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Meehan professes final vows

By Frank Flegel

05/04/2016

REGINA — It took about 15 years, but Dr. John Meehan, SJ, the president of Campion College at the University of Regina, is now a full member of the Jesuit community. He professed his final vows April 17 in the Campion College chapel in the presence of his parents, a brother and sister, along with more than 200 friends, colleagues and associates.

Meehan has developed a close association with the First Nations community and it was celebrated with a smudging ceremony by Elder Robert Bellegarde that began the service, a special Cree prayer by May Desnomie, and an honour song performed by University of Regina student Lee Prosper. It was an ecumenical event as well, with representatives of other Christian faiths in the congregation and the Psalm response read and chanted by Rabbi Jeremey Parnes of Beth Jacob Synagogue. Parnes read in Hebrew, then chanted a response and prompted the congregation, who joined in.

Meehan knelt before the eucharist, held high by Rev. Sami Helewa, local Jesuit superior, just prior to communion being distributed. It’s a relatively simple profession that includes the traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. It also contains a statement of special care for the instruction of children “according to the manner of living contained in the apostolic letters of the Society of Jesus and its Constitutions.” The last line contains a promise of “special obedience to the Sovereign Pontiff in regard to the missions according to the same apostolic letters and Constitutions.” Meehan expressed five “simple” promises privately after mass with Helewa (and in the presence of God, said Meehan to the PM), mostly about internal Jesuit expectations.

The mass was concelebrated by Helewa, Meehan and Rev. Frank Obrigewitsch, SJ, former local superior and former Campion dean.

In his homily, Helewa said that a “Jesuit is a sinner called by God to be a companion of Jesus Christ.” It is a journey of faith to be called by God, said Helewa. “When Jesus is calling no power on earth can stop it.”

Meehan, of course, is already a priest and as such lives his life according to earlier vows. To understand what this final step means, an insert in the program written by James Martin, SJ, reprinted from the publication America, gives an explanation. It’s something like making tenure as a professor, or being accepted as a partner in a law firm, he explains. Usually after ordination and after the long training required of a Jesuit, he is invited into what is called tertianship. That includes making the full Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit community. Other Jesuits then fill out evaluations of the individual, which eventually end up in Rome where (you pray, writes Martin) the superior general approves full incorporation into the Jesuits.

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