By José Sánchez
On August 12th at St. Kevin Church in Montreal, Justin Sauro, SJ, and Nader Nasralla, SJ, pronounced their First Vows, marking a significant step in their journey with the Society of Jesus. Fr. Erik Oland, the Provincial of the Jesuits of Canada, delivered a homily that underscored the importance of experiencing God’s love as a foundation for serving others.
“The vows you pronounce today are an anchor and a benchmark on the journey,” Fr. Oland began. “They are fundamentally about living a radical availability for mission.” Drawing inspiration from the day’s readings, he added, “I have chosen to highlight the idea of wearing a banner on one’s forehead that says ‘I love God and God loves me’; come join the party.”
Fr. Oland emphasized the transformative power of Ignatian Spirituality and the Spiritual Exercises. “We are seen and so we see,” he reflected. Quoting Pope Francis, he spoke of the empowering gaze of Jesus, which “makes you feel that He loves you,” leading individuals to share the love they’ve received. “In essence being seen by God is the same thing as being loved and believe me when someone is truly loved everyone else benefits from the positive energy and vitality that envelops the individual.”
Drawing inspiration from the day’s readings, he added, “I have chosen to highlight the idea of wearing a banner on one’s forehead that says ‘I love God and God loves me’; come join the party.”
Inner Journey and Outer Journey
Fr. Oland also touched upon the challenges of understanding one’s relationship with God, urging individuals to recognize their place in the larger scheme of things and not be swayed by other influences, “the importance of discerning what comes from the ‘good spirit’ and what arises from ‘the enemy of our human nature’.”
Reflecting on the experiences of Justin and Nader, he said, “I hope all of this makes sense, especially for Justin and Nader, after their two-year immersion in the Jesuit novitiate experience.” He highlighted their inner path and their hands-on community work, including outreach in prisons and with inner-city Indigenous children. “These ‘outer’ experiences are designed to embody the ‘inner’ experience of long hours of prayer and discernment, as well as the teachings of the Society of Jesus. All of this is designed to give a strong foundation of spiritual and personal self-knowledge to guide and support one in his journey in the Society and in their participation in its mission, local and global.”
In his concluding remarks, Fr. Oland offered words of encouragement, “Justin and Nader, the next steps of your formation are about to begin. I hope and pray that your journey so far has equipped you to continue to grow and serve.”
With this ceremony, Justin and Nader have not only affirmed their personal commitment but have also signaled their dedication to a broader mission of service to others.