Fr. Sean Carroll
Fr. Sean Carroll
The new leader of Jesuits in the western United States is both a champion and student of migrants.

Father Sean Carroll, 55, was founding executive director of the Arizona-based Kino Border Initiative, a humanitarian aid ministry serving on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Father Carroll stepped into his new post July 31 and will be based at the Jesuit community near St. Ignatius Parish in Southeast Portland. He’ll also spend time at the Jesuit offices in Los Gatos, California.

Father Arturo Sosa, superior general of the worldwide Jesuits, called Father Carroll “humble and zealous.”

“He is a visionary with audacious apostolic imagination who can also put ideas into practice, building partnerships and institutional networks for the sake of the greater good,” Father Sosa said in a written statement. He lauded Father Carroll for working across borders at a time when civil society is so divided.

The new provincial is a skilled administrator who earned an executive MBA from Georgetown University in 2017.

Father Carroll succeeds Father Scott Santarosa as head of the 10-state province. Both men served at Dolores Mission in East Los Angeles, a parish full of migrants and families hit by poverty and gang violence.

“Sean has become a respected leader, administrator, bridge builder and collaborator, known by all for his kind heart,” Father Santarosa said.

The new provincial was born in Massachusetts but spent most of his childhood in Southern California. After graduating from Servite High School in Anaheim, he earned a history degree from Stanford University. The next year, he entered the Jesuit novitiate in California, professing first vows in 1991.

He has served at Fordham University in the Bronx, Loyola High School in Los Angeles and Colegio del Sagrado Corazon in Montevideo, Uruguay. He was associate pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Oakland, California, and associate pastor of Dolores Mission.

In 2009, he was named leader of the border ministry named in honor of Jesuit Father Eusebio Kino, a 17th-century missionary who ministered in Sonora. The initiative has grown from a modest dining room to an organization that last year provided more than 100,000 meals to men, women and children who were recently deported or are seeking asylum in the U.S. The ministry provides overnight shelter for more than 100 people and services including first aid, legal support and pastoral accompaniment.

As a Jesuit novice, he had served in a house for migrants in Tijuana, Mexico, where residents taught him about connection and solidarity. He learned Spanish better so he could form deeper relationships.

The learning continued at the border initiative and will affect his work as provincial, he said.

“Trust in God. It’s a powerful lesson the migrants taught me over the years,” he said. Amid violence, separation and scorn, immigrants place themselves in God’s hands and press on, Father Carroll explained.

“God is deeply present in their struggles,” he said.

His first task as provincial, he said, is to get to know the Jesuits in his care. He expects to discern next steps with them.

Father Carroll said he knows Oregon is full of people of goodwill who care about the situation at the Mexico-U.S. border and other important social matters.

His brother Tim Carroll is new dean of the College of Business at Oregon State University. Another brother is a physician in Portland.

Father Carroll, whose pastimes are reading and cooking, said he likes the Oregon rain.