Meet the Newest Priests from the California and Oregon Provinces

Five men from diverse backgrounds and life experiences have answered God’s call and will be ordained as the newest priests of the California and Oregon provinces at a Mass at Blessed Sacrament Church in Hollywood on June 8. The five are part of a larger group of 16 men who will be ordained as Jesuit priests in the U.S. this summer.

Fr. Glen Butterworth, S.J., 42, was born in Germany and grew up traveling the world. The son of intelligence officers, Fr. Butterworth moved many times before graduating from high school in suburban Washington, D.C., in 1988.

Fr. Butterworth studied art history at John Cabot University in Rome and then returned to the U.S. to attend Frostburg State University in Western Maryland, earning a bachelor’s degree in international economics in 1993. Recruited by the Clinton Administration, he served as a governmental relations officer, but later returned to art and moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he worked in a Native American gallery and powwow supply shop while exploring graduate studies.

After a stint at a glass blowing studio in New Orleans, Fr. Butterworth relocated to Seattle and explored life as a bartender before accepting a position in the telecommunications industry. After recovering from a serious illness, he moved to rural China to teach English. Through it all, he was actively discerning God’s call to the fullness of life and how best to integrate desires for creativity and service into a life of meaningful love.

In 2001, he entered the Society of Jesus after finding poetic resonance with the Northwest Jesuits. After the novitiate, Fr. Butterworth was missioned to Fordham University in New York, where he earned a master’s degree in philosophy while studying conflict resolution at Columbia University. For regency, he was assigned to manage student conduct and discipline at Seattle University and later served as vocation promoter.

Fr. Butterworth earned a master of divinity degree at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley while serving as deacon at Most Holy Redeemer Church in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood. Following ordination, he will return to Seattle and the people of St. Joseph Parish.

Fr. Phillip A. Ganir, S.J., 36, was born in Seattle and raised in Hawaii. The son of Filipino immigrants, Fr. Ganir attended Damien Memorial School in Honolulu, graduating in 1994. At the University of Hawaii, he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and Asian studies in 1999. Shortly after graduation, Fr. Ganir entered the Society of Jesus. His vocation was in part inspired by the selfless actions of Jesuits who supported what came to be known as the Philippine “People Power” Revolution of 1986.

Following the novitiate, Fr. Ganir completed philosophy studies at Fordham University in New York, earning a master’s degree in philosophy in 2004. An accomplished vocalist, he also studied at the Manhattan School of Music, earning a bachelor’s degree in voice. For his regency assignment, Fr. Ganir taught music, English and theology at Jesuit High School in Sacramento. Asked to help in developing the choral program at the school, Fr. Ganir, who started singing in his home parish at the age of 7, helped his students discover God through all types of music—from the Beach Boys to Bach.

In 2010, Fr. Ganir was missioned to the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, where he earned a master of divinity degree while serving as a deacon at Most Holy Trinity Church in San Jose. Throughout his years of formation, Fr. Ganir has been engaged in a number of ministries, including hospital and prison chaplaincy and spiritual direction.

In addition to conducting choirs at the high school, college, and parish levels, he has performed and produced a variety of religious music, including a vocal recital of Jesuit-themed music. Following ordination, Fr. Ganir will serve as associate pastor at St. Ignatius Loyola Church in Sacramento.

Fr. Matthew J. Kunkel, S.J., 33, was born and raised in Bremerton, Wash. He attended Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic grammar school and South Kitsap Public High School, graduating in 1998. For two years, Fr. Kunkel studied at a local community college in Bremerton, washing dishes and waiting tables to pay the bills before transferring to Gonzaga University. At Gonzaga, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Latin American studies in 2002.

Although Fr. Kunkel had begun considering a vocation as far back as high school, his time at Gonzaga helped him realize that he was being called to serve as a Jesuit priest. The summer after he graduated from college, he entered the Society of Jesus and made first vows in Portland in 2004.

Missioned to Saint Louis University, he studied philosophy, theology and studio art. For his regency assignment, Fr. Kunkel taught religion and church history at St. Andrew Nativity School in Portland. In 2009, he was missioned to the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, where he earned a master of divinity degree.

Fluent in Spanish, Fr. Kunkel studied in Colombia during the summer of 2008. Last summer he participated in a five-week journey along the migration corridor, the Central American route typically traveled by those fleeing poverty and seeking opportunity in the United States.

During his years of formation, Fr. Kunkel also traveled to Indonesia for a three-week immersion program and taught Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) classes to those interested in converting to Catholicism. This summer, he will serve at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Missoula, Mont,, and return to Berkeley to complete a licentiate in sacred theology in the fall.

Fr. E. Joseph O’Keefe, S.J., 48, was born and raised in Boston. His family belonged to St. Theresa of Avila Parish in his home neighborhood of West Roxbury. He attended the parish grammar school and graduated from Catholic Memorial High School there in 1982.

Fr. O’Keefe, who had considered a vocation to the priesthood from an early age, attended Saint John’s Seminary in Brighton, Mass., earning a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 1990. Even before his time in the seminary, Fr. O’Keefe began working in Massachusetts state government, the beginning of a public policy career he pursued with distinction for more than two decades. In addition to serving as a legislative aide, the chief of staff for a state senator and as a senior staff member for the president of the Boston City Council, Fr. O’Keefe also worked for the Massachusetts Department of Economic Development.

While rising through the ranks of state government, Fr. O’Keefe earned his master of business administration from Suffolk University in Boston while continuing to discern a vocation. At the Jesuit Urban Center in Boston, he came to know and appreciate Ignatian spirituality and the Jesuits’ multifaceted ministry. In 2006, while serving as chief of staff to the Massachusetts secretary of environmental affairs, Fr. O’Keefe entered the Society of Jesus.

After his time in the novitiate, Fr. O’Keefe was missioned to Loyola High School of Los Angeles where he taught AP government and politics from 2008 to 2010. Missioned next to the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, Fr. O’Keefe earned a master of divinity degree while also pursuing a master’s degree in education at the University of San Francisco and serving as a deacon at Santa Maria Parish in Orinda, Calif. Following ordination, he will serve for the summer at St. Ignatius of Loyola Church at Boston College and return to California in the fall for an administrative position at Loyola High School.

Fr. Robert W. Stephan, S.J., 40, is a native of Cincinnati. The oldest of five, Fr. Stephan attended Covington Latin in Kentucky, a small Catholic high school across the river from his hometown. At Cincinnati’s Xavier University, Fr. Stephan earned a bachelor’s degree in history in 1995. Although he was baptized at Xavier’s Bellarmine Chapel, Fr. Stephan’s time as a college student at Xavier was his first real exposure to Jesuits in the classroom, and seeing that combination of vocation and avocation opened his eyes to a new way of looking at the priesthood.

Following his graduation from Xavier, Fr. Stephan studied in Austria and earned a master’s degree in history from UCLA in 1998. While earning a law degree at the University of California, Berkeley, Fr. Stephan became active with the Newman Center on campus. Following his 2002 law school graduation, Fr. Stephan entered the Society of Jesus and was missioned to Loyola University Chicago, earning a master’s degree in pastoral studies in 2007.

For his regency assignment, Fr. Stephan taught theology and history for one year at Verbum Dei High School, a Cristo Rey school serving boys in the Watts section of Los Angeles. For the next two years, he taught history to undergraduates at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles while also teaching a course at the university’s law school.

In 2010, Fr. Stephan was missioned to the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry where he earned a master of divinity degree while serving as a deacon at St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Brookline, Mass. During his time in formation, Fr. Stephan has worked with the Ignatian Spirituality Project, which provides retreats for homeless men and women, and Contemplative Leaders in Action, an Ignatian leadership program for young professionals. Following ordination, Fr. Stephan will do pastoral work at a parish in Cincinnati this summer before being missioned to the Loyola Institute for Spirituality in Orange, Calif., as the new program director.

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June 30, 2020 — Fr. Frank Buckley, SJ, clinical director of the Center at Blessed Sacrament, the Jesuit parish in Hollywood, shares how the parish has responded to the pandemic.

June 25, 2020 — Fr. Chris Corbally, SJ, an astronomer at the Vatican Observatory in Arizona, now has an asteroid named for him.

June 24, 2020 — Dr. Fauci explains how his Jesuit education helped prepare him for his work in public health.

June 23, 2020 — Jack Krouse, SJ, of Jesuits West, was ordained to the diaconate at Saint Ignatius Church in Paris on June 20.

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