Sixteen U.S. Jesuits were ordained to the priesthood this June, and since then, these men have been busy celebrating Masses and starting their first assignments as priests. Their hometowns, proud to be a part of their lives, were eager to acknowledge the priests’ roots and highlight their individual stories.
The Hawaii Catholic Herald reported that it was a “joyful ‘local style’ homecoming” for newly ordained Jesuit Father Phillip Ganir who returned to the Hawaiian Islands for a visit in June to celebrate a special thanksgiving Mass for his family, friends and fellow religious. Fr. Ganir left Hawaii in 1999 to join the Society and has since been traveling abroad for ministry and studies.
“The consolation overflows,” Fr. Ganir told the Hawaii Catholic Herald at the June 23 Mass, which 500 people attended. “Gratitude only deepens. The shape of gratitude really takes on the faces of the people in the parish.”
After his visit, Fr. Ganir headed to California to serve as associate pastor of St. Ignatius Loyola Church in Sacramento.
Jesuit Father Peter Folan spoke with his hometown newspaper in Massapequa Park, N.Y., about his new life as a Jesuit priest: “My job is to live a life about the Gospel. Preaching the Gospel, but only using words when necessary. I’m not going around knocking on doors selling Bibles. It’s about knowing the poor, the marginalized, the voiceless, and acting on behalf of people who can’t act for themselves.”
Of his vocation Fr. Folan explained, “The longer I stayed there and the more I invested myself in the Jesuits, the more I knew I wanted this life.
“If there is no real sacrifice, then there is no real love,” Fr. Folan said. “Not being married is a sort of sacrifice, but it makes sense to me. It is one that I find bears great fruit.”
Fr. Folan’s first priestly assignment is serving as an associate pastor at Holy Trinity Church in Washington, D.C.
Jesuit Father Michael Rogers told the Westerly Sun in Rhode Island on the eve of his ordination that the Jesuits “are at home wherever we are sent — ultimately, our home is where Christ is.”
Fr. Rogers considers one of his many homes to be Westerly, where he spent summers growing up. He returned there to celebrate his first Mass as an ordained priest in June at St. Pius X.
Fr. Rogers said his family’s summer parish played a role in his decision to become a Jesuit priest. He recalled the weekend during his sophomore year of high school when his mother said the family was going to pay a quick visit to their summer house — and dropped him off at St. Pius instead.
“We pulled into the lot, where there was this coach bus waiting,” he said. His mother had signed him up for a youth trip to Steubenville, Ohio, which turned out to be life-changing.
“I think that at some point in everybody’s faith life, there’s a moment where God becomes real,” Fr. Rogers said. “All of a sudden, you find yourself talking to God, and you find yourself listening to what God has to say.”
After his ordination, Fr. Rogers traveled to Brazil, where he served as the national coordinator for MAGIS, the Jesuit-sponsored program cultivating Ignatian spirituality for young adults that preceded World Youth Day in July.