July 5, 2016 — One year ago, Jesuit Father Carlos Esparza was ordained at St. Joseph Church in New Orleans after nearly 11 years in the Society of Jesus. But prior to his discernment, if you had told Fr. Esparza that he would one day become a Jesuit priest, he would have called you crazy. Looking back, he credits his time at Jesuit College Preparatory School in Dallas with planting the seed for his vocation.
“The first thing that I remember about Jesuit [College Prep] is the community feel there. I really did believe there was a sense of brotherhood,” Fr. Esparza said.
After graduating in 1998, Fr. Esparza studied computer science at Harvard University. During his time there, he remained close with Jesuits who were studying at the Weston School of Theology (now the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry).
He remembers first hearing the call to the priesthood during his senior year at a friend’s Jesuit ordination, where he had “a profound sense that God was present.” Despite this strong feeling, Fr. Esparza accepted a job at the U.S. Department of Defense, where he worked for two years. However, he continued to feel a pull toward the priesthood.
“In the back of my mind, I had this calling. Everything I thought I wanted was being shaken up.”
When Fr. Esparza left his job at the Department of Defense and began discerning his call to become a priest, the Society of Jesus was the first religious community that came to mind. “The Jesuits at my high school impressed me,” he said.
Fr. Esparza joined the Society in 2004, recognizing that part of his formation was gaining a broader experience. “I needed to pray about it, think about it, experience the world,” he said.
During Fr. Esparza’s 11 years of formation he learned a great deal about prayer life, traveled to Belize and El Salvador and taught math to high school students in Houston. He had the opportunity to earn a master’s in philosophy from Fordham University, a master’s in statistics from Columbia University and a Master of Divinity from the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University in Berkeley, California. Fr. Esparza even returned to his alma mater to serve on the school’s board of trustees.
He was ordained a priest in June 2015 and now works at St. Ignatius Loyola Parish in Denver.
“I really feel like I’m where I’m at because I went [to Jesuit Dallas],” Fr. Esparza said. “They have helped me become the man I am today. I still think the school is doing great work there.” [Source: America Magazine, Preston Hollow People]