Posts Tagged ‘Vocations’

Nothing is as Powerful as Happy Priests for Vocations, Says Boston College’s Jesuit President

Jesuit Father William P. LeahyJesuit 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.

Jesuit Scholastic Drawn to Society of Jesus’ Diversity of Ministries

The Society of Jesus’ diversity of ministries and commitment to the poor and marginalized drew Vincent Giacabazi to the Jesuits. Giacabazi, a Jesuit scholastic, says that Pope Francis’ election has helped the Jesuits become well-known for more than just their universities in the U.S.

“Jesuits are also involved in ministry to and accompaniment of refugees and migrants and in other works in the social apostolate, inter-religious dialogue, parish ministry, secondary and primary education, especially among the poor, the offering of the Spiritual Exercises (of St. Ignatius) in various settings and so on,” said Giacabazi.

He entered the Society in August 2005 and is pursuing theology studies at the School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College. Born in Peoria, Ill., Giacabazi attended a Catholic parish and said, “I had certainly thought about (the priesthood), but I wasn’t ready to enter a seminary of any kind.”

Giacabazi first encountered the Jesuits at Saint Louis University. A class on the Gospel of Mark and Catholic social teaching had an active component that had him working at a shelter for women in crisis. Additionally, Giacabazi and his father developed a tradition of going to the preached retreats at White House Retreat, a Jesuit retreat center in St. Louis that focuses on the Spiritual Exercises.

“Out of that experience I learned how to be more attentive to my prayer and how to be attentive to discern the will of God in my life,” Giacabazi explained. “The combination of the professors who inspired me academically, broadened my horizons on how to think, how to write and how to engage the world, as well as the campus ministers dealing with the heart, and mixing those two together with the retreat, I started to think, ‘Maybe I could be one of those guys.’”

During the Jesuit formation process, there are opportunities not just to study poverty and what it means to be rejected, lonely and lowly, but to live it. At the novitiate in St. Paul, Minn., Giacabazi was given a one-way bus ticket to El Paso, Texas, and $30 and told to return in 30 days, relying on the kindness of others along the way.

“It was awesome,” Giacabazi said of his pilgrimage. “Unless a Christian has a direct experience of helplessness and utter poverty — spiritual or actual — it’s hard to relate on an intimate level with people who live that day in and day out. Jorge Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) would have had a similar experience.”

Read more about Giacabazi’s experience as a Jesuit in The Catholic Post, the newspaper of the Diocese of Peoria, Ill.

Jesuit Brother Appointed Director of National Vocation Promotion

Jesuit Brother Michael BreaultJesuit Brother Michael Breault has been appointed as the next Director of National Vocation Promotion for the Society of Jesus in the United States. Breault, who will assume his new role in August, will be based at the offices of the Jesuit Conference in Washington, D.C.  He will succeed Jesuit Father Robert Ballecer, a member of the California Province of the Society of Jesus, who has served in the position for the last four years.

Breault, also a member of the California Province, comes to vocation promotion with an extensive background in producing, directing and writing for theater, television and film. For the past eight years, he has served as the Vice President of Creative Affairs at Loyola Productions in Culver City, Calif., where he develops and oversees the Jesuit-run production company’s slate of projects for film, television and the Internet.

“I’m happy to announce that Brother Michael Breault is joining the Society’s vocation team,” said Fr. Thomas H. Smolich, president of the Jesuit Conference.  “Michael brings a tremendous amount of energy and creativity to everything he does, and we’re looking forward to the many contributions he will make to our work inspiring young men called to religious life.”

Fr. Smolich also thanked Fr. Ballecer, who inaugurated the national vocation promotion position.  “Robert has always had his finger on the pulse of technology, and that’s been a true gift to our vocation promotion efforts the last few years.  Our web and social media presence has grown tremendously due to his work.”

A native of California, Breault entered the Society of Jesus in 1971 and has a Master of Fine Arts from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Professional Theatre Training Program. He received a Peabody Award for his work as a producer and writer of the television series “Nothing Sacred.” His recent work for Loyola Productions includes writing and directing the award-winning web series “40” and the feature film “The Real Deal.”

Prior to joining Loyola Productions, Breault worked extensively in New York City theater, where he served as Associate Artistic Director at Circle-in-the-Square on Broadway. He has also worked as Artistic Director of the Cleveland Play House; as Artistic Associate of the Berkshire Theatre Festival; and as a guest faculty member at the North Carolina School of the Arts’ Professional Actor Training Program, where he taught master acting and directing classes.

“I’m excited to be joining the Conference, which has so many people who are passionate about the work and are clearly dedicated to what they do,” says Breault. “I’m a huge believer in the importance of vocation work. It’s the work of all Ignatian people, both Jesuits and lay people. Vocation work will define what the Society in the future looks like, and it’s very exciting to be a part of that.”

World Youth Days Inspired Jesuit Scholastic to Join the Society

Jesuit Eric RamirezEric Ramirez, a Jesuit scholastic, says he discovered his vocation while in college and was further inspired by the World Youth Day celebrations in Denver and Toronto, where he decided he would become a priest.

His family was supportive when Ramirez told them he was joining the Society of Jesus, although his mother wanted to make sure it was for the right reasons.

“My mother was really clear. She wanted to make sure I wasn’t doing it for her, and that was never a problem, I was doing it for me,” Ramirez says.

Ramirez is now studying theology in Rome, giving him the opportunity to pray in the same room where St. Ignatius, the founder of the Society, worked for many years. Ramirez says he has learned the importance of the Spiritual Exercises as a way to develop a personal relationship with God.

“There’s a hunger among every human being in that search for God. And I think the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius really become a pathway to get to that hunger, to recognize that hunger for what it is, and then to be able to recognize that God responds to our hunger,” he says.

For more on Ramirez, watch the video from Rome Reports below.

Peace Corps Service Led Novice to Jesuits

Jesuit novice Andrew Hanson Long before Jesuit novice Andrew Hanson entered the Society of Jesus this past August, several people had mentioned the priesthood to him, but he always wrote the idea off. “I was determined to have a family and live a ‘normal’ life,” Hanson, 25, told the Catholic Messenger. But while serving in the Dominican Republic as a Peace Corps volunteer from 2009 to 2011, he began to rethink his future.

“I lived a simple lifestyle in a community, which meant that I had a lot of time to read, pray and just simply be, whether it was alone or with my community members,” Hanson says. “The more comfortable I got with living a simple life in a poor community, the more disenchanted I became with the plans and schemes I had envisioned, my future family and the way I viewed ‘success.’”

Hanson said that reading about St. Ignatius, Ignatian spirituality and other faith philosophies helped him start to recognize God’s presence in all that was going on around him. “It was clear that the movements of my heart were challenging me to explore the possibility that my deepest desire and truest fulfillment might be to serve God in the Society of Jesus,” he says.

After returning to his family in Iowa after the Peace Corps, Hanson applied and was accepted as a novice for the Wisconsin Province Jesuits.

Hanson had admired the Society since attending Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., where he majored in psychology and organizational communications. Though Hanson didn’t see himself becoming a Jesuit during his college days, he felt inspired to experience life on the margins, which led him to the Peace Corps.

While working as a youth development promoter in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, his religious vocation blossomed, Hanson says.

As a Jesuit novice, he spends much of his time in class, praying, tutoring immigrants pursuing U.S. citizenship and serving at a local Latino community resource center.

“It’s really easy to neglect time for silent contemplation due to our busy schedules, and I’m finding that I have to approach prayer like an exercise routine,” Hanson says. “By that I mean that if I don’t explicitly plan the hour into my day ahead of time, it’s tough to stay true to it. It has been simultaneously a challenge and a blessing.”

For more on Hanson’s journey to the Jesuit novitiate, visit the Catholic Messenger website.