Province: USA West
Birthday: June 4, 1986
Hometown: Artesia, California
Education: Bachelor’s degree, history of art and architecture, University of California, Santa Barbara; Master’s degree, philosophy, Saint Louis University; Master of Divinity, Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University
Highlights of Jesuit Formation:
1. Taught religion and community service at Bellarmine Preparatory School, Tacoma, Washington.
2. Worked with the Philippine Jesuit Prison Service in Muntinlupa City, Philippines.
3. Worked in L'Arche Noah Sealth in Seattle, Washington.
Post-ordination: Will serve at Dolores Mission Parish in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles.
Justin sitting with the high school students on a retreat in the Philippines managed by the Philippine Jesuit Prison Service. The scholars are children of inmates.
God saved me from a meaningless life of malaise and distraction. My sister and I were born in Los Angeles County to parents who immigrated from the Philippines. After attending Catholic school in Artesia, California for a few years, I went to a public high school and the University of California, Santa Barbara. By the end of high school, I had a lukewarm faith. I felt disconnected and suspicious of the American Dream, but knew no alternative. By the end of my time in college, I met Jesus, St. Ignatius and the Jesuits. After some time tutoring in Cerritos, California, volunteering with Gawad Kalinga in the Philippines, and the Newman Center at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, God placed me in the Society of Jesus to heal from my wounds and to witness and help others heal from theirs. Since 2009, I have been formed by many people all around the world, too many to list, but I carry them all in my heart and hope to return to them what they’ve given to me. (USA West Province)
What is your favorite book, movie, music, or TV show you’ve encountered since entering the Society and why do you love it?
One of my favorite books is “The Brothers Karamazov” by Fyodor Dostoevsky. This quote from the character Zosima, as well as the unfolding of its meaning in the novel, makes it all worth it:
"Never be afraid of your own faint-heartedness in the endeavor to love, nor even too fearful of any bad actions that you may commit in the course of that endeavor. I am sorry I cannot say anything more comforting to you, for active love compared with contemplative love is a hard and awesome business. Contemplative love seeks a heroic deed that can be accomplished without delay and in full view of everyone. Indeed, some people are even ready to lay down their lives as long as the process is not long drawn out but takes place quickly, as though it were being staged for everybody to watch and applaud. Active love, on the other hand, is unremitting hard work and tenacity, and for some it is a veritable science. But let me tell you in advance: even as you may realize with horror that, in spite of your best efforts, not only have you not come any nearer to your goal, but you may even have receded from it, it is precisely at that moment, I tell you, that you will suddenly reach your goal and clearly behold the wondrous power of God, who has at all times loved you, at all times mysteriously guided you."
Justin hiking in Washington with fellow ordinand Greg Celio, S.J., and colleague Allison Scanlin, who all taught at Bellarmine Preparatory School in Tacoma, Washington.
What is one hobby you’ve cultivated as a Jesuit and why is it important to you?
Calligraphy. I need to make art or have some kind of creative practice. Since Jesuit life can be transient (so far, I haven't lived anywhere for more than three years), I found that some art mediums are more convenient or portable. Calligraphy still inspires me and challenges me, and its materials are easier to move than a drum set or a standing easel.
Tell your vocation story. One catch: You must use only six words.
I have died. Life is Christ.
What brings you joy?
Sitting around a table with lots of food, lots of friends, Jesuit and non-Jesuit, listening to laughter and deep conversation, with good music in the background, and maybe even singing along and dancing with my friends ... these things, sometimes individually and sometimes all together, they bring me joy.