Thirty-Six Jesuit Novices in the U.S. and Canada Profess First Vows

August 28, 2017 — Thirty-six Jesuit novices in the United States, Canada and Haiti 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.

Fifteen Midwest Jesuits professed first vows on August 12 at Saint Thomas More Catholic Church in St. Paul, Minnesota First Row, L-R – Fr. Brian Paulson, SJ; Conan Rainwater, SJ; Erin Kast, SJ; Arturo Carrillo, SJ; Liam Brown, SJ; Adam Bohan, SJ  Second Row, L-R –  Sean Teets, SJ; Andrew Cera, SJ; William Critchley-Menor, SJ; Ryan Birjoo, SJ; Thomas Arms, SJ  Third Row, L-R – Fr. Thomas Pipp, SJ; Joshua Fritsch, SJ; Timothy Perron, SJ; Mark Mackey, SJ; Nathan Krawetzke, SJ; Taylor Fulkerson, SJ; Fr. Gregory Hyde, SJ

Short Biographies of Those Professing Vows in the USA Midwest Province

Conan Rainwater, SJ
Bismarck, North Dakota

Conan graduated from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, with a bachelor’s in theology. He has been an active member of the Knights of Columbus and taught grade school religious education. Conan spent two summers in Peru on a work/study program and enjoys playing the piano, skiing and golfing. He also likes hunting and spending time outdoors, especially with his family dog.
Erin Kast, SJ
Wausau, Wisconsin

Erin received a bachelor’s in biology and religion from Swarthmore College near Philadelphia. While in college, he spent three years working on a research project at a biology lab and a semester studying abroad in Morocco. He has traveled to the Galapagos Islands. Erin enjoys soccer, biking, hiking, gardening, cooking and reading, as well as playing the piano and trumpet. 
Arturo Carrillo, SJ
Wendover, Nevada 

Arturo graduated from Brown College in Mendota Heights, Minnesota, with a bachelor’s in criminal justice. After graduation, he spent five years working in manufacturing. He has volunteered at domestic violence and homeless shelters, and he spent five months at the Holy Rosary Mission on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Arturo loves playing basketball and watching football, basketball, boxing and movies.

Liam Brown, SJ
Waukesha, Wisconsin

Liam graduated from Marquette University High School in Milwaukee and is an accomplished musician who plays in three jazz bands. He is an Eagle Scout and has worked at a Boy Scout camp for three summers. Besides his love for the jazz trombone and piano, he also enjoys playing cards, camping and listening to Chicago Cubs baseball games. 

Adam Bohan, SJ
Beaver Lake, Nebraska

Adam graduated from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, with a bachelor’s in international relations. He spent a semester in Shanghai, has worked in university ministry and participated in the Six Weeks a Jesuit program in Toronto. He has reached the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts. In addition to teaching piano lessons, Adam likes running, traveling, reading biographies and listening to music.
Sean Teets, SJ
Bucyrus, Ohio

Sean earned a bachelor’s degree at Youngstown State University in Ohio, a master’s degree from Bowling Green State University in Ohio, and a doctor of arts degree from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. He taught high school and university music in Colorado, Louisiana and Kansas, conducted choral works with orchestras and was stage director for various operas and musicals. He is an avid swimmer and skier.

Andrew Cera, SJ
Wauwatosa, Wisconsin 

Andrew graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a bachelor’s in history and received a law degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. For the last five years, Andrew has worked as an attorney near Shreveport, Louisiana. He enjoys the outdoors, good literature and reading about the lives of the saints.
William Critchley-Menor, SJ
Duluth, Minnesota

Billy completed his freshman year at Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, where he studied theology and peace studies. He has volunteered with the youth office of the Diocese of Duluth in Minnesota and has worked at a rhubarb festival for five summers. Billy loves to read, play the viola and listen to music of all genres. 
Ryan Birjoo, SJ
Chicago, Illinois 

Ryan received a bachelor’s in chemical engineering and a master’s in engineering management from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and was active in Catholic student chaplaincy. He attended a Hearts on Fire retreat in 2013, which played a key role in him joining the Jesuits. He’s interested in the intersection of energy and water issues and Christian stewardship and also enjoys traveling, cooking and studying the traditions of Eastern Christianity.

Thomas Arms, SJ
Forest, Ohio

Thomas earned a bachelor’s in English from The Ohio State University in 2008 and also served for three years as the head swim coach at the YMCA of Central Ohio. He taught English for seven years in Seoul, South Korea, where he discovered the Jesuits at the English Mass at Jesuit-founded Sogang University. Thomas enjoys swimming, cooking, reading, all types of music and making quality coffee. 
Joshua Fritsch, SJ
Clay Center, Ohio 

Joshua graduated in 2014 from Genoa Area High School in Genoa, Ohio, and attended Owens Community College. He has participated in numerous tech activities, played soccer and was a member of Quiz Bowl. While still in high school, he met the Jesuits at St. John’s Jesuit High School and Academy in Toledo, and that had a strong influence on his vocation. He enjoys woodworking and watching movies.
Mark Mackey, SJ
Cincinnati, Ohio 

Mark attended St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati. He earned bachelor’s degrees in zoology and environmental science at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and a master’s in ecology at the University of Missouri. After conducting research and teaching in various regions around the U.S., Mark returned to Cincinnati, where he was involved in the young adult Catholic group and other activities through Bellarmine Chapel at Xavier University. 

Nathan Krawetzke, SJ
Dayton, Ohio 

Nathan graduated from the University of Dayton in Ohio in 2009 with a bachelor’s in history and religious studies. He then joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, working with homeless youth at Covenant House Alaska. He has taught religion classes at his high school, St. Mary Catholic Central in Monroe, Michigan, served as a youth minister in Anchorage, Alaska, and worked at Ste. Anne’s Parish on Mackinac Island, Michigan. 
Timothy Perron, SJ
Ferrisburgh, Vermont

Timothy earned a bachelor’s in music education from the College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York; a bachelor’s in philosophy from Saint John’s Seminary in Boston; and a master’s in theological studies from Loyola University Chicago. He spent a year in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Sacramento, California, working in an inner-city elementary school as a math and reading tutor and music teacher. He enjoys journaling and playing music.
Taylor Fulkerson, SJ
Lanesville, Indiana 

Taylor received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Xavier University in Cincinnati. While at Xavier, he participated in outreach ministry with Cincinnati’s homeless population, served as a research assistant and studied abroad in Nicaragua, where he volunteered at a preschool. He is proficient in Spanish and can read French. In his free time he enjoys reading novels, cooking and trying to find the nuanced side of current events.

Other Vow Day Mass Celebrations
In addtition the USA Midwest Province Vow Day Mass at Saint Thomas More Catholic Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, Masses were also held at Church of the Gesù in Montreal; Holy Cross Church in DeWitt, New York; Sacred Heart Chapel in Los Angeles; St. Charles College in Grand Coteau, Louisiana; and the Chapel of the Missionnaires du Christ-Roi Sisters in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Above, a vow cross, which novices receive during the first vows Mass.

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.

Five Jesuits professed first vows at Sacred Heart Chapel on the Loyola Marymount University campus in Los Angeles on August 12.

 Jesuit Father Mark Thibodeaux, director of the Jesuit novitiate at St. Charles College in Grand Coteau, stressed the significance of first vows in a Jesuit’s formation: “It’s one of the most important moments of a man’s life. It’s where the man says he’s going to do this for the rest of his life.”

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.

Two Jesuit novices pronounced first vows at the Church of the Gesù in Montreal on August 20.

“Of all of the novitiate experiments, making the Spiritual Exercises stands out. The novice learns silence and deepens his relationship with Jesus Christ. In discipleship, Jesuit life finds its focus, and in Jesus, the novice realizes he is loved, redeemed and being transformed into a lover of all humankind,” said Jesuit Father Tom Pipp, director of the Jesuit Novitiate of St. Alberto Hurtado in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Seven Jesuit novices 
pronounced first vows at Holy Cross Church in DeWitt, New York, on August 12.

Novices also experience life as a Jesuit. “We talk about community life, but more importantly they live it,” said Fr. Thibodeaux. “We do lots of ‘lab’ work — where they’re off doing experiments and ministries in different settings, including hospitals, third world countries, soup kitchens and our Jesuit high schools.”

Five Jesuit novices pronounced first vows at
St. Charles College in Grand Coteau, Louisiana, on August 12.

By the time a novice kneels at the altar to pronounce vows, he is prepared, said Fr. Pipp. “As he speaks the final words of the vow formula to God, he does so with complete trust: ‘And as you have freely given me the desire to make offering, so also may you give me the abundant grace to fulfill it.’”

Two Jesuits pronounced first vows at the Chapel of the Missionnaires du Christ-Roi Sisters in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

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 and work on an advanced degree in a field of interest.

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July 23, 2020 — Bishop Michael McGovern, installed as the ninth bishop of the Diocese of Belleville, Illinois, on July 22, is an alumnus of both Saint Ignatius College Prep and Loyola University Chicago.

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