Fr. San Mai
Fr. San Mai
Three Jesuits ordained priests of the order’s Western province earlier this month have Oregon connections.

Jesuit Father San Mai was ordained July 6 at St. Ignatius Church in Southeast Portland by Archbishop Alexander Sample.

Father Mai was born in Saigon, Vietnam. As a child, he immigrated with his family to Portland and joined Our Lady of La Vang Parish, where Father Mai’s parents still belong.

He attended Santa Clara University in California, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering in 1989 and a master’s degree in business administration in 1994.

Prior to entering the Society of Jesus, he was a Silicon Valley executive, working in product management and marketing. Calling his vocation “late and surprising, yet incredibly consoling,” he entered the Society of Jesus in 2011. As a novice, he worked as a teaching assistant at Jesuit High School in Portland. He then studied philosophy at Loyola University Chicago in 2013. Missioned next to St. Andrew Nativity School in Portland, he worked for two years as a teacher.

“Although my official ministry was to teach math and science, I think it is more accurate to describe this assignment as a ministry of love, which is really what Jesus’ ministry was all about,” he said of the experience.

He earned a master of divinity degree at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California, while serving as a deacon and leader of children’s faith formation at a nearby parish. He is now associate pastor at St. Aloysius Parish in Spokane, Washington.

In a small rite with participants wearing masks against the coronavirus, Archbishop Sample said he appreciates seeing Father Mai’s “total abandonment to God’s will.”

Jesuit Father Perry Petrich was ordained later the same day at St. Ignatius. Born and raised in Tacoma, Washington, he attended Bellarmine Preparatory School in his hometown before graduating from Fordham College in New York with a bachelor’s degree in theater and theology. Highlights of his time at Fordham include stage managing the New York premiere of Tim Robbins’ “Dead Man Walking.”

From New York, he moved to Cazadero, California, where he worked for the Caritas Creek program, leading outdoor education trips for Bay Area Catholic grade schools.

He entered the Society of Jesus in 2008. During his formation, he taught theater to students at Jesuit High School in Portland and to migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border in Sonora, Mexico.

He also has worked in schools in Chicago, Phoenix, San Jose and Oakland. He will continue to serve in secondary education as a theology teacher and campus minister at Jesuit High School in Sacramento. He holds master’s degrees in Catholic educational leadership from the University of San Francisco and in social philosophy from Loyola University Chicago as well as a master of divinity degree from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley. In addition, he has written for The Jesuit Post and America Magazine and taught sailing at summer camps in the Archdiocese of Seattle.

Auxiliary Bishop Kenneth Steiner presided at the ordination, urging Father Petrich to “carry out the ministry of Christ the priest with constant joy and genuine love, tending not to your own concerns but to those of Jesus Christ.”

Ordained July 11 at St. Ignatius Loyola Parish in Sacramento was Jesuit Father Billy Biegler. Born in Sacramento, he is the middle of three boys. A graduate of Jesuit High in Sacramento, he completed his undergraduate degree in philosophy at the University of San Francisco. He worked for the San Francisco Opera and California Musical Theater.

In 2009, he entered the Jesuit Novitiate in Culver City, California. He studied philosophy at St. Louis University and completed a master’s degree in theater and performance studies at Washington University.

For regency, a later stage of Jesuit formation, he worked at Jesuit High School in Portland, teaching freshman English, freshman Spanish and senior theology. In addition to teaching, he led service trips, retreats and what he calls “a mighty group of freshmen basketball players.”

He studied at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry and received a master of divinity degree. He also worked at a Boston parish, serving as a spiritual director, a Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults instructor and a chaplain for the ministry to the sick and homebound.

Father Biegler is now in Portland at St. Ignatius Parish and will help with vocation promotion.