by Michael Rossmann, SJ
I’ve heard it many times.
It’s a fair question. I’m from Iowa - a place where many Jesuits are from but where (almost) none of us work. I come from a family that emphasized faith and service and attended Catholic schools my entire life. Such a background provided much vocational “kindling,” though I had never thought about being a priest. I then attended “that other Catholic university” in South Bend, Indiana.
“Wait, so how did you become a Jesuit?”
I had heard about
the Jesuits before. I even took Ignatius as my confirmation name and said as a precocious high school freshman that I was doing this “because I like education and
|Above: Michael demonstrates his computer skills to students in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Below: Michael poses with a student from Tanzania.
social justice.” But I didn’t know any Jesuits.
That is until I met Fr. Brian Daley, SJ. Though Notre Dame is not a Jesuit school, Fr. Daley has been teaching theology there for nearly two decades. I heard about a retreat my freshman year and signed up at the last minute. I could not have imagined how much of an impact such a decision would make. Father Daley led the retreat. Encountering the First Principle and Foundation
felt like being plunged into ice water and finally understanding why I was on this earth. Learning about “finding God in all things” changed my worldview.
Meeting Fr. Daley provided a match that lit a vocational fire. Over time, he became a spiritual father, mentor and friend. The guy is brilliant; we’re talking Nobel-Prize-in-theology brilliant. (I wish I was so clever to make that up, though the Pope personally awards a theologian each year with an award that has been nicknamed the Nobel Prize in theology, and Fr. Daley won it.)
I’ve always felt, however, that his heart is bigger than his head. I saw how he loved me and the many students who encountered him in the classroom, the chapel, or even the boxing ring. (Wouldn’t you know, he’s also a boxing coach.)
Though his life as a Jesuit didn’t necessarily seem easy, I couldn’t imagine something more fulfilling. The fire that Fr. Daley started burned down my defenses, and, with great joy, this Iowa boy who had never attended a Jesuit school entered the Society of Jesus.
Michael Rossmann, SJ, pictured left front, pronounced First Vows on August 15, 2009. He joined the Jesuits in 2007 just after graduating from the University of Notre Dame. After studying abroad in East Africa during college, he taught at Loyola High School in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He is currently studying theology at Boston College and recently became Editor-in-Chief of The Jesuit Post, a project of Jesuits in formation offering a Jesuit, Catholic perspective on the
Michael's story is an example of the impact that Jesuits continue to
have - forming and shaping the lives of men and women throughout the
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