Joseph E. Simmons, S.J., 34, was born and raised in Milwaukee. He first met the Jesuits as a student at Marquette University High School. Simmons found the Jesuits there joyful and grounded, and he liked that they took God seriously—but were never too serious about themselves. At Marquette University, he earned an honors bachelor’s degree in Spanish and classical languages, while being involved in campus ministry. While studying abroad in Madrid and then Rome, his vocation deepened, but Simmons was not ready to enter after his 2004 graduation. He did a volunteer year with the Alumni Service Corps at Marquette High, teaching Spanish and Latin, helping lead service trips and coaching cross-country. He also began actively discerning his Jesuit vocation and moved into the Jesuit community at Marquette High. Two years after his college graduation, Simmons answered God’s call and entered the Society of Jesus. As a novice, he taught theology and English at Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and worked in a hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, with the Missionaries of Charity. Missioned next to Loyola University Chicago, Simmons earned a master’s degree in philosophy while working in campus ministry and helping chaplain the cross-country and track teams. For two years at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Minneapolis, he taught theology and English and helped start the school’s Kairos retreat program. He then spent a year teaching philosophy at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and worked with the discernment group on campus. Missioned next to the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, Simmons earned a Master of Divinity degree while working as a deacon at the Parish of St. Ignatius of Loyola on campus. Highlights of his Jesuit formation include giving retreats to college students and adults, working at a Jesuit school in the Kohima region of Northeast India, and writing and editing for The Jesuit Post, a website targeting young adults. After ordination, Simmons will spend the summer working at St. Procopius Catholic Church in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago before returning to Boston to complete a Licentiate in Sacred Theology. His first Mass as a priest will take place at the Church of the Gesu in Milwaukee. (Wisconsin 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.