Meet Our New Jesuit Novices!

32 men entering the novitiates of the Society of Jesus last month, beginning the two-year period of prayer, work and study. The largest classes hailed from the New Orleans and Missouri Provinces, which each have 7 men entering their provinces. Of the 32 men, Jesuit alumni represent 40 percent of the novices. The largest alumni groups represented overall include Saint Louis University (4), Texas A&M University (3) and Texas Tech (3).

The novitiate is the first stage of Jesuit formation and novices begin to learn through experience about the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience as lived in a community setting.  He learns the traditions, rules and expectations of the Society of Jesus.  During this time he makes the Spiritual Exercises in a 30-day retreat and engages in a variety of “experiments,” such as serving the poor, the elderly, and teaching children. At the end of the two years, he pronounces perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience either as a brother or as a scholastic who will prepare for priestly ordination.

Marcos Gonzales
Northridge, California
Marcos, 26, attended Loyola Marymount University, earning his BA in theology and, while working at an all-girls school, his MA in secondary education. He has traveled to more than 20 states and over 22 countries, including a JVI teaching assignment in Chuuk, Micronesia. He loves being in a band and enjoys singing and playing guitar, piano and drums. (California Province)
Jonathon Polce
Mint Hill, North Carolina
Jonathon, 24, is a 2009 graduate of the University of Dallas with a BA in history. In college he was a member of the student senate and a residence hall assistant. Since 2009 he has been working in Rome, Italy, as assistant to the director of the University of Dallas Rome Program. He loves history, politics and sports, including college basketball. (New Orleans Province)
Brian Strassburger
Denver, Colorado
Brian, 26, is a graduate of Regis Jesuit High School and of Saint Louis University, with a BA in math and business administration. He has worked as a Kairos retreat leader and in campus ministry. After college he served for two years in the Augustinian Volunteers, and most recently worked in their development office in Philadelphia. He loves sports and music. (Missouri Province)
Paul Yanzer
Holmen, Wisconsin
Paul, 26, earned a BS from the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire. He went on to attend Mundelein Seminary, through which he volunteered as chaplain at a jail, hospital and Boy Scout camp. In college, he worked as an undergrad researcher and a building manager. Paul’s other interests include soccer, outdoor activities, fitness and nutrition. (Wisconsin Province)

Christopher Backes
O’Fallon, Missouri
Chris, 20, is a 2009 graduate of DeSmet Jesuit High School. He attended Loyola University New Orleans, majoring in philosophy. In high school he was in the Boy Scouts and Venture Crew and played ice and rollerblade hockey. In college he was active in student liturgies, the Community Action Program, Philosophy Club and was an Op-Ed writer for the university newspaper. (Missouri Province)
Edin Barrera
North Hills, California
Edin, 29, received a bachelor’s degree from St. John’s Seminary, Camarillo and earned an MA in pastoral theology from Loyola Marymount University. He has worked as a Resident Chaplain at a large medical center and as a PE teacher at a Jesuit elementary school. He enjoys books, travel, exercise, family gatherings and all types of sports. (California Province)
Luis Xavier Benavides
San Antonio, Texas
Xavier, 39, graduated from Texas A&M University with a BA in philosophy and English. After graduation he served as an AmeriCorps volunteer in South Carolina, worked with homeless youth in Seattle, and coordinated social activism with Oxfam America. He then earned an MBA from the University of Michigan. He most recently worked for Amazon, and had no free time. (Oregon Province)
Ryan Clavelle
Boise, Idaho
Ryan, 24, grew up in Vermont, went to high school in Denver, and graduated from Saint Louis University with a BA in theology and international studies. He has studied in both El Salvador and Nicaragua and spent the last two years teaching Spanish in rural Louisiana. He holds an MA in education from the University of Notre Dame, and enjoys playing basketball and the piano. (Oregon Province)
Thomas Croteau
Commerce City, Colorado
Tom, 23, is a recent graduate of Ave Maria University with a double major in classics/ early Christian literature and philosophy. He was in the Boy Scouts through high school and earned his black belt in Karate as a senior. He has participated in youth groups and community service projects in both Colorado and Florida. He loves reading, music and martial arts. (Missouri Province)
Brock Anderson
Fort Worth, Texas
Brock, 34, graduated from Texas Tech in 2000 with a degree in agriculture and applied economics. He has taught ESL in Shandong, China, designed sustainable rainwater harvesting systems in Costa Rica, and most recently worked at Living Craft Project in New Mexico. He loves to work outdoors and to do woodcarving. (New Orleans Province)
Carlos Aubain
San Jose, California
Carlos, 49, a Buenos Aires native, has lived in California since age 12. He established his own law firm and for the past 22 years has been a workers’ rights and labor law attorney. In 2010, he traveled to the Peruvian Amazon to discern his vocation and, while there, met five other explorers from different corners of the world including a Jesuit priest. (California Province)
Scott Delatte
New Orleans, Louisiana
Scott, 23, is a graduate of Jesuit High School in New Orleans and a recent graduate of Belmont Abbey College with a BA in theology. In high school he was in the band, CLC, Pro-Life Club and has been a reader and server at student Masses in high school and college. He is also an active participant in CLC. Scott enjoys the company of his friends and is an avid jogger. (New Orleans Province)
Matthew Donovan
Houston, Texas
Matt, 29, graduated from Strake Jesuit in Houston and received a BA in history from Loyola University Chicago. He worked with the developmentally disabled at Misericordia Home in Chicago and led Hope for the First Nations Camp on White Earth Reservation. Matt learned to cook while serving for a caterer; he enjoys listening to music and swimming. (Chicago-Detroit Province)
Hunter Dudkiewicz
Oakfield, New York
Hunter, 21, is a recent Canisius College graduate with a double BA in philosophy and theology/religious studies. He has worked as a resident assistant and as a justice intern in campus ministry. He also participated in immersion trips to El Salvador and service trips to New York City. Hunter enjoys movies, theatre and listening to music. (New York Province)
James Erler
St. Charles, Missouri
James, 25, graduated from St. Louis U. High in 2004 and the University of Chicago in 2008 with a BA in history. He worked with the Alum Service Corps for two years, teaching history at St. Louis U. High, then teaching religion at Loyola Academy of St. Louis. He enjoys reading history and fantasy novels like The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, and hanging out with his friends. (Missouri Province)
Chris Farrell
New Orleans, Louisiana
Chris, 23, attended DeSmet High School in St. Louis for the fall of 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He is a 2010 graduate of Washington & Lee with a BA in French and public accounting. He most recently worked at a wine distributor in New Orleans. Through his life, vacationing in North Carolina with his siblings has always been a special time for him. (New Orleans Province)
Chris Gattis
Ratcliff, Arkansas
Chris, 22, recently completed his BA in theology from the University of Notre Dame. While at ND he spent a summer teaching English in Lvov, Ukraine. Recently he ran a half-marathon. For several summers he has served as a counselor at Camp John Marc, which serves severely handicapped children. He enjoys art museums, sacred music and cookies. (New Orleans Province)
Daniel Gustafson
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Danny, 22, is a 2011 graduate of Georgetown University with a BA in government and theology and a minor in economics. He did an internship at the United States House of Representatives and worked as an intern/ analyst with Hilltop Public Solutions (a political consulting firm). In addition to politics, Danny’s interests include history, travel and Hoya basketball. (Maryland Province)
Aaron Heisohn
St. Louis, Missouri
Aaron, 18, is a 2011 graduate of St. Louis U. High. Aaron was a member of the National Championship varsity racquetball team, and pastoral chair for the senior class. He has also led many retreats with his youth group at Our Lady of Sorrows Parish and the Kairos retreat at SLUH. He loves playing racquetball, spending time with his friends, and camping. (Missouri Province)
Eric Immel
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Eric, 29, earned a BA in American studies from St. Louis University and an MA in educational leadership and policy analysis from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Eric has worked most recently in the Student Activities office at Creighton University. Besides being a fan of Wisconsin teams, Eric enjoys weightlifting, racquetball, running, as well as music and theatre. (Wisconsin Province)
Chris Kellerman
Arlington, Texas
Chris, 25, earned a double BA in music and political science from Texas Tech University. In college he played in several music ensembles and was active in the Catholic Student Association. He recently received an MA in theology at the University of Dallas. He plays piano, has written for college and diocesan newspapers, and enjoys serving in youth ministry. (New Orleans Province)
Christopher Kepler
Woodbridge, Virginia
Chris, 24, earned a BA in theology, philosophy and mental health at Franciscan University of Steubenville where he was involved in mission work, helping the homeless, promoting ecumenism, evangelization, and playing guitar in a music ministry band. He began STB studies at Universidad de Navarra in Spain but returned to the U.S. to focus on his vocational discernment. (California Province)
David Kiblinger
Cape Girardeau, Missouri
David, 24, received a BS in math and science from Truman State University and, recently, an MA in theology from Villanova University. In high school he was a member of the soccer team, Scholar Bowl, National Honor Society, and was Student Council Treasurer. In college he received three scientific research grants, spent a semester in Budapest, and was active in campus ministry (Missouri Province)
Michael Lamanna
Guilderland, New York
Mike, 23, received a BS in economics and a BA in geography from Syracuse University. After college, he worked in a refugee resettlement program for FrancisCorps, and as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer. Mike is also interested in public policy, political science, urban studies and international affairs. He enjoys running, reading, cooking and playing piano. (New York Province)
San Mai
Portland, Oregon
San, 43, originally from Vietnam, received both his BS in computer engineering and his MBA from Santa Clara University. He has over 20 years experience as a product management executive in the high tech industry. San has traveled across five continents and his favorite experience was trekking in the Himalayan mountains of Sikkim in northeastern India. (California Province)
Daniel Nevares
Houston, Texas
Dan, 25, is a graduate of Strake Jesuit and received a BA in psychology from Texas A&M University. While teaching fifth graders at an elementary school in Greater Phoenix, he earned an MA in education from Arizona State University. Dan has been to Nepal, Turkey, Chile and China, the latter being when he was an Aggie teaching at Shanghai Children’s Discovery Museum. (California Province)
Stephen Nicholson
Marlborough, Massachusetts
Steve, 25, holds a BS in chemistry from MIT and a Master of Public Health from Boston University, where he worked as an environmental health research assistant. During the past six months, he has worked in Zambia as an intern at the Center for Applied Health Research and Development. Steve enjoys running, reading, hiking, music and the outdoors. (New England Province)
Zachariah Presutti
Belmont, New York
Zach, 26, has a BA in political science and theology from Canisius College and has spent time studying for the priesthood for the Diocese of Buffalo. Zach most recently worked as a pastoral associate at a parish in Buffalo. Zach’s other academic interests include politics, history and foreign languages. He enjoys reading, theatre, travel, skiing, singing and acting. (New York Province)
Salvatore Profaci
Mount Laurel, New Jersey Sal, 23, graduated from St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia and received a BA in English and faith-justice studies from St. Joseph’s University. In college, he did an internship in campus ministry and clerked at a Philadelphia law firm. Most recently he worked in the community service office at Cabrini College. An avid piano player, Sal also enjoys tennis, yoga and running. (Maryland Province)
Tucker Redding
Boerne, Texas
Tucker, 26, grew up on a ranch, and earned a BA in political science with a minor in communications from Texas A&M in 2006. While at A&M, he was heavily involved in all campus ministry activities. Since graduation he has been the youth minister at St. Justin the Martyr Church in Houston. When he is not planning student retreats, he likes to play the guitar. (New Orleans Province)
Juan Ruiz
Memphis, Tennessee
Juan, 23, graduated from Saint Louis University in 2010 with a BA in business administration and information technology. He spent one semester at SLU’s Madrid Campus. He most recently worked at Daugherty Business Solutions in St. Louis. In high school he became an Eagle Scout and was a pole vaulter. He enjoys skiing and kayaking. (Missouri Province)
William Woody
Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
Bill, 22, graduated from St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia and earned a BA in theology and philosophy from the University of Scranton. He served as a foreign and classical language peer tutor, and volunteered in a hospice care facility and an inner-city tutoring program. Bill enjoys classical music, reading, traveling, writing, hiking, playing cards and chess. (Maryland Province)

6 Responses to “Meet Our New Jesuit Novices!”

  • Congratulations to all of you joining the Novitiate this Fall. It’s a wonderful testimony to the work of the Spirit working in the heart of individuals and in communities. Could I share a prayer I wrote that might be helpful to you and to others who might be thinking of joining the Society:

    Prayer for Vision and Courage

    Lord, I thank you for creating me
    and for this wonderful life.
    But sometimes I run scared
    With cold feet for the future.
    I need vision and courage
    even for the next step.

    Dream in me,
    That I too may dream.
    Have faith in me
    That I may have faith in myself.

    Then I can believe
    My gifts are gifts for your world.
    Then I can serve you and others
    Confident in your love ….
    Wherever your call will lead me.
    Amen.

    Composed by Conall O’Cuinn SJ

  • saanuo blaise:

    Congratulation to the new novices. I am really inspired most especially by the vocation of the elderly novices, who upon all their accomplishment and attainments in life have decide to turn their backs on the whole world and face the cross. I hope by your vocations many others will come to discern theirs. may the good lord who has called you to follow him go always before you to anticipate your needs and prevent your falls,may he be a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path, may goodness and mercy follow you all the days of your lives may he bless you abundantly for having left behind all the fruits of labour to follow him in serving him through we your brothers and sisters and proclaiming his kingdom. may the good work he has started in you be brought to fruition, and may he make you loyal followers, faithful servants and compassionate co – pastors of his after the dictates of his own heart. Amen!!! once again kudos and all the best in you discernment, formation and studies.

  • Augustus Akudolu:

    I wish you guys wonderful and beauitful spiritual journey. God will be your refuge and strength.

  • Erika:

    Congratulations!…God know your hearts!

  • Conrad Rodrigues:

    May discover him more closely, find him more dearly, follow him more faithfully in giving him to those around …in being just that …another JESUS to everyone around.

    With every good wish

    In prayers

  • Aw man I just wanted to stop by and say I really like reading your website.