Midwest Jesuits Welcome 16 New Novices
FRONT ROW (left to right): Christopher Meister (CDT), Derek Edwards (WIS), Robert Purgert (CDT) SECOND ROW (left to right): Josef Rodriguez (CDT), Joshua Utter (WIS), Christopher Alt (WIS) THIRD ROW (left to right): Matthew Waldoch (WIS), Alex French (CDT), Viktor Moberg (CDT), Mark Hakes (WIS) FOURTH ROW (left to right): Adam Bryan (CDT), Patrick Saint Jean (CDT), Mark Blancke (CDT) LAST ROW (left to right): John Weinandy (CDT), Alex DeWitt (CDT), Cody Sandschafer (CDT)
FRONT ROW (left to right): Christopher Meister (CDT), Derek Edwards (WIS), Robert Purgert (CDT) SECOND ROW (left to right): Josef Rodriguez (CDT), Joshua Utter (WIS), Christopher Alt (WIS) THIRD ROW (left to right): Matthew Waldoch (WIS), Alex French (CDT), Viktor Moberg (CDT), Mark Hakes (WIS) FOURTH ROW (left to right): Adam Bryan (CDT), Patrick Saint-Jean (CDT), Mark Blancke (CDT) FIFTH ROW (left to right): John Weinandy (CDT), Alex DeWitt (CDT), Cody Sandschafer (CDT)

It is with tremendous joy that the Midwest Jesuits introduce the 16 men who entered the Chicago-Detroit (CDT) and Wisconsin (WIS) Provinces of the Society of Jesus at the Jesuit Novitiate of St. Alberto Hurtado in St. Paul, Minn., on Saturday, August 20, 2016.

Christopher Alt (WIS), 30, earned a bachelor's degree in theological and religious studies from the University of San Diego and a master of divinity degree from Boston College. He has served as a Jesuit donné* at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland, a chaplain at a healthcare center, and a house manager at a homeless shelter. Christopher enjoys music, art, fitness, and hanging out with family. 


Mark Blancke (CDT), 30, grew up on a sod farm in southeast Michigan with his two siblings. He received a bachelor’s degree in health science from Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich., and another in nursing from Regis University in Denver. A registered nurse, Mark practiced as a medical/surgical nurse for four years before being accepted to the Society of Jesus. Mark has interests in organic gardening, green living, and making a positive impact. Among other pursuits, his hobbies are running, cycling, sailing, skiing, hiking, and enjoying the outdoors. 


Adam Bryan (CDT), 22, is a native of Lima, Ohio. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in physics from Xavier University in Cincinnati. At Xavier, he also became interested in liberal arts, particularly in Medieval philosophy and literature. Adam enjoys playing sports, listening to and playing music (especially bluegrass), learning foreign languages, and reading intellectually stimulating literature. 


Alex DeWitt (CDT), 23, was born and raised in Akron, Ohio. He completed a bachelor's degree in classical studies from Rice University in Houston, and he spent a semester abroad at the University of Edinburgh. After graduating from Rice in 2015, he spent the following spring semester as a Jesuit donné in Chicago, learning Spanish and assisting in the service ministries at St. Procopius Catholic Parish, a Hispanic parish in the Pilsen neighborhood. In his free time, he enjoys going for walks, baking, reading, traveling, watching movies, and playing golf. 


Derek Edwards (WIS), 20, attended the University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse and was a member of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students on campus. He has worked with Missionaries of the Poor in Haiti and has taught youth ministry to high school students. Derek also lived and worked on the Rosebud Reservation as a part of the Jesuit Immersion program. He enjoys outdoor adventures with friends, studying other cultures and history, and learning about the saints.  


Alex French (CDT), 28, began his studies at Northern Kentucky University for two years, before going to seminary at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., where he earned a bachelor's degree. Alex then studied theology for two years at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in Indiana. While in seminary, Alex participated in many outreach activities, from tutoring to teaching and leading Bible studies. He also lived and worked on the Rosebud Reservation as a part of the Jesuit Immersion program. Alex is a country boy who enjoys the outdoors, hunting, good music, and socializing with family and friends.

Mark Hakes (WIS)
, 28, earned a bachelor's degree in vocal performances from Stetson University in DeLand, Fla., followed by a master's degree in the same field, from the University of Minnesota Duluth. Mark made a pilgrimage to the Taizé Community in France in 2014. He has served in volunteer organizations and as a youth minister. He enjoys outdoor sports, cooking, baking, and gardening. He is an avid reader and a huge Harry Potter fan. 


Chris Meister (CDT), 29, is from Chicago. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, he worked for two years in marketing, before receiving a master's degree in teaching from National Louis University in Chicago and finding one of his true passions in education. Chris taught in Chicago Public Schools as a history teacher, in addition to coaching the swim team. Through Pope Francis, Chris became interested in the Jesuits and their  ideas on education and social justice. Besides enjoying teaching and coaching, Chris loves to travel and learn languages. 


Vicktor Moberg (CDT), 24, was born and raised in San Diego. While in high school, he was very active in both the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program and in the youth ministry at his home parish, where he remained active as a college student. Upon graduation from Argosy University/The Art Institute of California - San Diego with a bachelor's of science degree in culinary business management, Vicktor moved to South Haven, Mich., to pursue his goal of becoming a sous-chef. Vicktor worked in the restaurant industry before being accepted into the Society of Jesus. He enjoys good company, good beer, good food, and quiet walks in the woods or along the river.  


Robert Purgert (CDT), 22, graduated from Miami University of Ohio in 2016 with a bachelor's degree in philosophy. He attended Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland, where he was first introduced to the Jesuits. As a childhood leukemia survivor, he has become a spokesperson for several cancer research and care-giving organizations. In his free time, Robert enjoys spending time with others, finding a new favorite craft beer, and watching his beloved Cleveland sports teams. 


Josef Raoul Rodriguez (CDT), 30, was born an only child to Filipino parents in San Francisco. He grew up in New Jersey, where his desire to enter the priesthood started to manifest at a young age. Upon graduating from South Plainfield High School, he entered the Legionaries of Christ to pursue religious life. During his time in formation, he earned degrees in liberal arts, religious studies, and philosophy. He also gained experience in Gregorian chant and choir directing, as well as in youth and school work in Texas and Georgia. Joe enjoys playing several instruments, cooking, critiquing films, and being an armchair philosopher. 


Patrick Saint-Jean (CDT), 33, is a native of Haiti, who grew up in Montpelier, France. His academic area of interest is clinical psychotherapy, and he received a license in clinical psychology from Bordeaux Segalen University in France. After this, Patrick began studies for his formation in psychoanalyses at College de Psychanaliste de Lacan, which took him to Congo, Italy, Brazil, and Mexico. Patrick earned a master's degree in psychiatric anthropology at Universidad del Valle de México (UVM) and a master's degree in psychoanalyses from Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México (UNAM). He met the Society of Jesus as a high school student, and he volunteered with L’Arche as part of his discernment while studying philosophy at Université Notre Dame d'Haïti. Before entering the Society, he was studying for a master's in divinity at Catholic Theological Union (CTU) in Chicago. Patrick speaks Creole, French, Spanish, and English, in addition to understanding Portuguese and Italian.  He loves running, biking, writing, watching the news, listening to music, and spending time with his friends 


Cody Sandschafer (CDT), 24, grew up in Effingham, Ill., and is the middle of three children. In the spring of 2014, he graduated from Marian University in Indianapolis and continued on to Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in Indiana for one-year post graduate studies. He spent the 2015-2016 school year teaching middle school math at Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and living as a donné with the Jesuit community there. His hobbies and interests include spending time with friends and family, hunting, participating in sports, and philosophy. 


Josh Utter (WIS), 25, graduated from Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, with a bachelor's degree in Spanish and international studies. Following graduation, he served in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone, before working as a retreat leader at a Catholic youth camp. In 2015, he walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Josh enjoys spending time outdoors, especially running, hiking, traveling, and visiting state parks. 


Matt Waldoch (WIS), 24, graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee with a bachelor's degree in economics and theology. He studied in Rome in 2013, and was present for the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the election of Pope Francis. Matt served as a donné at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha last year. He is interested in urban exploration, playing strategy games, trying new foods, and learning historical theology.

John Weinandy (CDT), 25, is one of seven siblings from Bowling Green, Ohio. He attended St. John's Jesuit High School & Academy in nearby Toledo. John continued his Jesuit education at John Carroll University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in biology. After trying out the field of medical research, he returned to his high school alma mater, first as an alumni volunteer and then as a staff member in the Campus Ministry and Christian Service departments. In his free time, John enjoys reading, cooking, playing games, and exploring God's creation.

*Prior to entering the Society, some men are Jesuit donné and spend time living in a Jesuit community and working in a Jesuit ministry to get a sense of what Jesuit life entails.


Recent News

May 28, 2020 — The global pandemic has forced everyone to go digital. Spiritual direction — confidential, guided discernment of God — has not stopped. Rather, just like the persons who employ the Exercises, spiritual direction has pivoted online.

May 25, 2020 — In two of the more memorable and simple ceremonies in recent history, one Jesuit was ordained a priest and five Jesuits were ordained deacons on May 23.

May 21, 2020 — The sterling efforts of the Patna Jesuits in responding to the situation arising out of the country-wide lock-down in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis are an image of hope in the midst of several resistances to outreach to the least, the last, and the lost (Matthew 25).

The Spring 2020 issue of Jesuits Magazine is now online. The cover story details the Invisible Infrastructure that is the underpinning of the Midwest Province's purpose and function. Plus, news from the frontiers, Jesuits on the Move, and more!

May 19, 2020 — A group of Ignatian colleagues in northeast Ohio are dedicated to sharing the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. They developed a unique Ignatian Spirituality Collaborative to strengthen their practice and impact in the region.

May 18, 2020 — May marks the fifth anniversary of the publication of Laudato Si’. Through this landmark encyclical, Pope Francis called the Church and all people to transform our relationship with creation.

May 18, 2020 — Fr. Garanzini succeeds Fr. Michael J. Sheeran, SJ, beginning July 1.

view all news

Search news


Jesuits Spring 2020

Jesuits Fall Winter 2019

Jesuits Summer 2019

Creighton University Retreat Center
Located 45 miles east of Omaha, Neb., in rural Iowa, the Creighton University Retreat Center is situated on 154 wooded acres on the Nishnabotna River.