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José “Chuy” Camacho, SJ, at his first vows Mass at Saint Thomas More Catholic Community in St. Paul

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I saw how much I am loved by God, who has given me so much support through friends and family.
A Heart on Fire: José "Chuy" Camacho, SJ

Full of Grace
By José "Chuy" Camacho, SJ 
Click here to read A Heart on Fire by Luke Hansen, SJ.

I was born in Mexico, in a ranchería called El Zopial. My family and I lived near a small pueblo called San Francisco de Asís, about 45 minutes outside of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.

My parents emigrated to the United States in 1980. Initially, we came to Little Village in Chicago and lived there for about one year. Eventually, we moved to Streator, Ill., where I finished middle and high school before entering the US Navy. While I was in the navy, I studied at Southern Illinois University and finished my first undergrad degree. After active duty, I came back to Illinois to continue my naval career as a reservist and study chemistry and biochemistry at Illinois State University.

At age 39, after going through a retreat called Cursillo de Cristiandad, I embraced my faith and began to compare the life I was living to the life I desired, opening myself to discern how God was calling me to follow him. Soon, two Jesuits invited me to a discernment retreat at Puente Grande, Jalisco, Mexico. Listening to the two Mexican Jesuits speak of their experience working in Central America with maras (gangs) and ministering to people living on the riverbanks impacted me and helped me to continue my discernment process.

After a great deal of prayer, I applied to join the Society of Jesus and entered the Jesuit Novitiate of St. Alberto Hurtado in St. Paul. I spent two years as a Jesuit novice before pronouncing vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience last August. Both of my grandmothers, who planted the seeds of my faith, were with me that day, and the entire experience was a true blessing: I saw how much I am loved by God, who has given me so much support through friends and family.
First Vows
José "Chuy" Camacho, SJ, second from left, pronounced first vows at St. Thomas More Catholic Community in St. Paul last summer.


Now, I am studying philosophy and theology at Saint Louis University. I feel blessed to have this opportunity. In addition to studying, I work at a parish called Our Lady of Guadalupe in Ferguson, Mo. I also accompany a group of young adults involved in the Movimiento de Jornadas de Vida Cristiana.

This part of my formation is about the mind — shaping it and directing it toward the magis, the Latin word for “more,” which Jesuits use to emphasize our mission. As René Descartes teaches, “It is not enough to have a good mind. The main thing is to use it well.”

As an older Jesuit who left school nearly 20 years ago, I was impressed by the way my time in the novitiate prepared me for my vows and studies. Like first studies, the novitiate had a mix of time out and about in the world and in the classroom. As novices, we did experiments like the Spiritual Exercises (a 30-day retreat conducted in silence), the hospital experiment (hands-on care to people with sickness, a mental disability, or old age), a month-long pilgrimage with nothing more than $35 and a one-way bus ticket, and a long experiment, which involved time serving in a Jesuit apostolate. We also took classes on Jesuit history, Church history, Catholic social thought, and more.

Living in St. Louis at the Bellarmine House of Studies is another blessing. Time with my community is a highlight of each day. We celebrate Mass, socialize, and have dinner together. I have time to process each day and recalibrate for the next.

All these moments have served as a point of confirmation that led me to where I am today, and each moment has been full of grace.


José "Chuy" Camacho, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic who is currently studying philosophy and theology at Saint Louis University

Read more vocation reflections by young Jesuits
.

Learn about the stages of Jesuit formation and a vocation with the Jesuits.

This story also appeared in the Spring, 2017 issue of Jesuits Magazine






Recent News

May 21, 2018 — Jesuit Superior General Fr. Arturo Sosa, SJ, capped off the second day of his trip to Canada with a visit to Martyrs’ Shrine in Midland, Ontario, which honors six Jesuits and two lay martyrs from the 17th-century missions.

May 14, 2018 — The Heider Family has made an $8 million gift for the building of a new student learning commons in honor of Fr. Timothy R. Lannon, SJ.

May 11, 2018 — The university hosted its fifth annual climate change conference in March.

May 10, 2018 — Lucas Schroeder has been named as the next principal of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, effective July 1, 2018.

May 7, 2018 — Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life of Father Howard J. Gray, SJ, who died at 12:15 p.m. on May 7, 2018, at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland in Pontiac, Mich. of complications from a car accident. He was 87 years old. May he rest in peace.

May 7, 2018 — Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life of Father Robert J. Ochs, SJ, who died on May 4, 2018, at Colombiere Center in Clarkston, Michigan. He was 88 years old. May he rest in peace.

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