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September 3, 2014 - Does aging change your relationship with God? Does it transform your very identity?
These are questions many people deal with at various points in their lives; for obvious reasons, more so in the senior years. And Jesuits are no different.
Fr. Jonathan Haschka, SJ, superior at St. Camillus, explains, “Like many people in our culture, Jesuits have a lot of their identity wrapped up in what they do. When you’re teaching, for example, you can pat yourself on the back every day and say, ‘Look what I’ve contributed.’ So when our senior Jesuits come here, their identity is threatened. Most fear being unemployed.”
“It’s tough to lose control over your life, but that’s often what happens with age,” says Fr. Haschka. “This passage from John 21 is helpful to us in coming to terms with that.”
17 [Jesus] said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” [Jesus] said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” (NABRE)
“When I’m preaching at a Jesuit’s funeral, I often cite Deuteronomy 30:19,” says Fr. Libens. “It’s about choosing life, and that’s what these Jesuits have done – by living their lives to the fullest they can, in the Ignatian way, by paying attention to their great desires and making good choices.”“I call heaven and earth today to witness … I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then…” (NABRE
St. Camillus and Colombiere Center Jesuit communities provide independent living, assisted living, and nursing care for senior and infirm Jesuits. Among the members of these communities are former teachers, spiritual directors, missionaries and pastors. While some continue to be actively involved in ministry, all of them pray daily for the Church, the Society of Jesus and its benefactors.