Jesuit Father Brian Paulson Named Next Provincial of Chicago-Detroit Province

Jesuit Father Brian G. PaulsonJesuit Father General Adolfo Nicolás has appointed Jesuit Father Brian G. Paulson as the next provincial of the Chicago-Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus. Fr. Paulson will begin his leadership role in July 2014, succeeding Jesuit Father Timothy P. Kesicki, who will become president of the U.S. Jesuit Conference.

During his term as provincial, Fr. Paulson will become the provincial of the new USA Midwest Province when the existing Chicago-Detroit and Wisconsin Provinces come together by 2017 as part of an ongoing national realignment of Jesuit provinces.

Fr. Paulson has served in a variety of leadership positions as a Jesuit. After 11 years as president of Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago, he was assigned to his current role as rector of the Loyola University Jesuit Community in Chicago in 2010. From 1993 to 1998 he was the vocations director for the Chicago Province.

“As I finish my term as provincial of the Chicago-Detroit Province, I couldn’t be happier that Fr. General has named Fr. Paulson to be the next provincial,” said Fr. Kesicki. “He has the proven capacity and the gifts to care for the Jesuits and the ministries of our province. … I look forward to working with him in my new role as president of the Jesuit Conference.”

“I am deeply humbled to accept this call of Fr. General to lead and serve my brother Jesuits as provincial of the Chicago-Detroit Province,” says Fr. Paulson. “In my 32 years as a Jesuit, I have been richly blessed with Jesuit and lay friends, along with tremendous opportunities for ministry, all of which I treasure.”

Fr. Paulson entered the Society of Jesus at Loyola House Jesuit Novitiate in Berkley, Mich., on September 12, 1981. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 13, 1992, and professed final vows on March 25, 2001. A native of Waukegan, Ill., he attended Campion Jesuit High School in Prairie du Chien, Wis., and when the school closed in 1975, he finished his high school education at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Ill., and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in international economics from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

Since joining the Jesuits Fr. Paulson has earned a master’s degree in political philosophy from Loyola University Chicago, a Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree from Centre Sevres in Paris, a master’s degree in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Massachusetts. He currently serves on the board of trustees at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis, Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory School in Chicago and the Lumen Christi Institute of Chicago, and he is a trustee associate at Boston College after 16 years of service on the board of trustees. [Chicago-Detroit Province]

Jesuit Directs Magis Theatre Company’s “Occupy Olympus” at New York City International Fringe Festival

Photo by Leo Sorel

Jesuit Father George Drance directed the Magis Theatre Company’s “Occupy Olympus” last month at the New York City International Fringe Festival, the largest multi-­arts festival in North America. The play garnered positive reviews, including one from The New York Times.

The company adapted the ancient Greek comedy “Plutus, God of Wealth” by Aristophanes, about the socioeconomic situation of Athens around 400 B.C., in order to tell the story of the modern-day Occupy Wall Street movement. Although “Plutus” was written in 388 B.C., Fr. Drance believes the themes of economic fears and disillusionment are still applicable in the modern era. “I was blown away by how relevant it is to our time,” he said.

“We’re at a moment in history where people feel overwhelmed by their circumstances, perhaps alone in their experience of it and without a means of doing something specific or engaging in a kind of discourse that can actually seek specific changes.

“Because of that, we’ve given up striving for any kind of change,” he said. “My hope is that — by pointing out that this has been a constant part of history — we would take courage and rally ourselves to continue to strive for justice.”

Fr. Drance, who is artistic director of the Magis Theatre Company, has performed and directed in more than 20 countries on five continents, for companies such as Theatre YETU in Kenya and Teatro la Fragua in Honduras. He currently serves as artist-­in­‐residence at Fordham University in New York.

The New York City International Fringe Festival celebrated its 17th anniversary this August. About participating in Fringe NYC, Fr. Drance said, “The word ‘festival’ says it all. It contains elements of a community getting together to celebrate. Much of my [previous work] involved participating in festivals all over the world. Festivals stimulate, and cross-pollinate art in ways that no other form can do. We learn from each other. We inspire each other.”

For more information about the Magis Theatre Company, visit magistheatre.org. [New York Times, nytheatre.com, Fordham University, New York Province]

Jesuit Novices Profess First Vows as Commitment to the Society

Jesuit novices after professing first vows.

From top: Novices in Seattle; St. Paul; DeWitt, N.Y.; and Grand Coteau, La.

A Jesuit novice spends two years at the novitiate for the first stage of Jesuit formation, culminating in his profession of First Vows: poverty, chastity and obedience. This August, 22 Jesuit novices in the United States professed these vows at Masses around the country, signifying their commitment before God to enter the Society of Jesus to serve the church.

Five novices professed their vows at Holy Cross Church in DeWitt, N.Y.; nine novices at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Grand Coteau, La.; two novices at St. Thomas More Catholic Church in St. Paul, Minn.; and six novices at St. Joseph Church in Seattle.

During each Mass, the Jesuit novices professed their vows just before Communion. “Each one comes up and kneels before the Body and Blood of Christ and makes that profession — just as St. Ignatius and his companions did,” said Jesuit Father Fred Pellegrini, a vocation promoter for the Maryland, New England and New York Provinces.

The First Vows are significant in a Jesuit’s life. As Fr. Pellegrini explained, “It’s a public commitment to the Lord and to the Society of Jesus. And the Society is accepting that, and the commitment is there on both sides.”

For the past two years leading up to First Vows, the Jesuit novices have taken classes, participated in local ministries and lived in Jesuit communities. They have also embarked on pilgrimages, performed community service and completed the Spiritual Exercises — a 30-day silent retreat developed by St. Ignatius.

“Completing the Spiritual Exercises is the most important and significant experience for the novices,” Fr. Pellegrini said. “Everything afterward flows from that experience of the Spiritual Exercises — the offering of yourself to the Lord and confirming that in different ways. From working in a hospital to teaching children, it all comes out of the experience of the Spiritual Exercises and the relationship with Jesus.”

For Jesuit novice Tucker Redding, the community service experiments revealed a breadth of Jesuit ministries that will inspire his studies.

“With each new experience, I have found that instead of being drawn to a particular field or ministry, my interests have only grown wider and deeper,” Redding said. “I look forward to spending my life in the Jesuits, discovering new interests and talents and using them for the greater glory of God.”

Following the profession of First Vows, Jesuits usually begin two years of graduate-level philosophy studies, followed by one year of graduate-level theology study.

Jesuits Weigh In on Millennial Generation Vocations for The Atlantic

Jesuit Danny Gustafson, center, with fellow Jesuits of the 2013 vow class of the New England, Maryland and New York Provinces

Several Jesuits recently spoke about vocations for The Atlantic, including Jesuit Father John O’Malley, Jesuit Brother Jim Siwicki, Jesuit Danny Gustafson, and entering Jesuit novice Matt Ippel. The four Jesuits were interviewed for an online article written by Emma Green, a 2012 graduate of Georgetown University, about those in the millennial generation entering religious life.

Regarding the effect of Pope Francis’ election on vocations in millennials, Jesuit Father John O’Malley said he was unsure of any long-term effects at the moment. “I must say, however, that I am a little optimistic,” he added.

Jesuit Danny Gustafson, 24, recently completed first vows at the Jesuit novitiate in Syracuse, N.Y., and offered some insight from a millennial’s point of view. “It’s been a great feeling of connection with the hierarchy, if for no other reason than because there’s a shared formation that Pope Francis has that I’m going through right now. Knowing that the same spirituality that speaks to me speaks to the pope — I find [it] very humbling, but also very encouraging,” Gustafson said.

“The majority of my family on my father’s side are not Catholic,” said 22-year-old Matt Ippel, one of the newest members of the Society of Jesus after entering the novitiate at St. Paul, Minn., this month. “Sharing my upcoming plans, they’ve all been very excited and shown an immense amount of support, but they’ve also talked a lot about Pope Francis — the way [he] has conducted himself in his conversations, his addresses, his homilies.”

According to CARA, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, 12 percent of male and 10 percent of female non-married Catholic survey respondents over the age of 14 considered becoming a priest, nun or religious brother or sister “at least a little seriously.” Jesuit Brother Jim Siwicki, vocation director for the California Province of the Society of Jesus, commented on the novices’ motivations. “There’s a strong desire for a sense of community, both local and global,” he said. But “the thing that’s difficult that I see with millennials is that they want to keep all options open. It’s not a lack of interest — it’s that fear of making a commitment.”

Twenty-two-year-old Ryan Muldoon, a recent Georgetown graduate who is entering the seminary of the Archdiocese of New York, described the concept of discernment. “This isn’t really a decision that anybody makes of their own volition. This really does stem from a deeper calling — a call by God and a response by an individual,” he said. [The Atlantic]

Jesuit Leading Santa Clara University Solar Decathlon Team to Victory

Jesuit Father Jim Reites started out as an engineering student at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, but meeting the Jesuits his senior year changed his career path. Instead, he joined the Society of Jesus and became a professor of religious studies at Santa Clara University in California. In a nod to his former career path, Fr. Reites is now making headlines as the adviser of Santa Clara’s Solar Decathlon team.

The United States Department of Energy sponsors the Solar Decathlon every two years, in which teams from schools worldwide compete to build the most efficient, livable and beautiful solar home. Santa Clara’s teams finished in third place in both 2007 and 2009, besting many bigger, better-funded universities. Students credit Fr. Reites as a large reason for their success, and the 2013 solar decathlon team is currently working on their next entry at the Santa Clara campus.

“I’ve never seen him down in spirits or tired,” said Santa Clara junior Brian Grau. “He’s always ready to work whether it’s actually doing physical labor all day long or helping us with the design.”

Fr. Reites may be 75 years old, but he is teaching young Santa Clara students plenty about technology. Additionally, Fr. Reites brings his love of science to his position as chair of the Religious Studies Department at Santa Clara. “The very first personal computer in a department on campus was in the Department of Religious Studies,” said Fr. Reites. “And I built it from a kit.” His do-it-yourself attitude led the university to ask him to become the Solar Decathlon team adviser.

Tim Hight, professor of mechanical engineering and faculty project leader for the Solar Decathlon team, said Fr. Reites “always seemed to be around when something needed to be done and outworked most of the team in terms of energy and enthusiasm. His understanding of so many aspects of the house, whether electrical, plumbing or controls, means that he knows how the whole house works and how to fix it if it doesn’t.”

According to Fr. Reites, building a solar house is right in line with the Jesuits’ mission. “It’s engineering with a mission, a real mission to make the world a better place.” [NBC Bay Area, Santa Clara University]