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Friday 17 September |

A Soldier’s Journey into the Jesuits

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 02/02/16

A fascinating vocation story that proves, once again, that God is full of surprises:

Sean Hagerty, SJ, 31, was climbing the corporate ladder in the beer distribution business when he decided to become a Jesuit priest. And even by Jesuit standards, that’s a pretty uncommon path. But there hasn’t been anything routine about Hagerty’s life to date, so it was no surprise when he decided to ditch the King of Beers for God’s Kingdom. Raised on the Upper West Side of New York City in a bilingual household, Hagerty’s dad, Ed, is of Irish descent and his mother, Maru, is from Colombia. A former model, buyer and personal shopper, Maru was quick to point out when the teenage Sean needed a style makeover. “Thanks for crushing my confidence, Mom,” he’d say as he headed out the door. As a freshman in high school, Hagerty and his twin brother first met the Jesuits at Xavier High School in Lower Manhattan. Back then, a vocation wasn’t really on his mind. The Jesuits, however, made an impression. “They were smart and kind and loved what they were doing. They were very present in our lives — whether helping out with the yearbook, moderating the Chess Club or attending games,” Hagerty remembers. He threw himself into life at Xavier, becoming an outstanding cadet in the school’s JROTC program and swimming for the varsity team. During Hagerty’s senior year of high school, the country was attacked on 9/11. Xavier was little more than two miles from Ground Zero, and the impact of that tragic day was palpably felt. “There were a lot of deaths — Xavier alumni, parents and others closely linked to the school.  When you’re 18 years old and your city is subject to a terrorist attack, you get pretty pissed off.” Hagerty channeled his anger into a plan: He would continue his ROTC training at Fordham University and graduate with an Army commission. While he excelled at his ROTC duties, he’s the first to say that partying and playing water polo ranked far higher than academics on his priority list. During sophomore year, he was going through a rough patch and decided, implausibly, to go on a silent retreat.

Read on to find out what happened next— and what led him to this startling epiphany:

“I’m making more money than I know what to do with, I’m dating a great girl, I have a nice car and renting a house in Laguna Beach, but I’m just not happy. But when I thought about being a Jesuit, I was happy.”


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