Christian Verghese

A Call to Serve God

Christian Verghese, S.J. ’11

I was called down to the principal’s office only once during my student career at McQuaid Jesuit. I remember the day quite vividly. It was my senior year, first-period choir class. I started walking what seemed like an eternal pilgrimage down the junior hallway from Hogenkamp Auditorium toward the principal’s office by the front entrance. I assumed then-principal, Fr. Jim Coughlin, S.J., ’83, had heard how much I had misbehaved during chorus class and wanted to redress some wrongdoing. This was not the case.

When I was a senior, Fr. Coughlin taught a small group of students Linear Algebra, an advanced math course. This class certainly made for the most challenging content I studied in high school. However, what stood out most was the joyful, passionate, and animated demeanor with which the teacher presented the material. Never had I seen someone take such delight in their work.

When I got to Fr. Coughlin’s office, I was surprised to not receive an admonishment but rather an invitation – to consider sharing in the passion and delight he enjoyed as a Jesuit priest by considering a vocation in the priesthood. He asked me to view religious life not as a sacrifice but rather as a source of joy and happiness. What I saw in Linear Algebra class confirmed that insight: using all one’s talents for God’s service brings joy, purpose, and abundance to life. Now, five years into Jesuit life, I find myself back at McQuaid teaching math, with a small group of Linear Algebra students included — and taking the same delight in performing the task God has set before me.

In an address to a special council of Jesuits last September, Fr. Arturo Sosa, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, presented a talk titled, “The Vocation to the Society of Jesus today: Its meaning, lived experience, and promotion.” He insisted that praying for vocations is a substantive part of the mission to those who follow the Lord’s call in the Society of Jesus. However, this call is not limited to Jesuits alone, but to all who belong to the McQuaid family.

Vocation promotion begins with how we help others listen to the call that comes from the Holy Spirit. To facilitate the process of listening, McQuaid’s Mission and Ministry Office is offering a “Discernment Retreat” to seniors who will soon embark on a new journey of faith in college. This retreat will encourage our young Knights to discern how to live out their Catholic faith fruitfully and happily over the next four years and beyond.

Mission and Ministry at McQuaid Jesuit strives to demonstrate just what Fr. Coughlin showed me in Linear Algebra: the joyful fulfillment of living out one’s Christian vocation. Whether Christ calls us to delight in mathematical truths or to encounter the world’s gritty realities, He calls our students to serve and in some way be with those most in need, setting the world on fire for the greater glory of God.

Each person, lay or religious, is called to abundant life in God’s kingdom. The vocation to the Society of Jesus is among many possibilities for following that call. It is a call to be friends with the Lord and serve alongside him in the vineyard of personal and professional life. When we pray and work for vocations, it’s not merely a call for more Jesuits.

In praying and supporting vocations, we hope that every person in the McQuaid Jesuit family may be attentive to God’s call to generously
collaborate with the action of the Spirit in their hearts.