Michael O'Connor SJ
I describe myself not so much as a late vocation, but an extra-time one! I joined the Jesuit Novitiate in 2008 aged fifty one, as a brother, after a process which had to be approved by the Father-General of the Order in Rome. Before this I worked with the local council, worked with heavy goods transport, and served in the Royal Marines.
Lapsed for many years, I drifted back to church after a series of illnesses. On my journey, I encountered the Jesuits on a prayer guide course, while doing voluntary work in a hospital chaplaincy. The spirituality of finding God in all things and working with the marginalised had an influence on my discernment.
After taking Vows in 2010, I spent three years in London ministering on a parish team, working in the church, and with the homeless and visiting the sick and housebound. After completing a BA (Hons) degree in pastoral theology during this time, I moved to Loyola Hall retreat house to help with the preparations for its closure. I have recently completed the spiritual accompaniment courses there, SAC1 and SAC2.
I now live in Birmingham where I minister to the Novitiate.
The life of a brother involves living as a Jesuit in community with other Jesuits, but without the sacerdotal role. The formation is more flexible, and depends upon the gifts that the individual brings. It is a joyful life, being able to love and serve in the Lord. This is something that deepens as the mystery of God’s love, though incomprehensible, becomes a lived response.