Province: USA West
Birthday: July 27, 1983
Hometown: Sacramento, California
Education: Bachelor’s degree, philosophy, University of San Francisco; Master’s degree, theatre and performance studies, Washington University in St. Louis; Master of Divinity, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
Highlights of Jesuit Formation:
1. Taught freshmen at Jesuit High School in Portland, Oregon.
2. Studied theatre at Washington University in Saint Louis.
3. Served as a deacon/chaplain at Saint Cecilia Parish in Boston.
Post-ordination: Will serve at St. Ignatius Parish in Portland, Oregon, and work to promote vocations to the Society of Jesus.
Biography: Fr. Thomas William (Billy) Biegler, S.J., was born in Sacramento, California. The middle of three boys, Billy met the Jesuits at a young age, developing a fondness for their humor, depth and approachability. A graduate of Jesuit High School in Sacramento, Billy completed his undergraduate degree at the University of San Francisco. After undergrad, Billy worked briefly for the San Francisco Opera but returned to Sacramento to work for California Musical Theater (Sacramento Music Circus). In 2009, Billy entered the Jesuit Novitiate in Culver City, California. He completed first studies in St. Louis, finishing philosophy at Saint Louis University and completing a master’s in theatre and performance studies at Washington University. For regency, Billy worked at Jesuit High School in Portland, Oregon, teaching freshman English, freshman Spanish and senior theology. In addition to teaching, Billy led service trips, retreats and a mighty group of freshmen basketball players. For theology, Billy studied at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. Additionally, he worked at Saint Cecilia Parish in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood, serving as spiritual director, RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) instructor and chaplain to the CARES ministry (ministry to the sick and homebound). After ordination, Billy will serve in Portland at St. Ignatius Parish and help with vocation promotion. He is deeply grateful to all of those whose love has transformed his journey. (USA West Province)
Billy served as chaplain to Jesuit Portland's women's soccer team.
What is your favorite book, movie, music, or TV show you’ve encountered since entering the Society and why do you love it?
I've seen Greta Gerwig's "Lady Bird" more times than I can count. Much of "Lady Bird" reminds me of my own high school story, and Greta and I were friends in high school. But beyond the self-indulgent, Greta's depiction of home, teenage angst, the church and her consecrated religious is heartwarming. With style and reverence, Greta reveals the holy in those experiences and places so common to many of us. "Lady Bird" affirms the beautiful in the ordinary — even in Sacramento!
What is one hobby you’ve cultivated as a Jesuit and why is it important to you?
Since first studies, I've spent a lot of time with poetry. Something about the opacity of a poem lends itself to a vulnerability that resonates. Sometimes in prayer, I'll stick with a phrase or a sentence from a poem for weeks, repeating it over and over so that God can break it open. These last few weeks, I've sat with a line from Jorie Graham's "Over and Over Stitch," which concludes: "There are moments in our lives which, threaded, give us heaven."
Tell your vocation story. One catch: You must use only six words.
Came. Came to. Came to believe.
What brings you joy?
In no particular order: my family and friends, Diet Coke, Netflix, dining out, a conversation of depth, the Eastern zodiac, poetry, preaching, praying in an empty church, theater, my Jesuit community, the heat and true crime podcasts.
Billy and his family at Saint Cecilia's Boston.