Meeting Father General strengthened my Jesuit vocation

Richard Joubert is a scholastic in his final year of first studies at Loyola University of Chicago. A member of the UCS (United States Central and Southern) Province, he had the opportunity to meet Fr. General during the latter’s visitation of the UMI (United States Midwest) Province.

By Richard Joubert, SJ | Gonzaga House, Loyola University Chicago Jesuit Community

A month before the end of my cycle of “first studies” in the Society, Father General visited our community of scholastics in Chicago. This event came at the end of an important year in my Jesuit journey. The presence and words of our Superior General shed light on what I had been experiencing over the last few months and the discernment I had to make.


After spending the summer in Peru, I returned to the US aflame for the missionary life and ready for my final year of first studies. At the same time, I discovered that I was suffering from a painful gastrointestinal illness that took many months to diagnose. I often had to miss class because of unexpected symptoms or for doctor’s appointments. My plans to run a half marathon, practice guitar, and work in a migrant shelter were shelved. I lost my appetite and was often confined to bed. My illness sidelined me from active apostolic ministry and brought many feelings of inadequacy. Yet through this “cannonball” experience, the Lord was reshaping my desires and understanding of my life-mission and the life-mission of the Society.

Inspired by Christ’s call and the witness of so many Jesuits, I had entered the Society of Jesus with a desire to be an international missionary. I felt called to proclaim the good news in far-away lands and help others encounter God. With my illness, I recognized that this call to be a missionary did not require me to leave the United States. The mission territory was in my community and in my neighborhood.

My illness showed me what is meant by community as mission. I relied on the prayers and support of my Jesuit Community and learned to ask for help when I needed it. I was not alone. I came to better appreciate our shared life and laboring for souls. Centered around the Eucharist, we accompany each other in the spiritual life and our apostolates. We are a diverse community from different Provinces and nations but united in the vows and our experiences of the Spiritual Exercises. Ours is a life and mission shared together. My community is a gift.


At our university, I recognized a different mission territory. Our students’ hunger for meaning and purpose, and yet not knowing where to look. They seek joy in the world but instead see TikTok videos portraying division, oppression, war and suffering, and materialism. Where do they find hope? My vocation has become one of accompanying young adults and helping them to discover hope and, through it, the way to God. Another ministry that I was able to continue was being a spiritual director. I was consoled by the experience of accompanying students in the Spiritual Exercises, serving as a chaplain to the university’s women’s soccer team, and helping form college males in the Ignatian tradition in the Rambler Brotherhood Project. My Jesuit brothers and I encountered students through our monthly Java with the Jesuits, where we engage students in spiritual conversation over free coffee and donuts. Through spiritual conversation, the Exercises, and my own attentiveness, I was blessed to accompany young people in their search for God. My mission is not abroad, but instead right here in my homeland, language, and local community.

During his time in Chicago, Father General Arturo Sosa visited our university and spoke with the Jesuits in first studies. Fr. General’s message challenged me to follow the example of Christ, who went out to the people not waiting for them to go to Him. Fr. Sosa highlighted the risks of doing this: humiliation, poverty, and failure. He reminded us of our call to be like Christ poor and humble, who freely accepted God’s will and sacrificed Himself out of love. Fr. Arturo called us to greater indifference- individually and in the Society- and return to the Principle and Foundation of the Spiritual Exercises. I feel affirmed by Fr. General’s message and invited to grow in the work of reconciliation and accompaniment through the lens of the Cross. I’m grateful for the opportunity I had to meet Fr. General and welcome him to our first studies community. I look forward to taking his message with me to regency in the fall.

Share this Post:
Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

Related Posts: