Province: USA Northeast
Birthday: July 15, 1980
Hometown: Rochester, New York
Education: Bachelor’s degree, history, Canisius College; Master’s degree, college student personnel administration, Canisius College; Master’s degree in social philosophy, Loyola University Chicago; Master of Divinity, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry; Master of Theology, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
Highlights of Jesuit Formation:
1. Accompanying a group of students from Loyola University Chicago to MAGIS/World Youth Day in Brazil in 2013.
2. Coordinating a 19th annotation retreat for members of Saint Peter’s University.
3. Serving at the Kino Border Initiative for the summer of 2017.
Post-ordination: Will do a pastoral year in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia.
Jason G. Downer, S.J., was born and raised in Rochester, New York. In addition to his parents, Jason has two older sisters who are married and have families of their own. He is a proud uncle of five nieces and nephews. He first met the Jesuits at McQuaid Jesuit High School and then continued to be educated by them at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. Jason did a year of service with Mercy Volunteer Corps after undergrad and before starting grad school at Canisius College. After graduate school, he worked at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut, in student affairs for a few years. Jason loved being a part of the Jesuit mission and Ignatian spirituality, and so in 2008 began a two-year process of discernment. He entered the Jesuits in 2010 and has had a variety of experiences since then, including studying Spanish in Bolivia and Miami and being a chaplain at the Cook County Temporary Juvenile Detention Center. Jason has been blessed to work with young adults in campus ministry at Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City, New Jersey, and to be trained as a spiritual director and accompany people of various ages in the 19th annotation retreat. After ordination, Jason will do a pastoral year in Pohnpei, Micronesia.
What is your favorite book, movie, music, or TV show you’ve encountered since entering the Society and why do you love it?
I love the TV show The Good Place! It's a great combination of humor and depth. I love the way they have explored the relationships between the main characters and what it means to lead a good life.
Jason (second from right) with Jesuits from the Faber Jesuit Community at Boston College who ran a half marathon in the fall of 2019 in honor of Fr. Tom Stegman, SJ (center), dean of the BC School of Theology and Ministry.
What is one hobby you’ve cultivated as a Jesuit and why is it important to you?
Before I entered the Jesuits I had never even run a mile; now I've run six half marathons. I started running during novitiate as a form of exercise and since then it has become something I really enjoy. Running is a great way to start my day. I often get to see some pretty spectacular sunrises and to say a quick prayer of thanks to God.
What do you love about the Society of Jesus?
I love the relationships. Even before entering the Jesuits, outside of my family, Jesuit institutions have been where classmates and colleagues have become my closest friends. The Jesuits are inherently relationship based, starting with a personal relationship with God and from there it spreads to being in relationship with other Jesuits, fantastic colleagues, students, parishioners, those on the margins of society. Jesuits are called to live in the world, in relationship with those they are accompanying.
Jason with Loyola University Chicago students at World Youth Day in Brazil in 2013.
What was one particularly meaningful experience you had during your formation, and why was it meaningful to you?
The six weeks we spent at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx, New York, was a particularly meaningful experience during my formation. Novices have been going there for more than 40 years, and we are thrown into the deep end helping the nurses and aids care for the patients. My class started there during Holy Week, and I remember what it was like bathing a patient with all their wounds and just praying for them with the Passion narrative running through my head. It was a clear encounter with Christ.
Tell your vocation story. One catch: You must use only six words.
What brings you joy?
I find joy in being able to accompany young people as they encounter God in new ways during college. Talking with a student after a retreat or an immersion trip as they are trying to put words to the experience is just a privileged place to be.