Meet the Newly Ordained Priests of 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 St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parish in Spokane on June 11. Spokane Bishop Thomas Anthony Daly was the chief celebrant and homilist of the Mass. More than 100 Jesuit priests and brothers were in attendance along with the ordinands’ family and friends to welcome and support the newest priests. The seven men are part of a larger group of 20 men ordained as Jesuit priests in the U.S., Canada, and Haiti this summer.

Father Patrick N. Couture, SJ, 34, was born in Wenatchee, Wash., and grew up in the nearby town of Quincy. He attended Quincy High School, where he played golf, a pursuit he still enjoys. In 2000, Fr. Couture graduated from both Quincy High and Big Bend Community College in Moses Lake, Wash., as part of an accelerated program where students receive a high school diploma and an associate degree. He matriculated on to Carroll College in Helena, Mont., where he also worked parttime at the Helena Regional Airport and was employed at a local brewery as an assistant to the brewmaster, utilizing his knowledge of homebrewing.

In 2004, Fr. Couture earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature as well as a bachelor’s in English writing with a focus on creative writing. For the next two years, Fr. Couture traveled through Europe and then worked for his father’s heating and air conditioning business. While applying for graduate school, he revisited his childhood idea of becoming a priest and explored joining the Jesuits at the suggestion of a friend. He ultimately entered the Society of Jesus in 2007 and, as a Jesuit novice, taught as a substitute at Jesuit High School in Portland, an experience he treasured.

The opening procession into St. Aloysius Parish in Spokane.

Missioned next to Regis College at the University of Toronto, he earned a diploma in philosophical studies in 2011. Returning to Jesuit High for his next assignment, Fr. Couture taught theology, worked on retreats, and served as chaplain for several sports teams. In 2013, he 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 St. Ignatius Church in San Francisco. Additionally, he serves on the candidate review board for the Jesuit Novitiate in Culver City, Calif. Fr. Couture will pursue studies to earn his licentiate in sacred theology.

Father Francisco Javier Díaz Díaz, SJ, 42, a native of San José, Costa Rica, first heard the call to the priesthood when he was 10. He learned about the Jesuits, though, during his years as a Boy Scout, as Ignatian spirituality was very much a part of his scouting experience. As a high school student inspired by St. Francis Xavier’s life, Fr. Díaz wanted to become a missionary, but his parents encouraged him to continue his education. At the University of Costa Rica, he studied medicine, and during his third year, read foundational documents of the Society of Jesus, which greatly influenced his discernment.

After graduating from medical school in 1998, Fr. Díaz worked as a volunteer physician at a clinic for a year before embarking on a discernment journey where he met Jesuits in Central America, Mexico, and finally the United States. In 2002, he entered the Jesuits, and the Spiritual Exercises were the highlight of his novitiate experience. Missioned next to Loyola University Chicago, Fr. Díaz studied philosophy for two years while completing prerequisites required for a U.S. medical residency program. In 2006, he was missioned for three years to El Paso, Texas, where he completed his residency in family medicine at Texas Tech University.

As a family doctor working for Catholic Charities’ Spanish Catholic Center in Washington, D.C., Fr. Díaz served immigrants for three years. He also served as a clinical instructor for Georgetown University medical students and treated infertile couples with noninvasive reproductive medicine. Missioned in 2013 to the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, he studied theology, served as a deacon at the Spanish Mass at St. Columbkille Parish in Brighton, and volunteered with a free medical program at St. Anne’s Church in Shrewsbury. Father Díaz will complete his master of divinity degree at Boston College and looks forward to serving migrants both medically and spiritually.

Spokane Bishop Thomas Anthony Daly was the chief celebrant of the Ordination Mass.

Father Matthew R. Holland, SJ, 34, is a native of Seattle who attended Bellarmine Preparatory School in Tacoma, where he first encountered the Society of Jesus. Through his relationships with Jesuits during high school, Fr. Holland began thinking about a vocation and was considering entering the Society after high school, but the Jesuits encouraged him to attend college first. He went to Gonzaga University, earning a bachelor’s in history and a teaching certificate in 2004. At Gonzaga, he continued to discern his vocation to the Jesuits and became a novice after graduation.

As a novice, Fr. Holland spent a semester teaching at Gonzaga Preparatory School in Spokane. In 2006, he headed to Saint Louis University, where he received a master’s degree in history. Missioned next to his alma mater, Bellarmine Prep, Fr. Holland taught social studies and religion for three years, as well as coached freshman football, and track and field.

The laying of hands.

Going back to his high school as a Jesuit was a huge gift for Fr. Holland, and it gave him the opportunity to teach both his younger brother and sister. Next, he spent six months in Guatemala learning Spanish before going to the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia, for theology studies. Fr. Holland was thankful for the opportunity to study abroad, where he experienced the international Society and met the welcoming people of Colombia. He received a bachelor’s in sacred theology in December 2015 and then returned to the United States to continue studies at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley. He also served as a deacon at St. Ambrose Catholic Church in Berkeley, helping with the Spanish liturgies. Father Holland will work in parish ministry.

Father Andrew A. Rodriguez, SJ, 40, was born in the Philippines and immigrated to Los Angeles with his family when he was 15. He received an associate degree in nursing in 1996 from Glendale Community College and then earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies from California State University. He began considering religious life during nursing school, but decided he wanted to get some work experience first, so he taught public elementary school in Los Angeles for seven years, while also working on a master’s degree in school psychology from Azusa Pacific University. Father Rodriguez had been familiar with the Jesuits’ work in the Philippines, and because he was an educator, he thought the Society would be a good fit. He entered the Jesuits after completing his master’s degree in 2006. During the novitiate, he worked at a homeless shelter in Venice, Calif., taught psychology at St. Ignatius College Preparatory in San Francisco, and did prison ministry in Los Angeles and at San Quentin State Prison.

Father Rodriguez was then missioned to Loyola University Chicago, where he received a master’s degree in applied philosophy in 2011. Next, he returned to St. Ignatius College Prep for two years, teaching Scripture, ethics, and psychology. At the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, he earned a master of divinity degree, while also serving as a deacon at St. Agnes Church in San Francisco.

During his formation, Fr. Rodriguez had the opportunity to teach English to teachers in Xiamen, China; study Spanish in Uruguay and Guatemala; lead a student immersion group in El Salvador; and engage in interreligious dialogue with Muslim students in Indonesia. Father Rodriguez will serve at the Jesuit Retreat Center of Los Altos in California, where he looks forward to sharing the Spiritual Exercises and making them more accessible to a wide range of people.

The ordinands lay prostrate.

Father Daniel T. Spotswood, SJ, 33, one of nine children, was born in Mobile, Ala. Although he had thought about becoming a priest when he was just a boy, that idea was far from his mind while attending Montgomery Catholic High School. It was only when he returned to Mobile and met the Jesuits at Spring Hill College that Fr. Spotswood found a model of the priesthood that appealed to him deeply. He began taking history, theology, and philosophy classes while embracing his faith and forming friendships with Jesuits, who greatly influenced his vocation.

In 2005, Fr. Spotswood graduated with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary humanities and then continued discerning his vocation while serving in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest for a year. As a volunteer on the Colville Indian Reservation in Omak, Wash., he taught religion and reading at a Native American elementary school. His time working in native ministry was a powerful confirmation of his vocation, and Fr. Spotswood entered the Jesuits in 2006.

As a novice, he continued his work in native ministry in Alaska and Canada and taught at Gonzaga Preparatory School in Spokane, for several months. Missioned next to Regis College at the University of Toronto, he studied philosophy and anthropology for two years while working in native ministry at St. Ann’s Parish. In 2010, he was missioned back to Gonzaga Prep, where he taught theology for two years while serving as the school’s director of diversity and working with the rock climbing club, which helped inspire a new passion.

Missioned next to Guatemala for five months of intensive Spanish study, Fr. Spotswood attended the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia, where he earned a master’s degree in theology while working in a Fe y Alegría school in Soacha. His time in the Andes also allowed him to pursue his love for high-altitude mountain climbing, a sport that has taken him to 20,000 feet in treks to Peru and Ecuador. Father Spotswood will study social anthropology at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

Father George D. Teodoro, SJ, 36, hails from Renton, Wash., just south of Seattle. A classically trained competitive pianist, he played in the jazz and concert band in high school and was also a member of the swim team and an Eagle Scout. He first met the Jesuits at Seattle University and was immediately struck by how present they were in the lives of students. When he wasn’t studying, Fr. Teodoro sang in the liturgical choir, swam for the university team, and served as a retreat leader.

It was during a discernment retreat that the thought of a Jesuit vocation first entered his mind. After graduating in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in history, Fr. Teodoro put his vocational discernment on hold so he could study in Australia as a Rotary Scholar. When he returned to Seattle, he embarked on a career in real estate, but found that his call to the Jesuits was so strong that he applied and was accepted to the Society in 2005. As a novice, he worked at a L’Arche community, where people with and without intellectual disabilities live together as peers. At Fordham University, Fr. Teodoro earned a master’s in philosophy and, later, a master’s in history from the University of Toronto.

Missioned to Seattle Preparatory School for two years, he taught classics and Asian studies, worked in campus ministry and directed liturgical music. At the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, he earned a master of divinity degree while serving at St. Columba Parish in Oakland, where he was also the interim director of the church’s Gospel choir. His Jesuit formation has included language studies in Colombia and Indonesia, service to the elderly with Catholic Community Services in Seattle and studies in music composition. For the past year, Fr. Teodoro has taught history and art history at Verbum Dei High School in Los Angeles, where he will return after ordination.

The family of newly ordained Fr. Andrew Rodriguez, SJ, celebrates their special day.

Father Marc P. Valadao, SJ, 36, grew up in Fort Bragg, Calif., the only child of Portuguese immigrants. After graduating from high school in 1998, he crossed the country to attend Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Although Fr. Valadao had considered priesthood since he was a child, his time at Georgetown opened his heart to the possibility of a Jesuit vocation. After earning a bachelor’s degree in foreign service in 2002, he stayed in the nation’s capital for two years to work for the National Endowment for Democracy, while also discerning his vocation. At Syracuse University in New York, he earned a master’s degree in international relations with a focus on migration policy in Europe and also spent six months working for Jesuit Refugee Service in Brussels.

His discernment complete, Fr. Valadao entered the Jesuits in 2006 and taught world history and economics at St. Ignatius College Preparatory in San Francisco as a novice. At Fordham University, he earned a master’s in philosophical resources in 2011. He was then missioned to Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, where he taught Scripture, sacraments, and philosophy while serving as a junior varsity soccer coach, moderating the Broncos for Life club, and accompanying a group of students to World Youth Day in Brazil. Father Valadao considers his time at Brophy the most formative of his life as a Jesuit.

In 2013, he was missioned to Berkeley, to the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, where he earned a master of divinity and a bachelor of sacred theology while doing ministry at San Quentin State Prison and serving as a deacon both there and at Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Turlock, Calif. Father Valadao will work toward a licentiate in sacred scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. 

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