By Jerry Duggan
At the Mass of the Holy Spirit in 2017 at St. Francis Xavier College Church, Travis Crowe felt the Spirit moving within him. By the end of the Mass, he found himself conversing with Jesuits and feeling like the Society was the place for him. Crowe was not always so assured of his path in life or his faith; in fact, just a few years prior, he was not a member of the Catholic Church at all.
After growing up in a Lutheran family, Crowe graduated from Concordia University, a Lutheran college in Michigan. Shortly thereafter, he began having informal meetings with the pastor of a diocesan parish in Iowa – where his parents lived at the time — asking big picture questions about the faith.
In hindsight, Crowe now recognizes that the priest’s approach was very Ignatian.
“He did not pressure me to join the Catholic Church right away or shame me for asking questions,” Crowe said. “Instead, he told me to continue to think things over and that, if and when I was ready to join the Church, God would be there waiting for me.”
Several months later, Crowe embarked on the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) process.
He did not have a clear sense of what would come next, but he felt called to make his new faith an anchor of his existence. Tapping into his lifelong passions of music and liturgy – Crowe was a fan of Lutheran liturgy prior to entering the Catholic Church – he applied on a whim for the director of liturgy and music position at Immaculate Conception Church in Dardenne Prairie, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis. He got the job and was immediately grateful for such an opportunity.
“I did not have a degree in music – my undergraduate degree was in communications – so for a parish so large (Immaculate Conception has more than 4000 families) to entrust me with such an important role was a great honor.”
For three years, Crowe directed the music for all of the parish’s liturgies and loved every minute of it. This entailed overseeing the music for seven Masses a week, in addition to funerals, weddings and special events. While Crowe felt tremendous satisfaction in this role, there was one problem.
“Preparing liturgies for the weekend and playing the music at Mass was a wonderful opportunity for me, but I felt like I never ‘went to Church,’” he joked. “I was so caught up in the planning that I wasn’t getting to really experience the Mass.”
He began to consider a religious vocation; an encounter with a couple at his parish pointed him to the Society of Jesus.
“A couple I knew from my parish asked me if I had ever thought about being a Jesuit,” he said.
Some quick research left Crowe shrugging off the idea, in part due to the lengthy formation process. Still, he was invited to a student-focused Mass at St. Francis Xavier College Church. In the one-hour liturgy, his mind opened to the possibility.
“I was in awe of the liturgy – the music, the preaching, the welcoming and lively atmosphere,” he said.
He returned several months later and, after that Mass, chatted with several Jesuits, including Fr. Chris Collins, and joked that perhaps he could be a Jesuit. Father Collins took him seriously. The two exchanged emails and met for lunch. Before long, Crowe was in contact with the vocation promotion office of the province and attending discernment events.
Crowe is now in his second year of philosophy studies at Loyola University Chicago and full of excitement for all that is ahead.
“My love of music has brought me closer to God and to liturgy my whole life, so it’s fitting that it, in an indirect way, also led me to my Jesuit vocation.”