A Journey of Faith and Discovery
May 13, 2013
I can summarize in a word what I’ve gained during my two years of Regency teaching philosophy at Loyola University Maryland: confidence.
For one, I now have greater confidence in the authenticity of my friendship with Jesus Christ. To a greater extent than First Studies, Regency challenges a Jesuit in formation to assume added responsibility for his spiritual life. At this point in formation, superiors are no longer continually inquiring about whether and how I pray. With a full schedule of teaching, preparation, writing, and other activities, I’ve had to work hard to stay nourished on a steady diet of the Word of God. Naturally, daily participation at Mass remains the center. Somewhat to my surprise, I’ve found that I’ve remained faithful to prayer (and genuinely enjoy it) even without being monitored by superiors. Cooperating with God in this way, I move forward in formation with joy and confidence that my house is built on a firm foundation.
Second, with excellent mentoring from a couple of trusted colleagues, I’ve grown in the confidence that I can accomplish the work the Society entrusts to me. Admittedly, when I arrived at Loyola as a visiting member of the philosophy department, I felt overwhelmed. In retrospect, it was natural for me to feel like a lightweight. Most of my colleagues on the faculty had more education than I and they had already spent years teaching and writing. Nevertheless, with each semester I’ve grown as a teacher. I’ve become more adept at designing courses and classes. My judgments about what students need and can receive have become sharper. By teaching students and speaking with colleagues I’ve honed my habit of philosophical thinking. The extraordinary expertise of colleagues, which formerly intimated me, I now recognize as one of the foremost benefits of working at a place like Loyola.
Third, as I complete Regency, I’m considerably more confident that I cannot only manage, but also thrive in Jesuit community life. In many ways, I’m unlike most of the men with whom I live: I’m younger, have a different educational and formational background (before entering the Society, I trained for several years to become a diocesan priest), and have different ideas about God and the Church. Of course, differences like these sometimes present challenges for our common life. Nevertheless, they also present opportunities for spirited and sincere conversation, and such opportunities are worth seizing. Representing myself truthfully and speaking up, I’ve learned that others find my experiences and points of view interesting. I’ve also found that men with whom I differ are often full of goodness and apostolic fervor. I’m confident that God will continue to give me joy with my Jesuit brothers.
Living and working at Loyola these two years has been an experience of God’s providential care. He has enkindled my desire for Him in prayer and nurtured me through the friendship of mentors and fellow Jesuits. I’m eager for the future and confident He will continue to provide.
John Peck, S.J., is a visiting affiliate instructor of philosophy at Loyola University Maryland. The reflection originally appeared in the Spring issue of Jesuits Magazine, a publication of the Maryland, New England, and New York Provinces.