August 23, 1997 was a Saturday. I slept reasonably well. Sunday August 24 dawned sunny but windy. Very windy. Finished packing the last few things, went to Mass, said a few goodbyes, and had a quick lunch. Then it was off to the Avoca Airport for the flight to Boston. That was where the wind was significant.
Twenty years ago there was direct flight service between Avoca and Boston on small prop planes with one seat on either side of the aisle. We took off on time for what was a white-knuckler all the way to Boston. The turbulence was among the worst I've ever experienced in the air--before or since. As we took off, bouncing, tilting, shaking and everything else, the thought went through my mind, "I'm gonna' die over Dupont and won't even make it on the front page of the Voice." I think the pilot was also white knuckling. The passengers applauded when we touched down in Boston.
My bags were the first ones on the belt. Looking to the right there he was descending the escalator: George B. Murray, SJ, MD. My mouth went into velcro mode with the tongue firmly adherent to the roof. "OK, it's real." Thirty minutes later George and I pulled up at the repurposed convent on Creighton Street in Jamaica Plain whereupon I walked through the door of the Jesuit novitiate.
Twenty years. Impossible to summarize in fewer than 400 pages. Perhaps most relevant, and something it took years to truly appreciate, is the comment a Jesuit friend made as I was applying to enter. "If you are accepted, enter, and stay your reasons for staying will be different from your reasons for entering." The only way I can remember my reasons for entering is to reread the application. My reasons for staying? See the 400 page manuscript when it is published.
I am grateful to family and friends who were supportive of my decision to heed the vocation the Society. I am also grateful to the many Jesuits who guided me, listened when I was struggling, and have helped me move in directions I never expected, directions that always had only one purpose: Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam, To the Greater Glory of God.
+Fr. Jack, SJ, MD