“What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s a tricky question to dodge when you are growing up. Like most of us, my answer changed from a singer to an actor, then to a cricketer, and so on. But one that I cherish always is what I gave Fr Michael during my school interview, “I want to be a Father like you.” Fr Michael’s warmth, friendly demeanour, kindness and words of wisdom inspired me. Whenever our school hockey team went to play a match, he would say, “When you win, don’t let it get to your head, and when you lose, don’t let it go to your heart.” This dictum has stayed with me to date.
In addition to Fr. Michael, it was Frs. Daniel and Brian who helped me put God and the poor at the centre of my life. We were good at music and theatre. When we said we wanted to help a Jesuit mission by raising funds through a musical, Fr Daniel said, “Welcome aboard. You are officially partnering with the Jesuits! The wow moment turned into a nightmare as we were struggling even to get a sponsor for the expenses of the musical. When all, including ourselves, had given up on the musical, Fr Daniel encouraged and supported us. The musical— “Lessons of Life”, which I wrote and directed, raised 45K for the Bijapur mission. Incidentally, the musical was about the impact of Jesuit Education.
By the end of my college studies, I was moulded to think and act like a Jesuit. The only thing missing was to feel the presence of God like the Jesuits. This is where Fr Brian comes into the picture. Interactions with him have made me realise that one needs to be humble to feel the presence of God. No wonder Fr Brian, though illustrious in his own right, is so humble. I remain indebted to Frs John, Daniel and Brian for inspiring me with their lives.
“Though I am not a priest today, I am happy to collaborate with the Jesuits and lead a lifestyle inspired by Ignatian spirituality. This, I think, defines you Jesuits. You guys have a way with people’s minds, hearts and hands. You approach every individual differently and solve problems creatively. I hope you folk will nurture these qualities.”
Like Roger, we are moulding many young people’s minds, hearts and hands by partnering with them in our mission. Jesus succeeded when the apostles owned His mission. We will succeed only when our young willingly embrace our mission and partner with a smile. The only thing that will stop us is reducing our colleges and universities to mere job consultancies.
Roger Joseph Lurshay is a Senior HR Consultant by profession.
Frs. Michael John, Daniel Fernandes and Brian Pereira belong to the Karnataka Jesuit Province.
The author is Professor of Philosophy at Satya Nilayam, Chennai, and currently pursuing Doctoral studies at XIM University, Bhubaneswar.