This is the first installment of A Deacon’s Diary from our new deacon. For our former deacon, check out his goodbye article.
“I don’t need health insurance.” That’s a phrase I said to myself once, quite unconvincingly. I had a job at a child development center and it was probably one of the best jobs I’ve had, but the pay was not good. To supplement my income, I worked at a restaurant and a kitchen supply store. I also ran a theatre company with one of my best friends, so there was the daily workings of a small business, in addition to rehearsals and fundraising and promotion. Plus I had student loans. And rent. And a car payment. And general overall expenses like utilities, credit cards, and life. I was ‘burning the candle at both ends’ and I was thriving! And I could not afford health insurance, it would take too much out of my paychecks. I was exhausted and I was flourishing, at least professionally; my bank account, on the other hand, told a different story!
My life was exciting, it was full and it was thrilling, but not to my mother. She would refer to me as ‘The Seeker.’ In her eyes I could never really land on something stable. In my eyes, though, I was an artist! I was pursuing a life grounded in the theatre degree that was conferred upon me. I found what I was seeking. I just had to pay for it all.
But my mom was right. I was still seeking. Inside all the creativity and odd jobs and theatre gigs, I was hunting for something more, something that inspired hope and change and meaning. Have you ever had that feeling before? That perhaps there is something more than what’s in front of you? St. Ignatius would call this kind of longing your deepest desire.
I entered the Society of Jesus with a hopeful question: will this be it, will this be what I have been searching for? I entered the Jesuits because I felt that God was leading me towards an answer to prayer: help me find the more I desire, show the path that matters and can make a difference. And that prayer? That was a prayer of a 34 year old seemingly steps behind his peers who are already married, having kids, saving up or putting down money to buy a home, to nest, to root themselves in life. It was the prayer of a 34 year old in the midst of trying to find what seizes his imagination and affects everything, as Pedro Arrupe reflects on falling in love. Then the Society of Jesus welcomed me into the novitiate in St. Paul, Minnesota, (the first phase of Jesuit formation) in 2012, and ten years later I’m preparing for ordination to the priesthood! What an adventure! Maybe you’re on a similar adventure too?!
One doesn’t have to have a vocation to religious life to know what it is to search, to try-on a kind of life you may never have seen yourself doing (or being) in a million years. We are all on this planet together trying to survive, thrive, and make a difference in some way, at least I think that’s true. And the journey to uncovering our deepest desires is half the fun, if not most of the struggle. This ‘diary’ will be a glimpse into the final pages of this chapter before turning the page to a new chapter in the book of life; from a Jesuit looking to priesthood to a Jesuit who becomes a priest on June 10, 2023.
And perhaps, as I reflect on my journey, you might find something familiar that resonates with yours! I welcome you to share your own story with me as we travel together for the next nine months. What are you experiencing on your journey? What kind of path are you following or hope to follow? What are you pursuing at the moment that brings you life, hope, or curiosity?
Send me an email at [email protected], and we can pray for one another and cheer each other on. After all, the world is challenging enough, there is always room for encouragement!
Photo credit: Evans Tasiopoulos.