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By David Inczauskis, SJ
I was adopted through Catholic Charities a few days after my birth in Hinsdale, Ill. My biological mother had an unexpected teenage pregnancy and bravely decided to keep me and place me in the loving hands of my adoptive parents. My parents, Dale and Colleen, are extraordinarily caring people. They taught me to value generosity and studies, and their support helped me obtain a full scholarship to Wake Forest University in North Carolina.
While my parents raised me in the Catholic faith, I came to a more committed relationship with Christ in college. At Wake Forest, I quickly chose to major in religious studies. My freshman schedule included a class on Asian religions that drew me toward additional studies in religion. I found religion fascinating and wanted to know more. Soon, I was taking courses on Christianity and the Bible. I’d hardly opened the “big book” before, but I fell in love with the Gospels and St. Paul’s letters. The topic enchanted me so much that I applied to spend a year abroad at Oxford University in England to take specialized courses on the early Church, the Reformation, and liberation theology in Latin America.
My knowledge of Catholicism grew exponentially at Oxford, but my prayer was lagging behind. I simply didn’t know how to pray in a personal way. Everything changed when the Jesuits entered the picture. A friend invited me to dinner at the Oxford Catholic chaplaincy, which the Jesuits staff. Wanting a free meal, I agreed to go. Father Simon Bishop, SJ, sat next to me. With enthusiasm and warmth, he introduced himself and began asking me about my life and studies. Never had I felt so loved and appreciated by a stranger. The meeting was so memorable that I sent him an email a few days later to ask if we could sit down to chat.
Inside, I was confused. I thought to myself, “How can this man be so joyful even though he has no money, no girlfriend, and no ‘job’?” Through our conversations, it became clear that his personal relationship with Christ was the sole source of his joy. I wanted what he had. He taught me Ignatian prayer. We started with the Examen of Consciousness and later moved to imaginative prayer on Gospel scenes. Through the Examen, I saw how God was working in my emotional life, and my love for Scripture deepened as I learned to engage with it contemplatively.
The more I prayed, the more I saw God was calling me to be a Jesuit. Through two silent retreats, God confirmed my discernment. I applied during my last year of college and entered the novitiate in St. Paul the following fall. Looking back, it all happened very quickly. God was compelling me with such great love that I couldn’t help but say “yes” to his offer of priestly ministry in the Society of Jesus. I wanted to collaborate with God in the company of his Son. I wanted the biblical scenes I had imagined in prayer to come alive in my life. A year after my vows and three years after my entrance, these desires have only grown stronger, and many have borne rich fruit.
Today, I write from Loyola University Chicago, where I’m completing my second stage of formation, first studies. The provincial has missioned me to pursue master’s degrees in Spanish and social philosophy. This academic training will enable me to minister more effectively with and for Spanish speakers throughout the Americas. God has placed in my heart a desire to find the Spirit’s movement in this population and to share the Ignatian tradition with a people that desperately craves spiritual food. I pray that I can be to others what Fr. Simon was to me — a messenger of the good news that God speaks lovingly to every one of us.
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