I did not mention in the post about final vows that the vows were received by Jesuit Father General Adolfo Nicolás. Because Fr. Nicolás wanted to keep his two week visit to the U.S. a “family visit” during which he would have the opportunity to spend time with the scholastics in our philosophates and theologates, there was no publicity prior to or during his visit. He explained that he did not want to be besieged by interview requests. In addition there is a group of lunatic fringe who would have liked to disrupt the visit. Perhaps the press wouldn't have cared in other eras but, as Pope Francis is a Jesuit and, according to Fr. Nicolás, is adamant about the fact, there is great interest in speaking with him.
Father General was gracious, warm and very approachable. He arrived at Campion about 8:00 AM on Tuesday 1 October after two days Blessed Peter Faber Community in Brighton. After visiting with the men in the health center for two hours he spoke to the members of the province for about an hour with an additional 15 minutes for questions. After a short break from 11:15 to 11:30 the vow Mass began.
I pronounced final vows at Communion time as is Our custom. Unlike other orders we do not pronounce vows ‘into the hands’ of a superior. Father General held the Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord in front of me. After I pronounced the vows I received communion from him. Following the recessional we went to the sacristy along with a few other men where I knelt again to pronounce the five ‘simple’ vows. Father General and I then signed the triplicate hand-written copies of both the final vow formula and the simple vows.
It was a deeply moving experience, though one that is generally not well-understood by our families and friends who wonder why, after witnessing our first (perpetual) vows, diaconate ordination and ordination to the priesthood, there is yet another ceremony. As I think I noted in a previous entry, after the very plain final vows ceremony, many family and friends sound like Peggy Lee singing “Is That All There Is?” However, on my side of the experience, things do feel different in the best of all possible ways. Some of that sense may come from the retreat being done so soon before vows. But part of it is the sense of being a fully professed father.
My final vows represented a “hat trick” that will probably never happen again in the province. I pronounced first vows, celebrated my first Mass, and pronounced final vows at the same altar. Every time I go into the Chapel of the Holy Spirit I see myself kneeling there at one of those ceremonies.
Yesterday, nine men, eight Jesuits and a Redemptorist, were ordained deacons at St. Ignatius Church near Boston College. Sean Cardinal O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, gave a splendid homily that struck me more deeply in the context of having just made final vows. (Cardinal O'Malley generally posts homilies on his blog. They are definitely worth reading.) It was delightful to be able to chat with him—and thank him for ordaining me a priest six years ago—for a few minutes after the ordination. I will concelebrate Mass with the Cardinal on Friday at the annual Mass and dinner of the St. Luke Guild, a guild for Catholic physicians in Boston.
The final vows photos were by John Gillooly of Professional Event Images, Inc. just outside of Boston. He is a nice guy who was very unobtrusive during the vow Mass. Perhaps it was my state of mind but I don’t remember him taking the photos of simple vows in the cramped sacristy. I know I showed him the sacristy and explained the nature of the ceremony there but I can’t say I remember seeing him taking the photos as I knelt to pronounce the vows. Of course I can see the photos so I guess he was there. That is a good event photographer.
Will have more to say about vows later but it is time for some of John’s terrific photos. Quite a few of them.
The vow program. John took several imaginative shots of the program that enhance it.
Fr. General preaching. He elaborated on the nature and meaning of final vows in his homily.Pronouncing the vow formula in front of the elevated Body and Blood of Christ.
Pronouncing simple vows in the sacristy.
Father General signing vow documents.
+Fr. Jack, SJ, MD