Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Story

The Midwest Jesuits welcomed The Very Reverend Arturo Sosa, SJ, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, to visit Jesuit works in Chicago, Omaha, Milwaukee, and Detroit in April 2024. As leader of the Jesuits throughout the world, Fr. Sosa was in the U.S. as part of a listening tour of the works of the Midwest Jesuits, seeking to understand the needs of those served, and how the Jesuits are addressing them. During his visitation to Jesuit provinces, Father General always tries to participate in an ordination of a Jesuit or to preside a celebration of Final Vows. On April 10, Father General received the Final Vows of Fr. Daniel Hendrickson, SJ, the 25th president of Creighton University in Omaha. Below Fr. Hendrickson reflects on the his Final Vows.

Final Vows with the Superior General in Omaha

By Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ

He could not have been clearer that this was the most important day of my Jesuit life: my profession of Final Vows. On Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in St. John’s Church at Creighton University, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus indicated more than once that This is it, this is the day.

Fr. Arturo Sosa was in Omaha for a day of private meetings with leaders of the city’s Jesuit apostolates. (The last time the Society’s global leader visited the area was in 2004.) And at Mass, with all local Jesuits and select guests attending, he received my Final Vows.

Entering the Society as a novice is momentous, a commitment from day one to a vowed lifestyle in community with others, followed by meaningful and intensive experiences of formation, paramount to all being the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. More public is the profession of perpetual vows two years later, which took place for me nearly three decades ago, in 1996. It was such a distinct milestone. For lack of a better comparison, it felt like getting married.

Then, on June 9, 2006, after studying, preparing, and dreaming of being a priest for so many years – in an Order referred to as “priestly” – I was ordained. The experience was, in the words of the Church, ontological. It was also sacramental, enabling more expressions of ministry and service as a Jesuit.

This month, when Father General told me about the significance of the day and of professing my Final Vows, it felt right. As the global leader of the Society, he is the final arbitrator of all essential decisions and directives of Jesuit life, particularly regarding the full incorporation of members into the Society. This is what the profession of Final Vows does.

As a Jesuit colleague and friend has written, the gesture of it all is not unlike being tenured as faculty or partnered in a firm. One navigates Jesuit life through stages of formation, phases of learning and loving, important annual commitments and experiences, reviews, and many moments of being missioned. The profession of Final Vows is not an endpoint but decisively and generously an approval, an embrace, an invitation of the fullest into the structures of membership. And to have that occur with its highest member seemed so magnanimous.

On 10 April, I was struck by two realities. The first was the full spectrum of Jesuit governance gathered at the Creighton University campus – from the Superior General to the appointed advisor representing most of North America to the Provincial Superior to the resident Rector Superior. All were present.

This long line of global and local leaders gathered in fraternity to focus on the Omaha apostolates, discuss the Universal Apostolic Preferences of the Society, and express faithfulness to our promises, missions, the Church, and, above all, to the risen Christ who orders and animates all.

The collective presence of these leaders conveyed the nearly 500-year legacy and lineage of St. Ignatius, his first companions, and our Constitutions. At the same time, it stepped into the daily life and work of Jesuits and partners in a specific, effective, ever-evolving place within the Society’s worldwide ministries. This first reality is one of both gravity and proximity.

The second reality that struck me was one of intimacy. It was just so fully personal, a family reunion of sorts that brought together not disparate personalities and perspectives but companions from different corners of the world with shared vision, principles, and practices.

It was such an honor to host our global leader, to profess my Final Vows to him, and for all of us to feel at home with each other in Omaha and on the Creighton University campus.