William M. Bichl, SJ, Detroit Province
I come from a devout Catholic family. Religion in some form has always been there for me. Both my parents were active in the parish. My brother and I both attended the parish school, and were altar boys one after the other. We liked the nuns and the priests at the parish and were inspired by them.
When I was finishing 6th grade, we moved into Chicago from a western suburb (Wheaton). One underlying reason for the move was that, if I were accepted, I could go to Loyola Academy. And underlying that hope (which was realized) was the further hope that I might receive a vocation to be a Jesuit! Talk about farsighted parents!
I graduated from Loyola Academy in 1949, and went to Loyola University Chicago for college. There I met several influential Jesuit priests, and thought I’d like to teach. I filed away the remark of one Jesuit that he’d never consider teaching save as a Jesuit priest–but didn’t forget it. He introduced me to St. Ignatius’s prayer, “Take and Receive.” While I did not know what I wanted to do, I did know that Ignatius’s words, “Give me your love and your grace, and that is enough for me,” were true for me.
We moved from Chicago to Columbus, Ohio, while I was finishing my senior year at Loyola University in June of 1952. The move put me in the Detroit Province when I joined the Society, since the summer I joined was the beginning of that province. A year after Loyola, while doing a master’s at Xavier in Cincinnati, I received a letter from a college buddy who was joining the Jesuits. Upon reading it, I said to the Lord, “You got me!” and applied to join. That was in the spring of 1954, and still here I am.
Fr. William M. Bichl, SJ