Archive for September, 2011

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)

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Regency Furthers Jesuit’s Cultural Awareness

Jesuit Bill Noe

Fr. Edgar Dávalos, SJ (on left), then rector of I.A.I. and Bill Noe, SJ, then instructor of Electronics in I.A.I.’s Department of Industrial Automation in Oruro, Bolivia.

Jesuit Bill Noe remembers pondering the meditation of the Spiritual Exercises on the call of Christ during his 30-day retreat as a novice. He remembers hearing Jesus say, “You are going to live as I live.”

That call came to life in Bolivia, where Noe recently spent two and a half years teaching in a technical college during regency, a time in Jesuit formation that affords each Jesuit an opportunity to work in an apostolic area.

“In Bolivia I had a chance to live at least a little bit of what I discovered in the Spiritual Exercises,” he said.

In July 2008, Noe was sent to teach electronics at the Instituto de Aprendizaje Industrial, a three-year technical institute founded and operated by the Bolivian Jesuits.

In Bolivia, Noe was both a teacher and a student. While he used his training as an engineer in the classroom, he learned to integrate his work with his life in a Jesuit community and with his prayer life.

Although he was welcomed into the community, he soon learned what it was like to be an immigrant. “Jesus was outside of his culture,” Noe said, recalling Jesus’ life in Egypt. “He was a migrant.”

When he returned home, he noticed all the Latino faces on the streets around him. “I didn’t notice them before,” he said. “My time in Bolivia gave me a lot to think about in how I relate to people from other cultures.”

It has made him ask himself, “Who else don’t I notice? Who else don’t I include?”

Read more about Noe’s regency experiences in Jesuits magazine.

Jesuit Novice Serves D.C.’s Poor during Long Experiment

Jesuit Vincent Marchionni

Jesuit Vincent Marchionni assists a client at the McKenna Center in Washington, D.C.

Jesuit Vincent Marchionni spent five months working at the Father McKenna Center in Washington, D.C., for his Long Experiment, during which a Jesuit novice engages in full-time apostolic work while living in a Jesuit community.

The center, named after Jesuit Father Horace McKenna, serves the poor, providing meals for homeless men, groceries for local residents and assistance for those facing eviction and utility cutoff.

Marchionni said that the Long Experiment taught him that simple acts of compassion and generosity profoundly and positively affect people’s lives, making God’s presence real and tangible.

“The men show tremendous gratitude for their meals, and it is God’s way of showing me that such grunt work truly does manifest His presence to those in dire circumstances,” he said.

Marchionni also led 12-Step meetings that focused on drugs and alcohol. The group used the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola to supplement 12-Step spirituality.

Marchionni said that through his experience of serving D.C.’s poorest he realized, “Jesus Christ is always laboring, always desiring to bring his brothers and sisters closer to him. He does hear the cry of the poor, and he answers them with gifts of hope and gratitude.”

Read more about Marchionni’s long experiment in Jesuits magazine.

Filipino Jesuit Learns Through Service to Missouri Towns

Jesuit Father Rene TacastacasFor six years, Filipino Jesuit Father Rene Tacastacas juggled his time as a student and a priest in the United States.

“The experience was very enriching,” Fr. Tacastacas said of the years he spent working on a doctorate degree in rural sociology and at the same time organizing Catholic communities in remote Missouri villages, where he became well-loved. In May, he received the Outstanding Graduate Student Service Award upon his graduation from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Tacastacas was parish priest of the remote town of Titay in the Philippines, but after being named vocation director, his Jesuit superiors sent him to the United States in 2005 to pursue further studies.

“I needed the know-how to pursue rural development, especially involving work with small farmers in the countryside,” said Tacastacas.

When he flew to Missouri in August 2005, his mission was clear: study hard so he could help in the Jesuits’ mission to assist Filipino farmers. Tacastacas specialized in food and agriculture.

In his first few weeks in the U.S., Tacastacas felt lonely, so he volunteered to substitute for any priest who was not available.

Soon, he was being sent to remote towns in Missouri, and he found his purest joys as a priest and as a student in the far-flung communities.

In these towns, he would visit the farms, where he gained first-hand experience in American farming that helped him put into shape his doctoral research’s focus on small vegetable farming.

“Getting to know the farmer-parishioners allowed me to view my studies as primarily directed towards helping small farmers back home,” he said.

“There was no disconnect between my priesthood and my being a student,” said Tacastacas.

Read more about Tacastacas’ time in Missouri at Inquirer News.

Jesuit Touts Cristo Rey Model in Op-Ed Piece

Jesuit Father T.J. MartinezJesuit Father T.J. Martinez, the founding president of Cristo Rey Jesuit College Preparatory School of Houston, recently had an op-ed piece published in the Houston Chronicle, touting the Society of Jesus’ innovative Cristo Rey educational model. In the piece, Fr. Martinez suggests that the Cristo Rey model offers families a way to take the legislators out of his state’s educational dilemma.

“Rather than looking to Austin — or to any state or federal support in general — the bills are paid through a college prep program that integrates a paying job as part of the students’ weekly curriculum,” writes Martinez.

Students at Cristo Rey schools work one day a week at a corporation doing entry-level white-collar jobs, with their salaries going toward tuition.

Martinez cites the fact that the Texas legislature has cut funds for public schools; meanwhile the state ranks low in SAT scores, teacher salaries and senior graduation rates.

Martinez notes that the Cristo Rey network has been operating for more than 15 years and boasts a 99 percent college acceptance rate. ”This program is a proven success, offering a hand up rather than a hand out,” he writes.

Read the full article by Martinez at the Houston Chronicle.