September 11, 2018 — Twenty-six Jesuit novices in Canada and the United States professed first vows of poverty, chastity and obedience this month. A novice spends two years at the novitiate for the first stage of Jesuit formation, culminating in first vows — a public profession of commitment to the Society of Jesus.
Ten Jesuits professed first vows at Mission Santa Clara de Asís on the campus of Santa Clara University in California on August 11. From left: Anthony J. Cortese, SJ; Bishop Gordon Bennett, SJ, bishop emeritus of Mandeville, Jamaica; Michael J. Bachmeier, SJ; Dennis V. Marzan, SJ; Henry W. Perez, SJ; Fernando C. Saldivar, SJ; Fr. Stephen Corder, SJ, director of novices; Fr. Scott Santarosa, SJ, provincial of Jesuits West; An Nguyen Vu, SJ; Daniel E. Mascarenhas, SJ; Kyle J. Baker, SJ; Victor E. Yanez Valle, SJ; Fr. Anthony Sholander, SJ; An Hoang Vu, SJ; Bishop Carlos Sevilla, SJ, bishop emeritus of Yakima, Washington; Fr. Scott Coble, SJ; and Fr. Anton Harris, SJ. (Photo by Adam Hays)
Vow Day Masses were held at Mission Santa Clara de Asís on the campus of Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California; Saint Thomas More Catholic Church in St. Paul, Minnesota; the Chapel of Saint Joseph on the campus of Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia; Saint Charles Borromeo Church in Grand Coteau, Louisiana; and the Church of the Gesù in Montreal.
Above, vow crosses, which novices receive during the first vows Mass. (Photo by Adam Hays)
At the Mass, each Jesuit novice makes the profession of vows individually in front of the Eucharist, just as St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, and some of his first companions did. They also receive a vow cross that they will keep for the rest of their lives.
Seven Jesuits professed first vows on August 11 at Saint Thomas More Catholic Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. From left: Alexander DeWitt, SJ; Patrick Saint-Jean, SJ; Alexander French, SJ; Josef Raoul Rodriguez, SJ; Mark Blancke, SJ; Christopher Meister, SJ; and Christopher Alt, SJ.
During their two years in the novitiate, the novices prepared to become vowed members of the order by learning about the Society, participating in local ministries and living in Jesuit communities. They also embarked on pilgrimages, performed community service and completed the Spiritual Exercises — a 30-day silent retreat developed by St. Ignatius.
Oliver Capko, SJ (right, pictured with Jean Francky Guerrier, SJ, left), pronounced first vows at the Church of the Gesù in Montreal on August 19.
Novices also experience life as a Jesuit, including living in community and ministering in different settings — from hospitals and third world countries to soup kitchens and Jesuit high schools.
Douglas Jones, SJ, and Paul Phillipino, SJ, pronounced first vows at Chapel of Saint Joseph on the campus of Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia on August 11. From left: Fr. John Cecero, SJ, provincial of the USA Northeast Province; Fr. Steve Surovick, SJ, socius and assistant director of novices; Douglas Jones, SJ; Fr. Joseph Sands, SJ, director of novices; Paul Phillipino, SJ; and Fr. Robert Hussey, SJ, provincial of the Maryland Province.
By the time a novice kneels at the altar to pronounce vows, he is prepared and ready to speak the words of the vow formula to God, which concludes: "And as you have freely given me the desire to make offering, so also may you give me the abundant grace to fulfill it."
Six Jesuit novices pronounced first vows at St. Charles College in Grand Coteau, Louisiana, on August 11. Back row from left: Angel Flores, SJ; Joshua Hinchie, SJ; Connor Smith, SJ; front row: Jeff Miraflor, SJ; Jorge Roque, SJ; Marco Machado, SJ.
Following the profession of first vows, Jesuits preparing to be priests usually begin three years of studies: two years of philosophy studies, combined with one year of graduate-level theology courses. Those men who took vows as a Jesuit brother will usually take several theology courses. Click here to read more about the steps of Jesuit formation at beajesuit.org.