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The Jesuit Order

Ignatian Spirituality

Ignatian spirituality is a distinctive approach to spiritual life based on the writings of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order. The handbook he created from his own spiritual experiences, called The Spiritual Exercises, serves as a guide to Ignatian retreat directors.

Several practices based on the experience of the Ignatian exercises are fundamental to Ignatian spirituality. They include the daily Examen, Ignatian contemplation and the discipline of looking for God’s presence in all things.

Though the book of the Spiritual Exercises is found in most book stores, it is not really a book to be read, but the basis of an experience. Just as reading a book that details physical exercises does not change your physique, reading the Spiritual Exercises won’t have much effect on your spiritual life. Instead, make an Ignatian retreat under the direction of someone who has experienced them for himself or herself and is trained to guide others. Every Jesuit priest, brother and scholastic has made the full Ignatian Spiritual Exercises of thirty days.

Ignatian Spirituality Website

Jesuits Currently Serving at Jesuit Dallas

Thomas Croteau, S.J.

Thomas Croteau is a first year regent joining the faculty this fall. A native of Denver, Colorado, Thomas grew up hiking in the Rocky Mountains and taking care of horses. After studying philosophy and classical languages at Ave Maria University, he entered the Jesuits in the fall of 2011. For the past three years, Thomas has been working on a graduate degree in philosophy at St. Louis University. For those looking to ponder life’s deep questions, his door is always open. When he’s not engaged in philosophical or theological contemplation, Thomas enjoys watching kung fu movies and learning foreign languages. A newcomer to Texas, he looks forward to learning from Texan natives what foods should be sampled, and what sports teams are worthy of support.

Fr. Randy Gibbens, S.J.

Fr. Gibbens recently began his service as the new coordinator for vocation promotion for the USA Central and Southern Province. A native of Metairie, La., Fr. Gibbens graduated from Jesuit High School, New Orleans, and earned a bachelor’s degree in agronomy from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. While working in the Dominican Republic, he began to discern his vocation to the priesthood. He returned to the U.S. and worked at Casa Juan Diego, the Catholic Worker House in Houston, for two years. He entered the Society of Jesus in 2004 and was ordained in 2015. As a Jesuit, he has served in Guadalajara and at Jesuit High School, Tampa, where he taught biology and theology and served in campus ministry. While earning his Master’s of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, CA, he also served as chaplain at San Quentin State Prison. Since ordination, he has served at Parroquia Santiago in Yoro, the capital of the state of Yoro, in Honduras.
Fr. Gibbens can be reached at UCSVocationCoordinator@Jesuits.org.

Father C.A. Leininger, S.J.

Fr. Leininger was born in 1924 along with his twin brother JB. CA and JB both joined the Jesuits in 1940 and followed the standard path toward priesthood. Fr. Leininger was ordained in 1953 and served the Society of Jesus for many years in various aspects of Jesuit education. He was a principal for 17 years and a classroom teacher for 28. Many of those years were spent at Jesuit College Prep of Dallas. In 2015 Fr. Leininger celebrated 75 years as a Jesuit. He still resides at the Jesuit Community at Jesuit Dallas, where he offers his assistance to the archivist, translating and transcribing notes, diaries, and journals from the school’s history. He enjoys philately, painting, and ceramics.

Fr. Leo Leise, S.J.

Fr. Leise was born 68 years ago in Queens, New York. His Catholic heritage comes from his maternal Lithuanian-immigrant grandparents, with whom he had a strong connection. After completing a degree in Forestry and Plant Sciences at Rutgers in New Jersey, Fr. Leise had a number of years of various work experiences before he answered the call to religious life and the priesthood, entering the Society of Jesus in 1983, having first spent a year in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in New Orleans. His greatest joy as a Jesuit priest is celebrating the sacraments, particularly Mass. His other interests involve being immersed in nature, especially hiking in the mountains; photography; cooking (so he can eat delicious food!); and, lately, making candles for his own use.

Fr. Wally Sidney, S.J.

Fr. Sidney entered the Jesuits in the fall of 1966 after graduating from St. Louis University High School. After following the typical course of studies, Fr. Sidney was ordained to the priesthood in 1978 along with one of his high school classmates. After a pastoral year in Denver, working as a hospital chaplain, retreat director, and parish priest, he was assigned to De Smet Jesuit as Pastoral Director. After a year in Spokane, Washington for Tertianship, Fr. Sidney went to Belize in Central America to direct the pastoral program at St. John’s College, a high school and junior college run by the Jesuits. Two years later he was appointed rector at St. Louis U. High but was only there two years before returning to Belize as superior for the next six years. At the end of his term as superior, he was elected president at Regis Jesuit in Denver. The highlight of his eleven years there was the opening of the Girls Division. Regis decided to build a second school on the campus just for young women rather than going co-ed, thus establishing a new model for Jesuit secondary education. From Regis he returned to De Smet for a third time, this time as president. Nine years later, Fr. Sidney is delighted to join the faculty at Jesuit College Prep of Dallas and to serve as the Rector of the Jesuit Community.

Jesuit Vocation

Some men feel called to serve God and the Church in a religious order like the Jesuits, Dominicans, or Franciscans. If a man feels called to try out the Jesuit vocation, he contacts the local Jesuit Vocation Director, who assists him in his discernment. If the man and the Vocation Director both agree that this looks like something God may be calling him to, then the man makes a formal application to join the Society of Jesus by entering the novitiate. Such an application involves several steps. They are outlined in the vocation section on the U.S. Central and Southern Province.

If the man is accepted and enters the novitiate, he can expect to spend two years in this first phase of training before he makes his vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. After vows, the typical course of studies is three years of philosophical and theological training, followed by three years of ministry, and then three more years of theological study before ordination as a priest. Some men wish to belong to the Jesuits without becoming priests; such men are Jesuit brothers, and have a slightly different training.

To spend your life without your own family is certainly not an easy thing. But for those who are truly called to it, and who live according to the vows and with a strong habit of daily prayer, it can be incredibly rewarding and life-giving, both for the Jesuit and for the people he serves. Jesuits are often known for the great things they do, but what is not so easily seen is the personal experience of friendship with Jesus that makes any truly effective Jesuit who he is.

If you are in the Dallas / Fort Worth area and are interested in meeting with someone to discuss a vocation to the Jesuits, please contact Fr. Randy Gibbens, S.J at (972) 387-8700 x407.

Online Resources
Jesuit Testimonials

"I credit the Jesuits for helping me discern my vocation while a junior. They helped me recognize it and respond to it."
— The late Rev. Patrick H. Koch, S.J. '44

"I learned about the Jesuits from the Catholic Encyclopedia and from a pamphlet entitled Jesuits in the Southland that I found in a wastebasket during my senior year at St. Joseph Central Catholic High School. I then joined the Jesuits and went through the regular course of studies"
— Rev. John Edwards, S.J.

"I was a Mass server and already had felt a "call" to the priesthood but was attending a public school. My Jesuit experience determined the rest of my life in that I joined the Society of Jesus upon graduation (at age 16) and continue after 63 years."
— Rev. Dick McGowan, S.J., '46


The Examen is a prayer unique to Ignatian Spirituality. St. Ignatius of Loyola developed the Examen as a way to stop twice daily to reflect on God's presence in our daily lives. During the Examen, one reflects on the events of one's day: looking at mistakes and sins and asking God's forgiveness; at blessings and graces and giving God thanks; and at the rest of the day or next day and asking God for help, strength, and guidance. St. Ignatius suggested that the Examen be done twice a day, once around noon and again right before bed. Three times a week at the beginning of period 7(1:11 p.m.) the whole school stops for five minutes and is lead in the Examen by Campus Ministry. Though we use several variations of the Examen, the basic format is: