Posts Tagged ‘Jesuit Formation’
Ten Jesuit tertians from around the world are starting the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius today in Portland, Ore. This four-week retreat is an important component of tertianship, a part of the Jesuit formation process.
Tertianship is usually made ten to fifteen years after the novitiate and at the end of a Jesuit’s professional training. St. Ignatius called it a “school of the heart” because it’s a time when the tertian deepens his own commitment to the Society of Jesus.
“The retreat of the Spiritual Exercises is perhaps the key moment of tertianship. After years of living his life as a Jesuit, the tertian once again engages in this month-long program of intense prayer and reflection and brings his lived experience as a Jesuit before our loving God,” explains Jesuit Father Dave Godleski, the delegate for formation and Jesuit life at the Jesuit Conference. The Jesuit Conference represents the nine U.S. provinces of the Society of Jesus, promoting common goals and overseeing international projects.
Because of the long retreat’s importance in the tertianship program, the Jesuit Conference is asking for prayers for the tertians and their directors:
- Jesuit Father Mark Bandsuch (Chicago-Detroit Province)
- Jesuit Father James Conway (British Province)
- Jesuit Father Emerito Salustiano de la Rama (Philippines Province)
- Jesuit Father Jean-Alfred Dorvil (French Canada Province)
- Jesuit Father Wieslaw Faron (South Poland Province)
- Jesuit Father Ian Gibbons (Missouri Province)
- Jesuit Father Edwin T. Gnanaprakasam (Madurai)
- Jesuit Father Michael Harter (Missouri Province) – assistant tertian director
- Jesuit Father Raymund Benedict Hizon (Philippines Province)
- Jesuit Father Charlie Moutenot (New York Province) – tertian director
- Jesuit Father Godwin Mulenga (Zambia-Milawi Province)
- Jesuit Father John Murphy (California Province) – retreat director
- Jesuit Father Ignatius Hadimulia Sasmita (Maryland Province)
After completing the Spiritual Exercises, the tertians will study Society documents, including the Jesuit Constitutions and decrees from recent General Congregations. After studies, they will do apostolic experiments, which often involve pastoral work with the poor. Once the tertianship period is completed, the Jesuit is called to pronounce his final vows in the Society.
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.
Jesuit Tim O’Brien, currently in his second year of First Studies at Loyola University Chicago, spent his summer as an editorial intern at America Magazine, the weekly Jesuit review of religion, politics and culture.
O’Brien writes that he spent many of his days reading news and current events, “lost in a forest of headlines about debt ceilings and protests in Syria.”
He writes that in the midst of all the bad news, “it is easy to overlook that we, as Christians and as Jesuits, are a people of Good News…I am not saying that we should ignore bad news or the challenges that we face in the church and in the Society of Jesus. To the contrary, in fact. If ‘finding God in all things’ is more than just rhetoric, and I think it is, then even bad news can be a site of encounter with the Lord. And we can only find God in all things because God wishes to be found in all things.”
One place that O’Brien says he found God this summer was in his Jesuit community, America House in Manhattan, which he called a “dynamic cross-section of life in the Society.”
“This experience of community was a helpful reminder for me that, as a Jesuit in formation, I stand on the shoulders of the men who have come before me,” he writes.
“I have been helped by my Jesuit brothers to see the hand of God in places I’d never even look to find it. It is, for me, a great grace of our community life. My brothers help me see, time and again, the Good News amid the bad,” he writes.
Read more of O’Brien’s reflections on Jesuit community at the Maryland, New England and New York Province vocation website.
Jesuit Bill Noe remembers pondering the meditation of the Spiritual Exercises on the call of Christ during his 30-day retreat as a novice. He remembers hearing Jesus say, “You are going to live as I live.”
That call came to life in Bolivia, where Noe recently spent two and a half years teaching in a technical college during regency, a time in Jesuit formation that affords each Jesuit an opportunity to work in an apostolic area.
“In Bolivia I had a chance to live at least a little bit of what I discovered in the Spiritual Exercises,” he said.
In July 2008, Noe was sent to teach electronics at the Instituto de Aprendizaje Industrial, a three-year technical institute founded and operated by the Bolivian Jesuits.
In Bolivia, Noe was both a teacher and a student. While he used his training as an engineer in the classroom, he learned to integrate his work with his life in a Jesuit community and with his prayer life.
Although he was welcomed into the community, he soon learned what it was like to be an immigrant. “Jesus was outside of his culture,” Noe said, recalling Jesus’ life in Egypt. “He was a migrant.”
When he returned home, he noticed all the Latino faces on the streets around him. “I didn’t notice them before,” he said. “My time in Bolivia gave me a lot to think about in how I relate to people from other cultures.”
It has made him ask himself, “Who else don’t I notice? Who else don’t I include?”
Read more about Noe’s regency experiences in Jesuits magazine.
Jesuit Vincent Marchionni spent five months working at the Father McKenna Center in Washington, D.C., for his Long Experiment, during which a Jesuit novice engages in full-time apostolic work while living in a Jesuit community.
The center, named after Jesuit Father Horace McKenna, serves the poor, providing meals for homeless men, groceries for local residents and assistance for those facing eviction and utility cutoff.
Marchionni said that the Long Experiment taught him that simple acts of compassion and generosity profoundly and positively affect people’s lives, making God’s presence real and tangible.
“The men show tremendous gratitude for their meals, and it is God’s way of showing me that such grunt work truly does manifest His presence to those in dire circumstances,” he said.
Marchionni also led 12-Step meetings that focused on drugs and alcohol. The group used the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola to supplement 12-Step spirituality.
Marchionni said that through his experience of serving D.C.’s poorest he realized, “Jesus Christ is always laboring, always desiring to bring his brothers and sisters closer to him. He does hear the cry of the poor, and he answers them with gifts of hope and gratitude.”
Read more about Marchionni’s long experiment in Jesuits magazine.