Personal Introduction

Welcome! My name is John Roselle, SJ, and I took lifelong ("perpetual") vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience as a Jesuit on August 13th, 2011 after a two-year novitiate. I am now a Jesuit Scholastic for the Wisconsin Province of the Society of Jesus. I will study philosophy and theology for the next three years at Loyola University in Chicago. At the same time, I will do part-time ministry in some capacity with the poor. After that, I will likely teach for three years before finishing three more years of theology. Then, God willing, I will be ordained a Roman Catholic Jesuit priest! It's a long road, but a blessed, fun, and enriching one. This blog exists as a resource for friends, family, and others who are interested in my progress through the Jesuit process of formation. Every day is its own adventure, and I am happy to have you along with me to share in this. This blog contains my own personal thoughts and should not be taken to speak for the entire Society of Jesus. Feel free to contact me. God bless you!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Jesuits' Statement on "Standing for the Unborn"

I am fresh from going with 40 John Carroll University students to the March for Life.  In case anyone is interested, here is a 12 page document of the Society of Jesus on the issue of abortion:

Friday, January 28, 2011

Think the Jesuits Aren't Fully Catholic? THINK AGAIN!

Pope Benedict XVI with the new Father General of the Society of Jesus (as of 2008), Fr. Adolfo Nicolas

There is a pervasive suspicion of Jesuits in many corners of the Church.  Sometimes I and my brothers (ones who FULLY support Church teaching) have been prematurely judged and treated coldly as if we may not.  This is sad, and points to the scandal of division in the Body of Christ.  Are we a perfect religious order?  No.  Is there such a thing as a perfect religious order?  Absolutely not.  From the beginning, God has chosen fallible people to do His work, and that hasn't changed. 

Have some Jesuits made mistakes and errors?  Yes, and that is unfortunate.  We have also apologized to the Holy Father in our general congregations, and Pope Benedict XVI has recently made it clear how much he supports and trusts us to continue to do what we can to help bring people to God.  If you would like to read this AWESOME address by our Holy Father, here is a link in its entirety:

Even though there can be a temptation toward anger at those who unfairly judge us because of our belonging to the Society of Jesus, we must bear this cross with graceful humility and try to be charitable toward them in return.  At the same time, I think it is valuable to boldly affirm that the Jesuits are at the full service of the Church.  In fact, when Jesuits take final vows, they take a Fourth Vow of complete obedience to the Pope in regard to missions. 

Young people interested in a religious vocation in the modern age generally want to be part of a religious order that is 100% in line with Church teaching, under the guidance of the successor of Peter, the Pope.  I know that I did not join the Jesuits in order to be any less faithful to the Pope, who I love with all my heart.

You Tube Video about Jesuit's Pro-Life Work

Per the post below, here is a short but good snippet about one Jesuit's pro-life activities.  This Jesuit, Fr. Phil Hurley, has quite a story to tell about his close encounters with the pain of abortion.  He is currently directing the young adult outreach of the Apostleship of Prayer, which promotes devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus:

Jesuit Pro-Life Homily

The word "passion" comes from the Latin meaning "to suffer."  To have a passion is to suffer for the good of something.  Among my many passions, perhaps the strongest is the cause of the unborn, who are killed at alarming rates of over 3,500 each day in America.  I just read that 90% of children diagnosed in the womb with down syndrome (sometimes erroneously) are aborted.  I am proud to be in the the Society of Jesus with pro-life Jesuit medical doctors, such as my dear novice brother, Dr. Kevin Embach who is teaching at Loyola Medical School this semester.  One of my hopes for my life in the Jesuits is to be able to support mothers and fathers to choose life for their children.  This is a homily that was preached for students of Jesuit high schools and universities that came to the March for Life this past weekend.

12 Things I LOVE About the Jesuit Way of Life

For some time, I have wanted to articulate part of what I love about the Jesuit way of life.  Jesuits are not perfect (nor is anyone or any religious order), but I deeply believe the Society of Jesus (the dream of St. Ignatius of Loyola) is of God.  Our former Father General Pedro Arrupe said, "The Jesuit vocation means going directly and radically to the Gospel and living its message fully, generously, and in this historic moment even heroically. It is not an easy life. It is a wonderful vocation. Everything for the greater glory of God: more is not possible."         
1.       A Life of Prayer:  Having an intimate, committed relationship with Jesus Christ is THE foundation of Jesuit life, and it is built in large part by undergoing St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises, a 30 day silent retreat during which Jesuit novices grow in deeper friendship with Jesus, a friendship by which we are strengthened throughout the rest of our Jesuit lives.
2.       A Life of Love: While it is true that loneliness is a part of ALL humans’ existence, I have found that the Jesuit life is far from lonely, but rather our life opens us up to receiving and giving chaste, appropriate love in countless ways and with countless persons.  Fr. Peter Klink (a Jesuit who has served for decades on an Indian reservation) says that being celibate is about “loving well.”  Jesuits are able to live in a love that is universal, generous, and free. 
3.       A Life of Sacrifice: For all of the joys of Jesuit life, there is no way around the fact that we are seeking to follow Christ, a “man of sorrows” who suffered and died for our sake.  Some have linked our 3 vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience to the 3 nails that crucified Him.  Yes, this life should cause us some suffering, but it is a redemptive suffering, so that like Jesus (but in our own small ways) we “lay down our lives, so that others may have life.”
4.       A Life of Brotherhood: Over 400 years ago, the Society of Jesus was founded by a group of college friends at the University of Paris, and there has been a continuous brotherhood of tens of thousands of Jesuits since then.  I have experienced a deep sense of camaraderie, fellowship, and mutual support in the Jesuits, both at home and abroad.
5.       A Life of Fun: Yes, you read that right—fun!  Although the Jesuits embrace many noble ideals, they are not up-in-the-clouds but rather with-the-people, as was Jesus.  Jesus was no doubt a challenging, inspiring, but also FUN person to be with, since even great public sinners were attracted into His company.  I have personally had some of the most good-natured but truly FUN times as a Jesuit, with my brothers and with many others.
6.       A Life of Mission: To be a Jesuit is to be a man sent on many missions for Christ.  This involves a life of near-constant adventure.  Pope Benedict XVI recently told the Jesuits, “The Church needs you, counts on you, and continues to turn to you with confidence, particularly to reach the geographical and spiritual places where others do not reach or find it difficult to reach.”
7.       A Life of Discernment: Our founder, St. Ignatius, believed that we are often influenced by various “spirits”: some which are good and helpful to our future and others which are bad and destructive to our future.  St. Ignatius developed a very useful system of discernment of spirits, and Jesuits internalize these rules so that they can gain greater insight and wisdom into where God is leading them.
8.       A Life of Hope: It is amazing how just being a Jesuit helps give many people hope.  For many, we are the answers to their prayers for more religious vocations in the Church that they love.  One time when I was in clerics at a funeral, an old woman I didn’t even know beamed at me “Oh, I love you.”  I don’t think that she necessarily loved me, but she loved what I represent.  There is something about our way-of-life through which we are able to remind people of the reality of God in their lives, due to our chosen state of life of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
9.       A Life of Service: One of my novice-brothers, when he has to do something he would prefer not to do (such as clean a huge shower room in Peru once), affirms aloud with humor frequently “I am doing this for Christ.”  That is not just a pious phrase or a joking reminder—it is the heart of what we are doing.  Jesuits are committed to the “service of faith and the promotion of justice.”  This involves carrying out the Church’s “preferential option for poor,” serving the most needy directly and advocating on their behalf. 
10.   A Life of Freedom: Jesuit spirituality is meant to cultivate in a person an interior freedom that enables one to (as in the old saying) “let go and let God.”  Jesuits are intended to imitate the angels (albeit as humans), who are always living for God and who are so totally free that at any moment they can respond to the call of God to go where He needs them in the universe.
11.   A Life of Living in the Tensions of the World: Our world is clearly complicated, divided, and in need of greater unity.  Jesuits carry out a much-needed ministry of reconciliation.  Pope Benedict XVI echoed the words of his predecessor Pope Paul VI when he said Wherever in the Church, even in the most difficult and extreme fields, at the crossroads of ideologies, in the social trenches, there has been and there is confrontation between the burning exigencies of man and the perennial message of the Gospel, here there have been, and there are Jesuits.”
12.   A Life of Spiritual Fatherhood: Many (myself included) can have fears that a life of celibacy is a life without children.  However, this celibate life involves being a spiritually fatherly presence to countless people, simply by loving, guiding, inspiring, and encouraging them to follow God and receive the eternal life He offers.  Archbishop Fulton Sheen said that in the next life he would be asked where his children were.  In the Jesuits, we can have a lively hope that we are living a profound spiritual fatherhood in the lives that we influence for God.

What I am Starting at John Carroll

These are the new initiatives I am helping to start at John Carroll.  Email me if you are interested or have questions.

Meet the New Campus Ministry Intern and Jesuit NoviceJohn Roselle, n.S.J., age 26, is from Oklahoma and graduated from Creighton University in Omaha, NE.  He is now a second-year Jesuit novice, and is excited to get to know JCU students and accompany them in their lives of faith this semester.  You can read more about John and his journey on his blog at John's office is located in the Student Activities Suite on the 2nd floor of the DJ Lombardo Student Center (stop by sometime to say “hi”). He can be reached at

Anonymous, Confidential Jesuit Discernment Group Starting January 31st
Have you ever thought—even for a little bit—about becoming a Jesuit?  Well, there is an anonymous, confidential JCU student group starting soon to meet regularly and explore the possibility of a Jesuit vocation together.  If you are interested, please talk to John Roselle or Fr. Bernie McAniff.  Email John at

New Men’s Spirituality Group
Men today—as in every age—are seeking a band-of-brothers.  If you would like to meet with a group of other guys to share faith, fellowship, and real-life reflections, there is a new CLC starting which will be facilitated by Jesuit novice, John Roselle.  If you might want to become involved, email John at

Burnt Out, Bummed Out, or Dropped Out of Being Catholic?
“Crossroads” is a new 4 week series to get students talking and thinking about the place of Catholicism in their lives, especially if they aren’t too sure about the Catholic Church right now.  At their individual comfort level, participants will have confidential, honest talks about spirituality, religion, and real-life, while looking at some resources on the Catholic Church.  If you want to check “Crossroads” out, email John Roselle at

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Why Would Someone Be a Jesuit "Brother"?

Many people think that to be a Jesuit is to be a priest.  Actually, there is a longstanding Jesuit vocation to being a Jesuit "brother" (who never becomes a priest) and this vocation in and of itself.  to be a Jesuit brother is a wonderful way to serve the Society of Jesus in some extraordinary ways.  I asked a very young, cool Jesuit brother, Brother Pat Douglas, to write about his vocation.  Brother Pat has a Master's in Counseling and is working with youth in detention centers and with alcoholic recovery on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, where the suicide rate is sky-high (I think between 2 or 3 times the national average).  Brother Pat is an inspiration, and if you would like to contact him, his email is  

     Brother Pat Douglas, S.J.

         “Why would you just be a Brother?”  This is the most common response I get when people learn about my vocation.  This comment hurts to hear because “just” denotes some kind of lesser than or lacking.  This question however seems to reflect many people’s thoughts on vocation in the Catholic faith.  There seems to be a mentality that if one wants to serve God it can only be done through the Priesthood.  One’s vocation does not denote his/her service to God but one’s desire does.  For if I feel called to serve God and I accept that call, the importance lies in the accepting, not in the vocation.  The vocation in which I am called to is how I serve God, and can be done as married, lay, religious etc.  If God is the focus of one’s life it can never be a “just” or lacking in any way. 
            As I prayed and thought about this desire to serve God, I found myself called to a vowed life, though not through marriage.  I began speaking with the Jesuits and going on discernment retreats.  It was through this I felt confirmed in my desire to serve God, and realized it would be as a Jesuit. 
            I am often asked why not a Jesuit Priest, why a Brother?  It is hard to put into words because it is difficult to articulate movements in one’s heart.  It is similar to why I do not serve God through the married vocation, it simply is not in me.  Most people will respond, “How do you know?”  I guess one never fully knows and that is where faith comes in, but I do know what makes my heart happy and my soul sing and that is being a Brother.  As a Brother I serve God in my prayer, work and in community life.  The vows of poverty, chastity and obedience free me to help make this happen.  Though a Priest or a married man might have some things in common with a Brother, they also have priorities specific to their vocation, such as sacramental ministry or children.  Without this additional priority the Brother is free to focus all his energy on his prayer, work and community life.
            The decision for me to become a Brother came to me later in life.  I was in my late 20's and had been working as a social worker with at risk youth and violent perpetrators.  It was work I loved and felt God had given me skills and grace to do it, however, I had to keep God separate from my work.  As a Jesuit Brother I am able to bring my love of God into my work, and dedicate all my work to God.  In addition I have been encouraged to get more education in counseling to use those skills to serve God's people.  Currently I am on the Rosebud reservation counseling and mentoring young men who are incarcerated, and I am able to do this fully as a Jesuit Brother and as a counselor.  The work can be difficult at times, and this is where my devotion to prayer and being in community with other Jesuits helps to sustain me.   
            To be a Brother is like any vocation, it is a way to serve God.  The Jesuit Brother takes the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and serves God in prayer, work and community life.  Similar to other vocations it comes equipped with joys and struggles specific to this way of life and is a way some are called to serve God.  For me, serving God as a Jesuit Brother provides me with a life in which I can live a simple, prayer centered life with others who can support and challenge me in this way of living for God.  I also feel I can use the talents God has given me in my work to glorify God and serve God’s people.  

Br. Pat Douglas, SJ     

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Weakness, Greatness, & The King's Speech

I recently went to The King's Speech with some of my older Jesuit brothers with whom I live.  I had heard rave reviews, and the film lived up to them! You can find its trailer here:

The King's Speech is a true story about Prince Albert, Duke of York, who lived on the cusp of the second World War and had a severe stuttering problem.  After years of being crippled by his impediment and with no successful treatment of the problem, Prince Albert finds an unorthodox Australian speech therapist who dares to delve into the prince's psyche in order to reveal to himself his true self, beyond the layers of shame under which he has been burdened all of his life. 

I once heard a Jesuit in the infirmary say that we as humans "are strength wrapped in weakness."  Prince Albert can only see, hear, and feel his weakness.  Instead, the speech therapist believes in and communicates to Prince Albert the strength hidden within him.  Yes, the weakness is real, and it threatens to destroy the greatness of his destiny, should he be called to become king in the face of the Third Reich.  A powerful scene shows the prince watching a video reel of Adolph Hitler, rousing the masses through his eloquent, ferocious rhetoric.  It is a scene akin to what St. Ignatius urges his retreatants to imagine in "The Two Standards," the standard of Satan and the standard of Christ.  Both are leaders who summon their followers, but according to radically different standards.  In short, Satan employs pride and riches; Christ moves us toward humility and poverty. 

Prince Albert has within him the seeds of greatness that are blessed to be planted in a wise humility.  Fr. Michael Buckley, SJ, delivered a powerful sermon to Jesuit seminarians entitled "Are you weak enough to be a priest?"  He makes the compelling point that most people think of a job in terms of their strengths.  While that has some validity, a priest (and I would add any other Christian vocation) is seeking to conform one's self to Christ, who was fully human and thus underwent all human suffering and weakness.  Jesus' authority is not the "invincible" facade of Hitler, but the tender yet tough resolve of Prince Albert.

I can testify in my life that strangely it is that unique mixture of weaknesses in me that, when given over to God and to His strength, have been of some of the greatest advantage in my ministry.  For example, the struggles that I faced in college help sensitize me to the challenges and opportunities in campus ministry.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The First 2 Weeks at John Carroll

Well, I've been working and living at John Carroll for the past two weeks, and it has been a joyful time so far.  Sure, it's still the "honeymoon" phase, but everyone so far has been so welcoming and supportive.  Students are just now arriving, because classes don't actually begin until this Tuesday.  So what have I been doing?  Here are a few things:

  • Living with about 10 other Jesuits across the street from the University.  These are wonderful men, full of wisdom, grace, and joy.  Many are in their 70s, although a couple are in their 40s.  It's amazing how the Jesuit brotherhood transcends age.  I feel they appreciate me and believe in me.  We gather each night for social and dinner, which is a time of good fellowship
  • Meeting and working with my new colleagues in Campus Ministry, learning about their programs (such as retreats, service trips, and small faith communities) and plugging myself into what they are doing.  The Campus Ministry team are true professionals with a lot of experience serving students from many faith backgrounds
  • Getting situated into my new office in Student, organizing, making it a hospitable place for students and co-workers to come by and chat (complete with a bowl of good candy on the desk :)
  • Preparing and delivering a presentation on vocation (in the sense of each person's unique calling in life)  to 55 student leaders of various organizations
  • Hanging out with buddies, both old and new, going out to eat, to a movie, or just lounging around

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"The Mission of My Life"

Here are some words of wisdom on vocation from this newly beatified cardinal (and Catholic convert), who is the patron of missions to college students

The Mission of My Life

God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments. Therefore, I will trust Him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.

--Blessed John Henry Newman

Questions for Vocation

The 3 Big Questions of Vocation
1) What brings me life?  (think: passions, what I really enjoy doing)
2) What am I good at (or could become good at)?  (think: skills, talents, etc.--whether they are known or yet-to-be-discovered and developed)
3) What does the world need? (think: what stirs compassion and commitment to others' well-being)

*One's vocation encompasses the answers to all 3 of these questions (in other words, where they intersect)
** Credit goes to Fr. Michael Himes for parts of this inquiry

Vocation: The Invitation of a Lifetime

I am preparing a 20-30 min presentation for student leaders at John Carroll University on the idea of vocation.  Since so many people exclusively associate the word "vocation" with the call to priesthood and/or religious life, I am NOT saying that I am a Jesuit novice until the END of the presentation!

I am seeking to get across the idea that ALL of us have vocations in our lives, and by that I mean a specific, unique, personal "calling" to a way of life (such as marriage, fatherhood/motherhood, a profession, or another special mission in life). 

This vocation is a calling that is personal, unique, from within one’s deepest, truest, and best self and DESIRES.  Yes, vocation is something you actually WANT to do, even if that means a lot of HARD work in the meantime.  Think of Jesus calling the rich young man to follow Him.  This was the INVITATION OF A LIFETIME, a calling to meaning and purpose beyond what he could have asked or imagined.  Yet as much as he might have wanted to follow Jesus, the young man turned Him down on His offer of vocation (and "went away sad"), because he couldn't accept the tough parts of the job. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Fr. James Martin's "12 things I Wish I Knew at 25"

Tomorrow I begin my work at campus ministry at John Carroll University, among twenty-somethings.  It is appropriate that I stumbled across these recent provocative thoughts from Fr. James Martin, a Jesuit who is "chaplain" on the Colbert Report, a bestselling author, and major face for the Jesuits and the Catholic Church.  The only thing I'd add/change is that being a saint is more than "being yourself"--for me being a saint means to become what C.S. Lewis calls the Christian's vocation to be a "little Christ," (which is a grace of being conformed to Christ through Baptism) to let Christ live in you fully--and it certainly helps if you are your best, truest self so that He be ever the more "at home" in you.  In any case, here are Fr. Martin's words of wisdom:

For a lark yesterday, I tweeted 12 things that I wish I had known when I was 25.  Maybe they'll help a 25 year-old person you know.  Or you!

1.) So I'm 50 today, and I'm going to tweet what I wish I knew at 25. First up: Stop worrying so much! It's useless. (I.e. Jesus was right.)

2.) Being a saint means being yourself. Stop trying to be someone else and just be your best self. Saves you heartache.

3.) There's no right way to pray, any more than there's a right way to be a friend. What's best is what works best for you.

4.) Remember 3 things and save yourself lots of unneeded heartache: You're not God. This ain't heaven. Don't act like a jerk.

5.) Your deepest, most heartfelt, desires are God's desires for you. And vice versa. Listen. And follow them.

6.) Within you is the idea of your best self. Act as if you were that person and you will become that person, with God's grace.

7.) Don't worry too much about the worst that can happen. Even if it happens, God is with you, and you can handle it. Really.

8.) You can't force people to approve of you, agree with you, be impressed with you, love you or even like you. Stop trying!

9.) When we compare, we are usually imagining someone else's life falsely. So our real-life loses out. Ie, Compare and despair.

10.) Even when you finally realized the right thing, or the Christian thing, to do, it can still be hard to do. Do it anyway.

11.) Seven things to say frequently: I love you. Thank you. Thank you, God. Forgive me. I'm so happy for you! Why not? Yes.

12.) Final 50 y.o. lesson: Peace and joy come after asking God to free you--from anything that keeps you from being loving and compassionate.