From the Pastor: The Founder of the Jesuits
This week (Monday, July 31) we celebrate the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Although he is a great Saint, usually his feast day passes by this parish without a mention, outside of the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, that is. He is the founder of the Society of Jesus, commonly called the Jesuits, and, as far as I can tell, there has been no direct Jesuit influence on Epiphany since its founding. The Redemptorists (the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer) Fathers founded the parish in 1961 and diocesan priests have been here since 1988. Bernardine Franciscan Sisters staffed the school. No Jesuits. Yet. The last two weekends we were blessed to have a Jesuit-in-training back with us, Ryan Caesar. Ryan, as you are aware, was a parishioner of ours before entering the seminary last year. The way the Jesuits do things, I think he may be ordained a priest in another dozen or so years. He will not be the parish’s first vocation though. That honor belongs to Father Donald Roth, CssR, who was ordained a Redemptorist priest in 1975!
This makes me wonder just how many other vocations have come from Epiphany. You know that there are several young men and women, boys and girls, who are considering their vocational call right now. You have assisted a couple of them as they went on “Come and See”-type trips and missions. You have prayed for them and for the order or community or diocese in which they will eventually find themselves (or for their future spouse, if that is where their discernment leads them). But I would really like to get a list together of those from Epiphany (and from current Epiphany families) who have either already entered the seminary or religious life formation process (like Ryan [Jesuit] and, next month, Esteban Merkt [Diocese of St. Augustine]) or have been ordained (like Fr. Donald Roth[Redemptorist]) or made a religious profession (Sister Rachel Hernandez [Home of the Mother]).
We have a Vocation poster hanging in our social hall. Just a few weeks ago some visitors were here who pointed to the photo of one young man on the poster and proudly proclaimed, “That’s our son!” What a blessing it was for them to know that you all see his photo on a regular basis and remember (I hope!) to pray for him along with the rest of the diocesan seminarians. But we don’t have a poster like that for those from our parish in Religious vocation formation. We also don’t have a poster like that of those from the parish who are already in Holy Orders or in Community life. I would like to put together something like that. Not only do they all need our prayers but it also is a reminder to others who are trying to figure out what God has in store for them that vocations come from “our” parish and “our” families! I need your assistance in this. If you know of anyone from years past who now has a “Church vocation” please write down whatever information you remember. Name, parents, year of ordination or profession (or even just an approximation), religious order, and anything else that might help out. Scour your old photos, holy cards, mementos and whatever else might have a mention of them, and let me know. I will try to track them down and see where they are today. Perhaps we can get photos of them. Perhaps we will need to celebrate a Mass for them if they are already deceased. Maybe... well, the possibilities are endless, and I am sure some of you are quite imaginative and can think of how we can honor them. So please think hard, call up old friends, check with those who have long since moved away, and see if we can get a list together. If we have a bunch (or is it herd, gaggle, school or flock?) of vocations which have come from this parish and our families, it will be good for everybody to know about it. If Fr. Roth is the only one, it will be good to know that he set the example and that many, many more will be following him soon. I have no doubt that vocations will be coming, and that they will come even from those whom you least expect it.
Now, going back to St. Ignatius of Loyola when he founded his Society. His new Jesuit “Rule” included several unusual mandates which are listed in the online Catholic Encyclopedia. The very first one they list, one which might make you scratch your head and wonder just how that works when you realize who is the most well-recognized Jesuit in the world today: the vow not to accept ecclesiastical dignities! While I have no idea how a Jesuit can break that vow and become anything other than a simple priest, perhaps that explains why, if you will allow me to be a little cheeky, so many Jesuits (and one in particular) seem to make every effort to not bring dignity to their ecclesiastical office!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka