Fr. Lukas Laniauskas, SJ, offers this reflection on his time as a chaplain for the Berkeley Fire Department in California. To read a profile of Fr. Laniauskas, who was recently ordained to the priesthood, click here.
July 17, 2015 — The alarm rings and everyone leaps into action, rushing to the scene to care for those in need. Working as the Berkeley fire department chaplain serves as a perfect parallel to my life journey as a Jesuit. I perceived the alarm of my vocation ringing at a young age. As a child, I used to serve the Mass and thought to myself that one day I would be a priest. As I developed through high school and college, the alarm of my vocation only became stronger.
I entered the Jesuit novitiate as a novice (initial stage of formation) in Lithuania. Being born in a Lithuanian-American family, I was happy to return to the land of my ancestors. Upon completion of the novitiate, I professed perpetual vows (poverty, chastity and obedience) and returned to the States to complete my formation. It was then that I studied philosophy at Loyola University Chicago for three years (second stage of formation), went on to teach and serve as campus minister at St. John’s Jesuit High School in Toledo, Ohio, for regency (third stage of formation), and finally landed where I am today, in my third and final year of theology (fourth stage of formation). I look forward to being ordained a priest in June of 2015!
When I — along with the firefighters — rush to the scene, I never know whom we will encounter, whom we will serve, or in what situation we will find ourselves; every situation is unique. As I reflect about my 10 years in the Society of Jesus, I thank God for the many people, faces and situations in which I have been privileged to serve. When I entered, my desire was to serve people unconditionally, to be free to respond to the alarms of others’ lives, and to walk with them in their joys, sorrows and most precious moments. Though the journey has not always been easy or paved in gold, I have found myself continually consoled and inspired. My desires and expectations upon entering have not only been fulfilled, but also exceeded.
The genius of Saint Ignatius of Loyola is the way in which he envisioned Jesuit formation. I could not be the man and soon-to-be priest that I am without the many significant experiences of God’s grace — in my prayer, my living in community, my studies, my ministries, and, more importantly, in the many people I have met because I have been afforded these moments as a Jesuit. As the alarm of my vocation as a priest waits to ring, I feel I have been prepared to respond and respond well.
The alarm rings and everyone leaps into action. I rush to the engine as chaplain ready to tackle another call. The officer on duty (a fellow Christian) looks at me and says, “Let’s go do His work.” Indeed, I thought, let’s go do His work!