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On June 8, 2024, the USA East Province will ordain four Jesuits to the priesthood at the Fordham University Church. From different experiences and backgrounds, they entered the Society of Jesus and have completed a decade of formation that began as a discernment and a call of the Holy Spirit. Please keep them in your prayers as they prepare for ordinations and their vocations to serve the Catholic Church and the people of God.

 

Brendan G. Coffey, SJ, grew up in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, raised by his parents, Gerry and Janice, alongside his brother, Justin, and sister, Katelyn. He credits his great uncle, Msgr. Tom Coffey, a Catholic priest, pastor and high school educator, as an early vocational inspiration. Brendan first met the Society of Jesus at St. Joseph’s Preparatory School in Philadelphia and continued his Jesuit education at Fordham University in the Bronx, New York, where he studied English and philosophy. After graduation, he participated in the Alumni Service Corps at St. Joseph’s Prep followed by graduate studies in Anglo-Irish literature at Trinity College Dublin, where he earned a Master of Philosophy. After returning stateside, Brendan was a high school English teacher for several years at St. Augustine High in San Diego and at Regis High School in New York City.

Brendan entered St. Andrew Hall novitiate in Syracuse, New York, in 2015. As a novice, he worked as a hospital chaplain and technician, accompanied adults at a spiritual renewal center, and taught English at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Baltimore. After professing vows, he pursued a master’s in Catholic theology at Fordham University, volunteering at Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx on his days off. During his regency, Brendan taught theology and English at Fairfield College Preparatory School in Fairfield, Connecticut; he also served as an assistant cross-country coach. Following regency, Brendan continued his theology studies at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, California, earning a Licentiate in Sacred Theology/Master of Theology. While in the East Bay, Brendan worked with youth groups at St. Joan of Arc Parish in San Ramon, California, where he also served as a deacon.

After ordination, Brendan will spend the summer at St. Peter Catholic Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, before returning to Fairfield Prep as a full-time teacher.

 

Thomas Elitz, SJ, was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Cinnaminson, New Jersey, where he was raised by his two wonderful parents, along with his younger brother. He attended Catholic school his whole life and met the Jesuits during his undergraduate studies at Saint Joseph’s University, where he studied accounting. After graduation, he worked as a financial analyst and internal auditor for two years at Johnson & Johnson. While he enjoyed his work, he felt a persistent call from God to religious life in the Society of Jesus.

He entered the Jesuits in August of 2014. During his novitiate, Tom was assigned to teach math and English at Yap Catholic High School in the Federated States of Micronesia. After professing vows in 2016, he studied philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx, New York. While studying at Fordham, Tom also taught English classes part-time to immigrants living in the Bronx. For his regency, he was assigned to Scranton Preparatory School, where he taught math and theology and worked in campus ministry. His experiences in the classroom implanted in Tom a passion for teaching and for ministering in a school environment. After working at Scranton Prep, he was sent to the Faber Jesuit Community in Boston to complete a Master of Divinity and a Licentiate in Sacred Theology at the Boston College Clough School of Theology and Ministry. After being ordained to the transitional diaconate in September of 2023, Tom served as a deacon at St. Columbkille’s Parish in Brighton, Massachusetts, teaching RCIA classes and assisting at weekend liturgies. Tom is an avid runner, having run five marathons during the course of his formation.

After priestly ordination, he will spend a year working at St. Raphael the Archangel parish in Raleigh, North Carolina.

 

Brendan Gottschall, SJ, entered the Society of Jesus in 2014 at the Novitiate of Saint Andrew Hall in Syracuse, New York. Originally from South Jersey, Brendan grew up in a committed Catholic family and felt a call to be a priest from a young age. He attended Catholic schools for most of his life including St. Augustine Prep and Georgetown University. It was in Catholic schools that Brendan encountered vowed religious; first religious sisters, then Augustinians and Jesuits, all of whom have inspired his vocation. After graduating college with a bachelor’s degree in economics, with minors in government and Chinese, he worked for two years in economic consulting before entering the Jesuits.

After two years of novitiate, including a five-month experiment at Cheverus High School in Portland, Maine, he took vows in 2016 and was missioned to study philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx, New York. Having studied Mandarin Chinese in undergrad, Brendan began his regency in Beijing, China, where he worked for almost a year. He then taught middle and high school classics, theology, and economics at Loyola Blakefield in Baltimore for two years. For the last three years, Brendan studied theology at the Boston College Clough School of Theology and Ministry, earning a Master of Divinity and a Licentiate of Sacred Theology. He had a graced experience of the church in the community of women and men who study, teach and work there.

Brendan will serve as assistant director and promoter of vocations for the Jesuit USA East Province after ordination.

 

Chia-Yang “C-Y” Kao, SJ, was born and raised in a Catholic family in Taipei, Taiwan. His journey toward the priesthood began during middle school when he attended a diocesan vocation event, igniting a deep-seated desire to serve in the priesthood. This calling has remained a guiding force throughout his life, leading him to actively engage in various church ministries. Having pursued diplomacy studies at National Chengchi University, renowned for its emphasis on humanities and social sciences in Taiwan, his exposure to the Jesuits deepened through his involvement with the Christian Life Community (CLC). It was during this time that he developed a keen interest in Ignatian spirituality. Following two years of military service, he ventured to the United States to pursue a graduate degree at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Throughout this period, he maintained connections with Jesuits in the Washington, D.C., area. Prior to entering the Jesuit novitiate in Syracuse, New York, he dedicated eight years of his professional life to designing educational development projects worldwide, supported by the U.S. Department of State and USAID.

During his Jesuit formation, he participated in hospital chaplaincy in Syracuse and Boston, provided spiritual care for the unhoused population in Chicago, and supported minoritized and first-generation university students in San Francisco. In his regency, he supported academic research in missionary history in China at the Ricci Institute and participated in fostering equity and inclusivity at the University of San Francisco, grounded in its Catholic, Jesuit mission. He carried this valuable experience into his theology studies at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, where he explored the evolving dynamics of Jesuit higher education within an increasingly diversified U.S. context.

As a deacon, he served at St. Ignatius Parish in San Francisco and Chinese Catholic Missions in Oakland, California. His first Mass will take place at the University Church at Fordham University in the Bronx, New York. After ordination, he will pursue a doctorate in education at Columbia University while offering sacramental ministry at St. Francis Xavier Parish in New York City.