By Fr. John Wronski, SJ
Pope Francis has called us to be a Church of the poor and for the poor. He envisions a Church that goes out to the world, engaging with it and learning from it, a Church that is vibrant with the joy of the Gospel and Jesus’ message of mercy. This is the Church that young Jesuits are preparing to serve today. I am deeply honored to walk with my brothers in formation as they embrace our Jesuit mission to serve this Church and our world.
The call from my provincial came during my tenth year as president of Nativity Prep in Boston. My years at Nativity prepared me well for my new role of accompanying men as they prepare for service in the Church, which Pope Francis often describes as a field hospital.
I like to think the pope would love the Nativity mission, which seeks to provide educational opportunities and a hefty dose of cura personalis for low-income urban middle-school kids, most of whom become first-generation college students. The model flourishes when collaboration characterizes the school’s way of proceeding: collaboration between families and faculty, between trustees and staff, between the school and other more established local Jesuit institutions like BC High and Boston College, and local parishes like St. Ignatius and St. Cecilia’s. Nativity Prep is a place where the rich and the poor learn from each other and grow together to become one family in the Lord. It’s a terrific example of the kind of collaborative ministry for which young Jesuits need to be formed today.
Leaving Nativity was probably the toughest thing I’ve ever done. But I am filled with gratitude for the ten years that I was privileged to serve such a rich, diverse and Spirit-filled community. My ministry was made possible by the countless Jesuits who so generously played roles in my own formation—chaplains, spiritual directors, teachers, superiors, and friends in the Lord. I see my new role as an opportunity to “pay it forward,” extending to the younger men the gift my Jesuit mentors so generously gave to me. Take, Lord, receive.
Fr. John Wronski, SJ, serves as formation director for Jesuits on the East Coast. From 2007 to 2017 he served as president of Nativity Preparatory School in Boston.