Editor’s note: Our gratitude to the Midwest Province of Jesuits for providing photos and an article.
A childhood member of Nativity of Our Lord, Rhinelander, was ordained a Jesuit priest on Saturday, June 10, at the Church of the Gesu in Milwaukee.
Fr. Aaron Pierre and five other Jesuits were ordained by Bishop Edward C. Malesic, of the Diocese of Cleveland, Ohio.
Son of Bill and Diane Pierre, Fr. Pierre was born in 1988 and entered the Society of Jesus on Aug. 25, 2012.
Since then, he has coordinated a summer program for gang-involved youth in Chicago through the Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation; taught ethics to juniors, worked on the campus ministry team and drove a school bus route at Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge, South Dakota; ministered to inmates at Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, California, through the Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative; studied for a semester at Hekima University College in Nairobi, Kenya, and volunteered with Jesuit Refugee Service.
Following ordination, Fr. Pierre will be serving as associate pastor of the Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Patrick’s Parishes on the south side of Milwaukee.
Fr. Pierre comments:
“Most people don’t know that I acted as a child, taking on roles in about a dozen community theater plays before high school. While I am by no means an actor today, those experiences have definitely given me a foundation of confidence for public speaking and leading liturgies.
“During the seven months I spent in Eastern Africa, I worked really hard to become conversational in Swahili, a fascinating and beautiful language. For me, languages are like 5,000-piece puzzles which, as they take shape, become a tool to open social doors to new experiences and meaningful encounters. Being able to carry on basic conversations in Swahili helped me make authentic connections with real people, unquestionably the most rewarding part of pastoral ministry.
“I never imagined doing cell-by-cell visits in the solitary confinement pod of one of California’s ‘supermax’ prisons, Pelican Bay State Prison. A summer of assisting the Jesuit Restorative
Justice Initiative out of Los Angeles gave me that opportunity and drastically reframed my perception of the people caught in our criminal justice system.
“If I could travel back in time and meet myself the first day I entered the Society of Jesus I’d tell myself: ‘Don’t take yourself so seriously!’ God doesn’t. And the world doesn’t need another somber, rule-driven, perfectionist who is out of touch with the joy of the Gospel. I’d say ‘Take a deep breath and let in God’s loving acceptance which never wavers, even when you don’t get something ‘just right.’ Jesuit community means sharing in a collective commitment to following Jesus, firmly rooting ourselves in the Spiritual Exercises, and being willing to share in the joys and sorrows of a life of ministry.”