This month, 40 men entered the Society of Jesus in the United States as novices. Their path to priesthood — called formation — can take upwards of ten years and begins at one of four Jesuit novitiates across the country.
Oregon Province Jesuit Father Tom Lamanna has been the director of novices at Ignatius House, a novitiate in Culver City, Calif., for the past decade.
He says that one of the graces that comes with his job is “being able to walk very closely with people in their relationship with Jesus. That’s very holy ground.”
According to Fr. Lamanna, the community dynamic at the novitiate is unique because it’s the first stage of formation and the novices are asked to pull back from their previous lives.
“We give them an experience of Jesuit community and a study of the life of Ignatius and the founding documents of the Jesuits,” says Fr. Lamanna. “Then the novices and the Society can decide if it’s the right fit,” he explains.
For Fr. Lamanna, the most life-giving aspect of his job is guiding men through the Spiritual Exercises. “To watch the spirit and Jesus at work with them at a very deep level is a real privilege,” he says.
To learn more about Fr. Lamanna’s job as director of novices, view the Ignatian News Network video below.