Fr. John Vowells, S.J., joined SLU LAW as its new campus minister at the start of the Fall 2014 semester.
Originally from the suburbs of Kansas City, Mo., Fr. Vowells attended Rockhurst High School where the friendly and dynamic young Jesuits inspired his calling to join the order when he was 19 years old.
“They made me feel like I was important,” he recalled.
Most recently the pastor at St. Francis Xavier Church in Kansas City, Missouri, Fr. Vowells was transferred to St. Louis this summer to work as minister, treasurer and on the formation staff at St. Robert Bellarmine House of Studies. Bellarmine (located just off the main SLU campus behind the Coronado), is the first studies program for Jesuit scholastics and brothers and consists of five houses where 25 men in formation from all the Jesuit provinces in the U.S. come to study. In addition to running the houses, Fr. Vowells helps the students learn what it means to be a Jesuit and to live their vows as they study.
To supplement his time at Bellarmine, he will also partake in part-time duties at the School of Law.
As someone who people come to for a variety of reasons, Fr. Vowells considers his role as a priest a privilege. “I like the opportunity to help students expand their view about who they are, what the world is, who God is and how all of that interacts,” he said.
Though only on the job at SLU LAW for a few weeks, Fr. Vowells has already noticed the difference between serving as a campus minister at the graduate level versus undergraduate.
He recognizes that the needs of a graduate student differ from the needs of a traditional undergraduate student, which is an adjustment from his 10 years in campus ministry at Rockhurst University and Regis University. Even in his short time here, he has noticed the studious nature of law school students who spend the vast majority of their time in the building studying or in class. As such, he’s eager to discover how to adapt traditional programming to a group of people who have busy schedules and to provide a space for reflection and prayer.
No matter your religious affiliation (or lack thereof), his door is open to people of all faiths to discuss spirituality. “Everybody has those important questions: ‘Who am I? What’s my purpose? Where’s God in my life? Where’s God in the world?’” he said. “If I can be a help or a sounding board, I would love to do that.”
More importantly, he stresses, “I’m not scary – and I will have chocolate.”
Fr. Vowells holds office hours Tuesdays from 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and Thursdays from 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and offers Mass at 12:05 p.m. both days. You can find him next door to the chapel in room 742. Information on future programming will be forthcoming.