August 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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East Province

Fr. Sean Hagerty, SJ

Vocation Promoter

The USA East Province is one of the five provinces in the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, incorporating Eastern part of the United States from Maine to Georgia and the District of Columbia. Jesuits from the UEA Province also live and serve in Micronesia and Fiji. The province includes colleges & universities like the College of the Holy Cross and Georgetown University, high schools like Fordham Preparatory School and Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Baltimore, and a number of pre-secondary schools, parishes, retreat centers, and various other works.

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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West Province

Fr. Andrew Laguna, SJ

Vocation Promoter

The USA West Province is one of the five provinces in the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States. It comprises ten states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. Jesuits in the west are a diverse group of men who serve Christ and his Church in 19 educational institutions, 13 parishes, 2 retreat centers, and other social and pastoral ministries like Homeboy Industries, Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative (JRJI), Kino Border Initiative (KBI), Native American Missions, and Christus Ministries for young adults, to name a few.

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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Central South Province

Fr. Robert Murphy, SJ

Vocation Promoter

Fr. Robert Murphy, SJ, grew up in the suburbs of New Orleans, LA.  He met the Society of Jesus at Jesuit High School.  At the University of South Alabama in Mobile, he earned a Bachelors of Science in Physical Therapy.  While working as a staff physical therapist in Laurel, MS, he became a Certified Athletic Trainer.  In 2003, he entered the Jesuit novitiate in Grand Coteau, LA.  After taking first vows in 2005, he earned his Doctor of Physical Therapy at Saint Louis University while also studing philosophy.  In addition, he spent time in El Salvador studying Spanish.  While in regency at Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas, he served as director of campus ministry, a teacher of Spanish, and a coach of soccer.  In 2011, he was sent to Boston College where he earned a Masters in Divinity and License in Sacred Theology.  He was ordained a priest in 2014 and spent his first year at a bilingual parish in San Antonio, TX.  After he returned to Saint Louis University, to serve as the campus minister for health care students and coordinator of the retreat program.  After time Ireland and Kenya, he joined the vocations team in 2020.  He enjoys running as well as playing and watching sports.  He also likes traveling, cooking, and watching comic book movies and shows.

Central South Province

Fr. Joseph Hill, SJ

Vocation Promoter

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. 

Central South Province

Fr. Pepe Ruiz, SJ

Vocation Promoter

Fr. Pepe Ruiz, SJ, is originally from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. He came into contact with the Jesuits from across the border. His father’s Spiritual director was a Jesuit from the now UCS province. Fr. Ruiz, SJ holds a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Letters from St. Louis University, magna cum laude; and three Master’s degrees: a Masters in Divinity from Boston College, a Theology Masters focused on Spiritual Direction, from Boston College, and a Masters in Ignatian Spirituality from Universidad Pontificia Comillas in Madrid. He taught at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory, in Houston, and in St. Louis University High School. He was also a Vicar and a Pastor in Puerto Rico, where he helped start the Institute for Ignatian Formation, and served as the Regional Ecclesiastical Assistant to the Christian Life Community. He currently works as Assistant Director of the Office of Ignatian Spirituality for the province and has been a Vocation Promoter since 2021. Fr. Pepe enjoys a good movie and loves trying out different types of local coffee and ice-cream shops. He also enjoys outdoor walks in nature, hiking, and even rock climbing every once in a while. 

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

The U.S. Central and Southern Province is one of five provinces in the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States. The province encompasses 13 states from Florida to Colorado, the territory of Puerto Rico and the nation of Belize. We serve the people of God in seven retreat and spirituality centers and 14 parishes. We carry on the tradition of Jesuit education in six institutions of higher education, 12 secondary schools, a middle school and a social research institute.

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Canada Province

Fr. Edmund Lo, SJ

Vocation Promoter
Canada Province

Br. Dan Leckman, SJ

Vocation Promoter
Canada Province

Fr. John O'Brien, SJ

Vocation Director

The Province of Canada is one of the five Jesuit provinces in the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, incorporating all ten Canadian provinces and three territories. It includes Campion College in Regina, Loyola High School in Montreal, Manresa Jesuit Spiritual Renewal Centre in Pickering, and Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Toronto.

Fr. Edmund Lo, SJ, is the vocation promoter for the Canada Province and also Haiti. That means that Fr. Edmund is responsible for accompanying men who are discerning a life in the Society of Jesus. He’s been a Jesuit priest for two-plus years. Over the course of that time he’s mainly worked with young adults across Canada, busying himself with campus ministry in universities, directing retreats for young adults and giving workshops on Ignatian spirituality, particularly on St. Ignatius’ rules for discernment of spirits.

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.

Fr. John O’Brien, SJ, is the vocation director for the Canada Province. That means that Fr. O’Brien is responsible for guiding men who are discerning a life in the Society of Jesus through the application process. He’s been a Jesuit priest since 2017. Over the course of that time he’s given many Ignatian retreats to young adults and professionals across the country

These Jesuits are here to answer YOUR questions about Jesuit life! Submit your information, and one of them will get back to you ASAP.

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Midwest Province

Br. Matt Wooters, SJ

Vocation Promoter

Get in touch with Br. Matt. Send him an email.

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. 

Midwest Province

Fr. Bill Murphy, SJ

Vocation Promoter

Do you have a quick question? Text Fr. Bill  (616-294-0723) or send him an email.

Fr. Bill came to the vocation team five years ago after serving as president of Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland, Ohio. A proud native of Michigan, Fr. Bill considers himself a true Midwesterner having lived in Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Louisville, and Omaha. In his spare time Fr. Bill loves to read, watch hockey, play golf, and ride his bike.

Br. Matt and Fr. Bill accompany men discerning a life in the Society of Jesus, serving across the Midwest Province’s 12 states. They are passionate about sharing information on Jesuit life, answering questions, and accompanying young men in discernment. Submit your information, and they will get back to you ASAP.

The Midwest Province is one of the five provinces in the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States. It comprises twelve states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Midwest Jesuits work at high schools, retreat centers, parishes, universities, and other ministries. If you watch March Madness, you probably recognize Midwest Jesuit universities like Creighton, Marquette, Xavier, and Loyola Chicago.

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