Name: Bernadette Therese Gillick
Hometown: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Schools Attended: Marquette University, Chicago Medical School, University of Minnesota
Profession: Neuroscientist, Physical Therapist
How did you get involved with the Jesuits?
My father was in the Jesuits, and my uncle is a Jesuit. I grew up surrounded by the Ignatian spirit, thinking that everyone had Jesuits visiting their home and sharing meals on a near-weekly basis! And when I found out I couldn’t go to Marquette University High School because I was a girl (hrumph!), I made sure I went to Marquette University as had my parents, my grandparents, and many generations before.
How has a specific Jesuit has impacted your life?
My uncle, Fr. Larry Gillick, SJ, taught me something when I was very young that has remained with me throughout my life. I had a few bumps along the way growing up into adulthood, and he would say that “When one door closes, another opens. You just have to be willing to acknowledge that opportunity, and that can be the hardest part.” After sharing his “List of 100 Books a Young Irish Girl Should Read”(!), he taught me about St. Ignatius of Loyola and how to honor the “instrument” that I am and the manner in which I care for the gifts I have been given as a means to give to others. As a young girl I often thought “Who can work that hard, to think that much, about simply being?” Turns out that his lessons became a large part of my journey growing up and are still with me. I have been fortunate to have such a Jesuit/teacher/uncle/friend in my life through times of both challenge and celebration.
How do you bring Jesuit values into the workplace?
The Magis philosophy of incorporating “finding God in all things” has been a guiding Jesuit value for me, and I have prayed for the grace and humility to recognize that it may very well be that someone else may need to look hard at me, during challenging times, to find God as well. Additionally, as faculty at the University of Minnesota now, I’ve had the honor of being the graduation speaker, and I included an inspirational Ignatian quote: “Go forth and set the world on fire.” Now heading into my sixth decade of life I maintain that there is no age limit on what we do if we set out to do it, just get out and do it and let Christ be your light!
Can you talk about the Midwest Jesuits ministries you find inspiring?
Among the many inspiring Midwest Jesuit ministries, I am forever humbled by the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, the young and spirited people who engage in their calling, and the dedicated people who run that ministry. I had the great fortune of ministering as a clinical instructor for Creighton and Marquette University students at the Institute for Latin American Concern in the Dominican Republic. I still speak of the lessons I learned from the Jesuit ministry team there and my experiences in such an inspirational and spiritual setting. Lastly, I have sat on the bus with Cristo Rey Jesuit High School students as they set off to begin their days. If you want to be inspired, reach out to them and hear about the many ways they are setting the world on fire!
What would you like your legacy to be?
I want to continue to recognize the shoulders of the giants that I stand on and how inspired I am by the grace and courage of the youth in our world to represent Magis, as part of the “more,” as part of the community we are and can be. As for a legacy, I am simply grateful that I have been able to live the life I have, surrounded and grounded by a community of love and faith. If one life has been even a bit better because I have lived, then that is legacy enough for me.
What prompted you to support the province?
Last Christmas my family and I attended Mass at Church of the Gesu in Milwaukee. I stood (yes, we were late) and took in the smells, the light, the sounds, the energy of that holy place. I have attended Mass at Gesu hundreds of times—during my studies and development at Marquette, for baptisms, funerals, weddings, and holidays. As I do every time I am at Gesu, I found myself in a place of unique reflection. How can I keep from singing when the Lord is always with me? Supporting the province is easy, being actively thoughtful about my faith is not. The province continually renews that faith and challenges me to respect the instrument I have been given in the service of others. Thank you to all in the province who keep “going forth” to maintain and promote the importance of Jesuit values.