by Kenneth Tompkins
Whenever you are making a major life decision, it is almost guaranteed that you will face tons of questions from other people: “How do you know if what you are doing is right? Will this bring you joy? Are you really sure?” are just a few examples. I used to have an interesting perspective on these questions: I would just wish that I could think my decision through by myself (as if that is possible!). Until I had my own cannonball moment.
When I told my family and friends that I was entering the Jesuits, I was asked hundreds of questions. At times, I wished I hadn’t told anyone that I was entering! I remember praying and thinking about this when I realized something: Of course everyone is asking you these questions. Your decision is not just about you, but it affects everyone you love! My family and friends were directing their love and concern for me through their questions. And in their questioning they may have been asking another question: How is God with us?
Pedro Arrupe, the Jesuit superior general in the 1960s and 1970s called the followers of Ignatius to be “men and women for others.” If you ask me, I think he did this to lead all of us to God, since God always reveals God’s self to not just one person–but to a community. God did not just save Moses, but all of the Israelites. Jesus did not walk the earth alone, but with a community of disciples. So God is not only found in you, but in everyone around you, too.
How did I make the decision to enter the Jesuits? Not by myself. It was through many conversations with my friends, family, and Jesus. In other words, with “us.”
Kenneth Tompkins is a Jesuit candidate entering the Novitiate this August at St. Andrew’s Hall in Syracuse, NY. Ken graduated from St. John’s University, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Theology and Philosophy.