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A Jesuit’s Journey Reflections

Fr. Dennis Ahern, SJ
Dennis Ahern, SJ
Born: October 14, 1938 | Entrance: August 8, 1957 | Ordination: June 11, 1970 | Final Vows: May 1, 1976 | Died: June 13, 2023

The call to ministry for Fr. Dennis “Denny” Ahern, SJ, can be traced to his days at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati. “I could not help but notice that the Jesuits, who worked very hard, also laughed a lot and enjoyed so much about their lives – like playing basketball on gym nights.”

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Walter Bado, SJ
Born: December 6, 1928 | Entrance: September 1, 1946  |  Ordination: July 31, 1959  |  Final Vows: February 2, 1964

While attending Chicago’s Saint Ignatius College Prep, Fr. Bado recalls being surrounded by wonderful people, and he began to admire the young Jesuits. Soon his interest in the Society of Jesus became more evident.

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Fr. Joseph Bracken, SJ
Joseph Bracken, SJ
Born: March 22, 1930 | Entrance: August 18, 1949 | Ordination: June 10, 1962 | Final Vows: February 2, 1967

Ask someone who has benefited from a Jesuit education or ministry about the Society of Jesus’ contribution to the world, and you’ll often hear answers like “Jesuits form men and women for others,” and “they serve God by caring for and seeking justice for people on the margins.” But we don’t always give thought to how the Jesuits themselves benefit from being in the Society.

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Fr. Casey Bukala, SJ
Casey Bukala, SJ
Born: July 14, 1931 | Entrance: September 1, 1958 | Ordination: June 14, 1966 | Final Vows: September 7, 1975 | Died: October 23, 2019

It was a homecoming fifty years in the making. In 2016, Fr. Casey Bukala, SJ, moved to the Colombiere Center near Detroit, where elder Jesuits live in community, receive the healthcare they need, and pray for the Church and the Society. It was not Fr. Bukala’s first time at Colombiere, however.

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Fr. Bill Burke, SJ
Bill Burke, SJ
Born: January 2, 1935 | Entrance: September 1, 1959 | Ordination: May 29, 1969 | Final Vows: February 2, 1976 | Died: September 2, 2016

Father Bill Burke, SJ, has embodied the Jesuit characteristic of appreciating all creation as a gift from God for more than 50 years - most markedly in his ministry in Alaska and Montana.

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Fr. Thomas Caldwell, SJ
Thomas Caldwell, SJ
Born: January 24, 1926  |  Entrance: August 8, 1943 | Ordination: June 20, 1956 | Final Vows: August 15, 1960

Fr. Caldwell has been a Jesuit for 73 years. His mission has consistently been to be helpful.

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Frank Canfield, SJ
Frank Canfield, SJ
Born: February 1, 1936  |  Entrance: September 1, 1954  |  Ordination: June 14, 1967  |  Final Vows: August 15, 1976 | Died: May 6, 2023

Throughout his life as a Jesuit, Fr. Frank Canfield, SJ, has often faced a dilemma: be where he wants to be, or go where God calls him to go. His decision has made all the difference.

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Fr. Gene Carmichael, SJ
Gene Carmichael, SJ
Born: July 6, 1941  |  Entrance: September 1, 1963 | Ordination: June 7, 1973 | Final Vows: November 13, 1981

Father Carmichael is most associated with Xavier University in Cincinnati, where he worked for 36 years in many roles. But two state correctional institutions were the setting where he most dramatically lived out Jesus' call in Matthew 25.

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Fr. James Creighton, SJ
James (Jim) Creighton, SJ
Born: April 19, 1930  |  Entrance: August 21, 1947 | Ordination: June 12, 1960 | Final Vows: February 2, 1965

For Fr. James (Jim) Creighton, SJ, the desire to know God’s will began in Chicago. “As a teenager at Saint Ignatius College Prep, I viewed the priesthood as a vocation ‘higher’ than any other way of life,” he recalls. “Later, as a novice in the Society of Jesus at Milford, Ohio, it became obvious that there is a higher way of life, regardless of occupation or vocation. And that is seeking the will of God.”

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Fr. Francis Daly, SJ
Francis Daly, SJ
Born: May 6, 1941 | Entrance: August 8, 1959 | Ordination: June 8, 1972 | Final Vows: May 14, 1978

As a Jesuit, Fr. Francis Daly has studied and taught the Spiritual Exercises to countless Jesuits and laypeople during his career, introducing them to Jesus and deepening their relationship with the Lord.

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Fr. Eugene "Dutch" Dutkiewicz, SJ
Eugene (“Dutch”) Dutkiewicz, SJ
Born: June 4, 1931  |  Entrance: August 15, 1948 | Ordination: June 15, 1961 | Final Vows: February 2, 1966  |  Died: January 24, 2021

Over the course of two decades of teaching chemistry and math and serving as assistant principal and principal at Campion Jesuit and Creighton Prep, Fr. Eugene (“Dutch”) Dutkiewicz, SJ, influenced many hundreds of students for the better.

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Fr. Joseph (Joe) Eagan
Joseph F. (Joe) Eagan, SJ
Born: October 29, 1922  |  Entrance: September 1, 1940 | Ordination: June 17, 1953 | Final Vows: August 15, 1956 | Died: December 20, 2022

Teacher. Campus minister. Parish priest. Author. World traveler. Photographer. Mountain climber. These are just some of the words that describe Fr. Joe Eagan, SJ, during his 75 years as a Jesuit.

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Fr. Albert J. Fritsch, SJ
Albert Fritsch, SJ
Born: September 30, 1933 | Entrance: September 1, 1956 | Ordination: June 8, 1967 | Final Vows: August 15, 1973

While growing up, Fr. Al Fritsch, SJ, knew he wanted to be a scientist. He also thought “it would be nice to be a priest and a scientist at the same time.” Fortunately, while studying at Xavier University, he learned through the Jesuits there that he could do both.

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Frs. Haschka and Libens
Jonathan Haschka, SJ, and John Libens, SJ
Fr. Haschka: Born: March 18, 1945 | Entrance: August 14, 1963 | Ordination: June 20, 1975 | Final Vows: April 22, 1982 | Died: October 3, 2019 Fr. Libens: Born: September 28, 1939 | Entrance: August 14, 1957 | Ordination: June 6, 1970 | Final Vows: April 27, 1978

Does aging change your relationship with God? Does it transform your very identity? These are questions many people deal with at various points in their lives; for obvious reasons, more so in the senior years. And Jesuits are no different.

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Bob Hilbert, SJ
Born: March 25, 1926 | Entrance: August 8, 1943 | Ordination: June 18, 1956 | Final Vows: August 15, 1959 | Died: May 19, 2014

A desire to be a priest and a teacher made joining the Jesuits an ideal option for Fr. Bob Hilbert, SJ.

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Br. Jim Heidrick, SJ
Br. Jim Heidrick, SJ
Born: February 18, 1938 | Entrance: March 10, 1960 | Final Vows: November 6, 1971

From the age of ten, Br. Jim Heidrick, SJ, knew in his heart that he wanted to be a brother.

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Larry Jonas, SJ
Born: March 5, 1921 | Entrance: August 17, 1949 | Ordination: June 16, 1959 | Final Vows: August 15, 1962 | Died: June 5, 2015

A WWII veteran, Fr. Larry Jonas, SJ, traveled to Washington, D.C. in April 2012 for the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight. The trip offered a glimpse of what Heaven might be like.

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Jim King, SJ
Born: August 21, 1929 | Entrance: August 8, 1950 | Ordination: June 13, 1963 | Final Vows: April 30, 1977

He might have been a Trappist monk. Or an architect. Ultimately, discernment for his religious vocation led Fr. Jim King to the Society of Jesus.

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Fr. Bob Leiweke, SJ
Robert Leiweke, SJ
Born: December 5, 1927 | Entrance: August 8, 1945 | Ordination: June 18, 1958 | Final Vows: January 4, 1977 | Died: April 11, 2017

Approachable. Attentive. Authentic. Available. These words come up time and again when his fellow Jesuits describe Fr. Bob Leiweke, SJ.

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Fr. John Mace, SJ
John Mace, SJ
Born: May 1, 1937 | Entrance: August 17, 1955 | Ordination: June 27, 1968 | Final Vows: November 5, 1976 | Died: February 21, 2021

When Fr. John Mace, SJ, celebrated his golden jubilee while serving in the Philippines, Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, SJ, then Superior General of the Society of Jesus, delivered the homily and declared about the jubilarian, “50 years of journeying with the Lord—50 years of being polished into perfection!”

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Fr. Richard McCaslin, SJ
Richard McCaslin, SJ
Born: July 16, 1934 | Entrance: August 8, 1952 | Ordination: June 9, 1965 | Final Vows: August 15, 1973 | Died: May 13, 2014

Growing up in north Omaha as one of 13 children—six of whom entered religious lives—Fr. McCaslin “always wanted to be a priest.”

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Michael Morrison, SJ
Born: March 9, 1937 | Entrance: August 8, 1955 | Ordination: June 6, 1968 | Final Vows: February 2, 1977 | Died: May 24, 2018

A shy priest might not seem like a natural fit to lead a university, but Jesuit Fr. Michael Morrison’s gifts of warmth, sincerity, and good humor translated to a successful tenure as Creighton University’s longest-serving president.

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Fr. Jack Rainaldo, SJ
Jack Rainaldo, SJ
Born: March 4, 1929 | Entrance: August 17, 1951 | Ordination: June 16, 1964 | Final Vows: August 15, 1967 | Died: August 10, 2013

Father Jack Rainaldo, SJ, accomplished much in his 62 years as a Jesuit. He served others as teacher, retreat director, spiritual advisor, and a staunch advocate of the Catholic faith.

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Fr. Donald Rowe, SJ
Donald Rowe, SJ
Born: February 18, 1941 | Entrance: September 1, 1959 | Ordination: June 8, 1972 | Final Vows: February 2, 1981 | Died: December 11, 2021

Many of us grow out of our childhood career aspirations, but for Fr. Donald Rowe, SJ, those career aspirations were a vocation.

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Br. James Small, SJ
Br. James Small, SJ
Born: January 10, 1922 | Entrance: November 27, 1952 | Final Vows: February 2, 1963

On January 10, 2022, Br. James Small, SJ, turned 100 years old. Brother Small’s true legacy is the number of people who are living lives that are better just for having known him.

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Fr. John Staudenmaier, SJ
John Staudenmaier, SJ
Born: December 10, 1939 | Entrance: August 25, 1957 | Ordination: May 25, 1970 | Final Vows: December 3, 1982

At first, Fr. Staudenmaier was told by province leadership that he would most likely be doing his regency at Marquette University High School or in Argentina, where many young Jesuits were being missioned to at the time. But, in a twist of events, Fr. Staudenmaier was sent to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, which he says became an enormous turning point in his life.

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Fr. Jim Stoeger, SJ
Fr. Jim Stoeger, SJ
Born: August 4, 1946 Entrance: August 21, 1964  |  Ordination: June 9, 1974  |  Final Vows: May 31, 1984

Reflecting on my Jesuit vocation always leads me to the rightness of it. I can’t name a single time where I had some difficulty that frustrated me to the point where I questioned my Jesuit life.There is such wonder to this life, and it has turned out to be unquestionably right for me.

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Fr. Ed Sthokal, SJ
Ed Sthokal, SJ
Born: January 20, 1922 | Entrance: February 2, 1942 | Ordination: June 16, 1954 | Final Vows: August 15, 1958 | Died: October 23, 2019

Father Ed Sthokal, SJ, had never considered becoming a retreat director; he never even specifically trained for it. The plan for the young Jesuit was to teach English literature, perhaps go on to run a university department in the field. So how did he end up spending 58 years as a retreat director at Demontreville Retreat House in Lake Elmo, Minnesota?

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Fr. Walter Stohrer, SJ
Walter “Wally” Stohrer, SJ
Born: February 13, 1930 | Entrance: August 8, 1947 | Ordination: July 26, 1960 | Final Vows: September 8, 1980 | Died: July 14, 2018

On the day Fr. Walter “Wally” Stohrer, SJ, was ordained a priest, the renowned theologian Fr. Karl Rahner, SJ told him, “You have just made the most important decision of your life. Now you must decide every day for the rest of your life what kind of priest you are going to be.”

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Fr. George Sullivan, SJ
George Sullivan, SJ
Born: May 24, 1944 | Entrance: September 1, 1962 | Ordination: June 13, 1975 | Final Vows: September 25, 1983

More than 50 years later, Fr. George Sullivan’s memories of what inspired him to enter the Jesuits are marked by humor.

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Fr. John "Jack" Wambach, SJ
John “Jack” Wambach, SJ
Born: September 21, 1933 | Entrance: August 8, 1951 | Ordination: June 16, 1964 | Final Vows: August 15, 1967 | Died: September 15, 2016

“It’s not how much you do, but who you are, that’s important.” This was a hard lesson for Fr. John “Jack” Wambach, SJ to learn.

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