By Fr. Jonathon Polce, SJ
“Eleven years?! Why does it take so long?”
This question I have been asked, and even wondered myself, in my 11-year journey to Jesuit priesthood which culminated this past summer when I was ordained along with three other Jesuits from my novitiate class.
Yes, 11 years of training, which is the normal amount of time many Jesuits take to become priests, is a lot of time for formation. But, at least in my case, every day, month and year was worth it and truly necessary.
At each stage in formation, I was stretched, pushed, molded and humbled by the Lord so as to prepare my heart and my mind for a life of ministry as a priest. My formation is not over, but it will continue in more informal ways as I learn and grow through my ministry with, for and alongside God’s people.
Those 11 years of formation, and each concrete stage and mission along the way, was about one thing: it was about forming my heart and mind to be in love and union with Christ, Christ’s Church and the Jesuit charism and way of proceeding.
The journey was daunting. Those 11 years brought challenges and growth that was not easy. But it was worth it, and formation worked.
My first time in the confessional as a priest, I remember being both humbled and ready. Humbled, because I was blessed to offer God’s forgiveness to others, and ready, because my many years of formation where I grew in compassion, humility, gratitude and knowledge, made me ready to offer a priestly heart to those who would come in that day.
When I was called to my first anointing, I felt humbled and ready. Humbled, to be able to bring Christ’s hope and joy to one facing death, and ready, because my formation had helped me walk close with those who were suffering and dying so that I could offer the experience of the people of God as a consolation to others I would meet.
When I was called upon to preside at my first baptism, I felt humbled and ready. Humbled, to be called into a ministry that helps facilitate the creation of a new life in Christ. Ready, due to the countless hours of confessions, prayer and spiritual conversations that I received in my journey that molded my heart to share Christ’s life and joy with others.
When I was called to the altar to be ordained, I was humbled and ready. Humbled because no one is worthy to be a priest, it is a pure gift of God. Humbled, because my journey to priesthood would not be possible without the help of others. Yet I was also ready. Ready, because of their help, donations, prayers, patience and love; I was ready to take this next step in my formation and to say yes to a life as a priest in God’s Church.
My yes was made possible because of your yes. I’m humbled because of that, and ready because of that, and I am forever grateful to God and to you for this great gift of a priestly vocation.
This year’s Giving Tuesday proceeds will benefit this province’s Jesuits in formation. To donate, visit the Giving Tuesday landing page on this site.