This summer marks a special milestone for Maryland Province Jesuit Fathers Frank Reese and Don Ward: together they have served the church as priests for 100 years.
Frs. Reese and Ward are celebrating their 55th and 45th anniversaries of ordination, respectively. The two priests have served together at St. Therese Church in Mooresville, North Carolina, for the past four years, and each taught at St. Joseph’s Preparatory School in Philadelphia earlier in their careers. But their experiences in between have ranged from Africa to South America to the Midwestern United States, as the two priests have served mental hospital patients, the poor, high school students and many other communities.
Fr. Reese spent many of his years teaching in high schools — first in Pittsburgh, then later at St. Joseph’s Prep. When he moved to Hot Springs, North Carolina, he began directing spiritual retreats at the Jesuit House of Prayer.
Later, Fr. Reese served in Mars Hill, North Carolina, where he worked with the community to build St. Andrew the Apostle Church in 1991. There, he learned Spanish in response to the growing Latino population in his parish. "Studying the Bible in a new language was a great gift. It opens your eyes in a different way,” Fr. Reese said of his time there.
Fr. Ward taught at St. Joseph’s Prep and Gonzaga High School in Washington, D.C., but his love of new cultures led him to serve in Santiago, Chile, where he worked at Hogar de Cristo (Home of Christ) helping the needy. He then served in Tanzania and the Dominican Republic, among other countries, and in between, served parishes in the Northeastern United States. "It was challenging. It grew on me,” he said of his time abroad, but he laughs that his superiors have "matched the jobs to my personality."
Both Frs. Reese and Ward have advice for men discerning the priesthood. "Pray. Talk to people. Trust," said Fr. Reese. "Keep trying to follow the leading of the Lord. In my experience, the Lord leads. It may require patience. Trust requires that."
Fr. Ward agreed that prayer is essential. "Pray. Have a spiritual director. Stay close to the Eucharist." And of the decades in the Society of Jesus, "It's been a joy ride," said Fr. Reese. "Some days!" joked Fr. Ward. [Source: Catholic News Herald]