Fr. Dave Ayotte began his journey with St. Monica on July 1, moving from a position as Associate Pastor at St. John Eudes in Chatsworth. He is an energetic and engaging presence; Fr. Dave knows what it is like to grow up Catholic in Los Angeles. While his family emigrated to the United States from Canada when he was 4, Fr. Dave received his formative education at Bishop Amat Memorial High School and grew up in the San Gabriel Valley. After hearing a first knock on his heart toward a vocation to the priesthood, and ever a discerning personality, Fr. Dave initially struggled with the idea of giving all facets of his life to the priesthood. It took a second try at the seminary, after teaching at his alma mater for a few years, to truly envision himself as a priest. The experience of teaching high school religion and informing young minds towards Christ led him to be drawn into spirituality in new ways, leading to a second and successful attempt to complete his seminary studies at St. john's Seminary in Camarillo in 1992.
While Fr. Dave’s particular charism and mission at St. Monica is still unfolding, he brings to the table a unique perspective of both a global and a regional understanding of what it means to be Catholic in our modern society. Having worked extensively in Nairobi with the Jesuits to raise funds for some of the poorest communities, Fr. Dave found great insight in living and breathing Ignatian Spirituality. Whenever he was burned out, or needed a break from his stressful roles, such as simultaneously serving as Director of Development for the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar and as an undergraduate professor at the Jesuit School of Theology at Hekima College in Nairobi, he states: “I would go into the slums to get reenergized. I feel strongly that staying connected to the poor brings us clarity.” It is that connection and clarity that Fr. Dave credits with keeping him spiritually balanced in times of stress and loneliness.
Fr. Dave, states that while he “is not a Jesuit,” his time with the Jesuits formed him in very particular ways; he hopes that he can utilize those Jesuit methods to help St. Monica “work as a team in listening to the Word of God.” It is this connection with Christ and seeing God in your own personal story that Fr. Dave hopes to engender to our community, as he has a particular interest in Spirituality and Spiritual Direction. He was also in Kenya during the formative years of our parishes’ many developments for our Sister Parish in Dandora. Fr. Dave saw first-hand what the St. Monica community has sown and tended over many years; he hopes to provide, in his own way, a sense of the global mission and vision of St. Monica, which starts with staying connected to areas of need, both locally and globally. Reaching out to the marginalized, drawing them in and welcoming them fully is engrained in our community, and Fr. Dave is especially looking forward to doing his part to welcome all in this place.