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  • Writer's pictureProfiles in Catholicism

An Interview with Father Michael Rossmann, SJ

by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D. Profiles in Catholicism



Dr. Knight: Would you please share with us your early Catholic formation? Please tell us the significance of your high school years in formation.

Father Michael: I grew up in Iowa and went to the same Catholic school for thirteen years – from kindergarten through high school. I come from a strong Catholic family, but my faith became much more important to me when I was a sophomore in high school. I went on a retreat organized by my diocese where I encountered Christ on a personal level. That was a particular turning point in my life.

 

Dr. Knight: You went to college and studied theology. How did you make that decision?

 

Father Michael: I have a picture from my first day of kindergarten in which I’m wearing a Notre Dame backpack. I was fortunate enough to study there many years later. Wanting to grow in my understanding of our faith led me to study theology, though I was actually a double major in economics and theology – not exactly a typical combination. I often joke that if the God thing didn’t work out, I could always fall back on mammon. Thankfully, God won. I joined the Jesuits just after graduation and have had (many!) more years to continue seeking understanding through my Jesuit formation.

 

Dr. Knight: You were called by God to communicate about the issues of our God. What is the significance of your call to be a follower of St. Ignatius and Jesus Christ with this sense of your gift?

 

Father Michael: I did not expect to do work related to communications when I joined the Jesuits, but over time, I felt a particular call to communicate the joy of the Gospel. Jesuits often talk about discovering a “vocation within a vocation.” Jesuits have been involved in communications and the engagement of culture since our founding. More recently, some of us have tried to be active online and communicate the Good News in a way that is accessible to people today. I was previously the editor of The Jesuit Post, and I post a short video and reflection each week. I am writing my doctoral dissertation on the use of new media for pre-evangelization.

 

Dr. Knight: You spent formation finding out your abilities and gifts through discernment.  How was your discernment helpful to you personally?

 

Father Michael: My first assignment after ordination was working with young people who were discerning how God was calling them. I have met so many people who are looking for what to do with their lives. I know what it’s like. St. Ignatius was a master of discernment, and his insights have helped me ever since I encountered Ignatian spirituality in college.

 

I have experienced freedom in saying “no” to many things in order to say “YES” to the particular path God was calling me to. Wanting others to experience such joy led me to write The Freedom of Missing Out.

  

Dr. Knight: Do you think/feel that your life is somewhat a mosaic of your different gifts?

 

Father Michael: “Mosaic” is a great word to describe it. It may take some time to discover how the various “pieces” of our lives fit together, but they can create something beautiful. I notice now how the building blocks for my vocation were there from an early age, though it took me some time to see the cohesive image. I think it often works that way.

 

Dr. Knight: What are some of the joys you’ve experienced in this often chaotic and complicated society?

 

Father Michael: There is no shortage of troubling trends in our world today, but there is also so much good – if we have the eyes to see.


I spend a lot of time in the online “trenches.” Anyone can see that there is much on the internet that is not exactly good and true and beautiful, but I also see conversations of depth that are taking place. People are looking for more. Some are spending hours at a time listening to podcasts and watching videos that can be nourishing to the soul.

I also live in Rome and get to see the universal Church up close. Living abroad makes me both grateful for my roots and able to see how we can learn much from other places. The chaos and the complication are real, but they are not the whole story.

 

Fr. Michael Rossmann, SJ is a Jesuit priest and doctoral student at the Gregorian University in Rome. He is a native of Iowa and a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Loyola University Chicago, and Boston College. He was ordained a priest in 2017.


Fr. Rossmann is the author of The Freedom of Missing Out. He previously served as the editor-in-chief of The Jesuit Post. In 2017, he started the "One-Minute Homily," a weekly video reflection. Since then, he has continued to produce short-but-substantive videos for social media.


Follow him at amdg.substack.com.


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