By Christopher Brolly SJ
Usually, when sent on mission, a fully-formed Jesuit remains for six years in a particular role or place. This is what is means to be missionary. For Jesuits in formation like myself, these timeframes are considerably shorter: two years preparing for vows in the novitiate, three years studying philosophy, two years tasting real apostolic working life in a placement we call ‘regency’, and so on…
Earlier in his life, Pope Francis was rector of Collegio Maximo in Buenos Aires, Argentina, responsible for overseeing young Jesuits in formation. One time he was asked about Jesuit life and whether it was difficult for his men to move on from one mission to another, having committed their time and energy to a particular place and its people. “If it does not hurt”, he said, “then it is not Jesuit”. He went on to explain that it is much better to leave a place with heartbreak, a sign that someone has fully committed to the mission they were given, than with the regret of having remained distant and unmoved.
This grateful pain or painful gratitude is something I have been feeling over the past few weeks, as I have said goodbye to my students and colleagues at St Ignatius College, Enfield, with great sadness but great gratitude. I have been teaching RE, assisting in the chaplaincy, and offering other pastoral support to the College community. It will feel strange not to be setting foot in the school corridors and classroom come September, and I’m sure I will be soon experiencing what some Jesuits describe as ‘regency widowhood’ – the sense of mourning the loss of my first taste of vibrant apostolic life.
Meanwhile, I now turn my heart and mind to the next stage of Jesuit formation: theology studies. I am enormously grateful for the opportunity to be sent to study at the School of Theology and Ministry (STM) at Boston College, a Jesuit university in the United States of America.
As I write this, I am beginning to meet my brothers in community for the first time, having recently arrived in Boston, and will discover what’s in store academically during the upcoming orientation week. It is moving to become part of a cohort of young men, all who have undergone the same formation pathway - with many individual articulations – and find themselves here with the same mission: to develop intellectually, pastorally and humanly so as to be of greater service to the Church and the world in the future.
God willing, I will be based here for three years, studying an MDiv (Master of Divinity theological qualification), as well as receiving training for priestly ministry (such as how to preside at Mass and administer the sacraments of the Church such as Baptism, Reconciliation and the Eucharist). Normally men are ordained deacons towards the end of this time of studies, which marks a transition towards the Catholic priesthood.
Thank you for all of your prayers and support as I embark on this next big step on my journey as a Jesuit!
You can follow Christopher's journey in full on his personal blog: https://christopherbrollysj.wordpress.com/
Two young Catholic men have completed their journey in the Novitiate and have made their First Vows.
Peter O' Sullivan was ordained a priest at Farm Street Church, home of the British Jesuits
The concert version was narrated by writer / director, Jonathan Moore, a supporter of the Jesuits
Fr Dominic Robinson SJ shares his thoughts on the Pope's latest apostolic exhortation