Reflections
Br. Christopher Derby, SJ
Week 51  – November 16, 2015
Entered -- August 1990
Took Vows -- August 1990
Final Vows -- September 2011

Br. Derby is a former Vocation Director of the Maryland and New York Province of the Society of Jesus. He currently teaches religion at Canisius High School in Buffalo, NY.

"What makes me happy to be a religious today?"

Since directing a young man on retreat this summer at the Jesuit Center at Wernersville, a particular icon has had a strong effect on how I think about my vocation as a Jesuit Brother. This icon dates from the early centuries of Christianity. It pictures Christ on the right and a disciple named Menas on the left, and is nicknamed, aptly enough, the Icon of Friendship. In the icon, we can just make out Jesus' hand on Menas' shoulder. It's as if Jesus were saying, "I'm right here. I've got your back. I will face the world alongside you."
 
My own vocation began in many ways with my brother, Brian, who was cerebral-palsied and mentally challenged. Growing up with a brother who required constant care and translation to the outside world shaped who I am. To me, being a brother has always been a rich and rewarding role. My brother and I faced the world alongside each other, and when it comes to my being a Jesuit Brother, that is how I imagine myself: alongside my brothers and sisters in a listening, supporting and sometimes challenging way.
 
Presently, I teach religion, direct plays and do faculty formation work at Canisius High School in Buffalo. Often in my work, students and colleagues will open up and share their joys and struggles with me, allowing me to walk with them. This provides me with many opportunities to "brother" others and to witness students and teachers doing the same. Last winter, I went to the Horace McKenna Center in Washington, DC with a service immersion group. The Canisius boys sat down with the homeless men there, ate with them, listened to them, and spoke with them-in three languages, no less. The students' willingness to take a risk and strive for solidarity impressed me. Their openness has encouraged me to take more risks and listen more attentively.

In the icon, Jesus and his friend Menas are walking, each with the Word in his hand. Jesus carries the book of the Gospels, and Menas, too has the Word, in the form of a small scroll. They walk together as friends, each bearing the good news. This reminds me of a prayer we used at Mass many years ago in Lake Placid, at a Jesuit camp for boys from the inner city: "Whenever we walk, the report will go around: that the poor are clothed; the hungry, fed; those in sorrow, comforted; and all creation praises the work of God." That's what gives me joy these days: To take a risk. To put my arm around someone's shoulder. To say by my words or actions or simply by my presence: I'm right here. We've got this. I will face the world alongside you.


Rev. Charles A. Frederico, SJ
Br. Christopher Derby, SJ
Rev. Thomas E. Roach, SJ
Mr. Kevin C. Hughes, SJ
Rev. Mario M. Powell, SJ
Rev. Thomas R. Slon, SJ
Rev. Donald M. Ward, SJ
Mr. Jason G. Downer, SJ
Rev. Christopher Fronk, SJ
Rev. John C. Wronski, SJ
Rev. Francis X. McAloon, SJ
Rev. John P. Bucki, SJ
Rev. Christopher G. Llanos, SJ
Rev. Ugo R. Nacciarone, SJ
Mr. Kevin C. Spinale, SJ
Rev. James W. Moore, SJ
Rev. Raymond J. Donaldson, SJ
Rev. James J. Miracky, SJ
Rev. George T. Williams, SJ
Rev. Cesare Campagnoli, SJ
Rev. Anthony P. SooHoo, SJ
Rev. William E. Stempsey, SJ
Rev. Bruce R. Bavinger, SJ
Mr. Patrick C. Nolan
Rev. William R. Campbell, SJ
Rev. Ignatius "Hadi" Sasmita, SJ
Rev. Brian Conley, SJ
Rev. Anthony J. Azzarto, SJ
Mr. Timothy W. O'Brien, SJ
Br. Jonathan J. Stott, SJ
Rev. Michael F. Tunney, SJ
Rev. Joseph J. Hayden, SJ
Rev. Thomas J. Kenny, SJ
Rev. Joseph M. McShane, SJ
Rev. Mark Hallinan, SJ
Rev. David J. Collins, SJ
Rev. Thomas M. Simisky, SJ
Rev. Daniel M. Ruff, SJ
Rev. Thomas L. Sheridan, SJ
Rev. Matthew S. Monnig, SJ
Rev. Charles L. Moutenot, SJ
Rev. Andrew N. Downing, SJ
Rev. Herbert B. Keller, SJ
Rev. Ramon A. Salomone, SJ
Br. Robert L. Carson, SJ
Rev. Francis X. Clooney, SJ
Mr. Vincent J. Marchionni, SJ
Rev. William A. Barry, SJ
Rev. John P. Mulreany, SJ
Rev. Bruce T. Morrill, SJ
Rev. Eugene M. Geinzer, SJ
Rev. Joseph G. Marina, SJ



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