David V. Meconi, SJ, Chicago Province
Looking back, I must admit a certain irony meeting my first Jesuit as the professor of the “The History of Atheism” course at Marquette University. However, little did I know at the time that what he taught us about Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche would in many ways frame how I have come to understand the Jesuit mission: to help others discover God in a world whose values are oftentimes dismissive of Him. While at Marquette, I came to see how the work of the Jesuits there meant training young people in the service of the truth, introducing such a diverse student body to the richness of the Catholic way of thinking and to a God who loves each of us so perfectly and infinitely. From Milwaukee I went to Rome and to the Gregorian University where God once again put great Jesuits into my life. During the school year a young Jesuit priest led me in the “Spiritual Exercises.” That year was a real turning point as I began to pray regularly and ask God to help me know how and where I should live my life. I entered the Jesuit Novitiate in Detroit a year later!
So, what does it mean to be a Jesuit today? To me, it means loving Christ above all else and loving all else in Him. It means being with people where they are and sharing intimately in their lives. People trust us. They trust us to listen and support and challenge where need be. Being a Jesuit means constant inner-striving to praise God in all that I do and think and am, giving God not only my strengths but, maybe more importantly, admitting and allowing Him to use all my weaknesses as well. Hardly a day goes by in which I don’t burst with gratitude for this vocation!
Fr. David V. Meconi, SJ