Brother Hunter recently joined the Society of Jesus as a novice, and is currently visiting Belen Jesuit for several weeks. We caught up with him to ask him a few questions and get to know more about his life and journey. Please join us in welcoming him to the Belen community.
Where are you originally from?
I was born and raised in Greenwell Springs, Louisiana, which is just outside of Baton Rouge. I went to high school at Catholic High School in Baton Rouge, and I attended Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama.
What brought you to enter the seminary, and when did you enter it?
I entered the novitiate in the Central and Southern Province (UCS) in August of 2017. Our province's novitiate is in Grand Coteau, Louisiana, a small country town just an hour away from where I grew up. Prior to entering I was at Spring Hill College which is where I first met the Jesuits. I became involved in the Sodality of Our Lady, which was recently restored at Spring Hill, and it formed and directed my life to the Society of Jesus. It was on a Sodality retreat in 2015 during a night of confession and adoration where I heard God's voice calling me to the priesthood.
People ask me all the time, "Why do you want to be a priest?" and sometimes I want to boisterously respond, "Why wouldn't I want to be a priest?!?" A priest is called during life's most important moments: birth, baptism, marriage, funerals, confessions, and anointings, just to name a few. Jesus uses priests to be His hands in consecrating mere bread into His Precious Body, and Jesus uses the words of the priest to grant absolution of sins in confession. I am often confused why there aren't dozens of young men and women in line to join religious orders and seminaries. I can't think of anything I'd rather do than be a humble vessel of God's Fiery Love.
How long will you be at Belen for, and what are your plans for what follows?
I'll be at Belen until April 8th. This summer I'll be spending most of my time in the novitiate in Grand Coteau, Louisiana or in Denver where all novices in the country meet to study Jesuit history for a month. So long as the Lord and the Society of Jesus wills it, I'll take first vows on August 10th. Please pray for me. After that I will be sent to Loyola-Chicago for my philosophy studies for about three years.
What has been your experience so far as a novice? Where were you before Belen?
My experience as a novice can best be described as a pilgrimage. I've lived in Grand Coteau, Kansas City, Denver, Puerto Rico, Dallas, Guyana, South America, and now here in Miami. The life of a Jesuit, which I'm learning how to live as a novice, requires radical availability and adaptability. One moment I'm in a high school classroom and the next I'm on the streets with the homeless. I've gone from dinners with bishops to prison ministry within a day. Ultimately, I'm asking Jesus to make my heart more like His Sacred Heart so that I may go from tax collectors, to fishermen, to the rich, to the poorest of poor and everywhere in between. As far as what the future holds for me, I've learned that God's design is much better than my own, and I'm more than happy and willing to do whatever is asked of me.
What lasting impression do you hope to leave with the Belen students?
I want to leave Belen students with a sense of wonder and awe of God. I want them to realize that the devout Catholic life is not one of boredom, but it is the greatest adventure one can have. I hope that they don't see the Church as just a good moral teacher, or just a Sunday family formality. I want them to know that Jesus cannot be domesticated or tamed. No, the Sacred Heart of Jesus is on fire with zealous love for their individual soul. That's the impression I hope to leave.