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Date
August 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.

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East Province

Fr. Adam Rosinski, SJ

Vocation Promoter

The USA East Province is one of the five provinces in the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, incorporating Eastern part of the United States from Maine to Georgia and the District of Columbia. Jesuits from the UEA Province also live and serve in Micronesia and Fiji. The province includes colleges & universities like the College of the Holy Cross and Georgetown University, high schools like Fordham Preparatory School and Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Baltimore, and a number of pre-secondary schools, parishes, retreat centers, and various other works.

Fr. Adam Rosinski, SJ, is the vocation promoter for the UEA Province. That means that Fr. Rosinski is responsible for accompanying men who are discerning a life in the Society of Jesus. He’s been a Jesuit for 11 years, and over the course of that time he’s ministered in hospitals, served as a college athletic chaplain, taught in high schools, worked as a parish priest, and ministered as a spiritual director. Fr. Rosinski is here to answer YOUR questions about Jesuit life! Submit your information, and Fr. Rosinski will get back to you ASAP.

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West Province

Fr. Julian Climaco, SJ

Vocation Promoter

The USA West Province is one of the five provinces in the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States. It comprises ten states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. Jesuits in the west are a diverse group of men who serve Christ and his Church in 19 educational institutions, 13 parishes, 2 retreat centers, and other social and pastoral ministries like Homeboy Industries, Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative (JRJI), Kino Border Initiative (KBI), Native American Missions, and Christus Ministries for young adults, to name a few.

Fr. Julian Climaco, SJ, is the vocation promoter for the US West Province. That means that Fr. Julian is responsible for accompanying men who are discerning a life in the Society of Jesus. He has been a Jesuit for sixteen years and a priest for five years. Over the course of that time he has taught high school theology and music, volunteered at a public health clinic for undocumented immigrants, and served as a parochial vicar at one of the largest Jesuit parishes in the Pacific Northwest. Fr. Julian is here to answer your questions about Jesuit life! Submit your information, and Fr. Julian will get back to you as soon as possible.

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Central South Province

Fr. Eddie Gros, SJ

Vocation Promoter
Central South Province

Fr. Robert Murphy, SJ

Vocation Promoter

The U.S. Central and Southern Province is one of five provinces in the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States. The province encompasses 13 states from Florida to Colorado, the territory of Puerto Rico and the nation of Belize. We serve the people of God in seven retreat and spirituality centers and 14 parishes. We carry on the tradition of Jesuit education in six institutions of higher education, 12 secondary schools, a middle school and a social research institute.

We have two vocation promoters responsible for accompanying men who are discerning a life in the Society of Jesus.

Fr. Eddie Gros, SJ, has been a Jesuit priest for 40 years. Throughout his ministry, he has served as teacher, missionary and pastor.

Fr. Robert Murphy, SJ, has been a Jesuit priest for six years and has served as a campus minister, athletic trainer and physical therapist. He also served as parochial vicar at a bilingual parish.

They are ready to answer your questions about Jesuit life. Submit your information, and Fr. Gros or Fr. Murphy will get back to you as soon as possible.

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Canada Province

Fr. Edmund Lo, SJ

Vocation Promoter
Canada Province

Fr. Boniface MBOUZAO, SJ

Vocation Promoter
Canada Province

Fr. John O'Brien, SJ

Vocation Director

The Province of Canada is one of the five Jesuit provinces in the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, incorporating all ten Canadian provinces and three territories. It includes Campion College in Regina, Loyola High School in Montreal, Manresa Jesuit Spiritual Renewal Centre in Pickering, and Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Toronto.

Fr. Edmund Lo, SJ, is the vocation promoter for the Canada Province and also Haiti. That means that Fr. Edmund is responsible for accompanying men who are discerning a life in the Society of Jesus. He’s been a Jesuit priest for two-plus years. Over the course of that time he’s mainly worked with young adults across Canada, busying himself with campus ministry in universities, directing retreats for young adults and giving workshops on Ignatian spirituality, particularly on St. Ignatius’ rules for discernment of spirits.

Fr. Boniface MBOUZAO, SJ, is the vocation promoter for the Province of Canada. He promotes mainly in Quebec. He has been a Jesuit for almost 23 years and a priest for the past 5 years. He has completed a PhD in computer engineering and has founded a vocational discernment program called “CAMINO-VOCATION” which offers young people a year of vocational discernment based on the Spiritual Exercises in daily life. This program welcomes on average ten young people per year.

Fr. John O’Brien, SJ, is the vocation director for the Canada Province. That means that Fr. O’Brien is responsible for guiding men who are discerning a life in the Society of Jesus through the application process. He’s been a Jesuit priest since 2017. Over the course of that time he’s given many Ignatian retreats to young adults and professionals across the country

These Jesuits are here to answer YOUR questions about Jesuit life! Submit your information, and one of them will get back to you ASAP.

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Midwest Province

Fr. Bill Murphy, SJ

Vocation Promoter
Midwest Province

Fr. Michael Rossmann, SJ

Vocation Promoter

Get in touch with Fr. Michael. Call his cell – (765) 537-8482 – or send him an email.

The Midwest Province is one of the five provinces in the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States. It comprises twelve states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Midwest Jesuits work at high schools, retreat centers, parishes, universities, and other ministries. If you watch March Madness, you probably recognize Midwest Jesuit universities like Creighton, Marquette, Xavier, and Loyola Chicago.

Fr. Michael Rossmann, SJ, and Fr. Bill Murphy, SJ, serve as vocation promoters for the Midwest Jesuits. Together they accompany men discerning a life in the Society of Jesus, serving across the Midwest Province’s 12 states.

Fr. Michael has been a Jesuit priest for three years. A native of Iowa and resident of Chicago, Fr. Michael has taught for several years in East Africa, worked with college students, and started the “One-Minute Homily” on social media. He likes to read, run, and watch the NBA.

Fr. Bill came to the vocation team five years ago after serving as president of Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland, Ohio. A proud native of Michigan, Fr. Bill considers himself a true Midwesterner having lived in Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Louisville, and Omaha. In his spare time Fr. Bill loves to read, watch hockey, play golf, and ride his bike.

Fr. Bill and Fr. Michael are passionate about sharing information on Jesuit life, answering questions, and accompanying young men in discernment. Submit your information, and they will get back to you ASAP.

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