Throughout my short time of five years as a Jesuit I have been blessed with opportunities to accompany people in various stages of their lives. What a privileged space to be invited in and just be with people as they encounter God already at work in their lives. Three moments of pastoral accompaniment really stand out to me as grace-filled.
The first moment occurred during Holy Week of 2011 when my fellow novice classmates and I began working at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx. Calvary is a unique place of great care and compassion for people, many of whom are in their final stages of life. We fed those who could no longer feed themselves. We bathed those whose bodies had been ravaged with cancer. And throughout this entire time God gave us the grace to accompany these men and women during their most vulnerable time of life. Grace-filled!
The second moment of grace occurred when I had the opportunity to accompany a group of students from Loyola University Chicago on a service immersion experience to rural West Virginia. Immersion experiences are at the root of my vocation and being able to share this type of experience with students is privileged. Through an experience like this, the students began to fall in love with a real understanding of what Jesuits mean when we say "men and women for and with others." Grace-filled! The third moment occurred when I accompanied someone through the Spiritual Exercises in everyday life. As anyone will tell you, the true director of the Spiritual Exercises is God; but through our weekly meetings, I came firsthand to see how God was working in this retreatant's life and how the retreatant became more and more aware of God. Grace-filled!
This fall as I commence the next stage of my Jesuit formation called Regency, I'll be working at Saint Peter's University. I begin with great excitement and joy to know that through accompaniment of students on retreats, service projects, and everyday moments of college student will all serve as opportunities to encounter God.