Monday, May 16, 2005

Congratulations, Paul!

In a late-afternoon liturgy yesterday at the Mission Church, Santa Clara religious studies prof Father Paul Fitzgerald pronounced his final vows as a Jesuit. Final vows represent a Jesuit’s definitive full incorporation into the Society of Jesus, coming after many years of living and working as a Jesuit. To become eligible for final vows, a Jesuit must go through tertianship, a period in which one works outside his customary ministry, makes the full Spiritual Exercises and renews his study of the Constitutions and other key Jesuit documents. After a Jesuit has completed tertianship, the Society may call him to final vows. In pronouncing these vows, the Jesuit reaffirms his commitment to serve God in the Society of Jesus; at the same time, in calling a man to vows the Society gives him something like a ‘vote of confidence.’ Yesterday’s Mass marked the first time I had personally witnessed a Jesuit pronounce his final vows, and I found the experience deeply moving. The vows themselves are touching in a way I really can’t put into words. Touching also was the outpouring of support and affection Paul received not merely from the Jesuits at Santa Clara but from the rest of the campus community as well. Many students and faculty attended the vow liturgy, and afterward a group of students from the Loyola RLC presented their beloved “Father Fitz” with a large gift basket. The experience was one I’ll remember as a benchmark in my Jesuit life, the same way I’ll always remember the first Jesuit ordination I attended and the first time I attended a Jesuit’s funeral. Congratulations again to Paul Fitzgerald, and thanks for your outstanding example. AMDG.


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