In 2021, we congratulate the Midwest Jesuit jubilarians who are celebrating special anniversaries of their entrance into the Society of Jesus. Each Jesuit’s path is different, but they are united by their vocation to faithfully serve the Lord. We offer prayers of thanksgiving for their service, which has spanned not only across the country, but across the world. We are especially grateful to honor our golden jubilarians, who are celebrating 50 years in the Society. These Jesuits offer reflections and wisdom from their ministry over the past five decades.
CONTEMPLATION TO ATTAIN THE LOVE OF GOD
By Fr. Philip Chmielewski, SJ
The Third Point in St. Ignatius of Loyola’s “Contemplation to Attain the Love of God” in the Spiritual Exercises reads: “Consider how God works and labors for me in all creatures upon the face of the earth, that is, He conducts Himself as one who labors.”
Some notes connect this point with the divine encounters in my years in the Society. At the start was the Word. One teaches how to use words—to persuade, to forgive, to promise. In learning forgiveness, both students and teacher learn compassion.
Frequent engagement with Jesus’s present-day disciples has been restorative, vivifying, endearing, and fun: Jules Toner in Detroit, Ray Bertrand in Boston, Hans Winfried Juengling in Frankfurt, Angel Tejerina in Salamanca, Paul Bernadicou in Los Angeles, the Carmelite Sisters in Santa Fe, Mother Teresa’s Sisters in Tangiers and Hong Kong. And the array of Jesuits in my home province who, whether I was distant or local, offered both challenge and support. All these have labored with the Lord for his people.
How the Lord sorrows now! In this world of war and woe; of persons and entire peoples harmed, hungry, helpless; of persons marginalized and forgotten on the West and South sides and near the steel mills, the Lord sorrows. He is grieved with active troops or returned veterans, with Dreamer students, with Navajo wracked by disdain and disease, with jailed teens, with peaceful demonstrators hungering for justice. The Lord now amid the darkness sorrows, dies, descends.
Teaching and pursuing research in the field of engineering ethics has led repeatedly to an amazement at the Lord’s delightful labor as seen in the biosphere, in grand or tiny physics and within the human ingenuity in crafting structures and devices. He labors as well in the compassionate hope emergent through the steady efforts of engineers, impelled by the spirit, to shape a gentler, more caring world.
FIFTY YEARS A JESUIT
By Fr. Kevin Flaherty, SJ
The Loyola House Jesuit Novitiate opened in 1971, with a formation team led by Jules Toner and Howard Gray. I was a part of the first class to enter the novitiate, housed in a former parish convent in Berkley, Michigan. Little did I realize how significant those first years in the Society of Jesus would be for my Jesuit life. My novitiate experience gelled during my long experiment in Belize and Honduras. Since then, the intertwined themes of following Jesus through Ignatian spirituality, caring for others through psychology, and seeking justice with a commitment to the poor have shaped my journey in the Society.
I am blessed to be a member of two provinces. Upon completing the counseling psychology for ministry program at Loyola University Chicago, I came to Peru for regency. After theology studies in Berkeley, California, I was missioned to St. Ignatius Parish in Chicago before spending six years in our parish in El Agustino, a poor district of Lima, Peru. In discernment during tertianship in Lima, I opted for further graduate studies in pastoral psychology in Chicago to better serve the Church of Peru. During my own formation I never imagined that I’d be involved in the formation of others, but now I’ve spent over 20 years in formation in Lima and with the first studies program at Loyola University Chicago.
I also have been blessed with weekend pastoral work in El Agustino, spiritual and psychological accompaniment of priests and sisters, teaching, and workshops. So much of what I share here in Peru is thanks to so many people and countless gifts received from the Midwest Jesuits.
“WORD” IS THE WORD
By Fr. Thomas Krettek, SJ
“Oh, it is just a disagreement about words,” is what one hears as a way of dismissing the dispute in conversations regarding important issues. However, this undermines the foundation of the Church and, consequently, the ministry of the Society of Jesus. Both Formulas of the Institute ground the purpose of the Society in the ministry of the “word of God.” That word of God is the word of John’s prologue, the word of Scripture and tradition, and the word manifested through the sacraments and all reality.
While it may be thought that my word “word” derives from my penchant for puns or plays on words, it really derives from having spent a good portion of my life in the Society on teams ministering in the humanistic, philosophical, spiritual, and academic formation of newly vowed members of the Society. I have learned from team members the significance of the word of God for the Society’s ministry of preaching, teaching, and spiritual conversation/ direction, as well as for my own spiritual life. Some disagreements about words are disagreements about life and salvation and are not to be treated glibly. As Jesus says, “The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.” Isaiah expresses it: “The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word,” which finds its Eucharistic expression in the assembly’s response before Communion, “Only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
GOD’S WAYS, NOT MINE
By Fr. James Kubicki, SJ
During the summer after my junior year at Marquette University High School, I went on a camping trip with Fr. John Eagan, SJ, and five classmates. It changed my life. A seed was planted that grew into my vocation. At the end of the trip, driving back to Milwaukee, we gave awards to one another—best swimmer, best diver, best cook. The award I received was “Worry Wart of 1969”! I had spent the trip worrying about various potential disasters such as rain when we set up tents or cooked or hiked.
Later, when I applied to the Society of Jesus, Fr. Eagan cautioned me. He said that if I wanted to be a Jesuit, I would have to learn not to worry so much because my future would involve a lot of unknowns. That has certainly been the case. There’s a saying about making God laugh by telling God your plans. I have given God many things to laugh about. I entered the Jesuits planning to teach in an urban college prep high school like the one I attended. How many years have I done that? Zero.
God’s ways were not my ways. God’s plans were not mine, but they were so much better. Through the challenges and ministries of my 50 years as a Jesuit, I have grown in ways that I could never have imagined. And so, as I celebrate 50 years of surprises, I’m grateful to God and all the people who have prayed for and supported me.
THE WORLD IS MY HOUSE
By Fr. Theodore Munz, SJ
My Twitter profile reads: “Jesuit. Cyclist. Ride a Seven. Practical Visionary. Contemplative in Action. Team Player. Preach the Gospel.”
I am thankful for 50 years in the Society, for the people I know and have known, for the good apostolic works to which I have been assigned.
The words of the 32nd General Congregation of the Society of Jesus continuously inspire me. “What is it to be a companion of Jesus today? It is to engage, under the standard of the Cross, in the crucial struggle of our time: the struggle for faith and that struggle for justice which it includes.”
I am consoled to be a companion of the Lord, helping souls.
Father James Murphy, SJ, of the Irish Province, who is currently a professor at Loyola University Chicago, is also celebrating 50 years in the Society of Jesus.