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!

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     


  1. Well said Br. Pat. I fully understand the desire to be a servant of God without administering the Sacraments as an ordained Priest. If I am ever able to serve God fully without the responsibilites of secular life it would be as a brother. The story of Brother Lawrence inspires me as well as "The Father Of Western Monasticism, Benedict of Nursia".
    May God continue to Bless you Br. Pat.
    Sincerely, Steven from Bronxville, NY.

  2. Good work we have here: inspiring, insightful and very clear!!!! I'm a Jesuit candidate and I've found alot that I can connect with here....and thanks alot John for the blog idea... I am pretty sure in the Novitiate it takes alot to keep it updated!!!

  3. Thanks for posting this. It is refreshing. I'm glad that God is inviting people like you to religious life in the Society.