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Four Young Jesuits in Formation Reflect on God's Call

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For the Greater Glory of God

Four young Jesuits reflect on answering God’s call and their formation experience
By Amy Korpi

ON THEIR CALLING
Dan Dixon  “It seemed like I was the last one to know I belonged in the Society. Other people kept telling me I should consider it, but I wasn’t sure. My hesitance came from a variety of places. Sometimes, it was a feeling of unworthiness. Other times, it was wondering whether I would miss being a husband and a father. It was the persistence of others saying they felt it made sense for me that eventually caused me to think, ‘I have to look at this.’”

Andrew Hanson “I was also hesitant—I had the seedlings of a vocation, in that I had long admired what the Jesuits stand for and the work they do. And I wanted to do that kind of work, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it as a Jesuit. Yet, when I worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic, I realized there was something missing. As life-giving as the work might be, I needed more.”

Nicolas Albin “Like Dan Dixon, I was encouraged by others—Jesuits, professors, friends—who saw the vocation in me. You hear the stories about ‘lightning striking’ and just knowing. But it’s not like that; at least it wasn’t for me. Stepping stones is a better metaphor for my exploration leading to the decision to enter the Jesuits. I felt drawn to the Society, but it was much more complex than a lightning bolt ‘conversion.’”

Daniel Kennedy “Rather than a lightning bolt, I would compare my attraction to the vocation as the clouds that gather before a storm. I might have been the first of this group to know; I had the desire to join the Society at a younger age. But in my case, too, other people were important to my discernment process. I sought confirmation that they also saw this life for me and in me.”

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF THE NOVITIATE EXPERIENCE
Dixon  “People have asked me why the Jesuit formation process is so long. They wonder whether Jesuits in training are just waiting to become full-fledged priests or brothers, whether we’re just so glad to check off another part of the process. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s called formation for a reason—gradually, through each experience, we are asked to become a little more available to serve as best we can. We can’t do that if we’re just completing requirements.”

Hanson “Jesuits are blessed to have a wide variety of experiences during our formation period. Every new experience helps us learn more about ourselves, and our relationship with God and others—and every new experience is a confirmation of what we’re doing.”

Kennedy “It takes time to develop the habits of creativity, of joy in prayer, of engagement with people. The goal is that we will be able to discern what is AMDG (the Jesuit motto ad maiorem Dei gloriam, translated as “for the greater glory of God”). That takes a wide range of experiences, both successes and failures. If you haven’t formed it for yourself, you can’t inspire it in someone else.”

Albin
“It’s also significant that formation combines studies and service work. We apply what we learn in the classroom to our activities in the world and vice versa. And we look at where God is present in all of it.”

ON CONTINUITY WITH THOSE WHO’VE GONE BEFORE
Hanson When we were at an annual meeting of Midwest Jesuits in June, we saw a video featuring men who had passed away during the previous year. The photos moved me to think about how each man had served so many people. In one, there was a Jesuit pictured with a large group of parishioners and I thought, ‘Here’s this brother I don’t know and will never meet, but he embodied what we all desire to embody. And he did it his whole life.”

Albin
“I find that just living in community is a source of inspiration. I see how these role models are moved in prayer . . . how they respond to the Holy Spirit in the communal Mass . . . how they talk to each other over a meal . . . and I am motivated by their way of being. It’s how I hope to be in 20, 40, 60 years.”
QQQ

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of our Reasons to Be Grateful: A pdf featuring the 93 Jesuits currently in Formation

Dixon  “In many cases, it is a personal encounter with Jesus working through a Jesuit that inspires a new vocation. The joy my mentor, Fr. Brian Daley, has demonstrated in being a Jesuit helped draw me to this life. Fr. Daley became my spiritual director and thesis advisor in college. Being with him even for a short time caused me to ask, ‘Where does his happiness come from?’ Other times, hearing a story can be very moving. Recently at a Jesuit event, I sat next to a man who had served in India for 25 years. He embodies the missionary spirit of the first Jesuits. Whether or not I am called to international service, encounters with such men are moving and help me learn what exactly it means to be available for mission, as St. Ignatius would have wanted.”

Kennedy “One of the best examples of the ‘union of hearts and minds’ that St. Ignatius envisioned for the Jesuits can be found among the best traditions of the Society—spiritual direction. Being accompanied by someone in the space where you are praying and deepening your relationship with God—someone who has had similar experiences, as a matter of the heart as well as the intellect—is an amazing gift.” 


These newly vowed Jesuits now move into First Studies, a period of three years focused on academic work, studying philosophy and theology.
Eleven men pronounced Perpetual Vows in the Society of Jesus at the Church of St. Thomas More in St. Paul on Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014.  The vows of poverty, chastity and obedience followed two years of study at the novitiate in St. Paul. A picnic was held the night before the service, followed by a vigil and adoration.    Top Row (l-r): Stephen Molvarec, SJ; Aaron Malnick, SJ; Aaron Bohr, SJ; Matthew Wooters, SJ; Damian Torres-Botello, SJ; Daniel Dixon, SJ; Bottom Row (l-r): Daniel Kennedy, SJ; Aaron Pierre, SJ; Nicholas Albin, SJ; Andrew Hanson, SJ; Andrea Bianchini, SJ.  The vow Mass was held on Saturday, August 9, 2014, followed by a lunch and reception. Many family members as well as friends and fellow Jesuits attended.Eleven men pronounced Perpetual Vows in the Society of Jesus at the Church of St. Thomas More in St. Paul on Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014.  The vows of poverty, chastity and obedience followed two years of study at the novitiate in St. Paul. A picnic was held the night before the service, followed by a vigil and adoration.    

Top Row (l-r): Stephen Molvarec, SJ; Aaron Malnick, SJ; Aaron Bohr, SJ; Matthew Wooters, SJ; Damian Torres-Botello, SJ; Daniel Dixon, SJ; Bottom Row (l-r): Daniel Kennedy, SJ; Aaron Pierre, SJ; Nicholas Albin, SJ; Andrew Hanson, SJ; Andrea Bianchini, SJ.  

The vow Mass was held on Saturday, August 9, 2014, followed by a lunch and reception. Many family members as well as friends and fellow Jesuits attended.        












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