Posts Tagged ‘Jesuit Daniel Gustafson’
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]
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.