By Rev. Mr. Patrick Nolan, S.J., Graduate Student at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
During my undergraduate years at Loyola University Maryland, I was inspired by the Jesuits on campus and how they were engaged across many aspects of the University: in the classroom, on retreats, at Sunday Mass, with student organizations, in the residence halls, and around campus. Their versatility in feeling at home with different people in all of these different places is part of what inspired me to consider becoming a Jesuit. As I begin my final semester of preparation for the priesthood, I feel ever more connected to the global Society of Jesus here at Boston College (BC).
Throughout my ten years of Jesuit formation, which includes a two-year assignment teaching in the Pacific Islands of Micronesia, no experience has given me a greater immersion into the global Society of Jesus than my time living, working and studying at BC. In my small, off-campus Jesuit house alone, we hail from Hong Kong, Tanzania, the Congo, Spain, Chile, India, and even exotic places like Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Long Island and Boston!
My house is part of the larger St. Peter Faber Jesuit Community, which is home to seventy or so young Jesuits representing thirty different countries whose primary mission is to study in preparation for ordination and other ministries. Although this mission takes up the vast majority of their time, many have also committed to serving in a variety of ways on campus.
When I first arrived at BC, I was inspired by a young Portuguese Jesuit, Rev. Francisco Mota, S.J., who served as chaplain to the men’s soccer team and to the students of Gonzaga Hall on Upper Campus. He could have easily spent his time focusing solely on his studies, having completed an advanced degree on Just War Studies. But instead, Fr. Mota dedicated his free time to hosting open houses for the students in his building and celebrating the 10:00 PM Candlelight Mass during the week, as well as Sunday Masses in St. Joseph’s Chapel. When he wasn’t saying Mass here at BC, he would often spend his time in nearby Dorchester, celebrating Mass in Portuguese, Spanish and English, or helping with BC retreats.
Fr. Mota was particularly adept at recruiting other Faber Jesuits to get more involved on campus, which was over and above their academic work and their ministries at local parishes, schools, jails and hospitals. To continue his good work, this past summer, Rev. Jack Butler, S.J. (BC’s Vice President for University Mission and Ministry) and Rev. Jim Gartland, S.J. (Rector of the Faber Jesuit Community) asked me to serve as a liaison between the University, particularly campus ministry, and the Faber Jesuit Community. As a diverse group of young Jesuits-in-training, we have become deeply involved in student Masses, residence hall programs, and retreats of all kinds, propelling the mission of the Society of Jesus and of Boston College into the future with zeal, energy and hope.
Our group includes Rev. Joe Simmons, S.J. and Rev. Michael Rossmann, S.J., who hail from Wisconsin and Iowa respectively, and were ordained together last year along with ten other Jesuits. They both spent their summers serving at Spanish-speaking parishes in Chicago and Milwaukee before coming back here to complete their studies. They are young priests (only in their 30s!), and were on the rotation celebrating the Sunday evening student Masses this past fall before completing their studies.
Every Wednesday at 9:45 PM, the Ignatian Society student group hosts the Examen (St. Ignatius’ prayer of reflection) on campus. There, in addition to upwards of 40 undergraduate students, you’ll see Ramesh and Ignatius Idoko from Nigeria. You’ll also meet Adam Rosinski from Philadelphia, who came to BC after teaching, coaching and organizing a huge gathering of students from 42 Jesuit high schools across North America for Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia in 2015. These are just a few of the many inspiring stories of Jesuits here at BC, living either at the St. Mary’s community on campus or with me at the St. Peter Faber Community off-campus.
Throughout my time at BC, I have been inspired by Rev. Casey Beaumier, S.J., Director of the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies. Fr. Casey is known by the 30-40 regulars with whom he celebrates daily Mass in St. Joseph’s Chapel. Newly ordained deacons (myself included) have assisted alongside him at these Masses, receiving on-the-job training and feedback for preaching and sacramental work. Fr. Casey also provides a wonderful service to the young men at Loyola House and to the men who are part of a monthly discernment group, all considering a Jesuit or priestly vocation. As if this weren’t already enough, Fr. Casey also helps train young Jesuits in formation to give weekend retreats to hundreds of people at Jesuit retreat houses all across the country. Thanks to him, young Jesuits like Ramesh Richards, a Malaysian who entered the Jesuits in Australia, and Rodrigo Espinoza from Mexico, are being trained as the next generation of preachers of The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola.
Boston College is home to Jesuits from all over the planet–literally. Indeed, the global Society of Jesus meets right here at BC, which creates an opportunity that is utterly unique. I hope that BC students, faculty and staff continue to discover and enjoy this diversity as much as I do. I know I speak for all of my Jesuit brothers when I say that we love to meet members of the BC community and introduce them to our Society. I hope that students at Boston College find encouragement and inspiration from our community, and that some may even discover a desire to join us!