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  • Writer's pictureProfiles in Catholicism

An Interview with Father John Predmore, S.J.



Gordon: When you received your vocation, with whom did you first discuss it, and what was their advice”

 

Father John:  Several priests and bishops kept inviting me to consider seminary and I wanted to do a thorough review a vocational life. One Bishop recommended that I speak to A Jesuit and to receive spiritual direction. This was the most fortunate step I could have taken because it helped me clarify all the different movements that were pulling at me. Spiritual direction helped to clarify what was of God and what was also good and holy but perhaps not as lasting. Examining the life of Saint Ignatius of Loyola helped me to see that discernment is a process that takes time and patience, and that God's call is offered in many ways. Christ would have been happy with any choice I made, and i had to decide what was giving me the most happiness. I went on a pilgrimage to the Ignatian sites in Spain, which confirmed my deep attraction to The Jesuits. I told several parishioner friends who were pleased with my process, and I spoke with the Jesuit vocation director, who affirmed the positive steps I was taking.

 

Gordon: When and where did you attend seminary, what was the most challenging course that you took and why was it so challenging?

 

Father John: Jesuit seminary Is a long formation process that is carried out In different locations. The Jesuit novitiate was based in Boston where I had an overseas experiment in the Caribbean island of Jamaica and then a hospital experiment at Georgetown Medical Center in Washington DC. During the clinical pastoral education process at the Medical Center, I began to identify my ministerial style and to look at my growing edges and the strengths. I completed my philosophy studies at Georgetown University and enrolled in classes at the Catholic University of America. I then taught for two years at cheverus high school in Portland ME before I attended Weston Jesuit school of theology in Cambridge. One of my first classes was a history of Christ’s presence throughout time and it was challenging because it helped me examine my core beliefs and to identify my worldview and perspectives. This course was a low theology type of class in which we examined the experiences of the people of God as they prayed to Christ. The approach was different from a top down theology class, and i resonated so well with the materials that it generated so many profound questions. This course also introduced a lot of theological terms that I had to comprehend before I could do further studies. To this day I cannot help but study theology and ecclesiology from this perspective.

 

Gordon: Why did you choose to be a Jesuit?

 

Father John: I did my due diligence when I looked at religious life and the priesthood. I visited around 18 different expressions of religious life or priesthood and I kept coming back two the appeal of the Jesuit community. The men seemed happiest and they seem engaged in their work and prayer life. They retained optimism and was working for the Kingdom of God in distinctive ways. I did not find what one would call a typical Jesuit. The men seemed mature, thoughtful, reflective, and pious in a casual way.

 

The biggest inspiration for me was my spiritual director, who i saw for four years before examining religious life. His manner and lifestyle intrigued me and all they wanted to be was a spiritual director as he was. He saved souls and did exhausting work. He helped me recognize insights and invitations, and he guided me through discernment. His tireless work is done one heart and mind at a time, and yet its effect it's exponential. He saved souls, and that's what i want to do.

 

Gordon: What aspect of Saint Ignatius Loyola's life is of most interest by you?

 

Father John: I have studied a lot about Saint Ignatius of Loyola and when I read his autobiography, i am delighted with his attention to do the will of God creatively. When he encounters obstacles, he finds a way around them and is not deterred. His heart and his mind stays opened to God and he is a genius in the way that he navigates challenges that would flummox most people. Perhaps that is why I focus my ministerial work on creativity because Ignatius is the inspiration of creativity and forward movement.

 

Gordon: When did you serve as Web Editor of America Magazine and what is one of your favorite memories when you were there?

 

Father John: I enjoyed my time as web editor of American magazine and I enjoyed working with Tom Reese, who has a political scientist’s mind. I appreciated how he could expand upon various perspectives and enlarge the national conversation on theological and moral issues. I was very grateful for the collaborative process of Jesuits and colleagues working together for the good of the church through the publication of the magazine that is dedicated to thought and ideas.

 

Gordon: When and where did you serve as Director of Mission and Identity and what were your primary responsibilities?

 

Father John: I work at Boston College high school where I assist in the formation of the adults within the community. My work touches the lives of faculty and staff, alumni, parents and retirees, and trustees. I bring the life of Saint Ignatius and the contemporary Jesuit thought to this community. I lead the online group version of 19th annotation retreat, provide “Where is God in your life?” conversations, provide spiritual direction to about 35 individuals, teach at Creighton University’s Christian Spirituality Program, where we award graduate certificates to spiritual directors and master's degrees in spirituality studies. I run a number of online groups such as a Tuesday morning theology book review and classes on the art of compassionate communication. I also lead Creativity sessions including artwork and online poetry and guided meditations.

 

A topic that we have recently explored has been the integration of science with faith Through an evolutionary perspective. It has raised many questions about one's image of God in this globalized world in which we realize we are part of a much larger cosmos. The compassionate communications work is focusing upon empathy as a new consciousness that is needed for people to connect with the common good.

When I was the pastor of the English-speaking church in Amman, Jordan, i began to paint and draw for the first time. Now I have an art studio in Boston, and I lead art and spirituality retreats. The art world and creativity has opened new avenues for reaching Catholics and non-Catholics, and the people who have never attended church as well as people who I've finished with church. Art and creativity has expanded the potential connection of one spirituality back to the church. It continues a mature process of dialogue so that we can understand one another and help each other come to the fuller realization of what God is doing in our lives


Gordon: Thank you for a beautiful and informative interview.

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