Student and Novice Bios
Mr. Matt Berrios, CSP – First Year Theology
- Birth Date: July 20, 1988
- Home Town: Grand Rapids, MI
- Favorite Saint: St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Thomas Aquinas
- Hobbies: Ballroom/swing dancing, playing the guitar/banjo, running, singing, reading
- Favorite Food: Puerto Rican
- Enjoy most about being a theology student: I enjoy learning about the rich traditions of the church and how these traditions offer ways for the church to develop its mission and identity for the future.
Vocation Story: Although I had many "warning signs" of a possible vocation when I was a child, I did not discernibly feel a possible calling to the priesthood until later in high school. It began as a small feeling that arose out of the blue one day during my high school religion class. This feeling kept growing and growing all throughout the rest of high school and college. Further, the harder I tried to ignore it, the more forcibly it returned. I did not begin giving serious consideration to the idea of priesthood until I was a junior in college. When I finally opened up to the possibility, my first thoughts immediately went to the Paulists because of what I knew of them and their mission through the priests in the Grand Rapids house. From there it was just a matter of contacting the vocations director and beginning the process.
Mr. Ryan Casey, CSP – First Year Theology
- Birth Date: June 1, 1978
- Home Town: Rockford, IL
- Favorite Saints: St. Teresa of Avila and St. John Bosco
- Hobbies: Cooking, playing video games, watching movies and television, dancing
- Favorite Foods: Pizza and anything hot and spicy
- Enjoy most about being a theology student: Learning more about myself and the Paulists. I am also very excited about getting back into the classroom and to engage in discussions about Jesus’ life, scripture and priestly mission.
Vocation Story: I was born and raised Catholic and was involved in youth ministry in high school where I first thought about exploring the priesthood. After high school I decided to explore my faith life by experiencing other religions and Christian denominations. These paths eventually lead me back to the Catholic Church. When I became involved again with my local parish the call to the priesthood became apparent in my life again. I first heard about the Paulists through the BustedHalo radio show on Sirius XM satellite radio and the BustedHalo website. What I found there was a community of priests who want to show that the teachings of Jesus and the Church are relevant to our lives today. This was what attracted me to this community and why I am now a part of this novitiate class.
Mr. Mike Hennessy – Novice
- Birthday: May 12, 1982
- Home Town: Manchester, NH
- Favorite Saint: St. Benedict
- Hobbies: Travel, reading, American history, recreational sports (golf, volleyball, dodge ball)
- Favorite Food: New England Clam Chowder
- Enjoy most about being a novice: First, having dedicated time every day to spend in community and individual prayer and also being part of a program that will help me to discern God's plan for my life. I also look forward to spending time with other men who are on the same path as I am.
Vocation Story: As much as I felt called to God's service since I graduated from college in 2004, I never felt completely called to serve in a diocesan or monastic way. About three years ago, I was first introduced to the Paulist Fathers through the Busted Halo radio show, which planted a seed in my head that kept growing. Through prayer and speaking with vocation directors, I have learned that discernment is a continuing process and that the best way to know God's will is to take that first step into a formation program.
Mr. Jimmy Hsu, CSP – Third Year Theology
- Birthday: November 1, 1988
- Home Town: Plano, Texas
- Favorite Saint: St. John the Evangelist
Hobbies: Reading, sleeping, computer games, golf, food
Favorite Food: Chinese and Italian
- Enjoy most about being a theology student: Learning more about the faith that I love and sharing it with those I minister to in parishes, those I meet in the classroom, and my Paulist brothers.
Vocation Story: I first considered the priesthood after going to a youth retreat in 8th grade. It was always on my mind as I went through my high school years. When I entered The University of Texas in Austin, I met the Paulist Fathers, who serve at the campus ministry at Austin. I became active in campus ministry and got to know the Paulists well. The priests became my mentors and continued to encourage my discernment for priesthood. As I was graduating, I felt that I wanted to apply to enter the seminary. With encouragement from the Paulists in Austin, I chose to apply for the Paulist novitiate. I have found the Paulist life to be very rewarding and hope that I continue to be guided through this path.
Mr. James Olague, CSP – Second Year Theology
- School of Theology: The Catholic University of America
- Birthday: June 12, 1983
- Home Town: Chino Valley, Ariz.
- Favorite Saint: St. Maximilian Kolbe
- Hobbies: Hunting, Shooting, Historical Fiction
- Enjoy most about being a theology student: The time to "come and see" and explore the Paulist possibility while getting to know the field of Paulist ministry and to see if it fits my character and aspirations.
Vocation Story: Growing up in a strong Catholic household I felt the presence of the Church early on. My great grandmother took me to daily mass and introduced me to devotions such as the rosary. My Catholic identity was intertwined with my daily life. This might sound optimistic, but when I was a child I thought every church was Catholic. I later learned, however, that that was not the case and when my father left the Church when I was thirteen, I remember how sad I felt. It was then I rediscovered my faith that led me to the openness of the priesthood. At first I applied to my home Diocese of Phoenix. I went through three years of formation when I realized I didn’t have a sense of direction. When I discovered the life of Isaac Hecker, I felt a strong closeness with his life and a much needed sense of direction with the mission of the Paulists. I took some time off and earned a Masters degree in history at the University of Nevada, Reno while I discerned a Paulist vocation. I am glad that I made the decision to explore the Paulist possibility in the novitiate.
Mr. Steve Petroff, CSP – First Year Theology
- Birth Date: April 20, 1964
- Home Town: Born and raised in Clarkston, Mich.; lived past 20 years in Los Angeles, CA.
- Favorite Saint: The BVM!
- Hobbies: Current events, politics, travel, old movie classics
- Favorite Food: Arroz con Pollo from El Coyote
- Enjoy most about being a theology student: I’m very much looking forward to a deep course of study that finally focuses on what is most near and dear to my heart – faith.
Vocation Story: I've felt a call to the priesthood since I was young, but have spent much of my adult life running from it or making excuses. After years of spiritual wandering, exploration and struggling with my Catholic faith, I came to realize that God's love is bigger and more generous than I can imagine - and that this love includes me just as I am. I was drawn to the Paulists by their dedication to outreach, compassion and building bridges of inclusive communication among Catholics and beyond. The Paulist mission to meet contemporary culture on its own terms and present the Gospel in compelling, modern ways inspires and motivates me.
Mr. Stuart Wilson-Smith, CSP –– First Year Theology
- Birth Date: September 26, 1984
- Home Town: Toronto, Ont.
- Favorite Saint: St. André Bessette
- Hobbies: Fishing, globetrotting
- Favorite Food: Seafood, pizza, and spaghetti
- Enjoy most about being a theology student: I am curious about so many things, and returning to studies has definitely reminded me of that. The opportunity to better know our God through philosophy and theology, using the gifts of reason and revelation, is a truly exciting prospect for me.
Vocation Story: Though I was baptized Catholic and attended Sunday school throughout my early years growing up in Fredericton, New Brunswick, I was also exposed to various expressions of Protestantism. As I embarked on a spiritual and intellectual quest in my teens to find where God was calling me, I found myself to be Catholic all over again and became eager to spread the joy and the sense of peace the faith had brought me with others. Through the years I've worked, travelled, studied, and dated, I've rediscovered the call to priesthood over and over again, and I am excited to now be pursuing that call further and seeing where my Paulist journey takes me.