Johnny Masséba, SJ
Johnny Masséba, SJ

Province: Canada

Birthday: July 17, 1985

Hometown: Léogâne, Haiti

Highlights of Jesuit Formation:
Completed pastoral service with youth in Haiti and helped Haitian immigrants in the bateyes settlements where sugarcane cutters live
Taught Spanish at the Collège Saint-Ignace in Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti
Served as a deacon at the parish of Sainte-Marie-de-lIncarnation in Quebec City

Johnny Masséba, SJ, entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus in July 2007. After two years of formation, he pronounced vows on August 6, 2009. From 2009 to 2013, he studied philosophy and social sciences in the Dominican Republic. During this time of formation, Johnny carried out youth and Haitian pastoral activities and helped Haitian immigrants in the bateys. From 2013 to 2015, he did his regency at the novitiate in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, as house minister. He also taught Spanish at the Collège Saint-Ignace located in the municipality of Croix-des-Bouquets. In the summer of 2015, he headed to Québec, Canada, for theology studies. This was a special time that helped Johnny deepen his knowledge of God and to become familiar with the themes of the Universal Church and the manner in which it works. During the summer of 2017, he traveled to Serverette, France, for Arrupe Month (a program of reflection focused on the call to be ordained). Johnny was ordained a deacon on May 28, 2018, and he served as a deacon at the parish of Sainte-Marie-de-l’Incarnation in Quebec City to prepare for his priestly ordination. (Canada Province)

Johnny at the chapel in Montmartre, Paris, where St. Ignatius and the first Jesuits pronounced their first vows in August 1534.

What is your favorite book, movie, music, or TV show you’ve encountered since entering the Society and why do you love it?
I discovered a film entitled Into Great Silence during my formation in the novitiate. It is a French-Swiss-German documentary directed by Philip Gröning on the monks of the Grande Chartreuse and was released in 2005. The film is quite lengthy, nearly 3 hours. There is practically no dialogue (usually prayers), no additional music, no comments, no other noise besides those produced by daily gestures, no other voices except for those performing a religious rite. This movie enabled me to penetrate into monastic life and understand the daily routine involved in this lifestyle. Among the various ways one can answer God’s call, I was able to compare my calling to the Society of Jesus to monastic life. Even though I did not feel called to the monastic life, the monks showed me that finding time for God, being prayerful and remaining constantly in his presence are possible. This realization allowed me to refocus on God each time life’s situations prevented me from doing so.

Moreover, the film’s silence was very important to me. Usually, I enjoy watching comedies or action films. This time it was totally the contrary. I was in the presence of monks who lived a great silence. I then found myself in front of these teachers who showed me the importance of an interior spiritual life. In fact, this movie, which I had the chance to see at the beginning of my formation, gave me the desire to always grant God an essential place in my life. It is a process which has matured over my few years of formation with the Society of Jesus.

What are three words a family member or fellow Jesuit would use to describe you? (Ask someone.) Do you agree with his or her selections?
The three words which people close to me would use to describe me are the following: smiling, brave and energetic. I agree with them and they have helped me discover who I am over time. These attitudes were born out of my intimate relationship with God. I find that I experience a natural joy when I see the wonderful things that God has done for me in my life. I am convinced that God made these choices for me while I was still in my mother’s womb. I had the privilege of growing up in an adopted family that God found me a few months after my birth. In the novitiate, the Society of Jesus helped me to welcome myself as I am and to welcome this family as a gift from God. The love I received from this family gave me my zest for life. It is this joy that I have always wanted to share with people along my way. In addition, I have always had the courage to accept the life that God gave me. I have met wonderful people who have always supported me along my journey. The grace of God has always been by my side and I was able to realize this in difficult times. All of this has made me a brave man. Finally, because I am a privileged man, I have always felt full of energy to help others. Inasmuch as possible, I do so freely and with an open heart. That is why the people around me often believe that I am an energetic Jesuit. These attitudes did not come freely to me. It is God’s grace that has made me the man I am today and I am very grateful to him for this.

Johnny at the Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, where he studied philosophy and social sciences.

What was one particularly meaningful experience you had during your formation, and why was it meaningful to you?
Among my various experiences with the Society of Jesus, I think the one with Jean Vanier’s L’Arche was very significant for me. This is the place that was suggested to me for my hospital experience after Saint Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises. After having chosen to follow the poor Christ, I found myself a few days later in an environment where I was called upon to live this choice. It was a great challenge. I discovered that there is a great divide between what is said and what is done. When I arrived at the l’Arche community, I asked Christ to give me the grace to recognize him and to serve him through these people who depended on me to eat, to wash, to go to bed, etc. And as time went on, I was granted this grace. The ultimate purpose of all of this work was to discover the beauty of love. Love filled my heart when these friends from l’Arche said ‘’Johnny mwen renmen ou’’ (Johnny, I love you.) This love was also shown to me when I had been away and one of them came to greet me at the door. I could not help but be astounded to be in the company of people who loved me so freely. In that respect, I found myself in the presence of teachers of love. I could not remain indifferent. I reciprocated their love in the same way, but also by serving them without hoping for any compensation. Finally, freedom reigned, it was real love that these friends were teaching me. These small experiences prepared me and made me a person who always wishes to serve others with love and with the greatest humility.

Who is one important mentor who has accompanied you on your journey? What made them a good mentor?
Father Godefroy Midy, SJ, is an important mentor for me in the Society of Jesus. He is the one who helped me with my discernment when I was still questioning what I should do with my life. Thanks to his guidance, I realized that God had placed his hand on me in order to cooperate as a pastor in his mission. During my pre-novitiate year, I learnt much from this mentor. He is a simple and humble man, very well known for his life of prayer. In the many times we shared things together, he always supported me in my journey. Thanks to his comforting words, he helped me maintain my motivation to follow Christ during difficult times. My experience with Gogo (pseudonym) inspired my great love for the Society of Jesus. I am very happy to have completed part of my journey under his direction. I thank God that he used this man to speak to me in various ways.


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