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Lukas Laniauskas serves as chaplain to the Berkeley, CA fire department.

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Working as the Berkeley fire department chaplain serves as a perfect parallel to my life journey as a Jesuit.
A Heart on Fire:
Lukas Laniauskas, SJ


By Lukas Laniauskas, SJ

January 15, 2015

Lukas M. Laniauskas, SJ was born in 1984 to parents of Lithuanian-American descent and grew up in Cleveland, OH where he felt called to a vocation as a young boy. That call grew stronger over the years and in 2004 he entered the Jesuit Novitiate in Lithuania, professed perpetual vows in 2006 and returned to the states to continue his Jesuit formation.  He is currently studying theology at Berkeley and is set to be ordained this coming June.

The alarm rings and everyone leaps into action, rushing to the scene to care for those in need. Working as the Berkeley fire department chaplain serves as a perfect parallel to my life journey as a Jesuit. I perceived the alarm of my vocation ringing at a young age. As a child, I used to serve the Mass and thought to myself that one day I would be a priest. As I developed through high school and college the alarm of my vocation only became stronger.

I entered the Jesuit novitiate as a novice (initial stage of formation) in Lithuania. Being born in a Lithuanian-American family, I was happy to return to the land of my ancestors. Upon completion of the novitiate, I professed perpetual vows (poverty, chastity, and obedience) and returned to the States to complete my formation.

 Messages of Encouragement  
Here are a few of the many encouraging messages received for Lukas Laniauskas, SJ, in response to his “A Heart on Fire” email, which was sent to Jesuit Partners in January 2015.

“Lukas, your ministry is very admirable. Working with and spiritually supporting first responders is so important. They deal with horrific situations and have to make very tough decisions daily. A man like you can be God’s soothing strength.” — Steve Geis

“Your story about fire alarms was very touching. Prayerful best wishes as you get closer to ordination. I am so grateful to the Jesuits for all that I have received from them that I do want to be involved with your journey and contribute.” — Deacon Rodolfo Salinas

“As a Jesuit, you have so much to offer as an inspiring role model by sharing your life with others, especially in time of need, through your service in emergencies and your work with young people.” — Rich Ciccarone

“Having received both my bachelor and masters degrees from the University of Detroit Mercy, I have a solid grounding in philosophy and theology which has helped to shape my life. I think highly of the Jesuits and their emphasis on social justice.” — Mary Gibbons



It was then that I studied philosophy at Loyola University Chicago for three years (second stage of formation), went on to teach and serve as campus minister at St. John’s Jesuit High School in Toledo, Ohio for regency (third stage of formation), and finally landed where I am today, in my third and final year of theology (fourth stage of formation). I look forward to being ordained a priest in June of 2015!

When I along with the firefighters rush to the scene, I never know whom we will encounter, whom we will serve, or in what situation we will find ourselves; every situation is unique. As I reflect about my ten years in the Society of Jesus, I thank God for the many people, faces, and situations in which I have been privileged to serve. When I entered, my desire was to serve people unconditionally, to be free to respond to the alarms of others’ lives, and to walk with them in their joys, sorrows, and most precious moments. Though the journey has not always been easy or paved in gold, I have found myself continually consoled and inspired. My desires and expectations upon entering have not only been fulfilled but also exceeded.

The genius of Saint Ignatius of Loyola is the way in which he envisioned Jesuit formation. I could not be the man and soon-to-be priest that I am without the many significant experiences of God’s grace—in my prayer, my living in community, my studies, my ministries, and, more importantly, in the many people I have met because I have been afforded these moments as a Jesuit. As the alarm of my vocation as a priest waits to ring, I feel I have been prepared to respond and respond well.

The alarm rings and everyone leaps into action. I rush to the engine as chaplain ready to tackle another call. The officer on duty (a fellow Christian) looks at me and says, “Let’s go do His work.” Indeed, I thought, let’s go do His work!  

To read more Heart on Fire profiles, click here

This reflection also appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of Partners Magazine. Please click here for 
Partners Index






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