The Long Blue …and the Long Black Lines
When a student first attends St. Xavier High School, he becomes part of the long blue line, a line stretching back to 1831. Since 1841 the long blue line has been taught by the long black line, the Jesuits who usually are clad in black. (This line actually stretches back to 1540 in Europe.) The Jesuits both administer and teach in their ministry as educators. A total of 200 graduates of St. Xavier have become Jesuits. That’s roughly one Jesuit per year of St. Xavier’s 175 year-long existence. Who has made that step from the blue line into the black line? Fathers Ahern, Deye, and Pigott have done so. Who will make the shift in the future? If this historic pattern of service is to continue, someone else locally needs to take a similar step.
Not every Tri-stater who joins the Jesuits ends up at St. Xavier High School. Kevin Flaherty, SJ currently works as a psychologist in Peru. Jim Dressman, SJ ministers to parishioners in India. A Jesuit, after all, is a man “called by Christ” to be “on mission with Christ.” Kevin and Jim heeded a call that beckoned them beyond their native city, yet instilled in them a sense of home as-found.
Many Cincinnati Jesuits serve within the United States. The job “fit” a typical Jesuit finds is based most likely on the talents he brings with him. That Jesuits come equipped with a variety of talents (and personalities) accords with Rowan Williams’ definition of having a vocation:
To exist really is to exist as responding-to-God. Each of us is called to be a different kind of response to God, to mirror God in unique ways, to show God what he is like, so to speak, from innumerable new and different standpoints.
[from RW’s essay “Vocation (I)”]
What is your call? It may be, as you travel down the road of life, a call to become a scientist, a musician, an inventor, an entrepreneur, or yes, just possibly, a priest. If your call is to ministry in the Church, consider with care this call. Pay attention to what you hear inside. Also listen to what others say about the gifts they perceive in you.
If the truth be told, the long black line accepts men from schools with rival colors. Fathers Paul Macke and Donald Nastold, both Jesuits, graduated from Elder. Jim Ackermann, a Jesuit scholastic, went to McNicholas. Eric Sundrup, the youngest Cincinnatian Jesuit, hails from LaSalle. The Jesuits received these men gladly because their calls were deeply authentic.
Consider your call. Or, at the least, listen to what one or more of the Jesuits who have worked or are working at St. Xavier have to say about their call and their lives as Jesuits. Four other Jesuits, known to upperclassmen, have also recorded their testimonies. Access any MP3 file by clicking on the Jesuit’s name. To learn more, contact Fr. Fran Daly, SJ or Fr. Patrick Fairbanks, SJ.
--Bernard McAniff, SJ