Next Generation of Jesuits Pursues Religious Life
December 22, 2010 – Henry “H.J.” Shea, S.J., who graduated from the College in 2007, had convinced himself he would become a lawyer.
“I had a whole plan mapped out,” says Shea, now in the “First Studies” stage of his Jesuit training. “But midway through my freshman year, I had a powerful spontaneous experience in prayer that changed my life.”
“I had a strong sense of being called to a Jesuit vocation, accompanied by a deep joy,” he explains.
Shea is one of a number of young Georgetown men who have decided to go into religious life. Since 1980, at least 30 graduates have entered the Society of Jesus, the largest male religious order in the world.
Other young alumni who are recent members of the Society of Jesus include Dave Gregory, n.S.J., (C’10), a first-year novice; Robert Carlton, n.S.J., (C’05), a second-year novice; Mark Luedtke, S.J., (C’90), an ordained scholastic; Chris Grodecki (C’05, G’06), a first-year novice; Joe Koczera, S.J. (C’01), in regency; and Marc Valadao, S.J., (F’02) in First Studies.
“As a graduate of the College in 1988, my Georgetown experience was instrumental in my decision to join the Jesuits,” says Kevin O’Brien, S.J., executive director of Georgetown’s Office of Campus Ministry. “We are proud of this generation of young men who carry on the tradition of St. Ignatius in the Society of Jesus. At Georgetown, we try to help all of our students discover how God is calling them to find meaning in their life and help others.”
One of the youngest Georgetown alumni to join the Society of Jesus of late is Gregory, who hails from Queens, N.Y.
“I began thinking about the priesthood in about sixth grade,” says Gregory, who hopes one day to work in campus ministry at a university. “I began formally discerning my freshman year at Georgetown, and since then it’s been kind of a gradual falling in love.”
Becoming a Jesuit
Formation, the word for Jesuit training, lasts about 10 years. It begins with novices living in a Jesuit community and beginning a period of prayer, work and study.
They learn the traditions, rules and expectations of the Society of Jesus, participate in the 30-day retreat designed by St. Ignatius, and teach and serve the poor and elderly.
At the end of this two-year period, having discerned with their superiors the viability of their vocation, novices pronounce perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and become Jesuit scholastics.
In the First Studies stage, scholastics begin a three-year period of philosophy and theology studies. During regency they work full time in ministry, usually teaching in a Jesuit high school or university.
After regency, they engage in an intensive three-year study of theology that leads to their ordination as priests.