By Ignatius Plato
Accompaniment can be crucial when making a life decision. Having someone present to walk with you through big decisions can bring clarity during a time of uncertainty.
As the novice director for the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province (UCS), Fr. Drew Kirschman, SJ, accompanies Jesuit novices every day. Walking with men discerning their vocation gives him a front-row seat to how God is acting in their lives and to the response of each man. The compassion and dedication he calls on in his work come from his own formation experiences.
“As a kid, I looked for answers,” says Fr. Kirschman. “Good formators showed me that there’s not always going to be easy answers for a lot of the problems in our world.”
In time, he began to recognize how God worked despite the world’s discord. “The people who taught and studied beside me at Saint Louis University revealed ways to live in the tensions of life, to find comfort with living in conflict while working toward a generous response to the world’s problems. They witnessed God’s personal call to each of us – to give generously with our lives – that brought me peace in my search for answers.”
Father Kirschman sees the lack of answers to life’s big questions as a blessing, an opportunity to discover God’s call in oneself. He believes that this call is manifest in the people that guide us along the way. This mindset is central to his ministry as a novice director.
“In accompanying men discerning a vocation to the Jesuits, I hope my guidance empowers them to give generously with their lives in service to God and the Church,” he says.
Father Kirschman explains that the novitiate is ultimately about deepening a friendship with Jesus so that each man hears the unique way he is called to give his life.
“Interacting with God’s people in the world – the outward experience of a Jesuit – helps us to find God in all things,” he said. “The novitiate is a ‘school of the heart,’ a time to shape a man’s instincts around generosity, gratitude and solidarity with those in need and on the margins. My job as a novice director is to help a man discern Jesus’ personal call through our charism of generosity, gratitude and solidarity.”
Father Kirschman is grateful for those who helped him during his own formation. His formators’ patience, wisdom and dedication have set the foundation for his own accompaniment of novices as they seek to glorify God through their lives.
“I find it profoundly humbling to accompany a novice and witness horizons opening for them – the horizons of what God sees for them, for the world, in where God needs them to go,” Fr. Kirschman says. “I don’t know what that will look like for them in the future or where that will take them. But I find tremendous hope for their future, for the Church, for our world.”