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Jesuit Vocation Awareness Alive and Well on the East Coast

By Mike Benigno

 
A student from Xavier High School in Micronesia, shows off a photo of the early Jesuits who served in that region.
Dec. 1, 2017 - From Syracuse to Washington, D.C., from Woodstock, Maryland, to Worcester - more than a dozen Jesuit works of the Maryland and USA Northeast Provinces hosted vocation awareness events this month, stemming from National Jesuit Vocation Day, which was marked on Nov. 5. 

At the college and university level, nearly all works throughout the two provinces held some form of vocation event, including Vincenza Days of service (inspired by the work of St. Ignatius and the early Jesuits while in Italy), vocation dinners hosted by scholastics and personal reflections given by those discerning. 

The Jesuit community at the College of the Holy Cross welcomed those considering Jesuit vocations at a monthly discernment group meeting. Seven men attended an afternoon meeting and a presentation delivered by Bill Woody, SJ, a scholastic who spoke on experiences of ministry, prayer in the apostolate and life throughout the various stages of formation. Members of the Jesuit Community and students from the group also took part in a service activity, clearing an urban lot which will be the site of a future duplex for low income families, built by Mathew 25, the non-profit organization headed by Fr. Fred Enman, SJ. 

At Saint Joseph's University, the Jesuit community organized a day of service and reflection in Manresa Hall, the Jesuit infirmary located near the school campus. 


Members of a discernment group at the College of the Holy Cross take part in a service activity.

At Jesuit secondary schools, students took part in school-wide masses and smaller liturgies, and presentations from visiting Jesuit scholastics. Brendan Coffey, SJ, who formerly taught English at Regis High School addressed 265 seniors and juniors at two assemblies, speaking about his own vocation journey, including reaching the point of applying to the Society during his time as a Regis faculty member. Students were invited to a lunchtime conversation opportunity, which drew 25 students from all four years. 

At Xavier High School in Chuuk, Micronesia, a liturgy took place at a small cemetery on the school campus where a Palauan Jesuit brother and two New York-born Jesuit priests are buried. Vocations was also the subject of an evening mass and Naoki Ochi, SJ, a regent from Japan teaching religion there, devoted junior and senior classes to vocation promotion. In nearby Yap, Mike Lamanna, SJ, a scholastic, produced a short video about the priests, religious sisters and religious brothers serving the Church in Micronesia, which can be viewed below.

Parishes petitioned for vocations at masses, distributed promotional materials and hosted receptions for those who may be discerning entering the Jesuits. Jesuits at St. Alphonsus Rodriguez Parish in Woodstock, Md., printed cards with the prayer for Jesuit vocations, recited the prayer at parish liturgies and hosted an exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on Nov. 5, gathering parishioners to say the rosary with each mystery, dedicated to a particular Jesuit vocation need, concluding with the Benediction.

"National vocation day is simply one assigned day to focus our efforts at promoting vocations to the Society," said Fr. Philip Florio, SJ, vocation director. "The reality is that Jesuits are doing vocation promotion every day. Their vocation efforts need not be grand projects, but simple, everyday encounters are meaningful - conversations, even invitations to consider life as a Jesuit priest or brother."

Scholastic from Boston College speak to students at BC High about vocations.

Inspired by the collaboration that took place, Fr. Florio anticipates keeping the momentum going. Eighteen men are currently signed up for the Jesuits' Winter Discernment Retreat, hosted by Fr. Florio, Fr. Fred Pellegrini, SJ, vocation promoter, and five scholastics in various stages of formation, taking place at Linwood Spiritual Center in Rhinebeck, N.Y. 

"We're at a critical juncture on the vocation front. The Francis effect, the books of Fr. James Martin, SJ, and an increase in the appreciation of Ignatian spirituality are reaching people who do not go to our schools or pray at our retreat houses or parishes," Fr. Florio said. "Our vocation efforts have to go beyond just our ministries and apostolates, and to do that it takes Jesuits and colleagues who are truly zealous about promoting Jesuit values."

For information on how to take the first steps toward becoming a Jesuit, visit www.BeaJesuit.org.





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