A Heart on Fire:
Nicholas Albin, SJ
It was the spring semester of my junior year at Xavier University. After completing an essay on Descartes for my philosophy course, I submitted it by email to my philosophy professor, who happened to be a Jesuit priest. A few hours later, my philosophy professor replied:
Thank you for your essay on Descartes. By the way, have you ever thought about becoming a Jesuit priest?
Reading his email both surprised and intrigued me. Initially, I was unsure of what to make of this question of becoming a Jesuit priest. I was surprised that someone would consider me for a path in life that I had never considered for myself. While growing in my Catholic faith was always important to me as a college student, I never imagined myself pursuing the priesthood. I was a business student, and my dream was to pursue a career in finance after graduation. At the same time, I was also intrigued by this idea of potentially becoming a Jesuit priest. I wondered, “Does he know something about me that I don’t?” I was curious, and I wanted to know what it could possibly mean.
Interestingly enough, shortly after that Jesuit sparked the question of Jesuit priesthood to me, I began to notice other people in my life—friends, teachers, and mentors—all ask me the same question: “Nick, have you ever thought about becoming a Jesuit priest?” I continued being both surprised and intrigued. I wondered, “Why do people keep asking me about becoming a Jesuit priest?” After hearing this question posed to me enough times, I thought, “Maybe these people see something in me that I don’t see in myself.” While only 21 years old at the time, I thought I had my life all planned out. But now, I was inspired to explore this possibility and to consider a vocation that so many people believed that I could be a good candidate for.
I yearned to find clarity and understanding of this question that many people continued to ask. Throughout my senior year at Xavier, I met with a Jesuit priest for spiritual direction. I went on a few vocation retreats. I prayed…a lot! I also read the spiritual autobiography of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Through these experiences, I finally discovered that God was calling me to use my gifts and talents to become a Jesuit priest for the betterment and service to others. After graduating college, I was at peace to enter the Society of Jesus and pursue a path toward becoming a Jesuit priest. I felt great confidence and excitement in my decision—even more than compared to the life path I had drawn up for myself prior to considering a Jesuit vocation.
As I near my priestly ordination after almost 10 years in Jesuit formation, I still look back in gratitude about how my vocation to become a Jesuit priest found me through these incredible people whom I was blessed to cross paths with during my undergraduate studies. Had it not been for their asking if I had ever thought about becoming a Jesuit priest, I may not have ever realized this call which God was inviting me to. Their question helped inspire God’s invitation within my mind and heart to pursue this vocation.
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