One of my favorite artists, James Taylor, sang so eloquently in “You’ve got a Friend”: “When you’re down and troubled, and you need a helping hand… I’ll be there…’cause you’ve got a friend.”
This song aligns with my life story. I experience this promise of friendship in my daily living through my Jesuit vocation with a deep sense of care, love, and belonging that reflects Christ’s consolation in my vocation. Last summer, when I experienced a moment of uncertainty in my vocation, my friends in the Society of Jesus showed me Christ’s love with their availability, support, prayers and constant care.
My Jesuit vocation helps me experience true friendship. St. Ignatius talks about God’s love as a source of consolation which can be experienced through true Jesuit friends, as men for and with others. Ever since I entered the Society, my friendships have become more meaningful.
Through my vows for poverty, chastity, and obedience I made a commitment to serve God through the Church. These vows also symbolized my connection to Jesuit companionship. Having a Jesuit companion helps me deeply in my prayer and in my growth as a person.
In this society, friendship helps one to exist not only as a servant of others, but rather as a true companion. As Jesus said in the gospel of John, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I call you friends” (Jn 15:15). A Jesuit friend is available to me in any season; a bridge I can cross to meet Christ; a light that shows me the mission’s path.
My name is Patrick Saint-Jean, a member of the Midwest Province and a Jesuit Regent who lives, teaches, and conducts research at Creighton University in Omaha. I was raised a Southern Baptist, my parents’ faith, but attended a Jesuit high school, where I was introduced to the society of Jesus. I converted upon graduation, at age 16.
I went on to major in psychology at Ecole Lacannienne de Pyschanalyse, then moved to Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico where I completed my research in psychoanalysis, defended my doctoral thesis, and began teaching at the same institution. In 2014 I received a fellowship for the School of Social Science at the University of Chicago and joined the Society of Jesus two years later. What attracted me to the order was the friendship of Jesuits; their sense of care and kindness.
I identify as a proud Haitian, the country of my birth and the lens through which I engage with the world. However, I am delighted to now call Omaha my home. The friendliness of its residents has been a true testament of Christ’s love, demonstrating that Jesuits have a home anywhere. Often times it is not a lack of love that makes people unhappy, but a lack of meaning in relationships. With the Society of Jesus, I find depth, joy, and meaning through my Jesuit friends. I am learning that a joyful life with a Jesuit friend is an anticipation of the taste of Paradise.
As a Jesuit, I cultivate friendships that help me mature in the Lord’s mission. Through the openness, genuineness, challenge, honesty, and vulnerability of my Jesuit friends, I experience Christ in my life. They improve my image of Jesus, which permits a deep conversion and a sense of encounter with Christ. My Jesuit friendships make my heart bloom and remind me that I am never alone.