Matthew L.W.T. Yim, SJ
Highlights of Jesuit Formation:
- Spent his first Christmas as a Jesuit novice working as a chaplain in a hospital run by the Daughters of Charity.
- Taught a philosophy course at Gonzaga University and met wonderful students and colleagues.
- Designed and reached a wide array of people through a series of online retreats while at the Ignatian Spiritual Life Center at St. Agnes Parish in San Francisco.
Will serve as the parochial vicar at St. Ignatius Loyola Parish in Sacramento.
Matt Yim, SJ, was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. He is the son of Judge Patrick and Mrs. Santa Marie Yim and the youngest of three siblings. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature and East Asian studies, with a concentration in Chinese language and literature from Oberlin College. Following his college graduation, he lived and worked in Taigu, Shanxi Province, China, teaching English as a second language to undergraduates and graduate students at the Shanxi Agricultural University. Following his years in China, Matthew returned to the United States and while working, earned a master’s degree in library and information sciences. During this time, he felt a call to religious life and, with his spiritual director, Fr. Russ Roide, SJ, discerned that call was to the Society of Jesus. As a Jesuit, he has worked in hospitals, prisons, primary school and high school libraries, as a lecturer at Gonzaga University, and in various capacities at the parish level. Matt will receive his Master of Divinity from the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University. He has served as a deacon at St. Ignatius Loyola Parish in Sacramento, California.
Bachelor’s degree, English literature and East Asian studies, Oberlin College; Master of Library and Information Science, University of Hawaii, Manoa; Master’s degree, philosophy, Fordham University
What is your favorite book, movie, music or TV show you’ve encountered since entering the Society? What did this movie/book/music/TV show teach you about yourself?
The one book that I consistently share with other Jesuits, colleagues and parishioners has been Dennis Linn, Sheila Linn and Matthew Linn’s “Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life.” I was first introduced to this book by my novice master, Fr. Mike Weiler, S.J., and it is still the best book about the Ignatian Examen that I have found. There is a deep profundity in its simplicity that is able to engage folks at various ages and from different backgrounds. I think this book and how it is used tells me something about the outward nature of my ministry as a Jesuit. It also helps me to think of practical ways by which I can cultivate the current Apostolic Preferences and share the gift of Ignatian prayer with other people in a way that doesn’t require them to know a special jargon. It helps me to remember that when I am planning retreats or prayer sessions to be as inclusive as possible.
Who’s your favorite saint, and why?
My favorite saint is Blaise of Sebaste, patron saint of those afflicted with throat troubles. He is my favorite for obvious reasons because the chronic illness I have affects my esophagus and my ability to eat solid food. But I also read “The Golden Legend” when I was a student at Oberlin College, and the stories of his life were marvelous. It is said that he got a wolf to return a pig that it had stolen from a poor woman, uneaten and unharmed. He also saved a child who was choking on a fishbone by praying over him. The feast of St. Blaise is also one of the few feasts in the Roman Church where there is a special blessing.
What was one particularly meaningful experience you had during your formation, and why was it meaningful to you?
When I entered the novitiate, the prospect of ordination seemed both far away and also secondary to my growing formation as a Jesuit. Explaining that to family and friends when I would go back to Hawaii was always challenging because it doesn’t match their understanding of what religious life is. After ordination as a deacon, I was lucky enough to return to the parish I grew up in to proclaim the Gospel and to preach in front of people who have known me for decades. It was an experience filled with much emotion, gratitude, humility and hope. To be able to serve the people of God through ministry is all of those things and more. It isn’t that I didn’t know this day was coming on an intellectual level, but it is another thing to understand it at the level of that felt knowledge that Ignatius describes for us in the Exercises. I think my Jesuit vocation has allowed me to better understand that everything is a gift from the Lord and that these gifts are not just for us but are meant to be shared with others for God’s greater glory.
How has your spirituality changed since entering the Society?
I think my prayer life has changed dramatically over the years since I entered. At first it was very regimented and structured according to the rules set forth in the Spiritual Exercises: preparation, asking of graces, composition of place, colloquy. This served me well in my earlier days. However, when I began studies and into regency, I realized that this had become overly regimented, and I moved to a more organic understanding of my time in prayer with the Lord. This has further evolved. The trappings and accretions have sloughed off (so to speak) until I am now left in the presence of a God who I know loves me and accepts me for who I am. Being able to sit in the presence of God in prayer, often in companionable silence, is one of the many blessings I have been given.