Filipino Jesuit Brother Jeffrey Pioquinto is the coordinator of the Jesuit Brothers Circle in Asia Pacific. He reflects on his vocation as a Jesuit brother and his ministry to the young through education.
I never really wanted to be a religious. I dreaded the weight of the vows for it carries a lifelong commitment to which I might not be able to be truly faithful. I loved being young, adventurous and free. At first, I even doubted myself being a Jesuit, not even a Jesuit priest but a Jesuit brother.
Being a Jesuit brother doesn’t strip you of your identity, talent and desire. It actually makes use of all that you have for the greater glory of God.
In college, I studied at a Jesuit university in the Philippines. I was the beadle of the class, which meant that I was responsible for checking student attendance and was the so called property custodian. Hence, part of my responsibilities was to bring broken chairs and tables to the university carpentry shop. There I met Brother Griffin, a Jesuit who gave himself faithfully to the mission of the Society and the university by being a carpenter. He became my friend and soon I realised that one can actually preach the Gospel without actually preaching it. His holiness, faithfulness and humility were contagious. I was edified.
That’s how my vocation as a Jesuit brother started. But it was not just about the edifying appeal of a religious brotherhood. My vocation was grounded in an encounter. An encounter with my God whom I wrestled with for so many years, ignoring His presence and negating His invitation. But that encounter was so strong and deep that it developed into a relationship. A relationship with my God who loves me so dearly more than my own love for Him. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son.” (Jn 3:16) Truly, the God I encountered and fell in love with is a God who can never be outdone in generosity and love. A God whom I encountered in the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius.
That encounter and relationship with my magnanimous God gave me the courage to say yes to being a Jesuit brother. The vows are no longer constricting and restricting but liberate me from my inordinate attachments, giving me more freedom to say “yes” to His invitation.
Although I do not have the interest in celebrating the Mass, it does not mean that the Eucharist is of no significance to me. The Eucharist is actually the centre of my vocation. That is where the encounter and relationship happen, and are sustained and nurtured. “And walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Eph 5:2)
Before going into Tertianship in Dublin, Ireland, I was the Assistant Headmaster and taught Information Technology at the Ateneo de Davao University. I love teaching about computers, anything about Star Wars and Naruto. I enjoy being with the young and nurturing them to be men and women for others. Being a Jesuit brother doesn’t strip you of your identity, talent and desire. It actually makes use of all that you have for the greater glory of God.
Now, I am missioned to Timor-Leste. At the Colégio Santo Inácio de Loiolá in Kasait, I teach English to grade 11 students and moderate the Pastoral Team. I am also in charge of vocation promotion and the director of 12 young and promising candidates in Casa Gonzaga, the Jesuit candidacy house.
Lately somebody asked me on Facebook what my mission in Timor is. I replied, “My mission in Timor-Leste as a Jesuit brother is wasting quality time with the young and bringing them closer to Christ.”