Vice President for Mission and Ministry Fr. Kevin O’Brien, S.J. (COL ’88) professed his final vows to the Society of Jesus in Gaston Hall Saturday.

The profession of final vows marks the end of the formation — the formal teaching period for a Jesuit. The ceremony requires the priest to reaffirm his commitment to poverty, chastity, obedience and the Jesuit mission.

Held during the 11:30 a.m. Catholic Mass, O’Brien’s final vows reaffirmed his dedication to the Jesuit service of the Church and the world.

“For me, the vow profession is a recommitment to my life as a Jesuit,” O’Brien said in an interview with The Hoya. “This is a life I’m now living at Georgetown, and it’s a recommitment to service and ministry I offer at Georgetown.”

The profession of final vows is the sixth and final step in becoming a Jesuit, and it ended O’Brien’s 16-year journey. The other stages included a two-year period of novitiate studies, a three-year period of first-level studies, a three-year period of regency that includes educational and spiritual training, a three-year period of theology studies, five years of ministry and a period of tertianship — preparation for the final vows.

After graduating from Georgetown, O’Brien studied politics and earned a law degree from the University of Florida. He began practicing corporate law, but felt that something was missing from his career as a litigator. Seeking a higher level of fulfillment, he began work as a high school teacher and started considering a life in the priesthood.

“When I practiced law, the idea of becoming a Jesuit priest came back in a very big way. In order to discern that call, I left my law practice,” O’Brien said. “In teaching at this high school, my call to become a Jesuit priest became stronger each year.”

Throughout his years of service, O’Brien has taught at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, worked in the Office of University Mission and Ministry at Fordham University, served as an associate pastor at Holy Trinity Church in Washington D.C., volunteered in the Jesuit refugee services, hospitals and jails and lived abroad in lesser developed countries.

O’Brien was ordained as a priest in 2006 and returned to Georgetown in August 2008 to work as executive director of Campus Ministry. In August 2011, O’Brien was named vice president for mission and ministry.

“A Jesuit’s life is characterized by study, work and prayer. It is a mix of those three things,” O’Brien said. “I bring all of that to my work here now at Georgetown.”

The Mass was conducted as an open service, with Rev. James Shea, S.J., the provincial of the Maryland province of the Society of Jesus presiding over the ceremony. O’Brien delivered his vows before the sacrament of Communion.

“Whatever greatness we aspire to, it must run through the lives of those who have the least — the poor, the homeless, the neglected, the undocumented, those bearing the burdens of injustice in our world,” O’Brien said at the ceremony. “In the end, this day is not about one man’s profession of vows but a religious community’s commitment to something larger than ourselves. Final vows are a promise in an act of hope for the future.”

University President John J. DeGioia also spoke at the ceremony.

“There is a finality that we recognize. All doubts are removed, [and] there is no question regarding Kevin’s acceptance of the responsibility of total commitment,” DeGioia said. “But final does not mean that Kevin stops growing.”

Above all, the ceremony was a celebration of O’Brien’s impact in the Georgetown community.

“The example that Fr. O’Brien sets everyday as a model is commendable,” Rev. Stefanie Chappell,Harbin Hall chaplain-in-residence, said of O’Brien’s work. “He makes me want to take my commitment to faith more fully and seriously.”

Knights of Columbus member Kevin Sullivan (SFS ’14) agreed.

“This is our way to give back to Fr. O’Brien and his achievements within the community,” Sullivan said.

Not one for resting on his laurels, O’Brien said he now looks forward to continuing his service for the Church, the Georgetown community and the world.

“My work with the poor in this country and in other countries always reminds me of the heart of my calling as a Jesuit. Wherever I am, whatever I am doing, I must always keep the needs of the poor and marginalized close to me,” O’Brien said. “That’s when a Jesuits vocation is lived most authentically.”

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