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Meet the Newest Priests from the California and Oregon Provinces

Seven men from the California and Oregon provinces who answered God's call were ordained as Jesuit priests at a Mass at Blessed Sacrament Church in Hollywood on June 13. Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez served as the chief celebrant of the Mass. The seven are part of a larger group of 28 men ordained as Jesuit priests in the U.S. this summer.

Erick Berrelleza, SJ, 32, is a native of Los Angeles. After his 2001 graduation from high school and a brief time in the college seminary, Fr. Berrelleza headed to Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, where he came to know the Jesuits. In his freshman year of college, the United States was attacked on September 11, an event that had a tremendous influence on his discernment. The tragic attacks helped challenge Fr. Berrelleza to think more about his faith and about what he was being called to do. He threw himself into community service with several non-profit organizations and began meeting with a Jesuit spiritual director. In 2005, after graduating from Loyola Marymount with a bachelor's degree in philosophy, he joined the Jesuits. As a novice, Fr. Berrelleza worked with small Christian communities in the Dominican Republic, traveling to villages that had not seen a priest or religious in several years. His fluency in Spanish proved invaluable. Missioned next to the Hochschule für Philosophie in Munich, he studied political philosophy for two years, adding German to his language repertoire. When he wasn't studying, Fr. Berrelleza was reaching out to Munich's homeless population and working with refugees through Jesuit Refugee Service. When he left Germany, Fr. Berrelleza studied theology at Loyola University Chicago before being missioned to Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, California, where he taught religious studies and coached the cross country and track teams. At the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, he earned a Master of Divinity degree while serving as a deacon at St. Mary-St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Charlestown, Massachusetts, and serving as the chaplain of the Boston College cross country and track teams. Fr. Berrelleza is a member of the board of trustees at Santa Clara University in California and is an associate trustee of Boston College. He hopes to pursue advanced studies in the sociology of religion.


Victor M. Cancino, SJ, 32, grew up in a traditional Catholic family in Los Angeles. After graduating from Arroyo High School in El Monte, California, Fr. Cancino headed to Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. In addition to studying theology, he was very active in campus ministry, playing piano at daily Masses and working with service organizations and the school's Christian Life Community. Fr. Cancino had considered a priestly vocation as early as high school, and as a college student he began meeting with a spiritual director. A spring semester in Beijing helped Fr. Cancino see the world in a new way and confirmed his vocation. He returned from China and entered the Jesuits during his junior year of college. As a novice, Fr. Cancino worked for five months in El Salvador assisting with Santa Clara University's study abroad program, one of the highlights of his 10-year formation journey. After the novitiate, Fr. Cancino was missioned to Saint Louis University where he earned both a bachelor's and a master's degree in philosophy. Assigned next to Verbum Dei High School in Los Angeles, Fr. Cancino taught theology for three years while also running the drum line and working with campus ministry. In 2012, Fr. Cancino was missioned to the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, where he earned a Master of Divinity degree while also serving as a deacon at St. Ignatius Church in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. In addition to exploring ecumenism during a trip to Korea for young theologians, Fr. Cancino has spent the last several years studying biblical Hebrew and Greek. After ordination, he will serve for part of the summer at Dolores Mission Parish in East Los Angeles before heading to Rome to begin studies for a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome.


Julian A. Climaco, SJ, 40, was born in Cebu, Philippines, and lived there until he was 10, when his family immigrated to the United States. They settled in Los Angeles, where Fr. Climaco received an associate's degree in nursing from Los Angeles Harbor College in 1996. He worked for eight years as a registered nurse, and he stayed connected with the church by working with young people and directing music at his parish. He discovered his vocation after watching the film "The Passion of the Christ" and realizing he wanted to give something more to the church. On the eve of Palm Sunday 2004, Fr. Climaco received an email about the film, which included a link to the Jesuits in Asia website, where he read about the Society and found his calling. That fall, he joined the Jesuits, and as a novice he worked with developmentally handicapped people at the L'Arche community in Seattle. He then studied at Fordham University in the Bronx, New York, where he received a bachelor's degree in 2009, double majoring in philosophy and music. For his next assignment, Fr. Climaco taught religion and choral music for three years at Jesuit High School in Sacramento, California, where one highlight was winning a competition that allowed him to take his chamber singers to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York. He also spent summers teaching ESL to schoolteachers in China and studying Spanish in Latin America. Missioned next to the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, California, Fr. Climaco earned a Master of Divinity degree. He also worked as a deacon at the Newman Center at the University of California, Berkeley, and used his nursing skills helping at a free medical clinic for immigrants and the poor in Oakland. His first year of priesthood will be spent assisting at the Newman Center while furthering his theology studies in Berkeley.


Aaron K. Engebretson, SJ, 35, grew up in Kalispell, Montana. Faith has always been an important part of his life. As a young boy, Fr. Engebretson would attend Catholic Mass on Saturday nights with his dad and stepmother and then head to evangelical Protestant services on Sunday mornings with his mother. After graduating from Flathead High School in Kalispell in 1999, he was awarded a debate scholarship to attend Carroll College in Helena, Montana, where he earned a bachelor's degree in history while working part-time at the district office of his U.S. Congressional representative. During his sophomore year of college, Fr. Engebretson began the process of converting to Catholicism and discerning a vocation to the priesthood. Feeling called to the Jesuits, he began communicating with a Jesuit vocation director and entered the Society of Jesus in 2004 after graduating from college. As a novice, he served as a student teacher at Bellarmine Preparatory School in Tacoma, Washington, for five months and was later missioned to the University of Toronto's Regis College for advanced philosophy studies. He later earned a master's degree in education from Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, and spent a summer working at the Jesuit archives in Rome. Missioned back to Bellarmine Prep, he taught history for three years while also coaching the golf team and serving on the school's board of directors. At the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, he earned a Master of Divinity degree and a master's degree in secondary education administration from Boston College. In addition, he served as a deacon at St. Ignatius Church in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, and as a graduate assistant for Boston College's golf teams. Fr. Engebretson will serve as a teacher and administrator at Jesuit High School in Sacramento, California.


Juan Pablo Marrufo del Toro, SJ, 36, was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. He grew up at San Pablo Parish in Guadalajara and attended high school at Guadalupe Zuno, a Marist Brothers school. At the Jesuit University of Guadalajara, he was active in the university's choir, played guitar for the school's music group and went on retreats and immersion trips with campus ministry. After graduating in 2001 with a degree in business and physics, he kept up with the "very joyful" Jesuits he had met at the university and continued spiritual direction. For nearly two years, he worked at Deloitte and Touche in Guadalajara, but started a vocational process with the Jesuits in 2002, searching for greater meaning in his life. He was invited to visit the Oregon Province, where he felt right at home, and entered the Society in 2003. As a novice, he was sent on a pilgrimage to Casa de Los Pobres, a homeless shelter in Tijuana, Mexico. He earned a master's degree in philosophy at Loyola University Chicago in 2009 and taught math and religion at Seattle Preparatory School while working in campus ministry and helping to coach the junior varsity soccer team. He next taught physics and math and worked in campus ministry at Colegio Mayor de San Bartolomé in Bogotá, Colombia. He has a pilot's license, which he has used in Alaska, and has also worked at the Vatican Observatory and with Christus Ministries, providing retreats, spiritual direction and immersions for young adults. In 2012, he began studies at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, California, where he earned a Master of Divinity degree while serving as a deacon at St. Patrick Parish in Oakland, California. Following ordination, Fr. Marrufo del Toro will continue studies at the Jesuit School of Theology toward a Licentiate in Sacred Theology.


Martin O. Silva, SJ, 53, was born and raised in Manila, Philippines. He knew of the Society from a young age, as he attended a Jesuit parish and two of his uncles were Philippine Province Jesuits. He received a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of the Philippines in 1983 and after graduation came to the United States. Fr. Silva then spent 18 years doing corporate finance work in the telecommunications and banking industries in Los Angeles and San Francisco. He also received an MBA from Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, in 1995. While Fr. Silva knew about the Jesuits from his family, completing a 19th Annotation retreat in 2002 exposed him to their spirituality, which resonated with him. He learned more about St. Ignatius and the Society's way of proceeding, and in 2005 he entered the Jesuit novitiate in Culver City, California, the same province where his cousin Fr. Joaquin Martinez, S.J., is a Jesuit. As a novice, Fr. Silva did a long experiment working in campus ministry at the University of Hawaii at Manoa's Newman Center in Honolulu. After two years at the novitiate, he was missioned to Fordham University in the Bronx, New York, where he received a master's degree in philosophy in 2010. Fr. Silva then spent two years teaching theology and working as a campus minister at Cristo Rey High School in Sacramento, California. Missioned next to the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, California, Fr. Silva received a Master of Divinity degree. During theology studies, he served as a deacon at San Quentin State Prison, teaching catechism and preaching. During his formation, Fr. Silva also taught English to teachers in Xiamen, China, and studied Spanish in Mexico, Venezuela and Colombia. After ordination, Fr. Silva will serve at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Hollywood, California.


Ike M. Udoh, SJ, 34, was born in Walnut Creek, California, and then moved with his family to Benin City, Nigeria, when he was 2. His parents, originally from Nigeria, wanted their children to grow up experiencing the culture there. While growing up in Benin City, Fr. Udoh met the Jesuits at a local parish, where he was struck by how available and personable they were. He was also involved in a youth group, which inspired him to grow in his own faith and planted the seeds for his vocation. After graduating from high school, Fr. Udoh and his family returned to the United States, and he attended the University of California, Berkeley, receiving a bachelor's degree in integrative biology in 2004. He joined the Jesuits later that same year, and as a novice he did an experiment at a L'Arche community in Spokane, Washington, sharing life with people with disabilities. He also taught and worked in campus ministry at Jesuit High School in Sacramento, California. After the novitiate, he went to Fordham University in the Bronx, New York, where he received a master's degree in philosophy in 2009 and was involved with campus ministry. For his next assignment, Fr. Udoh was missioned to Loyola High School of Los Angeles, where he taught theology and helped coach soccer for three years. At the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, California, he earned a Master of Divinity degree while assisting as a deacon at St. Joseph's Church in Pinole, California. Fr. Udoh is grateful for God's faithful love and mercy, for the opportunities to journey with the people of God throughout his formation in a variety of experiences and for how they have shaped him. After ordination, Fr. Udoh will continue studies at the Jesuit School of Theology, working toward a Licentiate in Sacred Theology.





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