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Date
août 3, 2020
Author
Fr. Joe Laramie, SJ
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“Ok, Ignatius, What Now?” Looking to the Spiritual Exercises for Guidance

 

Beep, beep, beep. Thunk.

The rear red lights flashed twice on my rented red minivan as the back hatch latched shut. Everything I owned was piled inside. I’m a Jesuit, with a vow of poverty — so I don’t technically own anything. Still, snow boots and t-shirts were jammed into brown cardboard boxes next to frisbees, books on St. Augustine and Cardinals baseball pennants.

As a Jesuit, I’ve moved many times. I’ve lived in 10 cities in 20 years — including Boston, Kansas City (twice), Denver and Punta Gorda in Belize. Packing up and moving out is always an emotional experience. My excitement and anxiety about the new gig are mingled with gratitude and sorrow about leaving my current job. My emotions swirled even faster this time: In the midst of a pandemic, I’d be leaving my hometown and moving to a city I’d never lived in.

Fr. Laramie (right) with Fr. Armel Setubi, SJ, loading the red minivan.

 

My parents came over for a final social-distanced coffee. We sat in the backyard of my redbrick Jesuit house near Saint Louis University. While I’ve lived in many places, St. Louis has always been home. My whole family lives here. My sister is married with three young kids; I’m “Unkie Joe” when I have lunch with them or attend my nephew’s soccer games. I am also finishing up one of my favorite assignments, serving as a campus minister at SLU, my alma mater.

I sat with my parents in lawn chairs under a shade tree, out of the summer sun. I needed to go soon. I wanted to get on the road to arrive in Wisconsin before it was dark. I’d begin a 14-day quarantine the next morning.

“Well, great seeing you guys,” I said. How do you say goodbye in the coronavirus era? Fist bump mom and nod to dad?

“I don’t care what the rules are, I’m giving you a hug and a kiss,” Mom said. She did. I smiled. After promises to call, and to drive safely, and not to text and drive, and to call (again) — I got into the van. I pulled out of the alley and onto the road.

Shortly after Christmas, I learned that I would be getting a new assignment this summer. I was planning to tell the students right after spring break. Now how could I say goodbye?

I made some great connections with students during my time at SLU. And then, in mid-March, they all disappeared. The virus meant that all classes would be online for the remainder of the semester. All students needed to move out of university housing as soon as possible.

I’ve flipped through my dog-eared copy of St. Ignatius Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises many times during this pandemic. I’ve had it since I made my first 30-day silent retreat as a Jesuit novice in 2001. In mid-March, I asked, “Ok, Iggy, what now?”

I looked over his words “for a time of desolation.” Ignatius sees that desolation comes from the evil spirit. This spirit causes “gnawing anxiety to sadden and to set up obstacles.” One is “listless, tepid, unhappy, and feels separated from the Lord.”

Yep, all true. A good summary of my emotional state. This is not how I planned out my final semester of college ministry. So what should I do now, Ignatius?

“Remain firm and constant in the resolution and decision which guided us the day before the desolation.” Ok. Good advice.

I love connecting with students and sharing spiritual life with them. I was doing that in January and February. I had to look for new ways to do this. I felt that Christ would use this experience, somehow, to prepare me for my next assignment.

As a campus minister, I loved wandering around SLU chatting with kids in the quad, in the dining hall and after Mass. Friendly conversations in the residence halls have now become phone calls. Evening Masses became Ignatian reflections on Zoom. Homilies became Instagram videos. Not perfect and not ideal. “Remain firm and constant.”

Christ led me to SLU and still had work for me to do. Christ was also preparing me for my new assignment — directing the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (formerly known as the Apostleship of Prayer) in North America, based in Milwaukee.

These days, we’re all looking for connections. Our relationships and our faith communities have been altered, separated, and changed. Christ brings us something deeper than connections: communion with him and his people.

Before COVID-19, I’d never run a virtual prayer group. Now I have. That’s a good thing, because that’s what the pope wants me to do! I’ve got two new young adult groups set to meet next month. And we’ll be rolling out some short videos on Fridays. Our website, popesprayerusa.net, has info and resources.

How can I say goodbye? Maybe I don’t have to. Jesus is firm and constant in his resolution. He is not quarantined. The risen Lord passes through locked doors and speaks to his friends: us! The Holy Spirit unites us in worldwide communion with Christ.

Nous sommes impatients d’avoir de vos nouvelles

Nous sommes impatients de faire votre connaissance.

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Province De L’est

Fr. Sean Hagerty, SJ

Promoteur des vocations

La province de l’Est des États-Unis est l’une des cinq provinces de la Conférence jésuite du Canada et des États-Unis, qui comprend l’est des États-Unis, du Maine à la Géorgie ainsi que le District de Columbia. Les jésuites de la province vivent et travaillent également en Micronésie et dans les îles Fidji. La province comprend des collèges et des universités, comme le collège Sainte-Croix et l’université de Georgetown, des écoles secondaires comme l’École préparatoire de Fordham et l’École secondaire Cristo Rey de Baltimore, et quelques intermédiaires, des paroisses, des centres de retraites et diverses autres œuvres.

Fr. Sean Hagerty, SJ, is the vocation promoter for the UEA Province. That means that Fr. Hagerty is responsible for accompanying men who are discerning a life in the Society of Jesus. He joined the Jesuits in 2012, after having served in the U.S. army. He has ministered in prisons, campus ministries and hospitals, and conducted research into just war, moral injury and the reintegration of soldiers into the Catholic community. He was just ordained a priest in 2022.

Fr. Hagerty is happy to answer YOUR questions about Jesuit life!  Feel free to email him directly at shagerty@jesuits.org, or better yet, submit your information on the above form and someone from Fr. Hagerty’s team will get back to you ASAP. 

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Province De L’ouest

Fr. Andrew Laguna, SJ

Promoteur des vocations

La province de l’Ouest des États-Unis est l’une des cinq provinces de la Conférence jésuite du Canada et des États-Unis. Elle comprend dix États : l’Alaska, l’Arizona, la Californie, Hawaii, l’Idaho, le Montana, le Nevada, l’Oregon, l’Utah et l’État de Washington. Les jésuites de l’Ouest sont un groupe diversifié d’hommes qui servent le Christ et son Église dans 19 établissements d’enseignement, 13 paroisses, 2 centres de retraites et d’autres apostolats sociaux et pastoraux comme les Homeboy Industries, l’Initiative jésuite pour la justice réparatrice (JRJI), la Kino Border Initiative (KBI), les Missions américaines autochtones et les ministères Christus auprès des jeunes adultes, pour n’en citer que quelques-uns.

Fr. Andrew Laguna, SJ, is the vocation promoter for the US West Province. That means that he is responsible for accompanying men who are discerning a life in the Society of Jesus. He has been a Jesuit for thirteen years and a priest for two years. Over the course of that time he has taught high school theology and coached running; worked and traveled with Jesuits in Latin America; and served as a parochial vicar at parishes in San Diego and San Jose, CA.


Fr. Andrew is here to answer your questions about Jesuit life! Submit your information, and he will get back to you as soon as possible.

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Province Du Centre-sud

Fr. Juan Ruiz, SJ

Promoteur des vocations

Fr. Juan Ruiz, SJ, was born in Baltimore, MD, to a Dominican mother and a Cuban-American father. As the proud child of two Hispanic parents he grew up in Memphis, TN, speaking Spanish at home and visiting family abroad in the summers. He came to know the Jesuits through an uncle in Dominican Republic who was himself a Jesuit priest. Juan graduated with a B.S. in Business Administration from Saint Louis University and worked for one year as an IT Consultant in Saint Louis, MO, before entering the Society of Jesus. After taking first vows in 2013, he completed a Masters in Social Philosophy at Loyola University Chicago while teaching middle school religion on the side. For regency, he spent three years teaching Spanish at Cristo Rey Jesuit in Houston, TX. He was missioned to study theology at Regis College in Toronto and completed an M.Div. in three years. He was ordained a priest the summer of 2022 and spent the subsequent year working as an assistant pastor at Gesú Church in Miami, FL. He joined the vocation promotion team in 2023. Fr. Juan loves that people are people. He enjoys all sorts of ministry. In his downtime, he enjoys exercising, reading, movies, and spending time with friends.

Province Du Centre-sud

Fr. Joseph Hill, SJ

Promoteur des vocations

Fr. Joseph Hill, SJ, was born in Phoenix, AZ, the third of four sons of an American mother and a Canadian father. At nine years old he moved to England. He met the Jesuits in high school at Stonyhurst College. He attended the University of Oxford, earning a degree in theology in 2003. In 2004 he entered the Jesuit novitiate in south Louisiana. After taking first vows in 2006, he studied a Master’s in philosophy at Fordham University in New York. For regency, he then spent three years teaching theology at Jesuit High School, New Orleans. In 2012 he was sent to study theology at FAJE in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, earning a master’s degree in 2014. He returned to Boston, MA, earning a MEd at Boston College in 2015. He was ordained a Catholic priest on June 13th, 2015. For one year he was associate pastor at Parroquia San Ignacio in San Juan, Puerto Rico and chaplain of the parish elementary school. From 2016 to 2021 he taught theology and directed campus ministry at St. Louis University High School in St. Louis. He joined the vocation promotion team in 2021. Fr. Joseph loves teaching, giving retreats and leading pilgrimages to holy sites. In his free time he enjoys reading, playing sports, hanging out with friends, and travelling to exotic places. 

Province Du Centre-sud

Fr. Michael Wegenka, SJ

Promoteur des vocations

Fr. Michael Wegenka, SJ, was born in Midland, Michigan, lived briefly in Carmel, Indiana, and grew up in Katy, Texas. He attended Strake Jesuit College Preparatory school and entered the Society of Jesus when he was 18. He received a B.A. in Philosophy and English Literature from Fordham University in 2011. He taught British Literature and Sacred Scripture to sophomores at Regis Jesuit High School in Centennial, Colorado for three years and then received an M.Div. from Boston College in 2017. He completed an S.T.L. in Historical/Systematic Theology at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and was ordained a priest in 2018. After spending a year as an associate pastor at St. Charles Borromeo parish in Grand Coteau, Louisiana, he served for three years as the Pastoral Director at his alma mater, Strake Jesuit College Preparatory in Houston. He became a vocation promoter in 2022 and now lives in Denver. He enjoys reading and discussing a Catholic novel, skiing, beating his older brother’s time in half-marathons, and spending as much time as possible near the Great Lakes or the mountains of Colorado and Wyoming.

They are ready to answer your questions about Jesuit life. Submit your information, and Fr. Ruiz, Fr. Hill and Fr. Wegenka will get back to you as soon as possible.

La province du Centre-Sud des États-Unis est l’une des cinq provinces de la Conférence jésuite du Canada et des États-Unis. La province comprend 13 États, de la Floride au Colorado, ainsi que le territoire de Porto Rico et le pays du Belize. Nous servons le peuple de Dieu dans sept centres de retraites et de spiritualité et 14 paroisses. Nous poursuivons la tradition jésuite en éducation dans six établissements d’enseignement supérieur, 12 écoles secondaires, une école intermédiaire et un institut de recherches sociales.

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Province Du Canada

Le père Edmund Lo, SJ

Promoteur des vocations
Province Du Canada

Br. Dan Leckman, SJ

Promoteur des vocations
Province Du Canada

Le père John O'Brien, SJ

Directeur des vocations

La province du Canada est l’une des cinq provinces de la Conférence jésuite du Canada et des États-Unis; elle couvre les dix provinces et les trois territoires canadiens. Elle comprend le collège Campion à Regina, l’école secondaire Loyola à Montréal, le Centre de ressourcement spirituel jésuite Manrèse à Pickering et la paroisse Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes à Toronto.

Le père Edmund Lo, SJ, est promoteur des vocations pour la province du Canada ainsi que pour Haïti. Cela veut dire que le père Edmund a la responsabilité d’accompagner les jeunes gens et les hommes qui discernent un appel à la Compagnie de Jésus. Il est prêtre depuis plus de deux ans. Jusqu’ici, il a surtout travaillé auprès de jeunes adultes à la grandeur du Canada, il a fait de la pastorale universitaire, a dirigé des retraites pour jeunes adultes et a donné des ateliers sur la spiritualité ignatienne, en particulier sur les règles de saint Ignace pour le discernement des esprits.

Brother Dan Leckman, SJ is a vocation promoter for the Canadian province. That means that Daniel is responsible for accompanying men who are discerning a life in the Society of Jesus. He’s been a Jesuit Brother for 10 years. Over the course of that time he’s acted as spiritual director, has run and developed retreats, and has taught catechism to children and adults. Daniel is here to answer YOUR questions about Jesuit life! Submit your information, and he will get back to you ASAP.

Le père John O’Brien, SJ, est le directeur des vocations pour la province du Canada. Cela veut dire que le père O’Brien a la responsabilité de guider les jeunes gens et les hommes qui discernent un appel à la Compagnie de Jésus à travers le processus de demande d’admission. Il est prêtre jésuite depuis 2017 : il a donné plusieurs retraites ignatiennes à de jeunes adultes et de jeunes professionnels un peu partout au Canada.

Ces jésuites sont là pour répondre à TES questions sur la vie jésuite! Envoie tes coordonnées et l’un d’eux te répondra aussi tôt que possible.

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Nous sommes impatients de see you.

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Province Du Midwest

Br. Matt Wooters, SJ

Promoteur des vocations

Get in touch with Br. Matt. Send him an email. Or, text him: (773) 236-2497. 

Br. Matt Wooters, SJ is a native of Washington, DC. He joined the Jesuits in 2012 after graduating from John Carroll University. After college, he served for two years with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Belize. His graduate degrees are in Social Work and Theology from Saint Louis University and Santa Clara University, respectively. Br. Matt has spent most of his life working with folks experiencing homelessness, migrants, and those struggling with addiction. He is an open water swimmer, a sometimes podcaster, and a lover of stand-up comedy. 

Province Du Midwest

Fr. Eric Immel, SJ

Promoteur des vocations

Do you have a quick question? Text Fr. Eric  (320) 433 – 3322 or send him an email.

Fr. Eric was ordained a priest in June of 2022, and his first assignment is working with the vocation team for the Midwest Province. A native of Green Bay, WI, Eric’s Jesuit life has taken him to Boston, Chicago, and St. Paul. He’s studied Education, Philosophy, and Theology at the graduate level, and is currently working toward a degree in Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University in New Orleans, LA. In his free time, he enjoys exercise, reading and writing, playing the drums, singing, and watching sitcoms (especially Brooklyn 99, New Girl, and Parks & Recreation). In the past year, he picked up two new hobbies: Spikeball and squash.

Br. Matt and Fr. Eric accompany men considering a life in the Society of Jesus, serving across 12 states in the Midwest. They are passionate about sharing information on Jesuit life, answering questions, and accompanying people in discernment. Reach out, and they’ll get back to you ASAP.

La province du Midwest est l’une des cinq provinces de la Conférence jésuite du Canada et des États-Unis. Elle comprend douze États : le Dakota du Nord, le Dakota du Sud, l’Illinois, l’Indiana, l’Iowa, le Kentucky, le Michigan, le Minnesota, le Nebraska, l’Ohio, le Wisconsin et le Wyoming. Les jésuites du Midwest travaillent dans des écoles secondaires, des centres de retraites, des paroisses, des universités et d’autres apostolats. Si vous suivez les championnats du basketball universitaire (la March Madness), vous connaissez sans doute des universités jésuites du Midwest : Creighton, Marquette, Xavier et Loyola Chicago.

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