One Jesuit's Wisdom: 'Expect the Unexpected'

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There’s a sense of adventure deep in Jesuit Father Tom Lankenau.

The 51-year-old Jesuit priest grew up hunting and fishing. He taught riflery, hiked, climbed and rafted.

As a Jesuit, he has served on the Blackfeet Reservation of Montana, in Belize, Bolivia, Poland and Zambia.

He walks in the cowboy way, slightly bow-legged, and is not afraid to expectorate when outdoors.

But since 2007, Father Lankenau’s service to the Jesuits and to the church has been carried out in a plain office in Southeast Portland. He is the Oregon Province of Jesuits’ socius — an aide, adviser and consultant to the provincial superior. It’s a job of details and he’s taken it on joyfully.

Accepting the post was the continuation of a conversion that began decades ago. The defining characteristic of this priest’s metanoia is openness.

He is a natural administrator who processes data efficiently. On one recent day at the Jesuit offices, he spoke with clerical volunteer Joyceann Hagen clearly, crisply and kindly. He then ambled to an appointment where he gave absolute attention to an interlocutor for more than an hour. Following that, he gave a tour of the grounds, cheerful and unruffled all the while, despite pressing duties.

“It’s a job of service,” Father Lankenau says. “There is fulfillment in that. If I can help Jesuits in the field do their jobs more and more fully, I am a part of what they do.”

Read more about Lankenau’s varied career as a Jesuit in this Catholic Sentinel feature article.

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