Posts Tagged ‘Final Vows’

Jesuit Reflects on Taking Final Vows in the Society

Jesuit Father Joseph MuellerJesuit Father Joseph Mueller, a professor at Marquette University in Milwaukee, recently professed his final vows to the Society of Jesus, the same vows St. Ignatius took when he founded the religious order in 1534.

Fr. Mueller joined the Jesuits soon after graduating from Marquette, and his recent final vows come after years of preparation and reflection.

“I realized in college I actually thought the way the Jesuits thought and looked at the world the way they do,” Fr. Mueller said.

Besides the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience that Fr. Mueller took after two years as a Jesuit novice, the final vows include a vow of special obedience to the pope.

“When I make these final vows, they’re again a perpetual commitment on my part,” Fr. Mueller said. “It’s a lifelong commitment. But this time, the condition that was on them before is no longer there. The Jesuits are saying we think you worked out. You’re in.”

According to Jesuit Father James Martin in an America magazine article on final vows, “It’s somewhat like making tenure (you’re already a professor, but now you’re a ‘full’ one). It’s somewhat like making partner in a law firm (you’re already a member of a law firm, but now you’re a ‘full one).”

“I decided to become a Jesuit when I was a student here. I did it because I thought that’s what God wants me to do. I think Marquette students could benefit from listening for that kind of call from God,” Fr. Mueller said.

Read more about Fr. Mueller’s final vows at the Marquette Tribune.

Australian Jesuit Reflects on Taking Final Vows

A few short weeks ago Jesuit Father Jeremy Clarke, an Australian Jesuit and an Assistant Professor of History at Boston College, professed final vows in the Society of Jesus at St. Mary’s Chapel on Boston College’s campus. Final vows occur when the Society of Jesus invites a Jesuit to full incorporation within the Society.  As one Jesuit said, at first vows, you accept the Society; at final vows, the Society accepts you. Fr. Clarke recently offered this reflection in the Australian province’s newsletter upon the completion of his final vows:

On Friday as I concluded taking my final vows in the Society of Jesus, I read the phrase, “At the altar of St Mary in St Mary’s Chapel, Boston College, Massachusetts, April 20, 2012.”  When I joined the Jesuits in 1993 at Canisius College, Pymble in Sydney, little did I know that I’d be halfway around the world almost two decades later.

On the occasion of my first vows, which were pronounced at the end of the novitiate in February 1995, along with three other men (including Jesuit Brother Kevin Huddy and Father Minh Van Tran), I spoke the words “I vow to your divine majesty, before the most holy Virgin Mary and the entire heavenly court, perpetual poverty, chastity, and obedience in the Society of Jesus. I promise that I will enter this same Society to spend my life in it forever.” At the end of the formula there is another prayer, which entreats God with the words “as you have freely given me the desire to make this offering, so also may you give me the abundant grace to fulfill it.”

They are wise words as the promise made then is that when one is called to final vows many years later one will then be ready to enter the Society completely, to be incorporated as a fully professed member of the Jesuits. Thus, our training and our testing, as envisaged by Ignatius and then experienced by countless generations of Jesuits, can indeed be long and arduous. Little did I know that as I gazed out over the deserts of the Kimberley region during a novitiate placement in 1994 (pictured, right) that I’d then end up being an academic in a Jesuit, Catholic university on the east coast of the United States.

And yet, in a way, this makes perfect sense in a Jesuit world. As we desire to enter the Society, so the Society desires to enable us to be all that we can be, for the good of our mission, which is to serve Christ’s poor and in so doing help build a better and more just world. Our congregations have articulated this desire in ever-more sophisticated (and lengthy!) ways over the past decades and one articulation of this that resonates with me is that we seek to be men on a mission, who seek a faith that does justice. Read the rest of this entry »

A Jesuit Reflects on Taking Final Vows in the Society

Jesuit Father Ron Gonzales

Jesuit Father Ron Gonzales pronounces his final vows to Provincial Mark Lewis.

Jesuit Father Ron Gonzales share his thoughts on Final Vows:

Taking final vows in the Society of Jesus reminded me of something Yogi Berra of the New York Yankees once said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.” Well in some ways it was just that but a lot more, much more. Even though we Jesuits take first vows after two years in the novitiate, we still remain officially in formation up until the time we are invited to take final vows (sometime after ordination and tertianship). Although the process of formation can seem long and cumbersome to some observers, without a doubt each and every phase contributes to the overall spiritual formation of the Jesuit. Of course with a longer formation period also come the opportunities for self-awareness and hopefully experience and wisdom.

I explained final vows to my parishioners, some of whom thought I was being ordained as a priest! Think of it as the Society of Jesus saying to itself, “You know we’ve had this fellow, Ron Gonzales, with us for about 18 years. Why not keep him?” When I took my first vows back in 1994, my intention and hope was to continue in the formation process until such time when the Society would say, “We, too, fully accept you.” Being fully accepted as a Jesuit is truly a great feeling of belonging and completion, in spite of my human weakness.

There is also a keen sense of humility knowing that our superiors and our Jesuit companions are quite aware of both our strengths and weaknesses. I liken it to a marriage covenant between spouses in which each one feels a peace and acceptance knowing that there is a commitment as well as an acceptance of one another, no matter what happens. Perhaps some in academia would appreciate another analogy, namely that of tenure. We recognize the work and effort that precedes tenure, yet we know the hard work continues long after final vows and even after retirement age. It is not a time to “rest on our laurels” as there is much work to be done.

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