Why would anyone choose to be a Jesuit brother or priest?
I have been a member of the Society of Jesus for 14 years, and below I present my top six reasons to be a Jesuit.
Reason 1 – You desire to experience lifelong growth
To be a Jesuit is to be a man on a mission. At heart, our charism is about availability––i.e., to be willing to go wherever there is the greatest need, for the greater glory of God.
This naturally means that you will be put in situations you’ve never been in before. Throughout my formation, I have had missions in which I have been stretched and learned new skills, from teaching Scripture to sophomores in San Francisco to accompanying migrants in Latin America.
I am certainly a better human for these experiences, as well as a better priest.
Reason 2 – You enjoy meeting new people
Before I entered religious life, my world was relatively small. I grew up in a suburb in southern California, and everyone I knew and loved was within a one-hour drive.
Entering the Jesuits broadened my horizons. With every new assignment, whether it was studies or apostolic work, I met new Jesuits, colleagues, students, parishioners, and friends. At this point in my life, I can say that I am blessed to have a great network of supportive relationships that spans multiple states and countries.
Reason 3 – You desire to learn about new cultures and places
The Jesuits are an international order, which means that you can find us in most countries. It is not uncommon for us to have formational experiences abroad, and although it can be challenging to live outside of one’s native homeland, I have also found it to be deeply enriching.
And there is nothing like being able to pray and feel at home with brother Jesuits who you’ve never met before, in a country you’ve never visited.
Reason 4 – You desire to live in a community of brothers that bring you joy and challenge you
I never had biological brothers growing up (though I had wonderful sisters), and I always longed for an experience of brotherhood. Now I have 14,000 brother Jesuits throughout the world, and so God in a way gave me what I wanted.
From the beginning, St. Ignatius wanted us to live this life as companions, as friends in the Lord. There is no doubt that living in a community can be a cross sometimes, but it is also a place where I experience great love and joy.
Reason 5 – You desire to accompany people in a spiritual way
According to our early documents and letters, the primary aim of the Society of Jesus is to “help souls”––i.e., to bring others closer to God.
As a Jesuit, I have been able to accompany others in a way that has been deeply life-giving. For me, there is no greater consolation than to help others draw closer to Jesus. If this brings you joy too, then maybe you have a vocation as a Jesuit.
Reason 6 – You love Jesus and want to be his companion
This is the core reason to become a Jesuit.
Christ calls each of us by name, and through the Spiritual Exercises, every Jesuit forms a deep, personal friendship with the Lord.
Out of all the gifts that this life has given me, I am most grateful for my relationship with Jesus, which sustains and animates my vocation every day.
These are my top 6 reasons, and another Jesuit would probably offer different ones. But if you feel the Spirit tugging at your heart as you read these, then maybe you have a calling to be a brother or priest in the Society of Jesus.