Greg Ostdiek, SJ
Greg Ostdiek, SJ

Province: USA Midwest

Birthday: July 19, 1969

Hometown: Beavercreek, Ohio

Bachelor’s degree, mechanical engineering, Dayton University
Bachelor’s degree, English, Dayton University
Master’s degree, English, Penn State University
Master’s degree, philosophical resources, Fordham University
Master of Divinity, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
Master of Theology, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry

Highlights of Jesuit Formation:
Made 30-day pilgrimage to Haiti shortly after 2010 earthquake to help design and build one-room schoolhouses
Taught high school physics at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Illinois
Spent final year in formation, while a student at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, as a transitional deacon at St. Peter's in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Will study at Harvard for one year for a Master of Education

Gregory J. Ostdiek, SJ, was born on July 19, 1969. He graduated from Carroll High School in Riverside, Ohio, in 1988. He then attended the University of Dayton, running on their cross-country team for four years and graduating in 1993 with degrees in mechanical engineering and English. After college, he joined the U.S. Navy as a Surface Warfare Officer with a nuclear propulsion subspecialty. After serving for 13 years in a variety of positions — culminating as executive officer of USS Dextrous (MCM 13) — he resigned his commission to enter the Society of Jesus in 2009. For the last 10 years, he has been in the Jesuits’ priestly formation program: two years as a novice; three years studying graduate philosophy at Fordham University; two years teaching high school physics in Chicago; and now three years studying graduate theology at Boston College. Highlights of his formation include a 30-day pilgrimage to Haiti shortly after its earthquake in 2010 to help design and build one-room schoolhouses and having his high-school physics classes build full-size trebuchets and test them in the football stadium as a senior project. (USA Midwest Province)

Greg (second from left) with his family on the USS San Jacinto (CG-56), on which he served as the Air Warfare Officer.

Who is one important mentor who has accompanied you on your journey? What made them a good mentor?
I have been privileged to know Fr. John Murphy, SJ, since 2012, during my philosophy studies at Fordham University. He has been my spiritual advisor several times, and will be one of my vesting priests at my ordination to the priesthood this June. I have truly been blessed to have a friend this wise and compassionate helping me along the path to ordination.

Did your naval service prepare you for life as a Jesuit at all? If so, how? Do you identify with St. Ignatius as someone who served militarily before choosing a different path?
My naval service certainly helped me to learn to live together — sometimes in close quarters! — with a variety of kinds of people. And although I did not identify with St. Ignatius as a veteran before entering the Society of Jesus, as I have lived as a Jesuit I have tended to increasingly identify many of the procedures he set up for the Society as having a military basis, or at least a military analogue.

For instance, Ignatius practiced what we would today call "command by negation": subordinate commanders in such a setup are expected to run their organizations according to previously agreed-upon broad principles and stated strategic guidelines, while keeping their immediate superiors informed of their decisions and actions — who then step in only if they see something going wrong. I think Ignatius kept more of his military mindset with him as he changed careers — and vocations — than we tend to acknowledge today.

What is one hobby you’ve cultivated as a Jesuit and why is it important to you?
I still try to run several times a week to stay active and fit.

Greg (far left) atop a mountain with Boston College School of Theology and Ministry classmates Adam Rosinski, SJ; Ramesh Richards, SJ; and Kieran Gill, SJ.

What’s one interesting fact about yourself not everyone would know?
I have two brothers, one of whom is my identical twin. Some people got us mixed up during my deaconate ordination and asked why I was sitting in the pew instead of vesting for the ceremony.

Tell your vocation story. One catch: You must use only six words.
Asked around. Met Jim Boynton, SJ. Joined.


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