Get to Know the Chicago-Detroit Jesuits Who Took First Vows This Year

(L-R) Gregory Ostdiek, Kevin Embach, Kyle Shinseki, Matthew Lieser, Trevor Beach, and Joshua Peters

A Jesuit professes first vows after two years in the novitiate and before entering first studies. Kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament, the man promises to become poor, chaste, and obedient with God’s help. Each novice then receives a crucifix—a symbol of his dedication to following Christ on the way of the cross—which will remain with him throughout his life.

On August 13, 2011, six Jesuits from the Chicago-Detroit Province professed first vows at St. Thomas More Catholic Community, the Jesuit parish of the Twin Cities in Minnesota.  Read on to learn more about them and why they love being Jesuits.

“During my time in the Navy, I realized that my vocation really was to be a priest. So I started looking around and discovered that the Jesuits were the best fit for me. . . . There are a lot of good guys in the Society. . . . There’s a lot of study, but it’s fun learning and training yourself to help other people.” — Gregory Ostdiek, Beavercreek, OH

Greg has a BA in English and a BS in mechanical engineering from the University of Dayton, and an MA in English and an MS in mechanical engineering from Penn State. He served in the navy for 14 years, including several tours in the Middle East. Greg taught physics at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School & Academy before joining the Society.


“I entered the Society at age 49, making me the oldest novice in the US. . . . Since I entered, my (much younger) brothers have been great and my vocation has been confirmed time and again. Medicine is my profession, and Jesuit priesthood is my vocation.”— Kevin Embach, Grosse Pointe Shores, MI

Kevin earned a BS from Notre Dame and an MD from the University of Virginia. He also earned a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Kevin worked as an assistant professor of medicine at Wayne State University in Detroit, and he’s practiced and taught internal medicine at Beaumont Hospital in Grosse Pointe.


“Once I made the decision to join the Jesuits, I had a lot of fears coming in. But in the novitiate I learned to trust in God. I also learned what a blessing it is to live in community and be supported. . . . I’ve been able to find a tremendous amount of joy and happiness these last two years, and I look forward to what God has in store for me.”— Kyle Shinseki, Honolulu, HI

After earning a BA in planning from MIT, Kyle completed an MA in urban planning from UCLA and an MBA from Northwestern. He worked as an assistant brand manager at Procter & Gamble and as the development director at the National Council of La Raza, a nonprofit organization focused on reducing poverty and discrimination for Hispanic Americans. Kyle also participated in community service at St. Xavier Church in Cincinnati.


“I had a bit of a call when I was about 12 years old, and didn’t know what to make of it. . . . I put it out of my mind through high school and college, . . . then after a few years of working in business and lots of discernment, I joined the Jesuits. God is very patient. You can run, but he’ll follow you. Even if you run fast, he’ll be there, wherever you end up.”— Matthew Lieser, Lakewood, OH

A graduate of Xavier University in Cincinnati, Matt has a BA in international affairs with a concentration in business and a minor in Spanish. He spent two years with the Peace Corps in Guatemala teaching business and English. He worked for Chiquita International as an analyst, and he was a volunteer coordinator for the Habitat for Humanity.


“After doing a three-day silent retreat at Boston College, I . . . researched Ignatius and the Jesuits and decided to contact the Jesuit vocations office. But once that fervor died down, I found myself a little more afraid and stepped back. A little more than a year later I was in my room late at night . . . and I thought, ‘when did I feel most myself?’ And it was on that retreat, with God. . . I wrote the vocation director that night, and five days later I was on my way to the novitiate. There I found that same feeling from the retreat. That deepening in my soul, knowing who I am, excitement for the future that continues today.”— Trevor Beach, Grand Rapids, MI

Trevor is a graduate of St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, where he studied theology and Spanish and did some graduate work in theology. He also was involved with Ministry Formation Leaders (SALT) for three years and spent a semester in Chile volunteering with the Jesuit-based En Todo Amar y Servir in Valparaiso.


“Taking the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience in the Society of Jesus is my “Yes.” . . . I’m excited to be in First Studies, moving on to the next stage of Jesuit formation because it is my chance to deepen my relationship with Jesus and to let that sweet Holy Spirit order my steps. I already feel that First Studies are allowing me to see the profound way that God has been moving and acting in this world since the beginning of time. . . .”— Joshua Peters, Detroit, MI

Joshua graduated from the University of Detroit Jesuit High School & Academy and earned a BA in American Studies from the University of Dayton. He worked in campus ministry at his high school alma mater and in retreat ministry at the Jesuit Spiritual Center in Milford, Ohio.

[Partners Magazine]

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