Five Jesuits of the USA Central and Southern (UCS) Province will be ordained to the priesthood this summer in two liturgies, one in St. Louis and one in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Jesuits Penn Dawson, Jason LaLonde, David Paternostro, Michael Wegenka and Fernando Luis Barreto Mercado have studied at Jesuit schools and served in Jesuit apostolates.
The Most Reverend Terrence Prendergast, SJ, Archbishop of Ottawa, will preside at the ordinations of Dawson, LaLonde, Paternostro and Wegenka at St. Francis Xavier College Church in St. Louis, June 9, at 9:30 a.m.
The Most Reverend Roberto Gonzalez, Archbishop of San Juan, will ordain Barreto Mercado July 28 at 11:00 a.m. at Parroquia San Ignacio in San Juan.
The Jesuit formation process is rigorous, taking from eight to 12 years. It follows the guidelines first laid out by St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. Each of the men to be ordained has earned a graduate degree in theology, and all have worked in Jesuit schools and served in parishes, hospitals or prisons.
The five UCS Jesuits are among 27 new Jesuit priests ordained in the United States and Canada this year. They will serve in pastoral ministry for the year following ordination.
Fernando Luis Barreto Mercado, SJ was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, and moved to McAllen, Texas, at age 17. He earned bachelor’s degrees in finance and actuarial science from Georgia State University in 2001 and worked for several years before entering the Jesuit novitiate in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, in 2004. He earned a licentiate in philosophy from the Pontifical University of Salamanca, Spain, and a graduate degree in Ignatian spirituality from Comillas Pontifical University in Madrid. Barreto taught computer science and helped with Ignatian formation for new teachers at Colegio San Ignacio in San Juan and also taught confirmation classes at the adjacent Parroquia San Ignacio. In Taipei, Taiwan, he studied at Chinese Culture University and the Maryknoll Fathers’ language school before beginning his theology studies at the Fu Jen Faculty of Theology of St. Robert Bellarmine. He was missioned to the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, California, earning a Bachelor of Sacred Theology and a Master of Divinity degree in May 2018. After ordination, Fr. Barreto will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving at Parroquia San Ignacio in San Juan, where he is missioned to serve as parochial vicar for the coming year.
W. Penn Dawson, SJ, grew up in Tampa, Fla., and earned a bachelor’s degree in history and a Juris Doctor from the University of Florida. He practiced as a trial lawyer at Macfarlane Ferguson & McMullen in Tampa for 23 years, eventually becoming a partner. In 2005, Sacred Heart Parish nominated him for the permanent deacon program, and he began to consider religious life. He entered the Jesuits in 2009. He studied at Loyola University Chicago for two years, earning a master’s degree in philosophy in 2013. While in Chicago, he also worked as a chaplain to a diverse population at Stroger-Cook County Hospital. His apostolic ministry during formation was at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, where he taught courses, and during the summers, worked in campus ministry and accompanied students and faculty on service trips to Jamaica and Belize. He studied theology at Regis College at the University of Toronto, earning a Master of Divinity degree and a Bachelor of Theology. He will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Francis Xavier College Church in St. Louis. His first assignment as a priest will be in Belize.
Jason C. LaLonde, SJ, grew up in Lakeland, Fla. At Florida State University in Tallahassee, he earned a bachelor’s degree in English and history in 2002. After graduation, he worked in arts administration. Jason earned an MBA from the University of Florida. He entered the Society of Jesus in 2007. Missioned to Fordham University in the Bronx, N.Y., he earned a master’s degree in philosophical resources in 2012. LaLonde taught English, Latin and Greek at Jesuit High School; during that time, he also accompanied students to World Youth Day in Brazil in 2013 and on a service trip to Panama in 2015. At the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, he earned a Master of Divinity degree and is working toward a Licentiate in Sacred Theology. He served as a deacon at the South Boston-Seaport Catholic Collaborative, ministering at three churches, including the new Shrine of Our Lady of Good Voyage. His first assignment as a priest will be at Immaculate Conception Church in Albuquerque, N.M.. LaLonde will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving in St. Louis at the Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France.
David C. Paternostro, SJ, grew up in League City, Texas. He graduated from Strake Jesuit College Preparatory in Houston and attended Texas A&M University, for one year before entering the Jesuit novitiate in 2005. In 2007, David enrolled at Fordham University in the Bronx, N.Y., earning both a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in philosophical research and helped with the theater program at Cristo Rey High School. From 2011 to 2014, he taught and served as an assistant theater director at he High School in Tampa, Fla. Next missioned to the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, Calif., David completed a Master of Divinity degree and a Licentiate in Sacred Theology and set up the theater program at Immaculate Conception Academy in San Francisco. Ordained a deacon in October 2016, he served at Saint Mary Magdalen Parish in Berkeley, Calif. His first Mass of Thanksgiving will be celebrated at St. Francis Xavier College Church in St. Louis, with additional Masses at St. Mary Catholic Church in League City and at Jesuit High School in Tampa. After ordination, Paternostro will be assigned to Immaculate Conception Parish in New Orleans.
Fr. Michael J. Wegenka, SJ, was born in Midland, Mich., but considers Katy, Texas, his hometown. He entered the novitiate in Grand Coteau, La., directly out of high school in 2005. After the novitiate, Michael completed a bachelor’s degree in English literature and philosophy at Fordham University and also taught confirmation classes at St. Martin of Tours Parish in the Bronx, N.Y. Next, he taught theology and American and British literature in both the Girls and Boys Divisions of Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, Colo. He also coached the boys and girls cross-country teams, was involved in the vocations club and helped lead retreats. In 2014, he was missioned to the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, where he earned a Master of Divinity degree and worked as a deacon at Boston University’s Catholic Center. Completing his theological studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., he will receive a Licentiate in Sacred Theology this winter. Michael will celebrate Masses of Thanksgiving at St. Francis Xavier (College) Church in St. Louis and at his parents’ parish, St. Bartholomew the Apostle Catholic Church in Katy, Texas. After ordination, he will be assigned to St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Grand Coteau.
View The Society of Jesus in Canada and the United States Ordination Booklet to read about all 27 ordinands.
Do you want to learn more about vocations to the Society of Jesus?
Visit www.jesuitvocations.org for more information.