Jesuit Seeks to Find God Through His Camera Lens

Jeremy ZippleDuring his Jesuit formation, scholastic Jeremy Zipple has been making documentaries. Sometimes his films are about spiritual subjects, such as St. Xavier, and sometimes not, as with his documentary, “Rat Attack,” about a plague of rats that overrun the forests of India every 48 years. No matter the subject, Zipple has used his camera to seek to find God in all things.

Making films was his first passion. Zipple, a Mississippi native, has been shooting documentaries since high school. He ended up meeting the Jesuits by chance during a college tour in Boston when his father suggested visiting Boston College, which wasn’t on his list.

Zipple applied and was accepted and during a dinner at Boston College for prospective Presidential Scholars, he found himself at a table with Jesuit Father William Neenan, vice president and special assistant to the president.

“He sealed the deal. I had no category for a person like this — a priest, an economist, witty, with a wide breadth of knowledge and a taste for literature,” says Zipple. “I remember thinking, ‘Wow! Who are these Jesuits?’ I felt like I could learn a lot from these guys.”

After graduation, Zipple taught at a Catholic grade school in New Jersey, served as codirector of a contemporary liturgical choir and studied philosophy at Fordham University. In 2002, he entered the Society of Jesus.

Zipple describes his regency, a period of three years Jesuits normally spend in ministry before theology studies, as “untraditional.” He spent that time as a writer, producer and director for National Geographic Television in Washington, D.C., where he coproduced not only “Rat Attack” but “Quest for Solomon’s Mines,” about treasure seekers who, inspired by the Bible’s account of King Solomon’s riches, search for evidence of temples and palaces yet to be found.

Now back at Boston College for divinity studies, Zipple will be ordained to the priesthood this May. He also continues to make documentaries. He directed, wrote and produced his latest film, “Quest for the Lost Maya,” based on new archaeological findings about a forgotten Mayan society in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It aired on public television nationwide last March.

After ordination, Zipple plans to stay at Boston College and study for his licentiate in sacred theology. He says he may focus on the history of American Catholicism and “and hopefully get a film out of that, too.” For more on Zipple, read Boston College’s Becoming a Jesuit: Five Lives at Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry.

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