By Autumn Jones (’10)
HE NEVER FORGOT THE QUESTION: “Lorenzo, we would like for you to think about becoming a Jesuit. What do you think about that?” But for Lorenzo Herman, the decision didn’t come overnight. At the time, he answered with a simple, “How is it possible for a non-Catholic to become a Jesuit?” In 2007, 14 years after this initial question, Herman would enter the Society of Jesus.
Herman was at Gonzaga in the spring of 2009 for his long experiment – an assignment all Jesuit novices undertake. He volunteered with University Ministry and was a part-time student.
In high school Herman participated in his first retreat, Kairos, through the invitation of the campus ministry coordinator. “It was my first intimate encounter with Jesus and it was the first time that I had cried as an adolescent with my peers,” he said. “My Kairos leader opened my eyes to new ways to pray. The following year I became a Kairos leader.” He jumped into other retreat programs and leadership positions with campus ministry. And he wasn’t Roman Catholic… yet.
“When I was a senior, the Jesuits invited me over to their home for dinner to discuss Jesuit vocations. I did not understand what vocation meant but I felt it was important since they asked me to come to their home,” he said. “Being the typical 18 year old, I thought something was wrong with me if they asked me to consider being celibate for the rest of my life.” The following year, while studying at Spring Hill College, Herman became Catholic.
Years later, he still couldn’t get the question out of his mind. “I was not sure if I was fantasizing about being a Jesuit to escape the world or if it was truly an invitation from God,” he said. He began meeting with a spiritual director and discerned the question for nearly six years. In the interim, he lived and worked in the Pacific Northwest, California, Europe and Southwest Asia.
When he finally applied, consolation filled his heart. “I did not feel like I was giving up on something that I was so attached to. I knew at that moment that I would not look back on the decision and say I made a mistake,” he said. “It was truly a free act in good conscience.”
Upon completion of his two-year novitiate, Herman professed his First Vows before Fr. Provincial Patrick Lee, S.J., at St. Ignatius Parish in Portland. “The Society of Jesus is hard to describe in a few words. It is everything that I have imagined and never imagined. One cannot describe what a Jesuit is because the Society is truly diverse. We come in all shapes, colors, sizes, and hairstyles,” he said. “The one thing that we all share is the love of the crucified Christ who changed the world.”
“I believe God has brought me here. Every day I recommit myself to the vows that I have taken,” he said. “We ask God to take everything from us to do God’s will and only ask for God’s love and grace. I have a lot of work to do. Pray for me.”