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Rev. John E. Surette, SJ, was born on December 12, 1934, in Arlington, MA. He attended Rindge Technical High School in Cambridge, MA, and earned a B.S. in Chemistry from Boston College. He entered the Society of Jesus at St. Andrew-on-Hudson in Poughkeepsie, NY, on July 30, 1957, and finished as a novice at Shadowbrook in Lenox, MA. He received his M.A. in Philosophy from Weston College in Weston, MA, and his Theology degree from Weston College School of Theology in Cambridge, MA. While in formation, he taught Chemistry at St. George’s College in Kingston, Jamaica, and he was ordained a priest on June 10, 1967, at St. Ignatius Church in Chestnut Hill, MA.

Following ordination, Fr. Surette spent 11 years in Kingston, Jamaica, serving in a variety of roles, including director if the Antilles Pastoral Institute, director of the Archdiocesan CCD program, and a teacher at St. Michael Seminary, where he also served as director of the Archdiocesan Center for Religious Education and coordinator of the Lay Leadership Training Team. Upon returning to the States, Fr. Surette worked for two years in retreat ministry at the Gonzaga Eastern Point Retreat House in Gloucester, MA. In 1983, he began serving at the St. Joseph Jesuit Center in Charlestown, MA, as director of the Center, superior of the Jesuit Community, and director of the Christian Life Community program. He also professed his final vows there in 1989.

Fr. Surette was a spiritual environmentalist long before Pope Francis penned his encyclical Laudato Si.  In 1990, he created the SpiritEarth Program and Sacred Universe Award. “SpiritEarth” is a word coined by Fr. Surette and Sr. Mary Southard, CSJ, to convey the inherent sacredness of all of creation, and to remind us that we evolve out of Earth and our very existence depends upon her and her health.

In 1998, Fr. Surette returned to Jamaica where he served four years as superior of the Patrick House Jesuit Community in Kingston, then returned to direct the SpiritEarth Program from the Oak Park Jesuit Residence in Oak Park, IL., where he stayed until 2016. It was here he wrote the book, “The Divine Dynamic: Exploring the Relationship Between Humans, Earth, and the Creative Power of the Universe.”

In 2017, Fr. Surette moved to the Campion Health Center in Weston, MA, missioned to pray for the Church and the Society of Jesus. He also wrote monthly ecology reflections for the USA East Province website.

Fr. Surette died peacefully on December 6, 2023, just shy of his 89th birthday.