By Therese Fink Meyerhoff
Jesuit Scholastic Jorge Roque really enjoys his work at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory in Houston. He teaches four sections of senior English and one section of junior theology. He’s the assistant coach for the school’s spikeball team and moderator of the Bad Movie Club. And he loves the opportunities to build relationships with students and other faculty. But all that said, work is not the center of his life.
“It’s not the work that satiates my heart, even though I love it,” Roque says. “It’s my relationship with God that matters. As much as I love being a Jesuit, the root of my happiness is my relationship with God. Being a Jesuit is the fruit of that.”
God initiated this relationship when Roque was a student at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. After being an agnostic in high school, Roque returned to both God and the Catholic Church, where he witnessed the example of two priests on campus, whom he describes as normal, humble, faithful men. “They didn’t draw attention to themselves,” Roque said. “They were just there for people when needed.”
Around that time, Roque was assigned one of Fr. Bernard Lonergan’s books for a philosophy class. Father Lonergan was a leading philosopher and theologian of the 20th century. Roque was “blown away” by Fr. Lonergan’s writing and by the fact that he was a Jesuit priest.
“It widened my concept of the priesthood,” he said. “He was an intellectual. He wasn’t afraid to ask questions – his whole philosophy was built around asking questions. He had an insatiable curiosity, and he’s testifying to Christ. What he did wasn’t traditional religious work, but it really was glorifying God.”
All those things were in Roque’s mind when he commented to a friend that the life of a priest seems like a good life. When his friend asked if he’d ever consider becoming a priest, Roque realized the answer was “yes,” though he’d never consciously thought it before.
“That planted the seed in my heart,” he recalls now. “I couldn’t get it out of my head.”
He began imagining himself as a priest and felt real consolation. “To feel that peace was hard to ignore,” he says. “That was the inner movement that kept drawing my attention to religious life. I had to pursue it.”
He attended a vocation discernment retreat in Grand Coteau, Louisiana, where he met Jesuits for the first time. It was also his first time in silence and praying with Scripture the Ignatian way. He loved it.
“That’s where I felt the confirmation from God, and I decided to apply. I wanted to act on the consolation.” He entered the novitiate the following August.
As a novice, Roque found further confirmation when he made the Spiritual Exercises. “It was a moment of third-grade theology: God loves me, I’m a sinner and he forgives me,” he says. “The Exercises made the core of Christianity personal. I really did feel God’s love. Before that, I believed it, but during the exercises, I felt it in my heart.”
That love has become the core of his life and the source of his joy.
If you think you might be called to life as a Jesuit, we invite you to visit beajesuit.org.