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Call to Order

By France Griggs Sloat

Eric Sundrup started thinking about his career when he was just a freshman. It was an eye-opening experience. “I’ve been through three years of discernment,” he says. Where it led him is to a place where fewer and fewer have been treading—the Society of Jesus. Following graduation in May, the 22-year-old Sundrup applied to the Jesuit order and was accepted. Ahead of him lie 12 years of preparation, beginning with two years at the novitiate in Detroit, where he will take his first priestly vows, followed by 10 years living and working as a Jesuit while studying theology and philosophy at the master’s level. At that point, he’ll be ready for ordination. “What I’ve learned from the Jesuits—their charisma, the way they act, the way they see their lives and the world—they struck me as people I really want to be like,” he says. “The more I thought about it, the more it fit, and I decided to apply.” After a steady 40-year decline in the number of entrants to the order, Sundrup is actually part of a tiny trend reversal that began last fall with about 50 young men entering the society—compared to about 500 a year in the 1960s. Sundrup is the second Xavier student to enter the order in three years, joining 1978 gradate Cyril Whitaker who entered in 1999, and is unwavering in his decision. He says it took him several years to realize becoming a Jesuit was his calling, though. “Seeing God in all things just ties right into my life,” he says.

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