Lake superior

Lake Lashaway in Massachusetts has a special significance for Jesuits. Three Australian scholastics recently spent valuable time by the lake with Provincial Fr Quyen Vu SJ.


By Joshua Choong SJ

Lake Lashaway, about an hour away from Boston, means different things to different people. If you’re a paddler, it’s a summer haven. If you’re a tourist looking for that Instagram-worthy shot, you have year-round options. If you’re a fisherman, the lake (some refer to it, despite its size, as a pond) has plenty of warm-water fish species, particularly the largemouth bass, yellow perch and chain pickerel.

But if you’re a Jesuit, there is a whole different context. The College of the Holy Cross Jesuit Community villa sits right on the lake shore.

A few weeks ago, along with my fellow Australian scholastics Isaac Demase SJ and Matthew Pinson SJ, I was looking forward to having the Provincial, Fr Quyen Vu SJ, visit us in Boston.

In preparation for our ordination to the presbyterate, we scholastics are studying theology at the graduate level at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, one of North America’s three Jesuit theology centres for the men in formation. I am in my third year of the Master of Divinity programme, while Isaac and Matthew are both in their second. In August, all three of us had returned to Boston from our summer programmes elsewhere to welcome Quyen and spend time with him. I’d been studying a biblical language in the US Pacific Northwest, Isaac was in Montreal for the Arrupe Experience, and Matthew was in Portugal for Magis and World Youth Day.

L-R: Joshua Choong SJ, Fr Quyen Vu SJ, Isaac Demase SJ and Matthew Pinson SJ at Faber Jesuit Community, Boston, U.S.A.

This was Quyen’s first trip back to Boston after completing a Master of Education at Boston College in 2011. He was delighted to catch up with Fr Michael Boughton SJ, whom he had lived with in community and who is now the Rector of the Faber Jesuit Community where Isaac, Matthew and I live. Quyen was grateful to Michael for the cura personalis he had shown to all three of us Australian scholastics. At the same time, Michael was appreciative of our contributions to community life, with all three of us serving as house coordinators this year.

All of us Australians spent three days away at the community villa house by the lake. Although the weather was wet and dreary, it did not dampen our spirits at all. We managed to attend Vespers at St Joseph’s Trappist Abbey, toured the College of the Holy Cross and marvelled at the intimate liturgical space of Mary Chapel and the interactive statues of Ignatius, Francis Xavier and Peter Faber on mission, and even enjoyed a meal at a lakeside restaurant nearby.

L-R: Isaac Demase SJ, Matthew Pinson SJ, Fr Quyen Vu SJ and Joshua Choong SJ.

The conversations, laughter and joy of the Eucharist together as we shared our reflections were the highlights of those days by the lake. One of the meals was especially elevated with a bottle of Inigo Cabernet Sauvignon from Sevenhill, a precious cargo that accompanied the Provincial. Alas, it was only one bottle, but every drop was treasured and appreciated. Nonetheless, Quyen edified and filled us in with the latest news regarding the Australian brothers and apostolates, uniting us with our home province.

Unlike our American counterparts who belong to large provinces, we Australian scholastics in Boston have been fortunate so far that it has been the Provincial who receives our annual account of conscience. This year is no different. It gave us the opportunity to speak to Quyen about our studies, consolations, desolations, struggles, health, family, desires, aspirations for the future, and for Quyen to encourage all of us in our vocation, sense of belonging and mission.

These annual conversations have always been consoling. Since the Provincial knows the strengths and weaknesses, talents and struggles of all the men under his direction and care because of the account of conscience, Isaac, Matthew and I all trust that the will of the Provincial, who represents Christ, is the will of God.

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