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Nine Jesuits to Pronounce First Vows

Aug. 9, 2016 - Nine Jesuit novices from the Maryland and USA Northeast Provinces will profess their first vows in the Society of Jesus on Sat., Aug. 13, 2016, at Holy Cross Church, DeWitt, N.Y. They are Henoch Derbew, Thomas Elitz, Brendan Gottschall, Justin Grosnick, Kieran Halloran, Chia-Yang “C-Y” Kao, Joseph Lorenz, Jonathan Pennacchia and Nathan Sparks.

After discerning their vocation to the Society, these nine men entered the Jesuit novitiate in Syracuse two years ago and, since then, have experienced a wide-ranging introduction to Jesuit ministries. They have all taken part in the 30-day Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola and have had intensive training in Spanish. Next, they each deepened their faith while providing spiritual support for the sick and dying at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx. Finally, each novice immersed himself into the fabric of one of our Jesuit schools, ranging from the Gesu Grammar School in Philadelphia, where Jonathan Pennacchia, nSJ, taught, to Boston College High School, where Nathan Sparks, nSJ, taught. 

Below are short biographies of these men:



Henoch Derbew
 (Brooklyn, N.Y.) - Henoch, 29, earned a bachelor’s in history and classics from Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., a master’s in international policy and development from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and a master’s in special education from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Before joining the Jesuits, he worked with several nonprofits in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and New York City, and as a math learning specialist at a public charter school in Brooklyn, N.Y. His interests include film, music, church history and Ethiopian/African history.

During his two years in the novitiate, in addition to the 30-day Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, the study of Spanish, and five weeks helping to care for the sick and dying at Calvary Hospital Hospice in the Bronx, Henoch taught at Washington Jesuit Academy (a middle school) in Washington, D.C. Following Vow Day, Henoch will begin First Studies at Loyola University Chicago. (USA Northeast Province)



Thomas Elitz
 (Cinnaminson, N.J.) - Tom, 24, is a 2012 graduate of Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia with a bachelor’s in business administration. He is a certified public accountant and worked as an internal auditor before joining the Jesuits. While in college, Tom participated in several mission trips and volunteered with the Back on My Feet organization of Philadelphia. His discernment to the Jesuits was strongly influenced by campus ministry retreats he attended.

During his two years in the novitiate, in addition to the 30-day Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, the study of Spanish, and five weeks helping to care for the sick and dying at Calvary Hospital Hospice in the Bronx, Tom Elitz taught at Yap Catholic High School in Micronesia. This fall, Tom will begin First Studies at Fordham University, and live at Ciszek Hall. (Maryland Province)



Brendan Gottschall
 (Margate, N.J.) - Brendan, 24, holds a bachelor’s in economics from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., where he served as the Grand Knight of the Georgetown Knights of Columbus. Following graduation, he worked as a consultant at Global Economics Group in Chicago and volunteered with the Little Sisters of the Poor. Brendan’s vocation was inspired by the Jesuits at Georgetown, especially those he met while working at the Georgetown Jesuit Community. He has studied Mandarin Chinese and Irish step dancing and plays the Irish fiddle.

During his two years in the novitiate, in addition to the 30-day Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, the study of Spanish, and five weeks helping to care for the sick and dying at Calvary Hospital Hospice in the Bronx, Brendan Gottschall taught at Cheverus High School in Portland, Maine. This fall, Brendan will begin First Studies at Fordham University, and live at Ciszek Hall. (Maryland Province)



Justin Grosnick
 (Charlotte, N.C.) - Justin, 36, received a bachelor’s in physics and in peace, war and defense from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a master’s in divinity from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia and a master’s in foreign relations from Johns Hopkins University. He served as a foreign affairs officer for the U.S. Department of State and has volunteered in multiple capacities including leading RCIA classes and doing mission work in Mexico and Jamaica.

During his two years in the novitiate, in addition to the 30-day Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, the study of Spanish, and five weeks helping to care for the sick and dying at Calvary Hospital Hospice in the Bronx, Justin Grosnick was involved with campus ministry at Georgetown University. Following Vow Day, Justin will begin First Studies at Loyola University Chicago.(Maryland Province)



Kieran Halloran
 (North Salem, N.Y.) - Kieran, 22, attended Xavier High School in New York City and is a 2014 graduate of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a bachelor’s in foreign service/regional comparative studies. Kieran’s volunteer work in high school and college has taken him to Ireland, New Zealand, Fiji, Ecuador, Argentina, El Salvador, Rwanda and Kenya. Positive influences on his journey include his time at Xavier, his volunteer mission work and his experience with the Jesuit community of Georgetown and the Knights of Columbus.

During his two years in the novitiate, in addition to the 30-day Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, the study of Spanish, and five weeks helping to care for the sick and dying at Calvary Hospital Hospice in the Bronx, Kieran taught at Nativity School of Worcester. Following Vow Day, Kieran will begin First Studies at St. Louis University, in Missouri and live in Bellarmine House. (USA Northeast Province)



Chia-Yang “C-Y” Kao
 (Taipei, Taiwan) - C-Y, 34, earned a bachelor’s in diplomacy from National Chengchi University in Taipei and a master’s in foreign service from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He has taught RCIA classes and led evangelization groups with the Chinese Catholic Community in Washington, D.C. During his college years in Taiwan, C-Y became a member of a Christian Life Community where he first learned about Ignatian spirituality. His other interests include cooking, movies, photography and choral singing.

During his two years in the novitiate, in addition to the 30-day Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, the study of Spanish, and five weeks helping to care for the sick and dying at Calvary Hospital Hospice in the Bronx, CY Kao did Clinical Pastoral Education at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. Following Vow Day, C-Y will begin First Studies at Loyola University Chicago. (Maryland Province)



Joseph Lorenz
 (Takoma Park, Md.) - Joseph, 26, received a bachelor’s in religion and Arabic studies from Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. In 2014, he received a master’s in theological studies with a focus on Islamic studies from Harvard Divinity School. As a member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, he worked at the Cabrini Center for Immigrant Legal Assistance in Houston. His vocation was influenced by a college mission trip to Nicaragua entitled “Explorations in Solidarity.”

During his two years in the novitiate, in addition to the 30-day Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, the study of Spanish, and five weeks helping to care for the sick and dying at Calvary Hospital Hospice in the Bronx, Joe worked with campus ministry at Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia. Following Vow Day, Joseph will begin First Studies at Loyola University Chicago. (USA Northeast Province)



Jonathan Pennacchia
 (Wappingers Falls, N.Y.) - Jonathan, 22, is a 2014 graduate of Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore, where he earned a bachelor’s in economics with a minor in mathematics. He spent three years as a student intern and sacristan with the Loyola Campus Ministry office. He was also vice president and an active member of the Nevergreen Sketch Comedy Group on campus, participated in many retreats and volunteered at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Baltimore.

During his two years in the novitiate, in addition to the 30-day Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, the study of Spanish, and five weeks helping to care for the sick and dying at Calvary Hospital Hospice in the Bronx, Jonathan taught at Gesu Grammar School in Philadelphia. Following Vow Day, Jonathan will begin First Studies at St. Louis University, in Missouri and live in Bellarmine House. (Maryland Province)

Nathan Sparks (Rapid City, S.D.) - Nathan, 29, is an ordained priest of the Diocese of Rapid City and most recently worked at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help there. He holds a bachelor’s in philosophy from Saint Mary’s University in Winona, Minnesota, and a bachelor’s in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Nathan is fluent in Italian and German, which he learned in Assisi, Italy, and in Vienna, Austria. 

During his two years in the novitiate, in addition to the 30-day Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, the study of Spanish, and five weeks helping to care for the sick and dying at Calvary Hospital Hospice in the Bronx, Nathan taught at Boston College High School in Boston. Because Nathan was ordained a priest before he entered the novitiate, he will begin graduate studies in classics at Columbia University this fall, and live at Ciszek Hall. (USA Northeast Province) 
The formation of Jesuits is a large expense entirely paid for by Jesuit provinces. To make a gift in support of Jesuit formation, please click here.




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