Fr. Rodolfo Casals, SJ, is a vocation promoter for the Maryland and USA Northeast provinces. Before becoming a Jesuit, he was an officer in the United States Navy and served on several warships based out of Japan.This fall Fr. Casals will be leading a province sponsored pilgrimage to Portugal.
How have the new Apostolic Preferences focused your call, as both a Jesuit and on your current work promoting vocations?
The work of vocation promotion goes on, much like it did before we learned about the Apostolic Preferences. However, they are a much- needed source of affirmation and encouragement in this work. They remind me that we are not only helping young men to discern their vocation, but also preparing them to do the Spiritual Exercises once they get to the novitiate if it be God’s will for them.
It takes about a year or so before a man is invited to apply to the Society. Wherever they are on their journey, we seek to meet them, and offer them some of the spiritual tools from the Spiritual Exercises. I often tell the guys “we are deeply invested in a process, not an outcome.” But, as I get to know the men, I can’t help but begin to hope they will find their way into the Society. I often pray asking to remain indifferent to these desires. I give God these hopes and look to be of help to these guys.
How did your time in Japan shape who you are as a Jesuit?
During my time in Japan, I was busy learning to drive a warship as a naval officer. The last thing on my mind was the Society of Jesus. I felt my vocation was to be the best naval officer I could be. If anything, it was the rosaries during the quiet night watches off the coast of Japan, that eventually led me to an encounter with God. There is nothing quite like prayer at sea. It is an easy way to connect with a sense of God as creator and me as one of his creations.
What do you find most inspiring in Pedro Arrupe’s life and example?
On one of my trips to Hiroshima, I had the chance to see the former sight of the Jesuit novitiate where Pedro Arrupe was the novice master. After the atomic bombing, he turned the novitiate into a field hospital where he treated countless burn victims. During this time, he felt that God was making use of his former career as a medical student to serve the Japanese people. It’s just a reminder to me that nothing is wasted in our vocation; even the things we feel that we leave aside in our journey to become Jesuits continue to bear fruit.