Press Release
Society of Jesus in the United States to Ordain Nineteen New Priests

(Washington, D.C., June 3, 2014) — Starting this Saturday, the Society of Jesus (also known as the Jesuits), the largest order of priests and brothers in the Roman Catholic Church, will ordain 19 new Jesuit priests.

The 19 ordinands have diverse backgrounds and hail from around the country, including California, Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio Pennsylvania and Texas. In addition, several of the men immigrated to the U.S. — from France, Mexico and Vietnam. Before entering the Society of Jesus, these men worked in a variety of fields, including journalism, physical therapy, social services, education, the military and computer science, to name a few.

Their call to priesthood in the Society of Jesus required them to undergo extensive training — from the moment they entered the Society as novices to ordination — a process that can take anywhere from eight to 12 years.

During the formation process, the ordinands earned degrees from Jesuit universities and served at Jesuit high schools and colleges across the U.S. They also traveled abroad for a variety of experiences, from learning Spanish in El Salvador to serving with the Jesuit Refugee Service in Paris to working at an orphanage in Russia.

The Very Rev. Thomas H. Smolich, SJ, president of the Jesuit Conference, said, “This is a wonderful time for the Society of Jesus, for the family and friends of those being ordained and, most of all, for the Church.  These 19 men have chosen to devote their lives to service, and to witness that commitment in the ordination ceremony is humbling.  As they begin their priestly ministry, we will continue to keep them in our prayers.”

Ordination Masses will take place at St. Aloysius Church in Spokane, Washington, and Church of the Gesu in Milwaukee on Saturday, June 7; at Fordham University Church in the Bronx, New York, and St. Francis Xavier College Church in St. Louis on Saturday, June 14; and at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in San Antonio on Saturday, July 19.

Following ordination, the new priests will embark on a number of ministries, including engaging in pastoral work in the U.S. and overseas; teaching at Jesuit universities and high schools; continuing their studies; and working at Jesuit parishes.

The 19 Jesuit priests being ordained this year are:

Joseph Dao, SJ, 38, was born and raised in Vietnam. Before moving to Long Beach, California, at the age of 22, Dao studied law, embarked on a journalism career and worked in private business. Following ordination, Dao will return to Vietnam for pastoral work.

Vincent P. Duong, SJ, 38, didn’t know a word of English when his family moved to San Diego, California, from Vietnam in 1992. Among his many memorable formation experiences is a 2010 summer trip to Vietnam, his first visit since leaving his homeland.

Quentin G. Dupont, SJ, 34, is a native of Lille, in Northern France. Though he earned his undergraduate degree in economics and accounting in 2002 from the Catholic University of Lille, Dupont was always interested in other cultures and traveled extensively as an exchange student. Following ordination, he will be missioned to teach finance at Seattle University.

Christopher P. Johnson, SJ, 50, was born in Minneapolis and raised in the St. Paul suburbs. While completing a Master of Divinity degree at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, he helped lead retreats for the homeless. Following ordination, Johnson will serve on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

Isidro Lépez, SJ, 54, grew up in central Mexico, the oldest of eight children. At the age of 15, after moving with his father to Oregon to create a better life for their family, Lépez harvested fruit as a migrant worker and sent money back to Mexico so his family could be reunited in the United States. Following ordination, Lépez hopes to work with the Latino community.

Robert E. Murphy, SJ, 37, was born and raised just outside of New Orleans. A former physical therapist, Murphy earned a Master of Divinity degree and a Licentiate in Sacred Theology while working as a trainer for Boston College athletes.

Nathan W. O’Halloran, SJ, 32, grew up on The Lord’s Ranch, a Catholic lay community founded in 1975 in a small New Mexico border town. He earned a Master of Divinity degree and a Licentiate in Sacred Theology at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, California, while also working as a chaplain at an AIDS hospice. 

Mario M. Powell, SJ, 32, a convert to Catholicism, met the Jesuits as a student at Loyola High School of Los Angeles and, later, as an undergraduate at Boston College.  Following his assignment this summer at the Church of St. Charles Borromeo in Harlem, New York, Powell will continue his studies at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.

Matthew T. Pyrc, SJ, 50, grew up in Flint, Michigan. Before joining the Society, he worked for 10 years with the Spokane Public School System in Washington on a dropout prevention program for underserved youth. During his Jesuit formation, Pyrc studied Spanish and culture in South America and served in campus ministry at Seattle University.   

Eric R. Ramirez, SJ, 34, grew up in the small west Texas town of San Angelo. While studying at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Ramirez was honored to serve as the master of ceremonies for a number of Pope Francis’ Masses at the Church of the Gesù in Rome, the mother church of the Society of Jesus.

Michael D. Rozier, SJ, 32, grew up in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, a town of 4,000 residents the Rozier family has called home for two centuries. During his Jesuit formation, Rozier completed a fellowship at the World Health Organization in Geneva and taught global health at Saint Louis University.

Samuel J. Sawyer, SJ, 35, grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania. During his years of Jesuit formation, he worked on retreats, accompanied pilgrims at World Youth Day gatherings in Spain and Brazil and co-founded The Jesuit Post, a popular website examining the intersection of faith and culture.

Christopher J. Schroeder, SJ, 32, the nephew of a Jesuit brother and two diocesan priests, was born and raised in St. Louis. His Jesuit formation has included work for Fe y Alegría, a Jesuit network offering education, training programs and development services primarily in Latin America, and work as a deacon at San Quentin State Prison in California.

John F. Shea, SJ, 39, grew up just outside Cleveland. During his Jesuit formation, Shea worked with refugee families, taught biology at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, and served as a deacon at the University of California, Berkeley. After ordination, he will begin a teaching position at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.

Paul J. Shelton, SJ, 33, is a native of Columbus, Ohio. Last summer, he traveled to Bolivia for intensive Spanish language studies, and he will continue his language instruction in Mexico this summer. Starting this fall he will be missioned to St. Procopius Church, which serves a predominately Mexican-American congregation in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago.

Thomas M. Simisky, SJ, 43, a native of Worcester, Massachusetts, served for four years with the Marine Corps as an artillery officer, attaining the rank of captain.  His 11 years as a Jesuit have included a host of diverse and inspiring experiences, including working with young people and the homeless in Russia, Kyrgyzstan and Jamaica.

Eric M. Sundrup, SJ, 33, is a native of Cincinnati. One of the highlights of Sundrup’s Jesuit formation has been his work on The Jesuit Post, a website he co-founded in 2012 to discuss the intersection of faith and culture for a young adult audience. The Jesuit Post’s first book was published this year.

Derek Vo, SJ, 49, one of 10 siblings, grew up in Vietnam. At 21, seeking to flee the hopelessness of his war-ravaged homeland, he left Vietnam in search of economic opportunity. His Jesuit formation has included three trips back to Vietnam to teach English and philosophy, work with the poor and offer retreats.

Nathan C. Wendt, SJ, 35, a native of Cleveland, studied communications at Marquette University in Milwaukee. During his 11 years of Jesuit formation, Wendt has had a number of diverse and enriching experiences, including working for a juvenile detention center in Minneapolis and for a federal corrections center in Chicago.

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About the Society of Jesus

Founded in 1540 by Saint Ignatius Loyola, the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) is the largest order of priests and brothers in the Roman Catholic Church. Jesuit priests and brothers are involved in educational, pastoral and spiritual ministries on six continents and in 127 nations around the world, practicing a faith that promotes justice. For nearly 500 years, Jesuit education has made its mark on the world. In the United States, there are 28 Jesuit colleges and universities, 59 Jesuit high schools and 16 middle schools with a shared goal of developing competent, compassionate and committed leaders in the service of the Church and society. Jesuits minister in parishes and at retreat houses and serve as chaplains at prisons, hospitals, nursing homes and in the military. For more information on the Society of Jesus, visit www.jesuits.org.


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