by Michael Rossmann, SJ
Michael Rossmann, SJ, joined the Jesuits in 2007 after graduating from the University of Notre Dame. He currently studies theology at Boston College and serves as editor-in-chief of The Jesuit Post, a website run by Jesuits in formation that offers a Catholic perspective on the contemporary world. Here he shares his vocation story.
June 8, 2015 — I’ve heard it many times.
It’s a fair question. I’m from Iowa — a place where many Jesuits are from but where (almost) none of us work. I come from a family that emphasized faith and service and attended Catholic schools my entire life. Such a background provided much vocational “kindling,” though I had never thought about being a priest. I then attended “that other Catholic university” in South Bend, Indiana.
“Wait, so how did you become a Jesuit?”
Rossmann (front row, far left) after pronouncing first vows on August 15, 2009.
I had heard about the Jesuits before. I even took Ignatius as my confirmation name and said as a precocious high school freshman that I was doing this “because I like education and social justice." But I didn’t know any Jesuits.
That is until I met Father Brian Daley, SJ. Though Notre Dame is not a Jesuit school, Fr. Daley has been teaching theology there for nearly two decades. I heard about a retreat my freshman year and signed up at the last minute. I could not have imagined how much of an impact such a decision would make. Fr. Daley led the retreat. Encountering the First Principle and Foundation felt like being plunged into ice water and finally understanding why I was on this earth. Learning about “finding God in all things” changed my worldview.
Meeting Fr. Daley provided a match that lit a vocational fire. Over time, he became a spiritual father, mentor and friend. The guy is brilliant; we’re talking Nobel-Prize-in-theology brilliant. (I wish I was so clever to make that up, though the pope personally awards a theologian each year with an award that has been nicknamed the Nobel Prize in theology, and Fr. Daley won it.)
I’ve always felt, however, that his heart is bigger than his head. I saw how he loved me and the many students who encountered him in the classroom, the chapel or even the boxing ring. (Wouldn’t you know, he’s also a boxing coach.)
Though his life as a Jesuit didn’t necessarily seem easy, I couldn’t imagine something more fulfilling. The fire that Fr. Daley started burned down my defenses, and, with great joy, this Iowa boy who had never attended a Jesuit school entered the Society of Jesus.
Do you want to learn more about vocations to the Society of Jesus? Visit www.jesuitvocations.org for more information.