November 5, 2015 — The Jesuit Conference, the organization that represents the Society of Jesus in Canada and the U.S., announced today that Father Sean Michaelson, SJ, has been named the Conference’s new Executive Secretary/Socius.
Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Jesuit Conference serves as the liaison to the Jesuits’ nine provinces in Canada and the U.S. and to the Jesuits’ headquarters in Rome, promoting common goals and overseeing international projects.
As Executive Secretary/Socius, Fr. Michaelson is charged with the day-to-day management of the Jesuit Conference office, whose staff is engaged in advocacy, international ministries, communications, finance, vocation promotion and Jesuit formation, among other endeavors.
Fr. Michaelson first met the Jesuits as a high school student at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix. As an undergraduate at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Fr. Michaelson began considering a vocation to the Society of Jesus, but after graduating in 1991, decided to continue his discernment while earning a master’s in English at Boston College. As a doctoral student at Arizona State University, what was once a “crazy idea that wouldn’t go away” became a calling, and Fr. Michaelson entered the Jesuits as a novice in 1996.
At Fordham University in New York, he earned a master’s in philosophy while writing the dissertation for his Ph.D. A scholar in 18th-century British and Irish satire, Fr. Michaelson next served as a professor of English at the University of San Francisco. Then assigned to Regis College at the University of Toronto for theology studies, Fr. Michaelson earned a Master of Divinity degree, a Licentiate in Sacred Theology and a master’s in theology. Returning to the University of San Francisco in 2008, Fr. Michaelson served as the director of the St. Ignatius Institute, professor of English and chair of the English Department. In 2012, he was named formation director for the California and Oregon Province Jesuits, responsible for the training of the provinces’ men preparing to be Jesuit brothers and priests.
Although Fr. Michaelson traveled to Africa, Asia and Europe visiting Jesuits in formation assigned overseas, his heart belongs to the small Irish village of Rostrevor, near where his mother was born, and where he often returns to help out the parish priest. Of his life in the Society, Fr. Michaelson says, “I never could have imagined how interesting my life could be. It’s a blessing to do the work we do — to enter into people’s lives.”
Father Timothy Kesicki, SJ, president of the Jesuit Conference, is pleased to welcome Fr. Michaelson back to Washington. “Sean has a great love for the Society and a special care for all of the behind-the-scenes efforts that enable us to live our mission so effectively. He brings so many gifts to his work with us — his intellect, energy and passion — and we’re excited to have him on board.”