(Washington, D.C., August 25, 2014) — This month, the Society of Jesus (also known as the Jesuits), the largest order of priests and brothers in the Roman Catholic Church, welcomed 31 men as novices in the U.S.
In late August, Jesuit novices arrived at novitiates in Culver City, California; Grand Coteau, Louisiana; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Syracuse, New York for a rite of passage known as Entrance Day. For the next two years, the novices will spend time praying, working and learning about God, the Jesuits, each other and themselves. The journey from novice to Jesuit priest or brother, a process called formation, can take anywhere from seven to 13 years. It involves years of study and service to the poor and marginalized — in homeless shelters, hospitals and prisons.
A diverse group, this year’s novice class ranges from newly graduated students to seasoned professionals; their average age is 28. Nearly 40 percent of the novices attended Jesuit high schools or universities.
“I decided to be a novice because I've fallen in love with the Society,” says Kieran Halloran, 22, a novice from New York, who attended the Jesuits’ Xavier High School in New York City and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. “After knowing and befriending many Jesuits at school, I knew that this was a group of guys I wanted to be a part of and people whose faith and love I wanted to emulate.”
Jesuit Father Timothy P. Kesicki, S.J., president of the Jesuit Conference, the organization that represents the Society of Jesus in the U.S., said, “This is such an exciting time of year for us because we get to know the young men who are answering God’s call and entering the Jesuits. Last year as provincial of Chicago-Detroit, I had the privilege of accepting some of these men and seeing firsthand the tremendous gifts that they bring to the Jesuit order.”
Novices complete a number of “experiments,” experiences recommended by St. Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits, such as working in Jesuit ministries, serving the poor and marginalized and traveling overseas to experience the Society in another country. They complete some form of a pilgrimage and often serve at Jesuit high schools, colleges or retreat houses.
“I feel called to become a novice because it is an opportunity to develop my relationship with God in a very intentional way,” says Brendan Gottschall, 24, a New Jersey native who earned his bachelor’s degree in economics at Georgetown and worked as a consultant before becoming a Jesuit novice. “I see it as a time set aside to nurturing that relationship through prayer, service and learning so that I can come to a better understanding of God's calling in my life.”
Following are the 31 men entering the Society of Jesus in the U.S.:
Bartlett (Ashland, Ohio)
Peter Berger (Yakima, Washington)
José Camacho (Streator, Illinois)
William Chamberlin (Kirtland, Ohio)
Manuel Chavira, Jr. (Fullerton, California)
Ulises Covarrubias (Inglewood, California)
Ryan Cruise (Bettendorf, Iowa)
Henoch Derbew (Brooklyn, New York)
Thomas Elitz (Cinnaminson, New Jersey)
Daniel Flores Estrella (Inglewood, California)
William Gibson (Round Rock, Texas)
Brendan Gottschall (Margate, New Jersey)
Justin Grosnick (Charlotte, North Carolina)
Kieran Halloran (North Salem, New York)
Anthony Hayden (Littleton, Colorado)
Matthew Hearley (Parker, Colorado)
David Inczauskis (Homer Glen, Illinois)
Chia-Yang Kao (Taipei, Taiwan)
James Kennedy (La Grange, Illinois)
Joseph Lorenz (Takoma Park, Maryland)
William Manaker (Alexandria, Virginia)
Christopher McCoy (Denver, Colorado)
James McGivney (Cleveland, Ohio)
Jack McLinden (Cleveland, Ohio)
Travis Neuman (Buckley, Washington)
Thomas O’Donnell (Dousman, Wisconsin)
Jaret Ornelas (Turlock, California)
Jonathan Pennacchia (Wappingers Falls, New York)
Nathan Sparks (Rapid City, South Dakota)
Dzao Vu (Omaha, Nebraska)
Chris Williams (Spearfish, South Dakota)
About the Society of Jesus in the United States
Founded in 1540 by Saint Ignatius Loyola, the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) is the largest order of priests and brothers in the Roman Catholic Church. Jesuit priests and brothers are involved in educational, pastoral and spiritual ministries on six continents and in 127 nations, practicing a faith that promotes justice. For nearly 500 years, Jesuit education has made its mark on the world. In the United States, there are 28 Jesuit colleges and universities, 59 Jesuit high schools and 16 middle schools with a shared goal of developing competent, compassionate and committed leaders in the service of the Church and society. Jesuits minister in parishes and at retreat houses and serve as chaplains at prisons, hospitals, nursing homes and in the military. For more information on the Society of Jesus, visit http://www.jesuits.org.