Eight men from the California and Oregon provinces of the Society of Jesus completed their two-year novitiate program and professed First Vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience before family, friends, and a large audience of well-wishers at a Mass at the Sacred Heart Chapel at Loyola Marymount University on August 8.
Director of Novices Fr. Stephen Corder, SJ, served as the chief celebrant of the Mass, with California Provincial Fr. Michael Weiler, SJ, and Oregon Provincial Fr. Scott Santarosa, SJ, as concelebrants. Also in attendance was Bishop Gordon Bennett, SJ, former director of novices. Bishop Bennett currently serves as the Peter Faber Fellow in Pastoral Theology and Ignatian Spirituality at LMU.
Each of the eight men who professed vows has been missioned to undertake first studies in philosophy and/or theology – the next step in their Formation process to Jesuit priesthood – at universities across the U.S., England, and Mexico.
Professing First Vows were:
Joseph Dickan, 25, earned a bachelor's in neuroscience from the University of California, Los Angeles. He has worked in advancement at St. Paul High School in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., and participated in the "Six Weeks a Jesuit" program, tutoring at Washington Jesuit Academy in the nation's capital. Reading the Spiritual Exercises and participating in an ecumenical prayer group, both while in college, were instrumental in his faith development.
Joe Kraemer, 47, received his bachelor's in English from Hillsdale College in Michigan. He oversaw the Playwrights Program while working as literary manager for The Julliard School's drama division from 1993 to 2008. Later, he served as creative director for Estevez Sheen Productions at Warner Bros. and recently worked as an independent writing coach and teacher. His volunteer work has included teaching CCD, helping at a homeless shelter, and serving as a Big Brother.
Ryan Mak, 24, graduated from St. Ignatius College Preparatory School in San Francisco and earned his bachelor's in biochemistry and cell biology from the University of California, San Diego. In college, he interned in a hospital's geriatric-psych unit and worked as a lab assistant and undergraduate researcher. He was active with the Newman Center Catholic Community, an experience he termed transformative, and coordinated a comedy show during his senior year.
Eric Nguyen, 40, was born in Hue City, Vietnam, and immigrated with his brother to the U.S. in 1989. After studying biochemistry at the University of California, Davis, he worked as an IT specialist for various Silicon Valley firms for 10 years. While a catechist at Most Holy Trinity Parish in San Jose, Eric organized food drives for the homeless. He has participated in service trips to Dolores Mission Parish in East Los Angeles and the Kino Border Initiative at the U.S.-Mexico border at Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico.
Vicente “Appie” Perez Jr., 47, was born in Cebu, Philippines. He has a bachelor's in biology from the University of the Philippines, from which he also earned his medical degree. His graduate studies in the U.S. include fellowship training in endocrinology at the University of New Mexico. Before joining a medical practice in Albuquerque, he worked as a physician for a medically underserved population in rural New Mexico. He is passionate about classical piano and liturgical music.
Alfonso Pizano, 36, has a bachelor's in English from Mount St. Mary's College in Los Angeles and a master's in elementary education from Loyola Marymount University. He has taught at a Catholic grade school in Monterey Park. He also volunteered to teach confirmation at Dolores Mission. His work experience includes a 14-year stint at Disneyland, where he piloted the monorail, sailed submarines, sold souvenirs, and danced in the Christmas Fantasy Parade.
Michael Tedone, 28, earned a bachelor's in Catholic theology from Marquette University and a master's in religious education from Boston College. He served with Jesuit Volunteers International from 2009 to 2011, working at Xavier High School in Chuuk, Micronesia. He credits his entrance into the Society of Jesus to his time at Marquette and a lengthy discernment culminating with the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises at St. Ignatius Parish near Boston.
Simon Zachary, 32, graduated from Brophy College Prep in Phoenix and earned a bachelor's in business administration from Gonzaga University. He worked for Microsoft's advertising division in operations and account management. He was inspired by the sense of humor and desire to succeed of East African refugees while teaching citizenship/ESL classes to them for a 5-year period. He said his entry into the Jesuits was a gentle tug spanning from Gonzaga through his corporate career.