Archive for the ‘Vocations’ Category
A Jesuit novice spends two years at the novitiate for the first stage of Jesuit formation, culminating in his profession of First Vows: poverty, chastity and obedience. This August, 22 Jesuit novices in the United States professed these vows at Masses around the country, signifying their commitment before God to enter the Society of Jesus to serve the church.
Five novices professed their vows at Holy Cross Church in DeWitt, N.Y.; nine novices at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Grand Coteau, La.; two novices at St. Thomas More Catholic Church in St. Paul, Minn.; and six novices at St. Joseph Church in Seattle.
During each Mass, the Jesuit novices professed their vows just before Communion. “Each one comes up and kneels before the Body and Blood of Christ and makes that profession — just as St. Ignatius and his companions did,” said Jesuit Father Fred Pellegrini, a vocation promoter for the Maryland, New England and New York Provinces.
The First Vows are significant in a Jesuit’s life. As Fr. Pellegrini explained, “It’s a public commitment to the Lord and to the Society of Jesus. And the Society is accepting that, and the commitment is there on both sides.”
For the past two years leading up to First Vows, the Jesuit novices have taken classes, participated in local ministries and lived in Jesuit communities. They have also embarked on pilgrimages, performed community service and completed the Spiritual Exercises — a 30-day silent retreat developed by St. Ignatius.
“Completing the Spiritual Exercises is the most important and significant experience for the novices,” Fr. Pellegrini said. “Everything afterward flows from that experience of the Spiritual Exercises — the offering of yourself to the Lord and confirming that in different ways. From working in a hospital to teaching children, it all comes out of the experience of the Spiritual Exercises and the relationship with Jesus.”
For Jesuit novice Tucker Redding, the community service experiments revealed a breadth of Jesuit ministries that will inspire his studies.
“With each new experience, I have found that instead of being drawn to a particular field or ministry, my interests have only grown wider and deeper,” Redding said. “I look forward to spending my life in the Jesuits, discovering new interests and talents and using them for the greater glory of God.”
Following the profession of First Vows, Jesuits usually begin two years of graduate-level philosophy studies, followed by one year of graduate-level theology study.
Several Jesuits recently spoke about vocations for The Atlantic, including Jesuit Father John O’Malley, Jesuit Brother Jim Siwicki, Jesuit Danny Gustafson, and entering Jesuit novice Matt Ippel. The four Jesuits were interviewed for an online article written by Emma Green, a 2012 graduate of Georgetown University, about those in the millennial generation entering religious life.
Regarding the effect of Pope Francis’ election on vocations in millennials, Jesuit Father John O’Malley said he was unsure of any long-term effects at the moment. “I must say, however, that I am a little optimistic,” he added.
Jesuit Danny Gustafson, 24, recently completed first vows at the Jesuit novitiate in Syracuse, N.Y., and offered some insight from a millennial’s point of view. “It’s been a great feeling of connection with the hierarchy, if for no other reason than because there’s a shared formation that Pope Francis has that I’m going through right now. Knowing that the same spirituality that speaks to me speaks to the pope — I find [it] very humbling, but also very encouraging,” Gustafson said.
“The majority of my family on my father’s side are not Catholic,” said 22-year-old Matt Ippel, one of the newest members of the Society of Jesus after entering the novitiate at St. Paul, Minn., this month. “Sharing my upcoming plans, they’ve all been very excited and shown an immense amount of support, but they’ve also talked a lot about Pope Francis — the way [he] has conducted himself in his conversations, his addresses, his homilies.”
According to CARA, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, 12 percent of male and 10 percent of female non-married Catholic survey respondents over the age of 14 considered becoming a priest, nun or religious brother or sister “at least a little seriously.” Jesuit Brother Jim Siwicki, vocation director for the California Province of the Society of Jesus, commented on the novices’ motivations. “There’s a strong desire for a sense of community, both local and global,” he said. But “the thing that’s difficult that I see with millennials is that they want to keep all options open. It’s not a lack of interest — it’s that fear of making a commitment.”
Twenty-two-year-old Ryan Muldoon, a recent Georgetown graduate who is entering the seminary of the Archdiocese of New York, described the concept of discernment. “This isn’t really a decision that anybody makes of their own volition. This really does stem from a deeper calling — a call by God and a response by an individual,” he said. [The Atlantic]
Sixteen U.S. Jesuits were ordained to the priesthood this June, and since then, these men have been busy celebrating Masses and starting their first assignments as priests. Their hometowns, proud to be a part of their lives, were eager to acknowledge the priests’ roots and highlight their individual stories.
The Hawaii Catholic Herald reported that it was a “joyful ‘local style’ homecoming” for newly ordained Jesuit Father Phillip Ganir who returned to the Hawaiian Islands for a visit in June to celebrate a special thanksgiving Mass for his family, friends and fellow religious. Fr. Ganir left Hawaii in 1999 to join the Society and has since been traveling abroad for ministry and studies.
“The consolation overflows,” Fr. Ganir told the Hawaii Catholic Herald at the June 23 Mass, which 500 people attended. “Gratitude only deepens. The shape of gratitude really takes on the faces of the people in the parish.”
After his visit, Fr. Ganir headed to California to serve as associate pastor of St. Ignatius Loyola Church in Sacramento.
Jesuit Father Peter Folan spoke with his hometown newspaper in Massapequa Park, N.Y., about his new life as a Jesuit priest: “My job is to live a life about the Gospel. Preaching the Gospel, but only using words when necessary. I’m not going around knocking on doors selling Bibles. It’s about knowing the poor, the marginalized, the voiceless, and acting on behalf of people who can’t act for themselves.”
Of his vocation Fr. Folan explained, “The longer I stayed there and the more I invested myself in the Jesuits, the more I knew I wanted this life.
“If there is no real sacrifice, then there is no real love,” Fr. Folan said. “Not being married is a sort of sacrifice, but it makes sense to me. It is one that I find bears great fruit.”
Fr. Folan’s first priestly assignment is serving as an associate pastor at Holy Trinity Church in Washington, D.C.
Jesuit Father Michael Rogers told the Westerly Sun in Rhode Island on the eve of his ordination that the Jesuits “are at home wherever we are sent — ultimately, our home is where Christ is.”
Fr. Rogers considers one of his many homes to be Westerly, where he spent summers growing up. He returned there to celebrate his first Mass as an ordained priest in June at St. Pius X.
Fr. Rogers said his family’s summer parish played a role in his decision to become a Jesuit priest. He recalled the weekend during his sophomore year of high school when his mother said the family was going to pay a quick visit to their summer house — and dropped him off at St. Pius instead.
“We pulled into the lot, where there was this coach bus waiting,” he said. His mother had signed him up for a youth trip to Steubenville, Ohio, which turned out to be life-changing.
“I think that at some point in everybody’s faith life, there’s a moment where God becomes real,” Fr. Rogers said. “All of a sudden, you find yourself talking to God, and you find yourself listening to what God has to say.”
After his ordination, Fr. Rogers traveled to Brazil, where he served as the national coordinator for MAGIS, the Jesuit-sponsored program cultivating Ignatian spirituality for young adults that preceded World Youth Day in July.
Jesuit Father William P. Leahy, president of Boston College, recently gave a keynote address at a vocations summit, where he declared, “I remain convinced; there are vocations to be had in our Church — especially in the United States.”
At the June 20-21 “Summit on Vocations: Exploring Ways to Promote Vocations to the Priesthood,” archbishops, bishops, priests, vocation directors, Catholic educators, and Catholic college and university presidents discussed the results of a recent research study commissioned by Boston College and the Jesuit Conference to assess the impact of higher education on the vocational discernment of men entering the seminary and religious life in the United States.
Fr. Leahy said the key to tapping into potential vocations is an example of living “in hope and with faith” demonstrated by priests and religious engaged interpersonally with students.
“There is nothing as powerful as happy, fulfilled priests and religious. That is contagious. That attracts. So, one of the things I think is incumbent upon us is that we guard against pessimism, and that we take on those who may say, ‘I wouldn’t enter today’ or ‘I wouldn’t be a priest or a religious.’ We need to challenge that,” Fr. Leahy said.
Fr. Leahy also said the infrastructure of Catholic education still exists as a network to spur vocations.
“We have in the United States — at least in the higher-ed world — huge opportunities on our college campuses, and so do we also have possibilities in our high schools. We have a great network,” Fr. Leahy said.
Fr. Leahy said recruitment for vocations should take a page out of how major league baseball teams rebuild. He compared owners in that model to bishops, planning a way forward to bring in the right people to nurture progress.
“We have owners. So, you need an owner that will give time and commitment. …We need a general manager, could be the provincial, could be some superior. We need a field manager, who could be the vocation director — promoters. And then, we need scouts. We need people who will identify individuals who have talent, inclination, desire — who can be pointed in the direction of priesthood and religious life,” Fr. Leahy said.
“If we would do that as sincerely and as ardently as we do many other things, I believe we would have more and more vocations. The vocations are there. God has not left us orphans. We are not alone,” he said.
Read more of Fr. Leahy’s keynote remarks at The Boston Pilot’s website.
By Doris Yu
In an exclusive five-part interview for The Jesuit Post, Jesuit Father Adolfo Nicolás, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, expressed his desire for further emphasis on youth ministry, which took on special pertinence in light of his presence at MAGIS 2013 in Salvador, Brazil, where the interview took place.
After celebrating Mass and engaging with the 2,000 young pilgrims in attendance at MAGIS 2013, Fr. Nicolás spoke with Jesuit scholastic Eric Sundrup, associate editor of The Jesuit Post, discussing topics including youth ministry, inner peace and silence, vocations, social media and his interactions with Pope Francis.
Fr. Nicolás described working with the youth as a “de facto priority” and pointed to the fact that the 160 Jesuits who traveled to MAGIS 2013, a two-week Jesuit-sponsored youth immersion experience preceding World Youth Day, indicated the significance of youth ministry for the Society of Jesus.
He drew connections between working with the youth and an increase in vocations. “It is also clear that the provinces that have dedicated more resources to the youth are getting more vocations, which is an interesting point,” said Fr. Nicolás. Further elaborating on the topic, he stressed the need for vocations to the Society from those with a sense of humor and an open mind.
Fr. Nicolás called for Ignatian discernment on approaching the frontier of new media for the Society, a special point of interest for The Jesuit Post and closely linked to the topic of youth ministry. “I think that there we might have one of the biggest challenges: how to present Jesuit spirituality, which is a spirituality of reflection, of Examen, of meditation, of consultation, prayers, et cetera, to a generation that is used to instant information and instant response,” said Fr. Nicolás.
In the midst of the digital media revolution Fr. General drew attention to silence and advised the cultivation of “the chapel we carry within ourselves” at all times, in order to tap into the inner peace necessary to hear the Spirit.
On Pope Francis, Fr. Nicolás said, “I have to confess I find it very easy to communicate with him. I speak with him like I would speak with any other Jesuit, knowing that he is not going to misunderstand me. I don’t have to measure my words. I can speak totally freely.”
Concluding the interviews, Fr. Nicolás carried the conversation back to finding God in all things, especially the youth. “So in the Jesuit vision of reality there is a high esteem for God’s creation, and there is no situation, no human situation, no social situation, that is alien to us. So our challenge is … how to find God in the hearts of the young, even those who don’t come to Church, and even those who don’t even believe in Christ … This is the challenge that we carry with us, and I think that I like very much that the pope calls us to go out and find God.”
View the first video, containing links to the remainder of the interviews, below.