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!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Serious Infringements Upon Conscience

In my year of blogging, I have almost never touched a "hot-potato," as I have intentionally sought to find common ground and not veer off into controversy.  However, the following is of such vital concern that I cannot afford not to address it.  I urge us all to truly get on our knees and pray about this.

As Catholics, we support the initiative for greater health care for the poor and marginalized  However, it seems the current administration is attempting to severely infringe upon the conscience rights of Catholic institutions, by requiring them to cover sterilizations, abortifacients, and other actions that are not congruent with Catholic teaching.  This would force Catholic institutions of all kinds into a Catch-22 that would force them to violate their conscience.  The following article explains more.

As many of you may recall, President Obama spoke at the 2009 Notre Dame Commencement.  Without getting embroiled in the controversy surrounding that past event, I would like to draw your attention to Fr. Jenkins, President of Notre Dame, as he addresses this present concern.  You can read the letter here:

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Family Visit

My family will all be in town this weekend to visit.  This should be a great time to see the new digs, meet my new brothers, and have some quality time.  I'm working to get some work done so that I have this weekend free!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Miracle through the Intercession of Archbishop Fulton J Sheen, Servant of God?

Photo from
As many of you know, the great TV evangelist, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen has a very active cause for his canonization.  I was delighted to read the following incredible story about a possible miracle (and it's not the only one!) through his intercession.  If he is ever declared a saint, he would be the first American-born Catholic priest, I believe.

Healing of Stillborn Baby:

Here is the official site for his cause, which also promotes a new movie about the good Archbishop:

Moments of Grace Thus Far from Pope's Visit to Germany

As the Holy Father visits his homeland, here are some of the stories that have thus developed.  As I truly believe that the Pope is one of God's voices in the world, as the Vicar of Christ to whom the Church is entrusted, these moments of grace take on a special meaning.

The Holy Father's Return:

Ecumenical Meeting and Words on Unity

Meeting with Sex Abuse Victims:

Visiting Martin Luther's Former Seminary:

Words on Catholics, Muslims, and their Common Work

New Project

This is a project that I am collaborating on at Loyola.  Please pray for its success!  

Women's Religious Life Discernment Group

Did you know that MANY young, smart, empowered women are joining religious orders across the nation?  Just ask Oprah who has featured such sisters on two episodes.  One convent alone has seen over 100 sisters enter in 14 years.  The average age of all the sisters?  28!!!  Young sisters are extremely joyful, as they live their lives of faith, community, and service.   Would you be interested in learning more about this fascinating, inspiring way of life?  Well, Loyola's very own Sr. Jean and new Jesuit John Roselle are beginning a monthly group to do just that through Evoke, in order to give female Loyola students further information about religious life, chances to share what's on their heart, and to support one another in discovering whatever God's calling may be for them.  Snacks and good fun will be provided.  Our first meeting is October 3rd at 9pm.  If you are interested in checking it out, contact John Roselle, SJ at

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Praying about Ministry

Well, I just finished doing some homework, and I am about to go pray before meeting today with our ministry site supervisor.  I am still discerning what ministry to do here in Chicago, in the coming years.  It is between working with persons in unplanned/crisis pregnancies (supporting them in choosing life-giving options), and working with providing Ignatian retreats for the homeless.

Both of these are of course quite exciting and meaningful ministries.  I wish I could do both, but I assure you I have too much homework for that!  Plus, I will be supporting the Knights of Columbus council here at Loyola and starting up a religious life discernment group for women, teaming up with a 92 year-old religious sister named Sr. Jean, who is still so full of energy, zeal, and love.

So, please pray for me that I may make the choice of the "magis" for my ministry.

Is Celibacy Healthy?

Much of the modern world is wondering about the legitimacy, feasibility, and wisdom of celibacy.  Here is an article from Fr. Jim Martin, SJ, addressing these questions.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Podcast from Jesuit on the Reservation

This is a new podcast with Fr. Peter Klink, the former president of Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.  Fr. Klink has dedicated much of his life to working for and with the Lakota people.  He is beloved by them, and he was a real inspiration to me (as well as a spiritual director) during my time on the reservation.  Enjoy listening to this wise and generous Jesuit!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pope's Upcoming Visit to Germany

As the Holy Father makes a trip to his native Germany in the next week, he will emphasize the necessity of an awareness of God in all areas of life.  His theme will be "Where there is God, there is a future."  Here is a fine article on the upcoming trip:


Tom Wilson, the creator of one of my favorite comic strips, Ziggy, just died.  My Mom loves Ziggy, and she introduced me to him.  I think Ziggy is one of the most pathetic yet endearing characters.  I never get tired of seeing the predicaments he gets into, and the quizzical, sad look on his face.  Thanks Tom for bringing Ziggy into the world!  You can read more about his passing here:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Humor and Holiness

This is an interview Our Sunday Visitor conducted with Jesuit Fr. Jim Martin (official chaplain to the Colbert Report), on his new book Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life.  This anticipated book will be released on October 4th.  For now, you can read the interview:

Forbe's List of Happiest Jobs

According to the recent Forbe's List of 10 Happiest Jobs, I'm heading in a very happy direction :)

Jesuit University Stays Strong on Culture of Life

I am proud to hear that recently Regis University, a Jesuit school in Denver where I was this summer, has stood firm in the face of some unfortunate incursions of the Colorado legislature against its Catholic conscience.

Bios of the 2011 First-Year Novices

These are the bios of the 32 men that just joined the Society of Jesus this August.  Praise God and pray for them!

Art and Prayer

This is a recent brief talk given by our Holy Father about art and prayer.  He is a real lover of the arts, so he has been keen on connecting this age-old medium with spirituality and the faith of the Church:

Spectacular Video about the Church

Here is a breathtaking, 2 min. video about the goodness of the Catholic Church.  Watch it in full-screen and with the sound up.  It's really something:

This video was produced by an innovative, successful outreach to Catholics who have been away from the Church.  The campaign is called Catholics Come Home, and they have a wonderful website:

A Note About the Sadnesses of the Church

As promised, I have below done some reflecting on some of what I love about the Catholic Church.  As much value as there is in celebrating the Church, it may seem inappropriate in this era. There can be so much frustration, division, and confusion in the Church.  I see it frequently, and it makes me both sad and angry at times. 

As we all know, these days the world has also seen the utter sin of some members of the Church, i.e., in the sex abuse scandal. We dare not dismiss or forget this sad and shameful reality. In fact, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York City (who is also head of the US Bishops) has stated recently that the Church must be continually "haunted" by what occurred.  

Granted, the same terrible phenomenon of abuse and cover-up has occurred in many other sectors of society, but under no circumstances can this ever be tolerated, least alone in the Church which is meant to be the universal sacrament of salvation. I do think the Church has learned profoundly from this and has worked hard in its stringent policies to make itself the safest place possible for children.  

Still, there will forever be the sadness of this episode in Church history. I am reminded of Pope Benedict XVI, who met privately with a group of sex abuse survivors. Afterward, one of the survivors said that the Holy Father "wept with us who were weeping." Surely Christ weeps as well.  

Nevertheless, we know in the mystery of the Cross that sin, evil, death, and destruction are NOT the end of the story. The Church carries the Cross but it lives the Promise of the Resurrection. It is this that we must remember and celebrate.

6 Things I LOVE about the Catholic Church

Queen of Angels by William Adolph Bouguereau (1825-1905)
A Church Gathered around Jesus Christ: Jesus’ desire before His death was that His followers would be “one” (John 17:21).  Granted, we haven’t always done a good job of that!  Still, the Catholic Church traces her very origins to Jesus Christ and His apostles, to whom the Church was entrusted.  As Catholics, we are able to get as close to Jesus as were the first disciples, for example, in literally sharing in the Last Supper (the Eucharist), taking into our own selves the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ.  

A Church for All People: The word Catholic means “universal.” The Second Vatican Council states that the Catholic Church is fundamentally the “people of God.”  There are countless people across the globe from nearly every culture who have found their true spiritual home in the Catholic Church.  I have been privileged to witness several people journey into the Church, discovering joy and peace therein.  Recently a young woman told me that the day she became Catholic was the happiest day of her life.  The Church’s doors are always open, always inviting.  

A Redeemed Church: To be redeemed is to be freed, bought back, and brought back.  The Church is the Bride of Christ whom Jesus bought at the cost of His own life, his very Body and Blood, which saves and washes us clean.  Before He died, he told His disciples: “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.”  Thus, no matter the “evidence” to the contrary (such as individual members’ sins), the Church’s identity and destiny is as a redeemed people, who can walk “in the freedom of the sons and daughters of God.”  

A Beautiful Church: The great twentieth-century theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar emphasized that beauty leads us to Truth.  God reveals Himself to the world through the power and majesty of the arts.  We are an “incarnational” Church, a people that experiences God through the senses.  Our worship, sacraments, architecture, images, literature, etc. reach people’s hearts through the bodily world.  Catholic artists have helped people to imagine the immensity of God’s love and presence in the world.  

A Heroic Church: In and through Baptism and the other sacraments, a Catholic is given every grace necessary to become nothing less than a saint in the world.  To be a saint is to have a heroic, Christ-like holiness and love (and to one day enter into eternal life).  Sainthood is shown through relentless compassion and service. Blessed Mother Teresa taught that to be a saint is a “simply duty.”  It is indeed quite possible to be a saint.  As a Catholic, I have literally known and loved several living saints in many corners of the Church.  

A Church of Truth: The Catholic Church stands on the truth of Jesus Christ, who told us that “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32).  The Church boldly seeks and shares the Truth with humanity.  So many people misunderstand Catholicism about being about “rules.”  What is vital to remember is that since God is Love, all that He wills is out of sheer love.  Thus, out of love, God has written His law on the human heart.  Moreover, He has given the Church as a shepherd of souls to help remind them of their dignity and worth.  There is not a single “rule” of the Catholic Church that is not founded on a deep, intrinsic valuing and love of the human person.  As our Mother and Teacher, however, the Church does care enough to tell us what is good for us and what is bad for us.  

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Photo of my Community

This is a photo of the Gonzaga community with whom I am living here in Chicago:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Loyola's Madonna della Strada Chapel

It's not quite the Sistine Chapel tour (like the one below), but here are a few gorgeous pictures of the chapel at Loyola University in Chicago, named after the Jesuit patroness Madonna della Strada ("Our Lady of the Way"), whose prayers Jesuit implore when they are travelling.  The chapel is a prime work of Art Deco architecture and has been recently renovated.  It is a tremendous place to worship.

Virtual Tour of the Sistine Chapel

I recently came upon this incredible virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel.  If you haven't seen this, you have to check it out!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Running the Good Race

Some of my Jesuit brothers and I will be running in the Quad Cities Marathon or Half-Marathon in Iowa.  I will be running the shorter version, which should be plenty!  If you would like to read more or sign up, here is the link:

From what I have heard, the course runs alongside the Mississippi River, which should be lovely.  I have been running quite a bit by the lake here in Chicago.  I am embracing this as a chance to get back in a bit better physical fitness, and to get away and have a good time with some of my brothers.  The race is Sept 25th, so 18 more days to go!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

17 New Dominican Sisters

About one week ago, 17 young women entered the Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  It was a day of great jubilation.  In just 14 years, this religious order has grown from 4 to over 120 sisters.  The average age of all of the sisters is 28.  These sisters are some of the most joyful people on Earth, and I have had the pleasure of getting to know them.  What an inspiration their vocation is.  It is so deeply needed in the Church.  

They also love the Jesuits!  They passionately pray for and encourage Jesuit vocations.  Fr. Tomasek, SJ, the late Jesuit mentioned below, was one of their greatest supporters.  

For my vows, they sent me a card with countless messages from the sisters.  If you would like to learn more or to donate to their wonderful order, visit:

The Young Sisters-to-Be with their Vocation Director, Sr. Joseph Andrew, OP

The Sisters in their Chapel

17 New Sisters!

Being Embraced (literally) by the Community

New Friends!

Reflections on an Exemplary Jesuit

The following is something written by a Jesuit whom I esteem, in memoriam for another Jesuit who recently entered eternal life.  It offers much to ponder.   

Fr. Dick Tomasek, SJ
A Jesuit of the Fourth Vow: A Graveside Reflection on the Life of Fr. Richard A. Tomasek, S.J.
(June 18, 1943 – August 6, 2011)
by Fr. William F. Prospero, S.J.

While I was not able to say everything I wanted to say in a short reflection at the burial site of our dear brother Fr. Richard Tomasek, I would like now to expand on those thoughts in this reflection.  I hope the results will inspire a greater appreciation for what God has done for us in Fr. Tomasek.

People usually think of Blessed John Paul II or Blessed Mother Theresa when speaking of contemporary saints.  It would be a mistake to limit our understanding of saints to these very public saints.  Why can’t Fr. Tomasek be declared a saint by the Catholic Church?  On one level it certainly does not matter whether he is declared a saint or not. Those of us who knew him know the truth that he was a model Christian and Jesuit priest, and in my opinion, well worthy of the title “saint.”

Saints are people of forgiveness and mercy.  Pope Benedict once said that holiness is not about never sinning or making a mistake: holiness is about our capacity for reconciliation, our capacity for forgiveness.  Fr. Tomasek had a great capacity for forgiveness.  I never knew him to hold a grudge against anyone.  Yes, he had many reasons to hold grudges, like all of us, but I never heard him express a grudge against anyone.  He was a man of mercy, forgiveness, and freedom.  His capacity for forgiveness was as natural as being human. This is the essential mark of a saint and it was an essential mark of Fr. Tomasek.

Spiritual Father and Brother 
Fr. Tomasek became for me a spiritual father and brother.  While he had more years in the Society than I, he made me feel like we were equals. We spoke on the level of the heart quite naturally and freely.  He had an easy way of making conversations meaningful and heart-worthy.  I just presumed he was like that and never really thought twice about how he became that way.  Now reflecting back, I realize this is something remarkable, a mark of holiness.

For many younger Jesuits and seminarians, Fr. Tomasek was a model priest who witnessed to the authentic priesthood of Jesus Christ.  He was always available as a good Jesuit should be (Jesuits have a charism of “availability” to the greatest need in the Church). His availability was not a “rule” that he somehow tried to observe or obey; rather, his availability was who he was.  He was an open and receptive man with many places in his heart for us to visit.  In this way he exercised a Jesuit form of hospitality, a true “hospitality of the heart.”

Many in seminaries today find the politics of the Church challenging.  Fr. Tomasek was a rock of authentic priesthood calling his seminarians to focus on the spiritual life rather than on climbing the “ecclesiastical ladder.”  Always a man of the Spirit, Fr. Tomasek kept his attention on the things of heaven and not on the things of earth.  The ease with which he was able to live in this way is something I loved about him.

A Fourth Vow Man
Fr. Tomasek had a special love for the Jesuit Fourth Vow of obedience to the Pope.  Some Jesuits understand this Vow to mean an obedience in regards to special missions the Pope gives to Jesuits; others have a more expansive understanding of this Vow that also includes a special appreciation for the Pope’s articulation of Catholic teachings. Fr. Tomasek embodied this more expansive understanding of the Fourth Vow, seeing this special appreciation as essentially linked to his Jesuit vocation.  Fr. Tomasek loved this dimension of being a Jesuit and would seek out younger Jesuits who manifested similar understandings.  He befriended us and helped us to be faithful to the challenging teachings of the Church in the face of often difficult environments.

Fr. Tomasek’s fidelity to the Church’s teachings on marriage and sexuality, specifically abortion and contraception issues, earned him mistreatment by some.  One particularly challenging moment was precipitated by some nasty letters complaining about a certain homily Fr. Tomasek preached on the sacredness of marital love at the Des Moines Cathedral many years ago.  In this homily he articulated, albeit in summary fashion, the Church’s teaching about life (abortion) and its correlative teaching about artificial birth control.  Everyone who knew Fr. Tomasek knew that he did not have a mean-spirited streak in him at all.  He would never preach something that did not lead people closer to God.  Yet, people can be offended by the truth.  (I am aware that he preached another similar homily [I vaguely recall him telling me that he tried to preach on the truth of human life and sexuality at least once a year] in Columbus, OH.  He received a standing ovation for that homily.)  However, any such homily will offend at least a few persons and those few may write the Bishop and Provincial.  Do people EVER write the Bishop or Provincial when a really good homily is preached?  Fr. Tomasek did not preach, however, for the nice letters or the nasty ones; he preached the fullness of the truth because he loved and believed the truth, and he was missioned to do so by the Church through the sacrament of Holy Orders.  He carried out this mission joyfully, intelligently, confidently, and courageously. We loved him for it.

Fr. Tomasek was thought of by some to be a rigid conservative who was out of touch with the people.  NOTHING could be farther from the truth.  Fr. Tomasek joyfully lived in the freedom of the children of God, deeply in touch with the needs and aspirations of every soul entrusted to his care.  Conversely, in the seminaries he was commonly viewed as the “liberal Jesuit,” probably because he had such a free spirit that some may have mistook as “nonconformist.”  All Fr. Tomasek wanted was to be conformed to the Heart of Jesus.  He wanted nothing else.  Men of institutions and systems were likely challenged by Fr. Tomasek’s blatant disregard for politics and favorites, manipulations and positions.  Fr. Tomasek loved the Heart of Jesus and became the very image of Him, all the while becoming more and more himself, disregarding the spirit of careerism found in some sectors in the Church. 

Fr. Tomasek believed in the power of God’s Word preached with love; he believed in the power of the truth to move hearts closer to God, the goal of all preaching.  He did not let negative consequences influence his preaching.  I would never describe Fr. Tomasek as a “hammer of the heretics,” but I would describe him as a man on fire with the love of God and His Church.  He held a deep appreciation for the capacity of the human heart to respond generously to the call of Christ the King.

The “Kingdom of Christ the King” [#91-98] was one of Fr. Tomasek’s favorite meditations in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola.  He loved to think about the Christian call to be close to Jesus, to share in His mission to bring His salvation to the ends of the earth.  Those who share with Jesus in the toil and suffering of bringing this Good News to the world will also share with Him His glory.  Fr. Tomasek lived fully this great enterprise of evangelization, freely accepting the suffering that came with it.  At the same time he drew many of us along in the enterprise, so we felt him right beside us as we did the Lord’s work.  A true “friend in the Lord” and companion on the way, Fr. Tomasek will be sorely missed.

Authentic Holiness
Fr. Tomasek’s holiness was both heroic and real.  While he would not be accused of being overly pietistic, he had a deep piety, an authentic devotion to Jesus and to His Blessed Mother Mary.  One never had the feeling that his spirituality was “imposed” by some need to project holiness; rather his spirituality had a real accessibility to it.  There was nothing fake, but only the real person right there before you that you could sense and feel.  His sincerity and “realness” made him attractive to many souls and inspired countless persons to love Jesus more.

The Society and the Church will miss this great apostle.  He said in his dying days, quoting St. Therese, that he will have greater effect in the world when he is in heaven with the Lord.  This consoles me on some level, but I still can’t help but miss him terribly.  My life will never be the same.  I can hope and pray, though, for a share of his magnanimous spirit.  I will make this prayer in eager anticipation until I will meet him in the Kingdom where we will enjoy together the Face of the Eternal King.