agosto 3, 2020
Fr. Joe Laramie, SJ

“Ok, Ignatius, What Now?” Looking to the Spiritual Exercises for Guidance


Beep, beep, beep. Thunk.

The rear red lights flashed twice on my rented red minivan as the back hatch latched shut. Everything I owned was piled inside. I’m a Jesuit, with a vow of poverty — so I don’t technically own anything. Still, snow boots and t-shirts were jammed into brown cardboard boxes next to frisbees, books on St. Augustine and Cardinals baseball pennants.

As a Jesuit, I’ve moved many times. I’ve lived in 10 cities in 20 years — including Boston, Kansas City (twice), Denver and Punta Gorda in Belize. Packing up and moving out is always an emotional experience. My excitement and anxiety about the new gig are mingled with gratitude and sorrow about leaving my current job. My emotions swirled even faster this time: In the midst of a pandemic, I’d be leaving my hometown and moving to a city I’d never lived in.

Fr. Laramie (right) with Fr. Armel Setubi, SJ, loading the red minivan.


My parents came over for a final social-distanced coffee. We sat in the backyard of my redbrick Jesuit house near Saint Louis University. While I’ve lived in many places, St. Louis has always been home. My whole family lives here. My sister is married with three young kids; I’m “Unkie Joe” when I have lunch with them or attend my nephew’s soccer games. I am also finishing up one of my favorite assignments, serving as a campus minister at SLU, my alma mater.

I sat with my parents in lawn chairs under a shade tree, out of the summer sun. I needed to go soon. I wanted to get on the road to arrive in Wisconsin before it was dark. I’d begin a 14-day quarantine the next morning.

“Well, great seeing you guys,” I said. How do you say goodbye in the coronavirus era? Fist bump mom and nod to dad?

“I don’t care what the rules are, I’m giving you a hug and a kiss,” Mom said. She did. I smiled. After promises to call, and to drive safely, and not to text and drive, and to call (again) — I got into the van. I pulled out of the alley and onto the road.

Shortly after Christmas, I learned that I would be getting a new assignment this summer. I was planning to tell the students right after spring break. Now how could I say goodbye?

I made some great connections with students during my time at SLU. And then, in mid-March, they all disappeared. The virus meant that all classes would be online for the remainder of the semester. All students needed to move out of university housing as soon as possible.

I’ve flipped through my dog-eared copy of St. Ignatius Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises many times during this pandemic. I’ve had it since I made my first 30-day silent retreat as a Jesuit novice in 2001. In mid-March, I asked, “Ok, Iggy, what now?”

I looked over his words “for a time of desolation.” Ignatius sees that desolation comes from the evil spirit. This spirit causes “gnawing anxiety to sadden and to set up obstacles.” One is “listless, tepid, unhappy, and feels separated from the Lord.”

Yep, all true. A good summary of my emotional state. This is not how I planned out my final semester of college ministry. So what should I do now, Ignatius?

“Remain firm and constant in the resolution and decision which guided us the day before the desolation.” Ok. Good advice.

I love connecting with students and sharing spiritual life with them. I was doing that in January and February. I had to look for new ways to do this. I felt that Christ would use this experience, somehow, to prepare me for my next assignment.

As a campus minister, I loved wandering around SLU chatting with kids in the quad, in the dining hall and after Mass. Friendly conversations in the residence halls have now become phone calls. Evening Masses became Ignatian reflections on Zoom. Homilies became Instagram videos. Not perfect and not ideal. “Remain firm and constant.”

Christ led me to SLU and still had work for me to do. Christ was also preparing me for my new assignment — directing the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (formerly known as the Apostleship of Prayer) in North America, based in Milwaukee.

These days, we’re all looking for connections. Our relationships and our faith communities have been altered, separated, and changed. Christ brings us something deeper than connections: communion with him and his people.

Before COVID-19, I’d never run a virtual prayer group. Now I have. That’s a good thing, because that’s what the pope wants me to do! I’ve got two new young adult groups set to meet next month. And we’ll be rolling out some short videos on Fridays. Our website,, has info and resources.

How can I say goodbye? Maybe I don’t have to. Jesus is firm and constant in his resolution. He is not quarantined. The risen Lord passes through locked doors and speaks to his friends: us! The Holy Spirit unites us in worldwide communion with Christ.

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Provincia Del Este

Fr. Sean Hagerty, SJ

Promotor vocacional

La Provincia del Este de los Estados Unidos es una de las cinco provincias de la Conferencia Jesuita de Canadá y los Estados Unidos, que incorpora la parte oriental de los Estados Unidos desde Maine hasta Georgia y el distrito de Columbia. Los jesuitas de esta provincia también viven y sirven en Micronesia y Fiji. La provincia incluye colegios y universidades como College of the Holy Cross y Georgetown University, escuelas secundarias como Fordham Preparatory School y Cristo Rey Jesuit High School en Baltimore, y una serie de escuelas pre-secundarias, parroquias, centros de retiro y varias otras obras.

Fr. Sean Hagerty, SJ, is the vocation promoter for the UEA Province. That means that Fr. Hagerty is responsible for accompanying men who are discerning a life in the Society of Jesus. He joined the Jesuits in 2012, after having served in the U.S. army. He has ministered in prisons, campus ministries and hospitals, and conducted research into just war, moral injury and the reintegration of soldiers into the Catholic community. He was just ordained a priest in 2022.

Fr. Hagerty is happy to answer YOUR questions about Jesuit life!  Feel free to email him directly at, or better yet, submit your information on the above form and someone from Fr. Hagerty’s team will get back to you ASAP. 

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Provincia Del Oeste

Fr. Andrew Laguna, SJ

Promotor vocacional

La Provincia del Oeste de Estados Unidos es una de las cinco provincias de la Conferencia Jesuita de Canadá y Estados Unidos. Comprende diez estados: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawái, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregón, Utah y Washington. Los jesuitas en el oeste son un grupo diverso de hombres que sirve a Cristo y a su Iglesia en 19 instituciones educativas, 13 parroquias, 2 centros de retiro y otros ministerios sociales y pastorales como Industrias Homeboy, la Iniciativa Jesuita de Justicia Restaurativa (JRJI por sus siglas en inglés), la Iniciativa Kino Border (KBI), las Misiones Nativas Americanas y el Ministerio de Cristo para adultos jóvenes, por nombrar solo algunos.

Fr. Andrew Laguna, SJ, is the vocation promoter for the US West Province. That means that he is responsible for accompanying men who are discerning a life in the Society of Jesus. He has been a Jesuit for thirteen years and a priest for two years. Over the course of that time he has taught high school theology and coached running; worked and traveled with Jesuits in Latin America; and served as a parochial vicar at parishes in San Diego and San Jose, CA.

Fr. Andrew is here to answer your questions about Jesuit life! Submit your information, and he will get back to you as soon as possible.

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Provincia Central Y Sur

Fr. Juan Ruiz, SJ

Promotor vocacional

Fr. Juan Ruiz, SJ, was born in Baltimore, MD, to a Dominican mother and a Cuban-American father. As the proud child of two Hispanic parents he grew up in Memphis, TN, speaking Spanish at home and visiting family abroad in the summers. He came to know the Jesuits through an uncle in Dominican Republic who was himself a Jesuit priest. Juan graduated with a B.S. in Business Administration from Saint Louis University and worked for one year as an IT Consultant in Saint Louis, MO, before entering the Society of Jesus. After taking first vows in 2013, he completed a Masters in Social Philosophy at Loyola University Chicago while teaching middle school religion on the side. For regency, he spent three years teaching Spanish at Cristo Rey Jesuit in Houston, TX. He was missioned to study theology at Regis College in Toronto and completed an M.Div. in three years. He was ordained a priest the summer of 2022 and spent the subsequent year working as an assistant pastor at Gesú Church in Miami, FL. He joined the vocation promotion team in 2023. Fr. Juan loves that people are people. He enjoys all sorts of ministry. In his downtime, he enjoys exercising, reading, movies, and spending time with friends.

Provincia Central Y Sur

Fr. Joseph Hill, SJ

Promotor vocacional

Fr. Joseph Hill, SJ, was born in Phoenix, AZ, the third of four sons of an American mother and a Canadian father. At nine years old he moved to England. He met the Jesuits in high school at Stonyhurst College. He attended the University of Oxford, earning a degree in theology in 2003. In 2004 he entered the Jesuit novitiate in south Louisiana. After taking first vows in 2006, he studied a Master’s in philosophy at Fordham University in New York. For regency, he then spent three years teaching theology at Jesuit High School, New Orleans. In 2012 he was sent to study theology at FAJE in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, earning a master’s degree in 2014. He returned to Boston, MA, earning a MEd at Boston College in 2015. He was ordained a Catholic priest on June 13th, 2015. For one year he was associate pastor at Parroquia San Ignacio in San Juan, Puerto Rico and chaplain of the parish elementary school. From 2016 to 2021 he taught theology and directed campus ministry at St. Louis University High School in St. Louis. He joined the vocation promotion team in 2021. Fr. Joseph loves teaching, giving retreats and leading pilgrimages to holy sites. In his free time he enjoys reading, playing sports, hanging out with friends, and travelling to exotic places. 

Provincia Central Y Sur

Fr. Michael Wegenka, SJ

Promotor vocacional

Fr. Michael Wegenka, SJ, was born in Midland, Michigan, lived briefly in Carmel, Indiana, and grew up in Katy, Texas. He attended Strake Jesuit College Preparatory school and entered the Society of Jesus when he was 18. He received a B.A. in Philosophy and English Literature from Fordham University in 2011. He taught British Literature and Sacred Scripture to sophomores at Regis Jesuit High School in Centennial, Colorado for three years and then received an M.Div. from Boston College in 2017. He completed an S.T.L. in Historical/Systematic Theology at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and was ordained a priest in 2018. After spending a year as an associate pastor at St. Charles Borromeo parish in Grand Coteau, Louisiana, he served for three years as the Pastoral Director at his alma mater, Strake Jesuit College Preparatory in Houston. He became a vocation promoter in 2022 and now lives in Denver. He enjoys reading and discussing a Catholic novel, skiing, beating his older brother’s time in half-marathons, and spending as much time as possible near the Great Lakes or the mountains of Colorado and Wyoming.

They are ready to answer your questions about Jesuit life. Submit your information, and Fr. Ruiz, Fr. Hill and Fr. Wegenka will get back to you as soon as possible.

La Provincia Central y Sur de Estados Unidos es una de las cinco provincias de la Conferencia Jesuita de Canadá y Estados Unidos. La provincia abarca 13 estados desde Florida hasta Colorado, el territorio de Puerto Rico y la nación de Belice. Servimos al pueblo de Dios en siete centros de retiro y espiritualidad, y en 14 parroquias. Continuamos la tradición de la educación jesuita en seis instituciones de educación superior, 12 escuelas secundarias, una escuela media y un instituto de investigación social.

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Provincia De Canadá

P. Edmund Lo, SJ

Promotor vocacional
Provincia De Canadá

Br. Dan Leckman, SJ

Promotor vocacional
Provincia De Canadá

P. John O'Brien, SJ

Director de vocaciones

La Provincia de Canadá es una de las cinco provincias jesuitas en la Conferencia Jesuita de Canadá y los Estados Unidos, y que incluye las diez provincias canadienses y tres territorios. Aquí están incorporadas: Campion College en Regina, Loyola High School en Montreal, Manresa Jesuit Spiritual Renewal Center en Pickering, y Our Lady of Lourdes Parish en Toronto.

El P. Edmund Lo, SJ, es promotor vocacional de la Provincia de Canadá y también de Haití. Eso significa que el P. Edmund es el responsable de acompañar a los hombres que están discerniendo una vida en la Compañía de Jesús. Ha sido sacerdote jesuita durante más de dos años. En ese tiempo trabajó principalmente con adultos jóvenes en todo Canadá, ocupándose de la pastoral universitaria en las universidades, dirigiendo retiros para adultos jóvenes y ofreciendo talleres sobre la espiritualidad ignaciana, particularmente, sobre las reglas de San Ignacio para el discernimiento de los espíritus.

Brother Dan Leckman, SJ is a vocation promoter for the Canadian province. That means that Daniel is responsible for accompanying men who are discerning a life in the Society of Jesus. He’s been a Jesuit Brother for 10 years. Over the course of that time he’s acted as spiritual director, has run and developed retreats, and has taught catechism to children and adults. Daniel is here to answer YOUR questions about Jesuit life! Submit your information, and he will get back to you ASAP.

El P. John O’Brien, SJ, es el director de vocaciones de la provincia de Canadá. Eso significa que es el responsable de guiar a los hombres que están discerniendo una vida en la Compañía de Jesús a través del proceso de admisión. Es sacerdote jesuita desde 2017. A lo largo de ese tiempo ha impartido muchos retiros ignacianos a jóvenes adultos y profesionales de todo el país.

¡Estos jesuitas están aquí para responder TUS preguntas sobre la vida de los jesuitas! Envía tus datos de contacto y uno de ellos se comunicará contigo lo antes posible.

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Estamos emocionados por see you.

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Provincia Del Medio Oeste

Br. Matt Wooters, SJ

Promotor vocacional

Get in touch with Br. Matt. Send him an email. Or, text him: (773) 236-2497. 

Br. Matt Wooters, SJ is a native of Washington, DC. He joined the Jesuits in 2012 after graduating from John Carroll University. After college, he served for two years with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Belize. His graduate degrees are in Social Work and Theology from Saint Louis University and Santa Clara University, respectively. Br. Matt has spent most of his life working with folks experiencing homelessness, migrants, and those struggling with addiction. He is an open water swimmer, a sometimes podcaster, and a lover of stand-up comedy. 

Provincia Del Medio Oeste

Fr. Eric Immel, SJ

Promotor vocacional

Do you have a quick question? Text Fr. Eric  (320) 433 – 3322 or send him an email.

Fr. Eric was ordained a priest in June of 2022, and his first assignment is working with the vocation team for the Midwest Province. A native of Green Bay, WI, Eric’s Jesuit life has taken him to Boston, Chicago, and St. Paul. He’s studied Education, Philosophy, and Theology at the graduate level, and is currently working toward a degree in Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University in New Orleans, LA. In his free time, he enjoys exercise, reading and writing, playing the drums, singing, and watching sitcoms (especially Brooklyn 99, New Girl, and Parks & Recreation). In the past year, he picked up two new hobbies: Spikeball and squash.

Br. Matt and Fr. Eric accompany men considering a life in the Society of Jesus, serving across 12 states in the Midwest. They are passionate about sharing information on Jesuit life, answering questions, and accompanying people in discernment. Reach out, and they’ll get back to you ASAP.

La Provincia del Medio Oeste es una de las cinco provincias de la Conferencia Jesuita de Canadá y Estados Unidos. Comprende doce estados: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Dakota del Norte, Ohio, Dakota del Sur, Wisconsin y Wyoming. Los jesuitas del Medio Oeste trabajan en escuelas secundarias, centros de retiro, parroquias, universidades y otros ministerios. Si sigues el “March Madness”, probablemente reconozcas a las universidades jesuitas del Medio Oeste como Creighton, Marquette, Xavier y Loyola Chicago.

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