Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Jesuit Novice as Chaperone, Coach and Confidant

Jesuit Daniel Gustafson Jesuit Daniel Gustafson is a second-year novice who just finished his long experiment — a key part of the Jesuit novitiate, as it enables the novice to work in a Jesuit ministry and “test out” his vocation. For his experiment, Gustafson taught religion and worked in the Mission and Ministry Office at St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia, but he found that was just his official job description.

In addition to those duties, Gustafson was made assistant tennis coach, and he also helped by chaperoning mixers, leading the weekly Examen over the intercom and helping to plan, lead and direct retreats and service events. Once, he even found himself cutting tiles to be installed in a house that Prep students helped to build over spring break.

Another part of his unofficial duties were the many conversations he had with students throughout the day, at a retreat or during a tennis match or service trip. As Gustafson came to know the students better, he had two realizations.

The first was that “each and every student was looking for essentially one thing and one thing only — acceptance. A place and person or group with whom they could be themselves, relax, take a deep breath in the midst of a typically busy high school day, and know that they are cared for,” he wrote.

The second realization he had about these talks was that as the students became more comfortable around him, every now and then the seriousness of the conversation would deepen, from discussing a student’s fears about moving away to college to a struggle with believing in God to a difficult situation in the student’s family life.

“In seeking acceptance and an opportunity to share something challenging in their lives, these students helped me to recognize that this is a universal human characteristic,” Gustafson wrote. “These are the same thirsts that I feel and that all of us feel. And it is exactly where God wants to meet us: listening to us, helping to carry our burdens, loving us at each and every turn.”

Through these students, Gustafson found that “God showed me that being a companion of Jesus will also bring me to what may be a run-of-the-mill conversation or may lead to listening to someone vulnerably share an issue that has been plaguing him or her for years.”

Read more of Gustafson’s reflections on his long experiment at www.jesuitvocation.org.

Pope Hosts Impromptu Q&A Session with Jesuit Students

Pope Francis

Youths surround Pope Francis as he met with students from Jesuit schools June 7 at the Vatican. (CNS/Reuters)

At a June 7 Vatican event, Pope Francis ditched a prepared speech to 9,000 students, alumni and teachers from Jesuit-run schools in Italy and Albania saying it would be “a tad boring.” Instead, he gave a condensed version of his remarks and spent the rest of the time fielding questions from the crowd.

For thirty minutes, the pope answered questions — on topics as diverse as Jesuit education to his preferred papal residence.  When one student asked why he chose not to live in the apostolic palace, Pope Francis said, “It’s not just a question of wealth.” His decision to live in a simple Vatican-run residence was “for psychiatric reasons,” he said teasingly. Living in an isolated setting “would not do me any good,” and he said he’s the kind of person who prefers living in the thick of things, “among the people.”

Pope Francis added that he does try to live as simply as possible, “to not have many things and to become a bit poorer” like Christ.

He urged everyone to try to live more simply saying, “In a world where there is so much wealth, so many resources to feed everyone, it’s incomprehensible how there can be so many hungry children, so many children without an education, so many poor.”

A young girl asked Pope Francis if he wanted to become pope.

He laughed and said a person who wants to become pope doesn’t have his own best interest at heart. “God doesn’t give him his blessings. No, I didn’t want to become pope,” he said.

Another participant asked him why he decided to become a Jesuit. Pope Francis responded:

“What gave me the strength to become a Jesuit is the sense of being a missionary. To go out, to take part in the missions, to proclaim Jesus Christ. This is precisely our spirituality. To go out and spread the Gospel, instead of quietly staying closed in within our structures, that are often, old structures.” [Catholic News Service, Rome Reports]

Jesuit Pilgrims Gear Up for MAGIS 2013 and World Youth Day

MAGIS logoIn less than a month, 2,000 young adults from around the world will gather in Brazil for MAGIS 2013, a Jesuit-sponsored immersion experience leading up to World Youth Day. Jesuit Father Mike Rogers, the national coordinator for MAGIS, says that anticipation has been building since Pope Francis, a Jesuit from Latin America, was elected in March. “Right now Brazil is expecting two and a half million registrations for World Youth Day and as many as five million to show up for his Mass,” says Fr. Rogers.

Jesuit pilgrims will gather in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, on July 12 before breaking into groups to travel to numerous locations in Brazil, including the mountains near the Amazon River, the Brazilian Museum of Music in São Paulo and the Iguazu Falls, made famous in the 1986 movie “The Mission.”

According to Fr. Rogers, programs will focus on Brazil’s environment, learning about the different religions of Brazil and service projects in and around Rio de Janeiro, as well as pilgrimage opportunities.

Among the MAGIS pilgrims will be 200 college students from the United States, representing over half of the U.S. Jesuit colleges and universities, including Boston College, Canisius College, College of the Holy Cross, Fairfield University, Fordham University, Georgetown University, Gonzaga University, Loyola Marymount University, Loyola University Chicago, Santa Clara University, Seattle University, Saint Joseph’s University and University of Scranton.

Seattle University MAGIS group

Seattle University is ready for Rio! Photo courtesy Jason Welle, SJ, and Brittany Olival (bottom right). Photo via The Jesuit Post.

The group of 15 students, alumni and staff that will attend MAGIS from Seattle University told The Jesuit Post they are looking forward to experiencing their shared faith with people from around the world and praying with people from all kinds of backgrounds. They’re also excited about engaging in service during the MAGIS portion of the pilgrimage and “being around people who share [Jesuit] ideals of social justice,” says alum Andy Giron.

The Seattle University contingent is also eagerly awaiting the opportunity to see Pope Francis, who will make his first trip back to his home continent since his election.

“His example, the things he’s said and done, resonate more with people our age,” alum Michael Alcantara told The Jesuit Post. “The spirit is calling him and calling us into a similar space, and we’re meeting at the same intersection.”

Thuong ChuChe, a graduate student in pastoral counseling, said it was Pope Francis’ election that sealed the deal for her and her husband. “We had been praying about it, the finances were uncertain, but the pope’s election … we felt like that was it!”

Christ the Redeemer statueFr. Rogers has his own reasons to be excited about MAGIS: he will be going as a newly ordained priest. “It’s a real privilege. Right off the bat I’ll be exercising my priestly ministry,” he says. “It will be wonderful to experience the universal church in the context of Latin America.”

Fr. Rogers hopes that MAGIS participants come away with a deepened sense of spirituality — and open themselves to the possibility of a religious calling.

“My hope is that they’ll have a sense of belonging and collaboration with the Society of Jesus. First and foremost, I hope they encounter Christ, fall in love with the church and make wonderful friends. And, for some, this may be a place where they hear God’s call to a vocation.”

For more on MAGIS 2013, visit the Jesuit Conference’s MAGIS website and The Jesuit Post. For more on the meaning of “Magis,” check out The Jesuit Post video below.

Jesuit Adapts Ignatius’ Examen for a New Generation

Jesuit Father Rick Malloy Jesuit Father Rick Malloy doesn’t have to go far to get to his “mission territory:” he simply walks down the hall from where he lives in a college dorm at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. While the journey isn’t far, Fr. Malloy says it can be difficult to be noticed in the territory where he’s sent: the minds, hearts and imaginations of young adults.

As vice president for university ministries, Fr. Malloy searches for ways to get today’s young adults to be open to God’s action in their lives. He’s found that one way to get there is the short spiritual exercise made famous by St. Ignatius of Loyola: the Examen.

The Examen involves a review of one’s day, listening for where God was present and active. According to Fr. Malloy, University of Scranton students are finding the 10- to 15-minute Examen doable, transformative and comprehensible.

“St. Ignatius championed this form of prayer and counseled this was the one spiritual exercise that should never be left aside,” says Fr. Malloy. “In order to make this prayer even more accessible, I offer this description of the traditional five steps of the Examen: 1) the prayer to the Spirit for inspiration; 2) thanksgiving; 3) examination of consciousness; 4) firm resolve to improve; and 5) trust and hope for the future.”

Fr. Malloy says he is very aware that what he’s asking students to do—slow down, be attentive, be reflective—is alien to the culture in which they are immersed, with constant texting and tweeting, flashing images and video games. “The Examen can serve as an antidote to the spiritual maladies of our age,” he says.

Paralleling St. Ignatius’ five steps, Fr. Malloy has developed the five “P’s” of the Examen—presence, praise, process, penance, promise—in order to make this prayer even more accessible to young adults.

“There is no ‘proper’ way to practice the Examen,” says Fr. Malloy. “Some people like to sit in a chapel. Some turn off the radio and pray the Examen as they drive home from work. Some people pray the Examen in the shower. … However and wherever you pray the Examen, God will find you and guide you.”

To read more about Fr. Malloy’s five “P’s” of the Examen, visit the St. Anthony Messenger website.

One Jesuit’s Journey of Faith and Discovery through Formation

Jesuit John PeckFor the past two years, Jesuit John Peck has taught philosophy at Loyola University Maryland. Teaching there has been part of his formation as a Jesuit—it’s a stage called regency, in which most Jesuits work full-time for two or three years at a Jesuit ministry. Reflecting on this period, Peck says that he can summarize in a word what he’s gained: confidence.

“I now have greater confidence in the authenticity of my friendship with Jesus Christ. … Regency challenges a Jesuit in formation to assume added responsibility for his spiritual life. … With a full schedule of teaching, preparation, writing and other activities, I’ve had to work hard to stay nourished on a steady diet of the Word of God.”

With excellent mentoring from his colleagues, Peck says he’s also grown in the confidence that he can accomplish the work the Society of Jesus entrusts to him. “With each semester I’ve grown as a teacher. I’ve become more adept at designing courses and classes,” he writes. “My judgments about what students need and can receive have become sharper.”

As he completes regency, Peck says he’s also more confident that he can thrive in Jesuit community life. While his background differs from many of the Jesuits he lives with, he writes, “Representing myself truthfully and speaking up, I’ve learned that others find my experiences and points of view interesting. I’ve also found that men with whom I differ are often full of goodness and apostolic fervor. I’m confident that God will continue to give me joy with my Jesuit brothers.”

Living and working at Loyola have been “an experience of God’s providential care” for Peck. “[God] has enkindled my desire for him in prayer and nurtured me through the friendship of mentors and fellow Jesuits. I’m eager for the future and confident he will continue to provide.”

Read Peck’s full reflection in the Spring/Summer 2013 issue of JESUITS magazine.