Roads Taken on my Faith Journey
I was born and raised on a small 25 acre poultry ranch, ten miles east of the Pacific Ocean, CA, in March, 1934. I was 3rd of seven, five boys and two girls. My father ran a law firm in town. All of us attended St. Vincent de Paul elementary and high school. Sometime, late in grade school, I asked the family to say an evening rosary following a radio program called the Rosary Hour. We did this on Friday evenings for a few years. For two or three summers, my father enrolled me in weekend, silent retreats. Through high school I made annual July weekend retreats. As a senior I asked my father whether I should enter the diocesan seminary. He said I should attend U.S.F., his alma mater. So after high school graduation in 1952, I went to San Francisco to board for two years at U.S.F. It is there I got to know the Jesuits. I joined the Society in 1954.
Our class numbered thirty-four Novices, mostly graduates of Jesuit high schools. Our introduction to Jesuit Spirituality and the life of the three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience was assisted by Fr. James Healy, S.J., the Novice Master. He led us with meditations through the one month of Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola.
I would summarize the spirituality of my early years of Jesuit formation as fulfillment of our potential as human beings, a Christian humanism.
In Spokane, WA, we studied many schools of philosophy, and some great science courses. The next leg of our journey took us to teach, mostly at Jesuit high schools. I was assigned to teach Freshman Latin and Sophomore English at Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, CA. I arrived there still retyping my M.A. thesis, “Free Choice According to St. Thomas Aquinas.” My spirituality gained a huge dose of responsibility during those teaching years, something I was most grateful for and never lost. In the late summer of 1964 I moved to Alma College, where we studied Theology for four years. We were ordained to the deaconate followed by the priesthood in 1967.
Vatican Council II had begun in 1962 and the theological faculty was catching up with the new directions set by the 16 conciliar documents. What was most interesting to me was the study of sacred scripture which besides the canonical text, required knowledge of the original language, the variety of literary forms, and the history behind the text. I composed a paper on the hymn of Philippians, 2:5-11 which eventually became part of my book, Self-Emptying of Christ and the Christian, Three Essays on Kenosis. That hymn captures my spirituality for those years, a self-emptying for the filling by God’s Holy Spirit after the example of Jesus Christ.
In the spring of 1968 I traveled to Europe to study German and complete my tertianship, the third year of spiritual study. At the end of tertianship, I returned to New York to begin study for the Ph.D. in theology at Fordham University. The second year when no room was available in the Jesuit residence I rented an apartment on Marion Avenue, a few blocks west of Fordham University. I did weekend service at a parish in Babylon, Long Island.
With the guidance of the assistant NY Provincial, I decided to leave the Society of Jesus to marry Anne Marie Liston. I found a job at Dominican College in Blauvelt, NY with an $8,000.00 salary. It helped with the rental of an apartment and the purchase of a used Volkswagen bug. Raising two children, Mark (1971) and Kristin (1973) changed my Christ gestalt from a community to a family. Fortunately Anne Marie, born in Ireland, had experience of religious life in the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary. That gave us common ground about spirituality and the rules of community living.
I taught from 1971 to 2007 at Dominican College. Courses included both OT & NT, Making Myths & Cults (ancient and modern), World Religions, Medieval texts called “Religion & Human Experience,” and courses in Business Ethics, Bioethics, and Social Ethics, plus many more as times and curriculum needed. I received three NEH summer seminar grants to work on Pagan and Christian in the Age of Anxiety at Princeton University (1979), on Medieval Philosophy at Columbia and Yeshiva University (1984), and on Religion in Ancient Israel at the University of Arizona (1995). These grants kept me mentally active with interesting research. My faith journey included study of the faith journeys of many others. I have been active in the College Theology Society until recently.
Besides teaching I coached young people in the neighborhood: soccer, baseball, and HS track. I served as Faculty Athletic Representative for our Division II NCAA Dominican College teams. I have served as a trustee for a Bernard Lonergan fund. I have been a lector as St. Catharine’s parish for close to forty years. I think the spirituality that guides my faith journey these days, with five grandchildren, is the spirit of giving, a spirit of service for the community. We pass on the best we have to the next generation.
In summary my spirituality has always been one of fulfillment of our potential as human beings – the spirituality Christian humanism – which involves self-emptying, giving, and service to others. It is a spirituality that appeals to many, religious and lay.
John Lounibos, firstname.lastname@example.org