My first life plan was to become, like many in my family, an engineer. After a couple of years in the profession, however, I realized that it was not for me. During that same time period, my religious faith was deepening. I felt a calling in two directions, to serve God and to become a teacher. The Jesuit vocation attracted me because it brought those two movements together. I entered the Jesuits with the expectation I would become a high school science teacher.
That life plan – version B, if you will – was never realized (and the same can be said for plans C, D and E!). I became interested in ethics after teaching the topic to students at Tampa Jesuit and was later given permission to pursue doctoral studies in Christian ethics. The Jesuits missioned me to Georgetown University where I have served as a professor and chaplain.
Another unexpected vocational twist came when I was asked to be caretaker for the Georgetown mascot, a bulldog. My experiences with the dog helped turn my attention to animal and environmental ethics in both coursework (e.g., “Dogs and Theology” and “Animals and the Environment”) and research (“All God’s Animals” will appear in fall 2019).
The 20 years of ministry at Georgetown have been a gift and grace, allowing me to accompany students and alumni through joys, struggles and major life events. Through it all, the Lord’s call has repeatedly surprised me and will, no doubt, continue to do so.