Jesuit Vocations: Helping Others Hear the Call

Fr. James Stoeger, SJ, and Br. Pat Douglas, SJ, are part of the Midwest Jesuits’ vocation team.

By Fr. James Stoeger, SJ, and Br. Pat Douglas, SJ

Five Midwest Jesuits work full-time as vocation promoters and directors. This is a major investment of Jesuit manpower, and we believe our future effectiveness requires such commitment.

The Jesuit vocation team consists of Br. Pat Douglas, Fr. Bill Murphy, Br. Jim Boynton, Fr. Paul Coelho, and Fr. James Stoeger. Soon, Michael Rossmann will join us, and Fr. Coelho will return to the Kohima Region in Northeast India. Established by our current provincials, who are both former vocation directors, our team brings substantial expertise in Jesuit vocation ministry, Ignatian spirituality, counseling, and school leadership.

The great majority of men interested in becoming Jesuits come to our attention through the national Jesuit website (, where seekers find easy access to the vocations website ( Along with ourFacebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages (@beajesuit), this site offers excellent information and multimedia about the Society of Jesus.

From the vocations site, people can conveniently ask to be contacted, with each request forwarded to a promoter in the United States or Canada. Inquiries from Cincinnati, for example, go to Fr. Murphy, who contacts those inquirers and considers how best to proceed. This next step involves offering personalized online materials, phone conversations, and traveling to meet with the person. The vocation promoter continues to support and accompany the inquirer until both are comfortable with the man moving toward the process of applying to the novitiate.

Fr. Adam DeLeon, SJ, is featured in one of a series of posters promoting Jesuit vocations.
Fr. Adam DeLeon, SJ, is featured in one of a series of posters promoting Jesuit vocations

At that point, the promoter arranges for one of the vocation directors to begin working with this person. The director meets the candidate — perhaps repeatedly over a year or more — to hear, support, and guide his interest in becoming a Jesuit. At some point, the candidate may decide to apply, spend more time in discernment, or seek a different direction.

Almost all inquirers and candidates are interested in community life, Ignatian spirituality, a variety of ministries, service for justice, and being closely part of the Church. Jesuit spiritual directors assist candidates in developing their habits of prayer and Ignatian discernment. Promoters and other Jesuits provide programs for men to experience and learn more about Jesuit life, including visits to Jesuit communities or silent retreats. Brother Boynton hosts a stream of candidates to serve on Mackinac Island in Michigan each summer. Some candidates live in Jesuit communities and serve in Jesuit ministries to better know whether Jesuit life is a good fit for them.

Candidates who become applicants for the novitiate enter a months-long process of self-understanding and communication, managed by their vocation director and involving interviews with several Jesuits and others. Their application file includes a spiritual autobiography, multiple recommendations, interview reports (with an extensive psychological review), medical reports, and background checks — all designed to inform the provincial and the applicant himself about his readiness for vowed life in the Society.

Have you ever thought about being a Jesuit? Do you know someone who would be a good Jesuit? Let us know!

Fr. James Stoeger, SJ, and Br. Pat Douglas, SJ, are part of the Midwest Jesuits’ vocation team.

Click here for the Spring 2017 Jesuits magazine index. 


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The Demontreville Jesuit Retreat House is located on the shores of Lake De Montreville in Lake Elmo, Minn.