By Jerry Duggan
When he entered the Society of Jesus, Sullivan McCormick, SJ, assumed that he would pursue the path to priestly ordination, as the majority of Jesuits do. However, as he progressed through the novitiate program and reflected on his deepest desires for his vocation, he realized that Jesus was calling him to consider the vocation of Jesuit brother.
Today, Br. McCormick is in the stage of formation known as first studies and is a Jesuit brother. His decision to enter the Society was intentionally discerned after college, while working at Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas and a Dallas non-profit.
Brother McCormick was educated in the Jesuit tradition in high school (Jesuit College Prep in Dallas) and college (Boston College), but it was his time at Jesuit Dallas as an Alumni Service Corps member that catalyzed his relationship with God and reignited his faith.
He began to meet with a spiritual director and fell in love with Ignatian Spirituality. In time, he came to consider a Jesuit vocation.
“I had a profound experience of feeling God’s love during one of my spiritual direction sessions,” he said. “I had an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for this and decided that I had a responsibility to share that love I had experienced with others.”
After entering the Society in 2017, Br. McCormick began to consider hopes and desires for his vocation.
He decided to become a Jesuit brother rather than a priest first and foremost because he received a call in prayer from Christ to accompany people as a brother. He spent the next year in the novitiate discerning that specific vocation. Working in campus ministry at Spring Hill College helped him see how he was drawn to walking with the people of God on their level, as a companion and equal.
“I receive extreme joy and fulfilment when people open up to me and share their story,” he explained. “I feel called to accompany people through their ups and downs in life, and I thought being a Jesuit brother would allow me to do that.”
In Br. McCormick’s eyes, no matter the efforts of either party to do away with it, there exists a differential in power between a priest and a lay person in a faith context. It is Br. McCormick’s hope that, by being a Jesuit brother, he can relate to people in a different way – not better or worse, just different.
He is particularly excited to see how, as a Jesuit brother, he can work in conjunction with Jesuit priests to advance the mission of the Society. He cited remarks from Superior General Fr. Arturo Sosa, SJ, to illustrate his point.
“Our Superior General said that we exist as a body. We are one in that body, but we have different parts with different functions,” he said. “Ultimately, though, the idea is that we all (priests, brothers and lay collaborators alike) work together to accompany those we serve and draw them closer to God.”
Brother McCormick hopes to focus on two personal passions of his as he accompanies others.
First, through his work with the Jesuit Anti-Racism Sodality (JARS) and his studies at Saint Louis University, Br. McCormick desires to aid in the fight to combat systemic racism.
He also wishes to study the commonalities between the spirituality of Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12-step program and Ignatian Spirituality and, in turn, accompany those who are struggling with addiction.
Ultimately, for Br. McCormick, it’s about being a companion.
“Being a Jesuit brother will allow me to connect with the people of God in a unique way, and I am eager to see all of the opportunities for accompaniment that this vocation will surely provide.”