Born and raised in San Luis, Argentina, Rev. Jorge Jesus Lopez is a globetrotting scholar and a lifelong sportsman. From an early age, he could regularly be found on the basketball court or the soccer field. As his high school graduation loomed, he found this love for athletics prompting him to consider a career in physical education — until Providence led him in another direction.
“In the last year of high school I was invited for a retreat,” Fr. Jorge recalls. When he decided to attend, he had no idea that he would return a changed man: “I found out that God was calling me to become a priest.”
Fr. Jorge studied at San Miguel Arcángel Seminary in San Luis, working in a variety of ministries throughout his years of formation. By the time he was ordained a transitional deacon, he was working in campus ministry at the Catholic University of San Luis, tending to the spiritual and pastoral needs of its students. This experience in campus ministry, as well as an impressive academic record, led him to return to the university as a chaplain and professor after his ordination in 2006.
Within three years, it was clear that Fr. Jorge had a special aptitude for academics. His bishop concluded that, to make the most of this gift, he needed to continue his education. “He sent me to Rome, where I studied at Holy Cross University,” the chaplain explains. In Rome, Fr. Jorge pursued a doctorate in philosophy, focusing on John Searle’s philosophy of language, which he completed in March 2018.
As if that were not enough to keep him busy, he concurrently pursued a master’s in bioethics from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family, which he finished in November 2020. Still, his sojourn in the Eternal City was not over.
“My bishop suggested that I continue my studies and my formation,” says Fr. Jorge, “keeping my connection alive in Rome.” Accordingly, though returning to active priestly ministry in Argentina, he spent his summers in Rome, again at Holy Cross University. Fr. Jorge’s second Ph.D. was in moral theology, which he completed in March 2022 with a dissertation examining Julian Savulescu and Leon Kass’s treatment of the ethics of human enhancement.
Returning to Argentina with two doctorates and a master’s degree, Fr. Jorge was named a parish priest last March. He thought it might, at last, be time to settle down in his home country, but this momentary quietude was not to last. “A friend of mine, Fr. Patrick Driscoll from the Archdiocese of San Francisco, knew that Thomas Aquinas College was looking for a chaplain,” he says. Thinking of his friend in Argentina, Fr. Driscoll alerted him to the opportunity.
As he did his research into the College, Fr. Jorge was increasingly intrigued. “I was fascinated by the program of liberal education,” he says, adding that, “having an experience serving in my priestly ministry abroad would be very challenging.” The more he learned about the College, the more he was eager to apply for the chaplaincy. “I seriously started to consider that God´s providence was behind this, just as He had led me through my academic and pastoral formation.”
God brought Fr. Jorge to the California campus in October 2022. Since arriving, he has found the College and its students warmly welcoming. Athlete that he is, he has already availed himself of the myriad intramural basketball and soccer teams. “I wish I were 20 years younger,” he laughs, “to match the demanding talents of TAC’s basketball players.”
As he expected, the chaplaincy has also had its challenges. “I have had to learn more English,” he admits. But while that may be so, as a zealous priest, a sophisticated scholar, an avid athlete, and an aficionado of classical music and the lore of Middle-Earth, Fr. Jorge is already well versed in the many “languages” of the College’s students. “It’s been a good experience so far.”