Last week two men marked a milestone in their relationship with God in the Society.
Joshua Choong and Brett O'Neill took first vows in Peter Canisius Chapel, Pymble, on Saturday 30 January, bringing to a close two years of novitiate during which they had been deepening their life with Christ and discerning their vocation in the Society.
As with the very first companions of Ignatius, they continue the tradition of diversity within the Society and demonstrate the many paths along which God calls us.
Joshua is from Malaysia via Queensland and qualified as an engineer before joining the Society. Brett, whose family are from Maitland and Melbourne, came to us via the Missionaries of God's Love and the federal public service.
Since the 1980s, it has been the tradition of the Australian Province that the newly vowed be given the opportunity to select vow crosses of deceased Jesuits — providing a tangible demonstration of the history of the Society into which they have been grafted.
These vow crosses were blessed at a prayer service led by Fr Brendan Kelly SJ, where about 35 Jesuits joined Brett and Joshua in prayer on the eve of their vows. At the heart of the ceremony, they shared their reasons for choosing the particular vow crosses they did.
Joshua selected the cross of Fr Tom Lees, a Jesuit who had spent many years in the new mission of Hazaribag in North India and helped shepherd it into the thriving province it is today, before returning to Australia to work at the Melbourne Jesuit Mission office, supporting the many co-missionaries and raising money for the missions.
Brett chose the vow cross of Fr Bill Maloney, an Irish Jesuit educator who came to Australia as a young man to spend a lifetime working in St Patrick's College in East Melbourne.
Some of those present who had known Frs Lees and Maloney shared memories of them to help the two novices to know more of their new patrons and intercessors.
The next morning was the vow Mass itself, which more than 50 Jesuits and 40 other guests (including family and friends of Brett and Josh) attended. Fr Provincial presided, with Fr Pat Mullins, as Socius to the Novice Master, presenting them with their vow crosses.
Music for the Mass was provided by an enthusiastic choir made up of Jesuits (including the tertians, visiting from Melbourne) and others including two men, Isaac Demase and Matthew Pinson, who were about to become novices themselves.
Josh and Brett pronounced their vows kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament before receiving communion.
Afterwards, they were presented with their vow crosses, whereupon they and their friends and families joined the Provincial at the front of the chapel to be presented to the assembly. Much celebration followed.
Now Brett and Josh have moved to the new Faber Community in Parkville, where they will begin their theological and philosophical studies.
Text: Justin Glyn SJ
Video and photo: Wilbert Mireh SJ