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!


2 Good Jesuit links:


This reflection comes from our wonderful Jesuit vocation director (and Provincial-elect), Fr. Tom Lawler.  He's the one who helped me apply to the Society, and you can find him on Facebook or contact him at:  He's very good about getting right back to people! 

Making the Team: Five Signs of a Possible Vocation

I was not trying out for the Olympics, just sixth grade basketball. But, I was nervous. I thought I was pretty good, even though I heaved one-armed free-throws. After a tough day of try-outs, I was cut. When I found out, I was shocked. I went straight home and cried. What made it even worse was that my mother was not nearly as upset as I was: “It’s O.K.,” she said, “You have other gifts.”That was it?!? I begged her, but she would not call the principal and complain, or storm over to the coach’s house to defend my honor and help heal my wounded pride. Here was another tough lesson for me to learn.

From the stands I would watch my best friends win games and have a good season. Soon, I realized why I would never be a basketball star. Jimmy could do terrific layups, Willy could sink free-throws, Rich could dribble and run down the court at the same time (I usually tripped or lost control of the ball).

Yes, I guess they were right. I had other gifts.
It took me a while to realize that good basketball players have a combination of rare gifts and talent including coordination, speed, agility, strength. I had one or two, but did not have the whole package. No one likes to be cut from a team, but, as they say, when one door closes, another opens up.

Consider your gifts. Consider your talents. When you are looking at a possible vocation to ministry in the Church, in religious life, or as a priest or brother, look at your strengths. Then talk with someone who knows you well – a teacher, a parent, a priest or other religious mentor. You may need to spend time looking around for the right fit. Remember that God calls many, but few are chosen.

Jesus chose his disciples personally. He did not ask for resum├ęs or hold auditions. For good reason. Such a life requires a rare combination of spiritual and human gifts. These gifts are often discovered through prayer, an active life in service to others, conversation with a spiritual guide, and discussion with a vocation director. Putting the pieces together is part of a good process of discerning a vocation. I may think I have what it takes for a religious vocation, but the call needs to be confirmed with advice and objective feedback from a wise mentor and guide. A more complete picture of my vocation emerges in the process of prayer and discernment. When thinking over a vocation, you might start with a check list:

Five indications I might have a vocation to religious life:

1. I have a nagging sense of a call from God – that God is inviting me to something unique in my life. I have a sense that I was made for something different – not that I am better than anyone else – but I feel that I was made to live a life that is not the norm. I am not completely certain about my future, but I ask God to help me trust more in His will. While I continue to pray for clarity, I also need to pray for courage to take the next step in following Jesus. I don’t have to be completely sure or without any doubt.

2. I want my life to make a difference in this world, by serving the less fortunate, and spreading the Good News of the Gospel to others. The world is in desperate need of generous people who want to help others to experience God’s presence and love – I want to be one of those.

3. I am active in my faith – I am a baptized and confirmed Catholic, and I try to pray every day. I know I have a lot of faults – I am not a saint (yet). But, I stay connected with my local parish or school faith community for Sunday Mass, daily Mass when possible, and the sacrament of reconciliation.

4. I talk regularly about my faith and my life with a priest, spiritual guide or director.

5. If I have not done so, I plan to speak with a vocation director who will get to know me well and help me to see where and how my gifts can best be used for the service of God and the Church.

PS: In eighth grade I tried out for the soccer team and discovered my gifts were better suited there.


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     


This is my own reflection on celibacy that I did awhile ago:


"Procreation and the Priesthood"

One of my friends from high school emailed the following question to me yesterday:

"During your internal monologue of self-discovery, did you find it difficult to decouple (pardon the pun) the hardwired desires to procreate versus your stronger desire to serve the church? Obviously I lack a frame of reference (clearly I have never been a priest-in-training), but that would certainly be one of the principle issues that would need resolving."

I appreciate the question, and I thought I'd share some thoughts on it. Please let me know if you have more questions or comments on this or any other topic. Here is what I said:

Procreation is meant to be a profoundly holy thing. In his "Theology of the Body," Pope John Paul II actually said that the mutual, self-giving love of husband and wife in intercourse is an icon of the Holy Trinity, which is the endless and intimate (although not bodily and therefore not sexual) mutual self-giving of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Trinity is in fact a "family of Love." God is not a monad; He is an eternal community. Therefore, before God made the world, He was not lonely. He was filled with joy and love within Himself, and that Love overflowed into His creation. In the same way, a husband and wife is meant to love one another so much that they want to have children with whom they can share that love.

In addition to the holiness of married intercourse, there is the holiness of participating with God in the creation of a person, to whom He gives a soul from the moment of conception. How wonderful it would be to be married and to raise a family. In many ways, I think it would be good for my soul and for my human development. Of course, it would also be the hardest thing I would ever do, and a lifelong sacrifice. Marriage may seem idyllic, but I think most married people who truly enter into it admit that it can be a true Cross. It needs to be in order to have the kind of redemptive power to represent the love of Christ for His Church.

I am in the novitiate with a 50 year -old medical doctor. He is a dear friend, and a great man. He was never married, but he says that the same skill-sets to be a good husband and father are needed to be a good priest. So, it is promising to have a sense of my desire and aptitude to be married. In fact, as a priest (if I am called to that), I will live a spousal reality of being married to the Church, who is the Bride of Christ. In order to do this as fully as possible, I will commit to non-exclusive relationships so that I can be equally available to help the souls of whoever is in front of me, so that they know that I have no ulterior motive. For example, a single, attractive young woman can feel much safer sharing her inner life with me for spiritual direction if I am a vowed man and a priest than if I were a "free agent," or perhaps even a married man.

In truth, I expect (and already have experienced to some extent) having a certain spiritual intimacy--though non-sexual--with countless more women (and of course men too) and having more spiritual children (and by this I mean people who I help bring home to God) than if I were married. The two states of life are not in competition, they are in-tandem. The one serves and blesses the other. The vocations need each other. If I genuinely found that my deepest desire were to be married, then that would be good, holy, and a great gift to me and to the Church