesuit Father Thomas H. Smolich, who served as president for the past eight years.
Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Jesuit Conference represents the Society of Jesus both in the U.S. and internationally, promoting common goals, overseeing projects and acting as a liaison between the Jesuits’ nine U.S. provinces and the Society’s international headquarters in Rome.
Fr. Edward Fassett, SJ, (left) Superior of the Leonard Neale House Jesuit Community in Washington, D.C., concelebrated the Mass that welcomed Fr. Kesicki to the Jesuit Conference and bid farewell to Fr. Smolich (right).
Fr. Kesicki, who previously served as Provincial of the Chicago-Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus, is looking forward to his new role. “This assignment comes at a very exciting time for the church and the Society of Jesus here in the U.S. and around the world. I look forward to helping the Society continue its mission with a renewed zeal, strategic use of our resources and commitment to serving in Christ’s name,” he said.
Fr. Kesicki first met the Jesuits when he was an undergraduate at John Carroll University in Ohio, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1984, and during his Jesuit formation he studied at Loyola University Chicago, the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, California, and Teachers College, Columbia University in New York. After being ordained in 1994, his first mission was with Jesuit Refugee Service in Adjumani, Uganda.
Much of Fr. Kesicki’s apostolic work has been in secondary education, including teaching theology at Loyola High School in Detroit (1988–1991) and serving as president of Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland (2000–2008).
Fr. Smolich, who served as Conference President since 2006, has been appointed as the next international director of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). Founded in 1980, JRS accompanies, serves and advocates for the rights of refugees and other forcibly displaced people. Headquartered in Rome with 10 regional offices around the world, the organization has more than 1,800 staff and volunteers, including 70 Jesuits, and serves upwards of 950,000 refugees per year. In addition to health and social services, JRS offers formal and informal instruction — from pre-school to vocational training to computer and language classes — to approximately 280,000 children, young people and adults each year.
Appointed by Jesuit Superior General Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, SJ, Fr. Smolich begins his term on November 1, 2015. “I’m deeply honored and grateful that Fr. General missioned me to this assignment, because JRS speaks to the heart of Jesuit identity and our Jesuit mission,” Fr. Smolich said. “JRS goes where the need is greatest, to places where others are unable or unwilling to go. JRS witnesses to who we are as evangelizing people. Whether someone is a Catholic or not is not the question — we are there to preach the good news.”