Five men with diverse backgrounds were ordained as the newest Jesuit priests of the California and Oregon provinces of the Society of Jesus in a Mass at St. Aloysius Church in Spokane June 7. Bishop Joseph Ngueyn Chi Linh, Diocese of Thanh Hóa, Vietnam, and Bishop Blase Cupich, Diocese of Spokane, were the chief celebrants. Here’s a look at each of the men who will soon take his place in active ministry:
Fr. Joseph Dao, S.J., 38, was born and raised in Vietnam. Even as a young child, Fr. Dao was drawn to the priesthood, pretending to celebrate Mass for his parents when he was only 3. Before coming to the U.S. as an international student, Fr. Dao studied law, embarked on a journalism career, and worked in private business.
Fr. Dao’s pastor helped inspire an early interest in the Jesuits. At the age of 22, he moved to Long Beach to begin a new journey in the United States. At Santa Ana College, Fr. Dao studied English while working in the school’s cafeteria and actively discerning his call to the Jesuits. In 2000, he entered the Society of Jesus at the Jesuit Novitiate in Culver City. At Loyola University Chicago, Fr. Dao earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy before being missioned back to Vietnam for a three-year project on behalf of Loyola.
In 2010, Fr. Dao served at Loyola High School of Los Angeles, where he worked for the school’s community service program and helped support campus ministry. Missioned next to the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, Fr. Dao earned a Master of Divinity degree while serving as a deacon at Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church in San Jose and Christ the Light Cathedral in Oakland. For nearly two years, his work at Most Holy Trinity has been devoted to teaching a catechism program for autistic students, a life-affirming assignment that has helped him grow in his relationship with God. Following ordination, Fr. Dao will return to Vietnam for pastoral work. (California Province)
Fr. Vincent P. Duong, S.J., 38, spent the first 16 years of his life in his native Vietnam, one of six children. When his family immigrated to America in 1992, Fr. Duong didn’t know a word of English and had to quickly adapt after being enrolled in high school in San Diego. After attending community college, Fr. Duong enrolled at San Diego State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 2000. Although a vocation was on Fr. Duong’s mind even from an early age, he decided to embark on a career in web development, which he pursued while continuing graduate studies in computer science.
When his mother introduced Fr. Duong to a Vietnamese Jesuit, he began several years of discernment and spiritual direction which led to his decision to enter the Society of Jesus in 2003. After two years at the novitiate in Culver City, Fr. Duong was missioned to Loyola University Chicago to study philosophy and theology. For his three-year regency assignment at Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, Fr. Duong taught computer science, worked with the school’s campus ministry office, and helped students prepare for confirmation.
Because he was interested in exploring the global aspect of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Duong asked to be missioned to Regis College, the Jesuit School of Theology at the University of Toronto, for theology studies. There, he earned a Master of Divinity degree while serving as a deacon at a predominantly Vietnamese parish in Toronto and at the Newman Center at the University of Toronto. Among his many memorable formation experiences is a 2010 summer trip to Vietnam, his first visit since leaving his homeland, to provide retreats for Vietnamese nuns and to visit family and friends he had not seen in two decades. This fall, Fr. Duong will return to Regis College to complete a Licentiate in sacred theology and a master’s degree in theology. (California Province)
Fr. Quentin G. Dupont, S.J., 34, is a native of Lille, in Northern France. Though he earned his undergraduate degree in economics and accounting in 2002 from the Catholic University of Lille, Fr. Dupont was always interested in other cultures and traveled extensively as an exchange student during high school and college. While studying in California at Santa Clara University during his senior year, he became acquainted with the Society of Jesus and was inspired by the Jesuits there to consider a vocation to the priesthood. Although initially interested in pursuing a career in accounting, Fr. Dupont realized that his desire to help others superseded everything else.
In 2003, after receiving a master’s degree in finance and banking from the University of Paris, he entered the Jesuit novitiate at Culver City. He earned a master’s degree in philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx, New York, and was next missioned to Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, where he taught French and religion for two years. At Seattle University, he served for one year teaching microeconomics and business ethics. In 2011, Fr. Dupont was missioned to the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, where he earned a Master of Divinity degree and a master’s degree in theology with an emphasis on moral theology.
At his request, his diaconate ordination was held in France so that his family could be present, and he was able to preach at his hometown parish the next day. While serving as a deacon at St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish in Chestnut Hill, Mass., Fr. Dupont was also the chaplain of the Boston College baseball team. He considers his time working with campus ministry in Madagascar, as well as his work with Jesuit Refugee Service in Paris, among the most meaningful experiences of his formation. Following ordination, Fr. Dupont will be missioned to teach finance at Seattle University. (California Province)
Fr. Isidro Lépez, S.J., 54, grew up in central Mexico, the oldest of eight children in a devoutly Catholic family. At the age of 15, Fr. Lépez and his father moved to Oregon, hoping to create a better life for their family. Fr. Lépez went to work immediately, harvesting fruit as a migrant worker and sending money back to Mexico so the family could be reunited in the United States. Within three years, all 10 members of the family were together in Sunnyside, Wash., and Fr. Lépez was still working in the field during the day while taking English classes at night.
When he was 20, Fr. Lépez married, and he and his wife became the proud parents of four sons. The years flew by as Fr. Lépez earned a high school equivalency degree and started taking community college classes at night while working in school maintenance during the day. His job at the school led to a position working with high-risk young people, and he also worked for two years as an AmeriCorps volunteer.
After 13 years, the marriage of Fr. Lépez and his wife was annulled. He became active in his parish, teaching CCD classes and directing a program for the Spiritual Exercises, and he began to discern a calling that he had first heard as a young man in Mexico: his dual desire to serve God while working for social justice.
In 2004, he entered the Jesuit Novitiate in Oregon and spent the next several years studying at Jesuit universities in the U.S. and working at St. Andrew Nativity School in Portland. In 2010, he was missioned to the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia, where he is earning a Licentiate in sacred theology and serving as a deacon at St. Alberto Hurtado Parish in Colombia. Following ordination, Fr. Lépez hopes to engage in pastoral work with the Latino community. (Oregon Province)
Fr. Matthew T. Pyrc, S.J., 50, grew up in Flint, Mich., one of eight siblings. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio in 1986 and entered the Franciscan order directly after graduation. For five years, Fr. Pyrc went through formation with the Franciscans, studying philosophy and earning a Master of Divinity degree from Regis College at the University of Toronto.
In 1991, Fr. Pyrc left the Franciscans, although his desire to be engaged in spiritually fulfilling work was as strong as ever. He returned to Michigan, where he took a job as a family services worker for four years with Boysville, a Catholic-run group home for troubled youth.
Seeking a change, Fr. Pyrc then moved to Washington, where he worked for the next 10 years with the Spokane Public School System on a dropout prevention program for underserved youth. During this time, he joined St. Aloysius Church in Spokane, where he came to know the Jesuits and became involved in social justice ministry and Ignatian spirituality.
During a life-changing trip to Africa in 2004, Fr. Pyrc realized that even though he was doing rewarding work with at-risk youth, he wanted to do something more with his life. Realizing that he was being called to the Society of Jesus, he entered the Jesuits in 2006. After two years at the novitiate in Portland, he was next missioned to the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, where he earned a Licentiate in sacred theology while also studying culture and Spanish for a year in Colombia at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. Missioned next to Seattle University for regency, Fr. Pyrc has worked in campus ministry for three years while serving as a deacon at the Seattle University chapel. (Oregon Province)