Rodolfo (Rudy) Casals, S.J., 42, was raised in Tarrytown, New York, where he attended Catholic grade school at The Transfiguration School. His family later moved to Wappingers Falls, New York, and finally to Columbia, Tennessee, where he went to Columbia State Community College for a year. He then accepted an appointment to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, graduating in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in physics and a minor in Spanish. Casals began his Navy career in Japan, serving for five years as a surface warfare officer on the USS Dubuque, USS Juneau and USS John S. McCain. He next served as the 22nd Company Officer and instructor at the Naval Academy, earning a master’s degree in leadership education in 2004. While working with midshipmen at the Naval Academy, the dream of becoming a priest, which Casals had considered when he was younger, returned. He began to realize that God was calling him, which was both exhilarating and terrifying. Casals began meeting with a Jesuit spiritual director and decided the Jesuits were the right choice because of their mission to go where needs are greatest. After a final year in the Navy as a recruiter in West Des Moines, Iowa, he joined the Jesuits in 2006. As a novice, Casals volunteered as a chaplain in various hospitals and jails. He went on to study social philosophy at Loyola University Chicago, graduating with a master’s degree in 2011. He next taught physics for two years at Xavier High School in New York City, followed by a year as a chaplain intern at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Most recently, Casals was missioned to the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, California, where he earned a Master of Divinity degree and served as a deacon and chaplain at San Quentin State Prison. After ordination, he will spend the summer serving at St. Mary of the Assumption+Our Lady of Mount Carmel+St. Benedicta Parish on Staten Island, New York, and in the fall, he will serve at St. Thomas More Parish in Atlanta. Casals will celebrate his first Mass as a priest at St. Mary’s Church in Yonkers, New York. (USA Northeast Province)
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Our Lady of the Oaks Retreat House
Our Lady of the Oaks Retreat House, located in Grand Coteau, La., has provided a beautiful setting for retreats since 1938.