Father Joseph Fessio, S.J.
In 1978, Father Joseph D. Fessio, S.J., together with Carolyn Lemon, founded a small publishing house to make the works of great 20th century European theologians available in English. These luminaries included such figures as Joseph Ratzinger, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Henri de Lubac, Louis Bouyer, and Adrienne von Speyr, and in the decades since, the Ignatius Press catalog has come to include hundreds of authors and thousands of titles.
After growing up “on an island in the San Francisco Bay whose name begins with ‘A’ – but not Alcatraz or Angel” (Alameda), as he likes to say, young Joseph Fessio moved to Seattle for a time, but really grew up in Menlo Park, California. Raised in a Catholic family, he attended Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, California, then studied civil engineering at the University of Santa Clara. On September 7, 1961, at the age of 19, he entered the Jesuit novitiate. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in philosophy from Gonzaga University, a master’s in theology in Lyon, France, and was ordained a priest on June 10, 1972.
Following his priestly ordination, Father Fessio earned his doctorate from the University of Regensburg, West Germany, under the tutelage of then-Father Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI), studying the ecclesiology of Hans Urs von Balthasar at the suggestion of Father Henri de Lubac.
Father Fessio taught philosophy and theology at Gonzaga University, the University of Santa Clara, and in 1976 the University of San Francisco, and founded the Saint Ignatius Institute at USF. He was also the founding provost of Ave Maria University. After the founding of Ignatius Press in 1978, even when responsibilities with these other organizations took him outside San Francisco, he never stopped working with Ignatius Press.
Father can be found working at the Ignatius Press offices late into the night, or growing grapes and making wine at the Press’ retreat house property in the Santa Rosa mountains. After more than four decades at the helm, Father Fessio shows no signs of slowing, and can even regularly be seen discussing Ignatius Press books and interviewing authors on the Ignatius Press social media channels.
Some favorite Ignatius Press books:
“All of them”
Carolyn Lemon has worked full time at Ignatius Press since 1980, but her time here precedes even that. She worked part time between 1977 and 1980, after her job as librarian at Notre Dame des Victoires, a Catholic elementary school in San Francisco. She began by doing clerical work forFather Fessio, writing to authors and other publishers, and other tasks as needed. Their initial plan for bringing the writings of brilliant European theologians to the English-speaking world was to find existing Catholic publishers to publish English translations of their work. When it became obvious that other publishers were not interested in publishing these theologians, Father Fessio, Carolyn, and others realized that a new publishing house would have to be founded.
In time, Father Fessio received a grant from the DeRance Foundation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which enabled him to hire two people – an accountant and Carolyn – and pay the expenses for several initial titles. Carolyn left her librarian job, put out into the deep, and became Production Editor for the newly-founded Ignatius Press. She has had the same job ever since, but the scope of responsibilities has changed over the years.
Carolyn’s initial contact with Father Fessio and Ignatius Press, as with so many other Ignatius employees, has the fingerprints of providence all over it. A priest at Notre Dames des Victoires, where Carolyn worked at the time, gave her Father Fessio’s name and phone number, because she lived near the University of San Francisco, where he taught at the time. The priest did not know Father Fessio personally, but had sat next to him on a flight and they exchanged contact information.
She grew up in the Santa Clara Valley, now commonly known as Silicon Valley, although in those days it was mostly rural. They were farm kids, even starting school later in the fall than the city schools to allow for prune harvesting. Her grandmother had an egg business, and Carolyn spent many hours telling stories and reading books to the chickens. Her love of books began very early, and she later earned a Master of Library Science at the University of California, Berkeley. She has two daughters and three grandchildren, spread all throughout the western United States.
Her parents and grandparents were vaguely Christian, very moral, but not affiliated with any particular church. At the age of nine, a family friend took her to a Baptist Sunday School, and when she memorized the 23rd psalm she received a New Testament as a prize. She fell in love with Scripture through the King James Version, and later attended a Methodist Church with a close friend, getting very active in the youth group. During her freshman year at a Quaker college, she came to the conclusion that the Catholic Church was the fullness of Christianity, and her senior year she finally made the plunge and became Catholic. Working at Ignatius Press for all these decades has continued to deepen our faith.
Some favorite Ignatius Press books:
Heart of the World by Hans Urs von Balthasar
anything by Joseph Ratzinger
the poetry of Mother Mary Francis
A Memory for Wonders by Mother Veronica Namoyo le Goulard
many, many more
Anthony Ryan joined the ranks of Ignatius Press in its infancy, in 1981, just a few short years after its founding, to help mainly with the sales and promotion of the books. He and his wife Marcia have been married for 46 years, have 4 children, and 8 grandchildren (so far).
Ryan grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, one of six children. He attended St. Thomas Military Academy and the University of St. Thomas, both in St. Paul, and played hockey from grade school all the way through college. After finishing college, he attended the 30-day Youth Mission for the Immaculata spiritual formation program run by the Franciscans of Marytown, making his act of Total Consecration to Our Lady as taught by St. Maximillian Kolbe, which has made a deep, lifelong impact on his spiritual life.
He then volunteered a year with the Franciscans, living at the friary. After marrying Marcia in 1976, he stayed on for another year at Marytown working as a salesman of their many books, pamphlets and Immaculata magazine. In 1977 he was hired by Fr. John Sweeney, pastor of Our Lady of Peace Church, Santa Clara, Ca., to be the Director of Religious Education, run the parish Youth program, and oversee the parish Perpetual Adoration Program. He also assisted Father Sweeney in raising support for building the large Shrine of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, that is now flourishing on the parish grounds. Ryan also started and ran for 13 years a 30-day Youth Mission for the Immaculata program, modeled on the program he attended at Marytown. He was very blest to have the great priest Fr. Lawrence Goode as the YMI chaplain and spiritual director for all 13 years.
In 1981, with three children and needing a better paying job than the parish could afford, Tony asked Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J., whom he knew as Theology Professor and Director of the St. Ignatius Institute at USF, if he could give Tony any leads for job interviews since Father knew many people in the business world. Father called him a week later and said he had a job idea – working for Ignatius Press. Tony said “what is that?” as it was so new and small he had not even heard of it. Father explained it was a “side publishing project” he started and was now growing enough that he needed help. After sharing his vision for the mission of IP, even though the pay was still low and no guarantee that IP would be able to make it for very long financially, Tony was inspired by the IP mission and took the job.
Now, 41 years later, IP has become one of the major Catholic publishing companies in the world, during which Tony has been the Marketing & Sales Director. God has greatly blessed IP in countless ways with a talented, dedicated staff, a huge number of incredible authors and books on every facet of Catholicism, many inspiring films, and a great leader, priest and true son of the Church, Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J.
Mark Brumley has worked at Ignatius Press since 1995, and has been president since the early 2000s.
Mark describes himself as a “double convert”, as he was largely unchurched as a child growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, later became an Evangelical Christian with extreme anti-Catholic views, and then converted to Catholicism after years of reading the Church Fathers, Frank Sheed, G.K. Chesterton, Louis Bouyer, and many others.
He worked for Catholic Answers from 1989 to 1991, and then for the Diocese of San Diego as Director of the Office of Social Ministries, which was the office for respect life and social justice activities, and as Director of the Office of Communications, in which capacity he handled the media and oversaw the diocesan newspaper, The Southern Cross. Once he discerned it was time to move on to something new, he reached out to Father Fessio to see if he knew of any other positions open in other dioceses. Of course, Father Fessio himself had a position for Mark: Ignatius Press was starting two magazines: Catholic Dossier (with philosopher and novelist Ralph McInerney), and The Catholic Faith (with Jesuit Father John Hardon), and both needed a managing editor. Mark said yes, and has been with Ignatius Press ever since.
In his work as managing editor, he oversaw subscriptions for all four Ignatius Press magazines: Catholic Dossier, The Catholic Faith, Catholic World Report, and Homiletic & Pastoral Review. He began to get involved in other Ignatius publishing projects, such as the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, and acquired or developed a number of apologetics books, including Will Catholics Be Left Behind?, The Da Vinci Hoax, and A History of Apologetics.
Mark’s wife, Debbie, works as reprint manager at Ignatius Press, and one of their five children, Cate Harmon, manages Ignatius’ social media efforts.
The first time he encountered an Ignatius Press book was around 1981, at the Daughters of St. Paul Bookstore in downtown St. Louis and at Catholic Supply. After receiving a flier about the initial batch of Ignatius Press books, he ordered C.S. Lewis and the Church of Rome by Christopher Derrick, and was immediately hooked on Ignatius Press books.
Some favorite Ignatius Press books
Woman in the Church by Louis Bouyer
Theology and Sanity by Frank Sheed
Catholicism and Fundamentalism by Karl Keating
The Splendor of the Church by Henri de Lubac
Evangelical is not Enough by Thomas Howard
The Ratzinger Report by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and Vittorio Messori
The Glory of the Lord, Volume 1: Seeing the Form by Hans Urs von Balthasar
Rome Sweet Home by Scott and Kimberly Hahn
Crossing the Tiber by Stephen K. Ray
C.S. Lewis and the Church of Rome by Christopher Derrick
and many more, too numerous to mention
Eva Muntean has been a fixture at Ignatius Press since her arrival in September 1993, and her dog Mia has been the unofficial Ignatius Press mascot since 2012. Born in Hungary under communist rule in Hungary, her parents were state-educated, state-employed, and forced Eva into state-run daycare so her parents could continue their works as engineers for the communist state. Her family dramatically escaped communist rule in a trunk of a car, eventually making their way to the United States and becoming citizens in 1974. Eva’s amazing story, including her family’s falling away from the faith and return, which she titled “From Behind the Iron Curtain to the Belly of the Beast”, can be found in full here.
Raised Catholic in a Hungarian family, Eva drifted away from the Church but had a major reversion in 1986. She was desperate to work for the Church in some capacity, and a friend told her about a position opening up at Ignatius Press. She was living in San Jose, California, at the time, and landed the job of assistant to the Marketing Director, Tony Ryan. Since that time she has worked in various capacities in Marketing, and assisting with whatever else needed done.
Eva’s name may be familiar to many of our readers, as well, as she is the founder of Walk for Life West Coast, which has become the largest annual pro-life demonstration on the west coast since its inception in 2005.
Mia, the unofficial Ignatius Press mascot, has her own little office within Eva’s office, and spends every day at the Press. She often is photographed with our authors, collaborators and friends, known as “Mia’s Minions”. When the office’s Angelus bells ring at noon every day, Mia is the first one up the stairs and ready to pray. She has also attended every conference with Eva over the years, and has become an attraction in her own right.
Each book at Ignatius Press has an editor who shepherds the book through the process of publication. One of those editors is Vivian Dudro. You may recognize her from various appearances in Ignatius Press videos, as well, particularly the FORMED Book Club, which she co-hosts with Father Fessio and Joseph Pearce.
She has been working at Ignatius Press in various capacities since 1993. After her husband lost his job, and on the ninth day of a novena to St. Joseph, Vivian received a call from Father Fessio with an offer to do some editorial work. She had been writing for various Catholic publications for years, and one of her editors had recommended her to Father. She took a part-time job at Ignatius Press, and when she said that her husband needed full-time work, Father interviewed him (and hired him) as an accountant.
Vivian manages various books through the editorial process, and serves on the acquisitions team, helping to decide the books that Ignatius Press will publish. As a senior editor, she continues in these tasks, and is responsible for editorial review of the children’s books that Ignatius Press jointly publishes with Magnificat.
Growing up in a Chicago suburb, Vivian was baptized Episcopalian but not raised in any faith. Her mother died when Vivian was just four years old, which made for a bit of a “messy” childhood. A Christian family in her neighborhood introduced her to Jesus, and took her with them to their church and youth programs. After a long, winding spiritual and intellectual quest, she entered the Church at a Dominican-run Catholic Newman Center when she was 22 years old.
She and Glenn Dudro, the Ignatius Press Finance Director, have been married since 1984, and have raised four children, whom they homeschooled in their home down the street from the former offices of Ignatius Press. They now have two grandchildren.
The first Ignatius Press book she remembers encountering was then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s Behold the Pierced One, recommended by a young man discerning a vocation to the priesthood – although she did not actually read any Ratzinger until after coming to Ignatius Press! The first Ignatius book to have a lasting impact on her was A Memory for Wonders by Mother Veronica Namoyo le Goulard.
Some favorite Ignatius Press books:
Anything by Adrienne von Speyr
Ignatius Press employees come from all over the country, and in some cases, around the world. Riz Boncan Marsella grew up in Manila, in the Philippines, one of seven children and surrounded by her extended family, including her many cousins. The girls all attended a convent school, and the boys attended a Jesuit school. She has been in the United States since 1977, coming to San Francisco to attend art school.
Since the Philippines was under Spanish colonial rule for almost 400 years, Catholic traditions have taken deep root in the islands, and Riz grew up immersed in Catholic customs and traditions at home and at school.
In March 1988, Riz received a phone call from Father Fessio, who was looking for a freelance artist. He asked her to come for an interview, and she presented him with her portfolio, with her 3-month-old baby in hand. She was hired, and has been with Ignatius Press ever since. Her initial work was helping in the Marketing department, doing catalog layout and various production-related tasks. Before long, Father Fessio offered her a full-time position working from home, which allowed her to continue caring for her young daughter.
She is typically described as a graphic artist, but more specifically Riz works on advertising layout and book cover designs for Ignatius Press.
Riz and her husband Vince have been married since 1981, and they have two children and three grandchildren, who have made many memories over the years as part of the Ignatius Press family.
Some favorite Ignatius Press books
The Shadow of His Wings by Fr. Gereon Goldmann
A Song for Nagasaki by Fr. Paul Glynn
The Perfect Joy of St. Francis by Felix Timmermans
God and the World by Peter Seewald and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
Leisure: The Basis of Culture by Josef Pieper
Strangers and Sojourners by Michael D. O’Brien
He Leadeth Me by Fr. Walter Ciszek, S.J.
You might not know John Herreid’s name (until now), but you have surely seen his handiwork. Officially the “catalogue manager”, he designs and lays out each Ignatius Press catalogue, and designs–and even illustrates, when necessary–covers for many Ignatius Press titles, and has illustrated titles in the Vision series, as well.
He started working at Ignatius Press in April of 2000, although left briefly in 2005-2006 to pursue freelance work. Prior to this, he did customer service work for Ignatius Press for three and a half years with the Bethlehem Community in North Dakota.
John started at Ignatius in the Magazine Department, and because of his experience with typesetting, copywriting, and art direction, he was quickly given those responsibilities at Ignatius. He moved on to the Marketing Department, assisting with copy, magazine layout, and preliminary book cover mockups, which then led to his work designing book covers and DVD covers. He has been catalogue manager since his return after his freelancing stint.
His parents entered the Catholic Church when John was a child, so he sometimes describes himself as a “cradle convert”.
In the 1970s, the Herreid family lived in Portland, Oregon, across the street from a Protestant community called Bethlehem Community. After moving to Vermont, the family kept up a friendship and correspondence with the Bethlehem people, and when the community entered the Catholic Church in the 1990s and started a publishing partnership with Ignatius Press, John was invited to come help them renovate a school in North Dakota that the community had moved into. He turned out to be terrible at remodeling, but good at customer service and typesetting! After leaving Bethlehem in 2000, John had a brief stint at another Catholic publisher, and then applied to work at Ignatius Press.
The first Ignatius Press book he clearly remembers is The Ratzinger Report, which was on the family bookshelf growing up. Later, as a teenager, John loved classic mysteries and read every Sherlock Holmes, Nero Wolfe, Hercule Poirot, and Father Brown story he could get his hands on. He discovered that the author of the FatherBrown stories, G.K. Chesterton, had many other books, which led him to Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man, which opened enormous vistas and made the faith and tradition come alive.
Some favorite Ignatius Press books and films:
Happy Are You Poor by Fr. Thomas Dubay, C.M. (“”A book that quite literally changed my life the first time I read it, and I return to it often as a sort of reality check on how my family interacts with material goods)
Manlive by G.K. Chesterton (John illustrated the cover for this, and is quite proud of it!)
Faith and the Future by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
A Song for Nagasaki by Fr. Paul Glynn (“This book will never not make me cry”)
Padre Pio: Miracle Man
The Reluctant Saint
Life for Life (on the life of St. Maximilian Kolbe: “One of the most thought-provoking saint movies that I’ve ever seen, grappling with the unknowability of another person and confronting the viewer with the mystery of sanctity”)
Thomas Jacobi has worked at Ignatius Press as an Assistant Production Editor since July 2018. While his tasks include such work as developmental editing, translation, and serving on the acquisitions team that considers new manuscripts and decides what to publish.
Growing up in and around New Orleans, Louisiana, even studying English at Louisiana State University and working as a copy editor at the Tulane University Law School there, Thomas was away from the Church for years, but came home just months after college graduation. That homecoming developed a profound interest in Christian theology, particularly the books of Hans Urs von Balthasar and Adrienne von Speyr. He went on to study literature, languages, and theology in Rome, at the Casa Balthasar and La Sapienza (the University of Rome).
As a Catholic revert working in the publishing industry, a job at Ignatius Press had always been the Holy Grail (so to speak) for Thomas. The books published by the Press – Only the Lover Sings by Josef Pieper, the Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton, among so many others – were not only powerful, but elegantly printed, with natural paper and a kind of classic European neatness. He wanted to be a part of it, wanted to be involved in the work of Ignatius Press. But he saw no way in, and figured it would not be possible.
Providence stepped in, however. While he was living in Rome, Thomas happened to meet some of the Ignatius Press staff, and ended up getting hired as an Assistant Production Editor in 2018, and moved to San Francisco.
Some favorite Ignatius Press books:
A Memory for Wonders by Mother Veronica Namoyo Le Goulard
Catholicism: Christ and the Common Destiny of Man by Henri de Lubac, SJ
Man before God by Adrienne Von Speyr
Laura Peredo is the Acquisitions, Rights, and Contracts Manager at Ignatius Press, and has been since May 2016. As with so many of her Ignatius Press colleagues, Laura’s story bears unmistakable marks of God’s providence.
Laura is the third of 7 kids in a Catholic homeschool family, and grew up in San Jose, California. She fit all the “homeschooler” stereotypes: jumpers, 4H, musical theater, leading summer camp for kids. Her family was a source of support in her faith, and she has practiced the faith her entire life, although her faith really deepened and became more personal in her late teens and college years. Her pro-life work solidified this in her, and helped encourage her to dig more deeply into her faith – she was gratified to find that there is always a why for every aspect of the Catholic faith.
The summer before her senior year of college, Laura had secured a job offer for the following year, starting after graduation. Any college senior would be grateful for a guaranteed job, and Laura was preparing to work in the pro-life movement, something very close to her heart and something she had done a great deal of work in already. Her Business Management degree would allow her to serve the pro-life movement in some very important and practical ways. Just a couple months before graduation, that promised job fell through for reasons beyond her control, and she scrambled to find something else. Looking in the Bay Area, she emailed her resume to Ignatius Press, even though there were no open jobs posted. After six weeks (thinking all along that she wouldn’t hear anything), she was asked to interview for a position soon coming open. Still finishing up her senior year, she interviewed via Skype from her dorm room in Kansas, and was offered the job a day or two before graduation.
In a larger company, Laura’s job would be performed by three people in three separate positions. It takes a lot of organizational skills and attention to detail, as she handles the legal side of publishing. She also serves as Father Fessio’s assistant – this mostly amounts to mailing thing for him (like bottles of his homemade wine or ground wheat to the sisters who make it into hosts), as well as vestment repairs and the like. She has also gained a reputation around the office as baker-in-residence, bringing the occasionally baked treat to share.
Laura’s first memory of Ignatius Press books is using the Faith and Life catechetical series as part of their homeschool curriculum. Eventually, she remembers seeing the Ignatius Press catalogs, and circling books that she and her siblings might like for Christmas.
Paul Senz is the manager of the Ignatius Pew Missal, and works with diocesan staff around the country regarding Ignatius Press’ religious education materials. He started with Ignatius Press in June 2017, after a remarkably providential series of events.
Paul’s young and growing family was struggling to make ends meet with the job he had at the time, at another Catholic music/missal publisher. He had begun to write for several Catholic publications, including Catholic World Report, which put him on the radar of the folks at Ignatius Press. After temporarily filling in as managing editor there, Paul got contacted by Mark Brumley with an invitation to interview for a position that was coming open. The position would deal with the Ignatius Pew Missal, as well as religious education materials, which suited Paul’s background in music and theology quite well. As with everyone else at Ignatius Press, as time has gone on Paul has taken on other responsibilities and assisted wherever possible, including with the Ignatius Critical Editions series, the YOUCAT family of products, and more. He is also an Ignatius Press author.
Paul grew up in a devout Catholic family in the tiny Dutch Catholic enclave of Verboort, Oregon. Surrounded by the faith at home and at the local parochial school, he had a love of the faith instilled in him from day one. He very nearly applied for the seminary in 2013, before he met his now-wife, Chantel. They live in western Oklahoma with their four children, and large extended family.
The first Ignatius Press book Paul ever read was Fundamentals of the Faith by Peter Kreeft, borrowed from his grandpa, and shortly thereafter To Know Christ Jesus by Frank Sheed. His first encounter with the European theologians who spawned the Press (Ratzinger, de Lubac, von Balthasar, Bouyer, Speyr, et al.) was in college, when a friend loaned him Behold the Pierced One by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, and a professor A Brief Catechesis on Nature and Grace by Henri de Lubac, S.J. Ever since, he has devoured every bit of the Ignatius Press back catalog that he could.
Some favorite Ignatius Press books:
The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton
The Spirit of the Liturgy by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection by Pope Benedict XVI
the Ratzinger interview books (The Ratzinger Report, Salt of the Earth, God and the World, Light of the World)
Defenders of the Faith in Word and Deed by Fr. Charles Connor
Target Africa by Obianuju Ekeocha
The Hidden Manna by Fr. James O’Connor
Celebrating the Holy Eucharist by Francis Cardinal Arinze
The Philosophy of Tolkien by Peter Kreeft
Literary Giants, Literary Catholics (now called Catholic Literary Giants) by Joseph Pearce
Arise from Darkness by Fr. Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R.
Theology for Beginners by Frank Sheed
The Catholic Church and the Bibleby Fr. Peter M.J. Stravinskas; and many, many more
Since 2009, Vanessa Dekkers has been Controller at Ignatius Press, handling various tasks including human resources, royalty payments, and more. Born in Bristol, England, the second child in a Catholic family, Vanessa grew up with one brother and four sisters. She was raised Catholic by her English mother and Dutch father, she left the Church early in life but reverted to the faith in her 50s.
Now with three children and seven grandchildren of her own, Vanessa’s trajectory toward Ignatius Press was affected by her experience of many of Ignatius Press’ books. The first Ignatius Press book she remembers encountering is Feast of Faith, written by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI). The book was so well-written and beautifully produced, she went looking for more Ignatius Press books at Barnes & Noble, finding only Ratzinger’s Spirit of the Liturgy. Not satisfied, she went to the Ignatius Press website and began filling her bookshelves with Ignatius Press books. At one point she saw a job posting on the Ignatius Press website, and the rest was history.
Some favorite Ignatius Press books
The Spirit of the Liturgy by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI)
Paradoxes of Faith by Henri de Lubac
Another Sort of Learning by Father James V. Schall, S.J.