Jesuits Never Retire
“The bees are back!” These were the first words I heard after celebrating the Easter Vigil with the Jesuit community at Colombiere Center in Clarkston, Michigan. A member of the community was commenting on the new translation of the Exsultet, which I had just chanted at the Vigil. He was beaming because he heard in this proclamation an image from his past: in this case the bees that help produce the Paschal Candle which we light during the Easter Season. Older Jesuits are full of such memories and stories; they are a vital link to the traditions and customs of our faith across the decades.
It is worth noting that Jesuits never fully retire. While duties and responsibilities may change, all Jesuits receive a mission from their provincial, even at the very end of their lives. Jesuit documents inform us that elderly and infirm members have a special mission to pray for the Church and Society. In addition, we learn that these Jesuits are to strive to unite their personal suffering and limitations to the worldwide salvific ministry of the Church and Society. What a blessing it is to have such faithful servants of Christ who exemplify the rich beauty of religious life!
Our younger Jesuits take a delight in visiting the community at Colombiere. They hear interesting stories about what their current superiors and formators were like in training—it never hurts to see the humble side of a superior—and stories about the province, the Society, and the world of the past. But I suspect that what draws younger Jesuits to this great community is their ability to see in these men all that they hope to become: men devoted to Christ on mission serving the Church. At the end of the day, what matters most to a Jesuit is his relationship to the Lord, not his curriculum vitae. We pray in the Spiritual Exercises for the grace to “reach that end for which we were created.” The Society is blessed by these noble men who live this grace with joy and hope. Their stories inspire all of us for the road ahead. Thank you for your prayers and support for our senior Jesuits and for all of us as we serve “the greater glory of God.”
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Timothy P. Kesicki, SJ