News
Br. Matt Wooters, SJ, is a school social worker at Nativity Jesuit Academy on Milwaukee's South side. In the coming months, he will move on to start his degree in theology.

Support the Midwest Jesuits

Send a message of encouragement
to Br. Matt Wooters, SJ

Not a subscriber?
Stay connected with
our e-Newsletters


As I reflect on these past six years, I realize they have been incredible, intense, hard, and beautiful. But more than anything, they have been thoroughly joyful.
A Heart on Fire: Br. Matt Wooters, SJ

By Br. Matt Wooters, SJ

When I was in the third grade at a Catholic primary school in suburban Maryland, I happened upon a book about St. Isaac Jogues, the 17th century Jesuit missionary, getting flogged, flayed, and having his fingers chewed off on a mission to “New France.” I thought it was the grossest and coolest thing I had ever read! It was perfect for an eight-year-old boy with a penchant for reading and dreams of being a world explorer. Though, at the time I couldn’t for the life of me understand why someone would choose to go through such an ordeal!

Fast forward twenty-some years later, and I am a Jesuit brother living with Jesuits from India, Ecuador, Tanzania, and Wisconsin. I spend my days as a school social worker at Nativity Jesuit Academy on Milwaukee's South side. I work with children that are the same age I was when I first read about St. Isaac and his companions. All my digits are intact, for now.


I am in my sixth year of Jesuit formation in a two- to three-year period of work we call “regency.” In the formidable and lengthy course of Jesuit formation, regency is sandwiched between two graduate degrees. During the former, I studied social work at St. Louis University and worked as a caseworker with men and women experiencing homelessness. I also spent some time living and working with migrants in Mexico. In the coming months, I will wrap up my regency at Nativity Jesuit and move on to start a degree in theology.

As I reflect on these past six years, I realize they have been incredible, intense, hard, and beautiful. But more than anything, they have been thoroughly joyful. Joy has been the root of my vocation. I felt glimmers of this God-given joy as a Jesuit Volunteer in Belize after college. I wanted more of it and decided to enter the Society. I attended Georgetown Prep and John Carroll University, so I was familiar with the Jesuits throughout my life, counting many of them among my friends. But it wasn’t until my time with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) that the idea of entering the Jesuits seemed like a realistic possibility. During my time with JVC, I felt that I wasn’t simply talking about accompanying the marginalized and excluded, I was doing it. This made the possibility of becoming a Jesuit much more real.

Upon entering the Jesuits, I was filled with all manner of fears and doubts until the Spiritual Exercises, the 30-day silent retreat Jesuits and lay folks have completed since St. Ignatius’ time. (To be clear, most of my fears early on involved the thought of being silent for 30 days!) The Spiritual Exercises culminate with the understanding of how much God loves and labors on behalf of us. Despite pain, suffering, and our own sin, God is on our side through it all. The response to this simple yet profound revelation is freedom: a freedom from ego, from attachment, and from selfishness. This freedom incarnates itself as joy and service.

At the end of the Long Retreat, I felt a tremendous desire to work with God going wherever the need was greatest. This holy desire, God’s desire in me, has brought me from Saint Paul, to St. Louis, to Mexico, and to a primary school in Milwaukee over these past six years.

I think I finally understand St. Isaac Jogues’ irrational joy and zeal a bit more now.


  


Read more vocation reflections by young Jesuits 
   
Learn about the stages of formation  



Br. Matt Wooters, SJ, is in his sixth year of Jesuit formation in the period called "regency". He entered the Society of Jesus in 2012. 





Recent News

July 9, 2019 — An Ignatian delegation is taking part in the United Nations's forum, which runs July 9-18 in New York City.

While at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, I embraced many of the freedoms college offers, but I failed to develop my spiritual life in any way beyond an occasional prayer to God for a date to go well or for an A on an exam. After graduating, I moved to Chicago to work for a financial firm. I was achieving my goals, yet I felt deeply unfulfilled by life.

July 1, 2019 — The Jesuits in Honduras are denouncing the Honduran government’s repression of protests over the past two months.

June 29, 2019 — Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life of Fr. John J. Kilgallen, SJ, who died on June 29, 2019. He was 85 years old. May he rest in peace.

June 5, 2019 —The Society of Jesus is proud to announce the ordination of 22 new priests in Canada, the U.S. and Haiti, including four from the Midwest Jesuits Province.

June 4, 2019 — All 85 graduates will be continuing on with higher education—and all are the first generation in their family to do so.

view all news

Search news

Publications

Jesuits Spring 2019

Jesuits Fall/Winter 2018

Jesuits Summer 2018



Creighton University Retreat Center
Located 45 miles east of Omaha, Neb., in rural Iowa, the Creighton University Retreat Center is situated on 154 wooded acres on the Nishnabotna River.