Matthew Power SJ
One of five children in a family that moved house every four or five years, I seem from an early age to have been prepared for Jesuit life! I first met a Jesuit at school. He was a gentle man with a great capacity to engage with young children. He taught us prayers to the Sacred Heart but also snooker and bridge. He remembered our birthdays and kept an eye on us when we were unwell.
I think the idea of being a priest and a Jesuit was somewhere in my mind from quite a young age and I first spoke to a Jesuit about it when I was sixteen or seventeen. The Jesuit in question was chaplain at Manchester University. After our chat, in which he encouraged me to believe that if the sense of vocation was genuine it wouldn’t go away, he showed me around the University Church. I remember one thing about that visit: on the wall was a plaque commemorating a Fr Matthew Power SJ. At the time, and I think since, the sight of that plaque left me feeling, more than a bit, that I was destined to be a Jesuit!
I was 26 when I applied and was accepted into the novitiate. I had struggled with the sense of vocation for ten years, had not found myself free to pursue anything else, and bit by bit had grown to trust the times of peace that left me feeling, ‘yes’ this is what God is calling me to. I had found it difficult enough deciding on my A levels and later my degree (I studied English Literature) so perhaps it is hardly surprising that a life choice was particularly challenging.
I have had some wonderful times as a Jesuit, mainly working with young people in different environments: a youth centre for two years, five years as a school chaplain and teacher, and more recently in a retreat centre.
I became vocations director in 2006.