Four Jesuits of the USA Central and Southern Province were ordained to the priesthood June 10 by Archbishop Gregory Aymond at Holy Name of Jesus Church in New Orleans.
The new priests are Fathers Stephen M. Pitts, a native of New Orleans; Sylvester G. Tan; Marcus C. Fryer; and Sean M. Salai. Father Pitts is a native of New Orleans.
Father Pitts, 33, grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. He was received into the Catholic Church as a freshman at the University of Oklahoma. While a student, he worked in campus ministry, spent his junior year abroad in Kyoto, Japan, and earned bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and computer science. After graduating in 2006, he entered the Society of Jesus. He spent four months at the Casa de Los Pobres, a Franciscan-run soup kitchen in Tijuana, Mexico, an experience that opened his heart to the struggles of immigrants. He earned a master’s degree in philosophy at Loyola University Chicago before spending three years teaching mathematics at Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas. He earned a Master of Divinity degree at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, Calif. He will spend six weeks in Chiapas, Mexico, this summer doing pastoral work and field research at a Jesuit-sponsored cooperative, Yomol Atel, that serves indigenous coffee growers. In the fall, he will return to the Jesuit School of Theology to complete a Master of Theology in social ethics while he finishes a Master of Science in International and Development Economics at the University of San Francisco.
Father Tan, 38, grew up near Atlanta, where he was active in scouting, earning the Eagle Scout and Silver Beaver awards. He completed a bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in environmental studies in 2000 at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee,
then spent a year studying the changing face of Catholicism in Africa and Asia. He did a two-year spiritual program at the Casa Balthasar, a house of discernment in Rome, and studied philosophy at the Gregorian University, earning a bachelor’s degree in 2005. He entered the Jesuits in 2006. He completed a bachelor’s equivalency in French literature and earned a master’s degree from the Centre for Medieval Studies, both at the University of Toronto. He taught in the University Honors Program and worked in campus ministry at Loyola University New Orleans, where he was named 2014 Honors Professor of the Year. He returned to Regis College at the University of Toronto to complete a Master of Divinity. He has been assigned to Immaculate Conception Parish in New Orleans.
Father Fryer, 35, grew up in Missouri City, Texas, a suburb of Houston. He attended Strake Jesuit College Preparatory in Houston, where on a retreat his junior year he began to think about the priesthood. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2004 at Texas A&M University. While in college, he worked for the school’s emergency medical services and as a 911 dispatcher on campus. He took classes to become an emergency medical technician and worked for the Cy-Fair Fire Department in Harris County, Texas. After a year in Strake Jesuit’s Alumni Service Corps, he joined the Society of Jesus in 2006. During his formation, he has taught third grade at Good Shepherd
Nativity Mission School in New Orleans; served as a chaplain at a state prison in Concord, Massachusetts; and worked in campus ministry at St. John’s College in Belize City, Belize.
After philosophy studies at Saint Louis University, he was again missioned to Strake Jesuit. He earned a Master of Divinity degree and a master’s degree in theology from Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. He will work in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as the associate pastor at Immaculate Conception Church.Father Salai, 37, grew up in Indiana and attended Wabash College, where he served as the editor of the student news magazine and entered the Catholic Church. He earned a
bachelor’s degree in history, then worked as a reporter at the Washington Times. He began discerning a vocation to the priesthood and discovered the Jesuits, immediately drawn to their spirituality and sense o
f balance. He worked briefly for the Boca Raton News before entering the Society of Jesus in 2005. As a Jesuit, he has worked in campus ministry at Loyola University New Orleans and at a L’Arche community for p
eople with intellectual disabilities in Mobile, Alabama. He earned a master’s degree in applied philosophy at Loyola University Chicago, while also teaching at a Latino parish. He taught theology, helped with the band and coached the speech and debate team at Jesu
it High School in Tampa, Florida. He earned a Master of Divinity degree at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, California, while working as a chaplain at San Quentin State Prison and serving as deacon at St. Isidore parish in Danville. He is also a special contributor to America magazine. The author of two books, including “All the Pope’s Saints: The Jesuits Who Shaped Pope Francis,” Father Salai will be assigned as associate pastor to Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in San Antonio.
A Jesuit’s preparation for ordination can take eight to 12 years. The four are among 31 new Jesuit priests ordained in the U.S. and Canada this year. The Jesuits are an order of priests and brothers founded 500 years ago by St. Ignatius of Loyola. With more than 16,000 priests, scholastics and brothers worldwide, they are the largest male religious order in the Catholic Church.