As I look forward to celebrating 60 years as a Jesuit, I tell people that it is not a celebration of my merits or achievements but of the continuing abundant gifts and graces of God, who is never outdone in generosity, and the goodness of the Society of Jesus, described by Saint Ignatius as our mother and always a very good and patient mother to me. Fundamental is the gift of survival. We who celebrate this anniversary are survivors. Many of those who entered with us, of course, have gone before us into the fullness of life in God. But a greater number left the Society before and after ordination to the priesthood.
I am also aware of how many changes and surprises there have been in the world, the Church, and the Society itself in the past 60 years. Perhaps the greatest was the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). Nothing has marked our life and ministry in these years as much as change, and perhaps the truest bit of advice we ever received came from a spiritual father in our early years who told us that our generation would need to have much flexibility and adaptability.
There have been many surprises in my own life in terms of where I have been called to go and live and what I have been called to do and whom I have met and known. Central always, though, has been the experience of God’s love and of loving and being loved by others. Again, as on past anniversaries, I make my own the words of a great 20-century lay mystic: “For what has been, thanks. For what will be, yes.”