Hugh Duffy SJ
“That it should come to this”, I remember thinking to myself as I put on the Jesuit gown that we were given a week or so after entering the noviceship in 1977. Most of the previous year I had spent playing a lot of golf and reading a lot of novels but also during that year there grew in me the disturbing feeling that God wanted me to be a Jesuit. I had been at school at St. Aloysius College in Glasgow when there were still quite a number of Jesuits on the staff and I had always admired them. No two of them were alike and their varying degrees of eccentricity were engaging, to say nothing of their varying degrees of competence in the classroom. (This was deemed by my mother not to be important; Jesuits weren’t so much “teachers” as “educators”, she said. Happy pre-OFSTED days!). In any event, their devotion to our education and well-being was impressive.
At home there were books such as James Brodrick’s Origin of the Jesuits and Life of Saint Ignatius and I remember dipping into them when I was very young. They were attractive accounts and there has always seemed to me to be something very romantic about the Jesuit vocation, though like all romances you have to learn to live it out with faithfulness when a slightly harsher reality intrudes. The Jesuit life can be a difficult one but in my experience the joys and consolations and even the humour far outweigh the difficulties. I have had so many Jesuit companions of all ages who have been a great source of encouragement to me. The longer I live in the Society the more I admire my fellow Jesuits.
I did my studies for the priesthood in London, Rome and Boston and, a few years after ordination, I did the tertianship in Salamanca. In all those different places I came across so many people, whether Jesuits, fellow-students, or people I worked with in pastoral situations, who have helped me to grow as a human being and as a follower of Christ. They have also deepened and enriched my understanding of the apostolic nature of the Society. Since my ordination I have worked mostly in parishes, in Glasgow, Blackpool, Stamford Hill, Farm Street and Wimbledon. I have met so many people at various stages of their lives and I feel privileged to have had such an entrée into the lives of so many.