When most young men completing Aerospace Engineering degrees think about job prospects following graduation, they might think of working at NASA or a prestigious engineering firm, few think of joining a religious order. But this is precisely what Jesuit scholastic Erik Sorensen did.
A strong student in math and science, Sorensen knew he wanted to become an engineer but thought the idea of working for an engineering firm also meant something would be missing in his life. He was also not satisfied with being the occasional volunteer and felt he was being asked to do more with his life. He says he began to hear God’s call and realized that the desire was not his own, but rather a gift and an invitation from God.
A chance meeting with a Jesuit who was studying engineering also helped in his eventual decision as it showed him that he could in fact be a priest and an engineer.
“After I met this Jesuit, something clicked,” says Sorensen. “I could see that the idea of being a priest did not have to be completely separate from the engineering that I loved.”
It also helped that one of the Jesuits Sorensen met through the Catholic chaplaincy program at Carleton University in Ottawa was a very down-to-earth Jesuit who related well to students.
Erik on the day of his First Vows.
Originally from Red Deer, Alberta, Sorensen grew up in a family that encouraged involvement in some kind of parish ministry. In his youth, he was an altar server, while one sister sang in the choir and the sister other helped with the children’s liturgy. His family was very supportive in his decision to join the Jesuits. Upon hearing the news, his grandmother remarked, “Just the other day I was telling someone that I thought you were going to be a priest.”
Erik assisting at L'Arche, a home for those with intellectual disabilities.
Many of Sorensen’s friends did not understand his decision to become a Jesuit until he simply said it was his desire to dedicate his life to serving others. “I am responding to a deep internal desire of serving others and the (Jesuit) vows are my way of expressing my gratitude to God for his overwhelming gifts in my life.”
Hiking on the Camino.
Still there are practical adjustments to be made when joining a religious order. It’s not simply living with fellow roommates who have separate lives. Sorensen says it is much more intense, in a good way, as his fellow Jesuits provide support.
“I am responding to a deep internal desire of serving others and the (Jesuit) vows are my way of expressing my gratitude to God for his overwhelming gifts in my life.”
“Being able to come home and share my struggles and joys with my fellow Jesuits has been central to my life as a Jesuit,” says Sorensen. “We are all in this together.”
Sorensen also points out that that family extends to the Province’s donors and for their generosity he is especially thankful. “Our formation, which is such an integral part of what it means to be a Jesuit, is impossible without the generosity of our donors.”