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Our 2021 Jesuits West jubilarians have served in a variety of ministries at apostolates across the western United States. We asked some of this year’s jubilarians to reflect on their milestone moment.

Fr. Charles Phipps, SJ
75 Years in the Society

The brief prayer that captures the spirit of my Jesuit life is Deo Gratias! Thank you, God!

Thank you, God, for my loving parents, who first taught me how to pray. Thank you for the good Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary who began my formal religious education at St. Anselm’s and St. Cecilia’s. And special thanks to the many Jesuit scholastics at St. Ignatius High School who attracted, inspired and encouraged me to enter the Society of Jesus—here at Los Gatos 75 years ago when Sacred Heart Jesuit Center was the Sacred Heart Novitiate.

Thank you, God, for my Jesuit teachers, mentors, models and brothers during formation. Thank you for my brilliant professors at Chapel Hill. Thank you, God, for my 48 years teaching at Santa Clara University, and for my students and lay colleagues. And thank you most especially for my 54 years of living with the Santa Clara Jesuit Community.

On May 1, 2019, I joined the Jesuit Community at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, where I’m experiencing the extraordinary care of the Society of Jesus for its senior members. I am now a very old and very happy Jesuit. Thank you, God!

Fr. Phipps served for many years at Santa Clara University, where he was chair of the English Department and director of the Honors Program, among other positions.

Fr. J. Gordon Moreland, SJ
70 Years in the Society

Seventy years ago when I decided to enter the Jesuits I was hoping to grow in a personal relationship with the Lord. Most of my ministerial assignments have been very focused in that direction. From 1968 to 1976, I was director of novices for the Oregon Province. There I was essentially helping the young novices to develop a life of prayer and a deeper relationship with God. In 1977, I was assigned to Gonzaga Prep, teaching religion and in charge of religious studies. In 1980, I became director of Loyola Retreat House in Portland. After that I was named director of the House of Prayer for Priests in Orange, California, where I remained for 31 years. Then I worked part-time in spiritual direction as a retired priest in Orange.

On June 1, 2021, I was assigned to a ministry of prayer at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos. A defining moment in my relationship with the Lord came as I realized that the Lord had shared with me his desire for the salvation of all people. This includes those in most need of God’s mercy and the “unfaithful departed” for whom I have a special concern.

Fr. Moreland prays for the Church and the Society at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, California.

Fr. William Rewak, SJ
70 Years in the Society 

What has moved me greatly, especially in my later years, is the “Contemplatio,” the finale of the Spiritual Exercises. I do believe that God is the Creator, but also the Rejuvenator, the Refresher, the Laborer. As I look out my window, I see a rebirth each year of the life that God surrounds us with the greenery, the finches—the arrival of my new niece. God is Life, and that Life throbs throughout the universe. I believe that God’s hands are not only molding the physical world, but through his Son, Jesus, God is laboring to put right our injustice, our blindness. I believe that Jesus is in the midst of the immigrant camps in the South; he is walking through the homeless shelters, embracing their freezing shoulders; he is visiting the Covid-19 patients, giving them strength. Jesus is never at rest. That restlessness is God’s gift to us. And God is constantly at work, in Jesus, to help us see how we can be part of that restlessness, to look at our lame but precious world and lend our talents, and our resolve, to build God’s kingdom.

Fr. Rewak is chancellor emeritus at Santa Clara University.

Fr. Kevin Waters, SJ
70 Years in the Society

For 70 years I have been chosen and gifted by the Holy Spirit to embrace the Trinity. I have been called to spread the Good News, the Gospel. As a priest, I have been a conduit of God’s love, especially through the sacraments of the Eucharist and reconciliation. I have been a teacher of music and philosophy, sowing in my students listening skills, joy and understanding. I have been a composer of song, dance and instrumental music, engaging listeners at home and abroad. On YouTube you may hear the Wexford Carol: bit.ly/frwaters

For over 50 years (1967-2017) I served as a residence hall chaplain. First, for 17 years in Campion and Xavier, Seattle University, then for 34 years in De Smet Hall, Gonzaga University.

All this because God chose me.

Fr. Waters recently moved to the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, California, to pray for the Church and the Society.

Br. Douglas E. Draper, SJ
60 Years in the Society

The call to serve.

After 60 years as a Jesuit, I can look back with many fond memories. I was dean of students for 40 years. I am thankful to God for this ministry.

High school years are formative years; as educators, we plant “seeds” of faith and justice in the young people entrusted to our care, and we guide them in developing their talents and gifts to their full potential so they may become persons to and for others.

I am thankful to the many Jesuits and lay colleagues who have walked with me these many years and who have become a part of the fabric of my life.

Br. Draper is the minister at the Jesuit Community at St. Ignatius College Prep in San Francisco.

Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ
60 Years in the Society

Benedicamus Domino!
September 8, 1961, 5:30 a.m. at Sacred Heart Novitiate, Los Gatos, California.

“Let us bless, the Lord.” Those are the first words I heard on that first morning after I arrived at the Jesuit novitiate. And, groggily, I responded, “Deo Gratias!”, “Thanks be to God!”

Though the alarm on my smartphone has long since replaced the “angel” who wandered the corridors rousing sleep-deprived novices from their slumber, I’ve begun my day with those words every day for the last 60 years.

St. Ignatius, in the “First Principle and Foundation” of the Spiritual Exercises, tells us that “Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord.” And he ends the Exercises with the “Contemplation to Attain Divine Love.” Praise and thanksgiving are the bookends to these core spiritual principles of every Jesuit’s life.

What better way, then, to begin each day? What better way to try to live one’s life? To praise God who creates us anew each day and to thank him for the gifts he showers upon us so abundantly every moment of our lives. 

Benedicamus Domino! Deo Gratias!

 Fr. Fessio is director of Ignatius Press in San Francisco.

Br. Charlie Jackson, SJ
60 Years in the Society

“The word of the Lord came to me thus: Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born, I dedicated you; a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” (Jeremiah 1:4-5)

Sixty years ago, shortly after I began my novitiate, I heard that passage being read at Mass one morning. The experience left me stunned. The passage spoke to me, not only of God’s call to Jeremiah, but of God’s call to me—and it did so in a manner that continues to call me. We may think of a vocation as God’s call to do something, but it’s much more than that. Ultimately, it’s an invitation to a relationship that is meant to deepen and forever change our lives, and that’s certainly been true for me. The God who once grasped me has never let go.

Br. Jackson recently moved from the Center for Ignatian Spirituality at Saint Ignatius Loyola Parish in Sacramento to the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, California, to pray for the Church and the Society.

Br. Dan Peterson, SJ
60 Years in the Society 

I look back on my six decades of Jesuit life as a brother with gratitude to God. I have found it a wonderful experience, one that has been blessed with singular opportunities for service in many places and works. Memories of my 25 years in a high school library, 21 years (and counting) as province archivist, as well as other assignments, reinforce my sense of gratitude for the support I have received from my brother Jesuits, both in the difficult times and the glorious moments. I have had the opportunity to travel to places I had not expected to visit and experience cultures that were new to me. This has given me a sense of solidarity with Jesuits throughout the world and with the people they serve. I am one lucky guy.

 Br. Peterson is archivist for Jesuits West.

Fr. Edward Reese, SJ
60 Years in the Society 

Sixty years, I can’t really believe it! Only when bending over or getting out of a chair does it seem at all real. I feel grateful and blessed for so much, but most especially that all my active ministry has been in Jesuit secondary schools. The word that comes to mind is fun. This ministry has truly been fun. The gift of bringing God into the lives of young women and men has been reciprocated over and over again. In addition to serving in all the former California Province high schools, I also spent three years at St. Ignatius College in Sydney, Australia.

St. Ignatius’ call to find God in all things is a lesson both taught and learned in high school ministry. Everything from theology classes to lacrosse is an invitation to find God. Sharing that ministry with fellow Jesuits and lay friends continues to motivate me. It is fun.

Fr. Reese is president of St. Ignatius College Prep in San Francisco.

Br. Theodore Rohrer, SJ
60 Years in the Society

I grew up on a farm in central California, and priests would come to the parish to give talks. When I was a senior in high school, some Jesuits came, and I was interested and talked with them. Three months after high school, I joined the Society. I’m from a large family and the last thing my dad told me before I entered the novitiate was, if this is not your life, the door will always be open. He said that 60 years ago.

I’ve had a variety of jobs. I did maintenance at Sacred Heart Novitiate and the Jesuit Retreat Center of Los Gatos. At Brophy College Prep, I was groundskeeper, mechanic and bus driver. I also taught a mechanics class. When I worked at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, they asked if I could drive a truck, so I got a truck driver’s license; I think I was the only Jesuit in California with one. I also spent two years serving with the Kino Border Initiative on the U.S.-Mexico border.

I’m thankful for being a Jesuit. I got to help people and work all the time and enjoyed the jobs. I could be out doing my job, driving a tractor, and I’d spend time praying there.

Br. Rohrer prays for the Church and the Society at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, California.

Fr. Stephen Sundborg, SJ
60 Years in the Society

 On my 60th jubilee as a Jesuit—stretching from age 18 to 78—I am amazed and so appreciate how the Jesuits have stretched and called upon all my gifts and capacities. When I started, I had no idea what I would do as a Jesuit, thinking I might work as a missionary back in my home state of Alaska. Instead, the Jesuits found in me an ability for leadership and administration. For the past 35 years as rector, provincial and university president I have served others—Jesuits, students, and lay women and men—using all the gifts God gave me. It is a wonderful thing to have expended myself in this way and to realize, looking back on this occasion of the jubilee, how God’s grace has sustained me and flowed secretly through all these years. Being a Jesuit is meant to be primarily a service to others, but it is also a great blessing for the Jesuit himself.

 Fr. Sundborg is president emeritus of Seattle University; he served as president there for 24 years.

Br. Michael Breault, SJ
50 Years in the Society

 For the first 10 years of my Jesuit life, I was a scholastic. Then, as the time for theology grew near, it dawned on me that I didn’t feel a special sense of being “called” to the priesthood. Without God’s call, what was the point of continuing to ordination? And without a priestly vocation, what room for me was there in the Society?

I took my problem to my mentor, C.J. McNaspy. His advice? “God certainly seems to be calling you to life in the Society, but not to the priesthood. The answer is simple. You should be a Jesuit brother.”

There’s often a moment in discernment when the unruly spirits settle down and the way forward becomes clear. A few months after my talk with C.J., I made the leap. I’ve never looked back with anything short of gratitude.

As a layman who’s also a religious, I can bridge the distance between the clergy and laypeople. By opting out of the clerical power structure and serving entirely through my lay talents, I can work shoulder-to-shoulder with others in my field, as someone equal in ecclesiastical rank. This has been a constant source of enrichment throughout my life as a Jesuit brother.

Br. Breault is a writer and the social media manager for Jesuits West

Fr. James Blaettler, SJ
50 Years in the Society

In graduate school, I discovered the saint as a speculum mundi or mirror of the world. The holy one reflects a freely given gift—shared, transcendent truth that God reveals.

In elementary school, I devoured the Lives of the Saints; I found adventure, dedication and mounting integrity calling me to a match. Today, I regularly encounter three saints through our community chapel icons: gesturing emphatically, companions Ignatius and Clare converse; embracing a shared son, Joseph manifests the Shadow of the Father; firmly stepping on the devilish Montserrat sword, regal Mary presides enthroned.

Lodestar haloed Clare had invited followers to place themselves squarely in the “brilliance of Glory”; an electrifying flame of purification hovers over her attentive soulmate, Ignatius. Each contemplative gaze in the chapel holds in silence “the tiny whispering sound after the fire” that Elijah encountered as a surprising divine presence (1 Kings 19:12)—the text chosen for my ordination card, over the Pauline phrase “the life I live is not my own” (Galatians 2:20). Yet, the latter now paints my heart humble. I increasingly hear God’s word as the more engaged partner in my daily task to see and reflect, if imperfectly, the world wounded, hearts healing and souls increasingly beautiful (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Fr. Blaettler is the minister of the Santa Clara Jesuit Community.

Fr. Gerdenio Manuel, SJ
50 Years in the Society

Reflecting on the last 50 years, I am struck now by how grace finds me in the darkness, the light and every shade in between, leading me to God and my true calling—to risk whatever it takes to find my way home to deep and lasting love.

Especially in my ministry or my personal life when I felt most diminished or defeated by the world’s madness or my own, I discovered God is here, God is with us, God is for us. For God did not wait until I became virtuous or saintly. God invites the lost and even sinners home because he recognizes our hunger, our often frustrated and desperate hunger for love.

Something deep inside is transformed or reconciled when we discover what we Jesuits profess—all of us are “sinners called by God.” We think of ourselves only as sinners or only called by God—as if we are sinners without a future or saints without a history. I am loved by God for who I am—not for what I do or who I become.

God frees me to love more faithfully in the humanity we inhabit—diminished capacities, afflictions, addictions, passions, joy, wisdom, serenity and peace. When we embrace one another in all that we are, we discover God calling us to love more completely, more unconditionally and more freely than we might have ever imagined possible.

I am profoundly grateful for my vocation and the company of Jesuits, for my ministry and the people of God over these many years—for all I’ve learned with you and through you.

Fr. Manuel is professor emeritus at the University of San Francisco and a staff psychologist at South of Market Health Center.

Fr. Roy Antunez, SJ
50 Years in the Priesthood

 One word: Gratitude!!

 Fr. Antunez is a pastoral minister in Los Angeles.

 

Fr. Kenneth Krall, SJ
50 Years in the Priesthood

Early on in my Jesuit career I heard the saying “Give freely what you have freely been given.” I see words like these meaning that since as a Jesuit I have been freely given many, many things, so as a Jesuit, I am to give just as freely to others.

As I look back over these 50 years of being a priest—once the shock of the reality of such a statement wears off a bit—I can see time and again how the kindness of others to me has helped me to offer kindness to others.

In my career as a Jesuit, both as a seminarian and as a priest, I have taught both high school and college students. And as a priest, I have worked in parishes. Whether in a school or a parish, I have been blessed by memorable people, generous people, dedicated people, people who continue to show me what generosity truly can be, people who gently challenge me to freely give in return.

And so, as I continue gracefully aging onward, I keep trying to freely give as I have received, since I am convinced now that such a thing is well worth doing and always, always with a sense of humor.

Fr. Krall is assistant rector at Della Strada Jesuit Community at Gonzaga University.

Fr. George Murphy, SJ
50 Years in the Priesthood

“What shall I return to the Lord for all he has given me?”

Riches, honors, poverty, insults, humiliations, a deeper more expansive sense of who God is, how generous, loving, merciful God is.

God has given me a desire to look for God, to work with God, to enjoy God and God’s world and people. In and through the Society, I have met so many wonderful people to share the journey, to experience the joys and struggles of the world and to work with God to fulfill some of God’s hopes for us.

Finally, God keeps reminding me “we aren’t finished yet.”

Fr. Murphy is director of spiritual formation and lecturer in spirituality at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University.

Fr. John Rashford, SJ
50 Years in the Priesthood

As I celebrate 50 years as a Jesuit priest, one virtue that comes to mind is trust. Trust that God was, is, will always be with me. There were special moments when he made it obvious.

The first was my parent’s faith and their acceptance of my vocation at age 12 when I shared, “If I am to be a priest, I need to begin by learning to serve Mass.” Then, during high school, Father Gene Toner, SJ, was a sign pointing me to apply to be a Jesuit.

God’s hand was with me through many years of studies and formation: Sheridan, Mt. St. Michael’s, years of teaching in high school and then approval to study theology in Toronto.

The Lord listened to my prayer as I began my final year before ordination. “If you want me to be a priest it will be, and if not, it will be OK with me. I place myself in your hands.”

God spoke through my superiors and special friend, Father Pat Twohy, SJ, with encouragement and support during times that were stressful. I hope I have lived up with trust to what God called me to be and do. I pray I continue to trust as I live out the rest of my life and ministry as a priest. Much thanksgiving for a journey full of wonders.

Fr. Rashford is chaplain at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington.

Fr. Anthony Sauer, SJ
50 Years in the Priesthood

When I was ordained in 1971 by Cardinal Manning, the same prelate who had confirmed me in 1946, I cited Lacordaire on the priesthood, so often quoted as I grew up by my longtime pastor, Father Fogarty at St. Brendan’s in Los Angeles: “My God, what a life, and ‘tis yours O priest of Jesus Christ!”

My God, what a life, indeed! To give the sacrament of the sick, to hear confessions, to preach, to teach, to baptize, to witness marriages: What better life! What a meaningful way to build up the Lord’s kingdom even when one doesn’t do it very well and when the exclusion of women seems increasingly unfair.

To be a Jesuit priest was Christ’s greatest gift to this poor servant who has sought only to imitate the valorous, noble life of the man for others who as God didn’t have to redeem us in the way he did, but who chose terrible death out of his compassionate love for us and our world, who came “not to be served, but to serve.”

As St. Ignatius challenges us in the “Call of the King” meditation, who would not fail to follow such a brave, selfless, caring leader? “My God, what a life!” is as true today as it was 50 golden years ago.

Fr. Sauer recently moved to the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, California, to pray for the Church and the Society. His previous ministries included serving as president at Brophy College Prep in Phoenix and St. Ignatius College Prep in San Francisco.

Fr. Gary Smith, SJ
50 Years in the Priesthood

I converted to Catholicism during college, so there’s a line from Scripture that comes to mind: “Out of Egypt I call my son” (Hosea 11:1).

That line has always stuck with me because it explains a lot of things I’ve done, from my conversion to some of the decisions I made in terms of studies as a Jesuit, such as going to Toronto, where I was under the influence of some really powerful teachers. It explains why I always felt a call to work with the poor, so I spent a long time in Oakland as a community organizer. I ran a drop-in center on skid row in Tacoma; worked on the streets in Portland for many years and still do; and spent 15 years with the Jesuit Refugee Service in Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Greece.

The person who comes to my mind, relating to my conversion, is Dorothy Day. In her book The Long Loneliness, she wrote that she always “felt that sense of being followed, of being desired; a sense of hope and expectation.” I’ve felt during my life—beginning with the decision to become a convert to Christianity—that I was being desired by God, not in a hooray for me sort of way, but in the movement in my heart.

Fr. Smith does street and jail ministry in Portland.

Other Jesuits Celebrating Jubilees this Year

75 YEARS IN THE SOCIETY
Father Fred J. Green, SJ

70 YEARS IN THE SOCIETY
Father E. Louis Bishop, SJ
Father Bernard J. Tyrrell, SJ

60 YEARS IN THE SOCIETY
Father Patrick J. Reuse, SJ

50 YEARS IN THE SOCIETY
Father Jon D. Fuller, SJ
Father John F. Izzo, SJ

25 YEARS IN THE SOCIETY
Father Seán D. Michaelson, SJ

60 YEARS IN THE PRIESTHOOD
Father Thomas N. Gallagher, SJ
Father Leo J. Hombach, SJ
Father Patrick B. O’Leary, SJ
Father Richard W. Rolfs, SJ
Father J. Patrick Stewart, SJ
Father James S. Torrens, SJ

50 YEARS IN THE PRIESTHOOD
Father George J. Dumais, SJ
Father David F. Klein, SJ
Father Donald B. Sharp, SJ
Father Thomas E. Splain, SJ

25 YEARS IN THE PRIESTHOOD
Father Theodore E. Gabrielli, SJ
Father Michael G. Lee, SJ
Father Michael C. McCarthy, SJ
Father Mark D. McGregor, SJ
Father Michael W. Ravenkamp, SJ

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