It was November 16, 1989, that I heard the news that six Jesuits were killed in El Salvador. I had spent the few months since I entered the Society of Jesus learning what it means to be a Jesuit — the Society’s history, rules and way of looking at and interacting with the world. I knew that all should be done Ad majorem Dei Gloriam — for the greater glory of God. I realized that a large part of who I should be as a Jesuit was to find God in all things and all people: especially the poor, the hungry and the downtrodden. I expected that I would in some way work for the service of faith and the promotion of justice.
It was that November day that I first truly saw myself as a member of the Society of Jesus. The ideals and documents I had studied were no longer contained in the classroom; they became part of me in a profound way. It was that day that I began to comprehend — and fear — the reality of following Jesus as a Jesuit: I would have to follow him to Calvary. I would have to surrender my life for the Gospel as Jesus did. This death maybe metaphorical, but I knew now that it could also be literal.
Twenty-five years have passed since that day. I have followed Jesus to Calvary again and again. I have experienced hatred, anger and (worse) indifference from others in response to my efforts to bring the Good News to the poor, the marginalized and the wounded. Although I have not been required to literally die for the people of God as my brothers did in El Salvador, I have been willing to do what is necessary Ad majorem Dei Gloriam.