Celebrating Jesuit Brothers
Sullivan McCormick, SJ
Highlights from Jesuit life:
- My pilgrimage experience from Kansas City to Philadelphia: Specifically, my first leg of the journey in Akron, Ohio, where I was taken care of by Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and stayed at a homeless shelter, Haven of Rest.
- Working with the mock trial team at Arrupe High School in Denver, a Cristo Rey school
- Helping out in campus ministry at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, and accompanying students in the men and women’s sodality
Current Ministry: I am currently missioned to Saint Louis University for first studies. I am pursuing a master’s in philosophy.
Sullivan McCormick, SJ, was born and raised north of Dallas, Texas, by his two parents, Michael and Kimberly, alongside three brothers and one sister. He met the Jesuits during high school at Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas. He was very involved in the policy debate team in high school and continued to debate at Boston College. He studied literature and philosophy while singing with LAG (liturgical arts group). After college, Sullivan volunteered with Alumni Service Corps (ASC) at Dallas Jesuit where he started to seriously discern entering the Jesuits and helped coach the debate team. He also worked for a year at a non-profit called the Dallas Urban Debate Alliance, which helped support debate teams in Dallas school districts. Once Sullivan entered the Jesuits, he did apostolic experiments in Kansas City, at Spring Hill College and at Arrupe High School in Denver, a Cristo Rey school.
Academic Degrees: Bachelor’s degree in English and philosophy from Boston College
What drew you to become a Jesuit? What drew you to become a brother?
I was initially drawn to the Jesuits because of my experience of Ignatian contemplation. After being guided in spiritual direction at Jesuit Dallas during my post-college volunteer year, I was praying with the Samaritan woman at the well. For the first time, I had a felt experience of God’s love. My heart was overcome with the love of God, and I then was fervently moved to share that love with all. Religious life became an invitation to drink from the eternal well and share the love of God. This led me to discernment retreats at Grand Coteau and a Jesuit retreat house in Dallas, the Montserrat Retreat House, where I continued to discern my decision to enter the Jesuits.
The call of Christ in prayer drew me to the brother vocation, specifically this call to accompany the people of God as a brother. My time in campus ministry at Spring Hill was a confirming experience for me when I realized how I desired to relate to people. I wanted to relate to people on their level, as a brother. I receive deep fulfillment from holding the stories of others and I see the brother as ideally someone ready to hold stories and engage in spiritual conversation. I have come to see the brother vocation as something that allows me to be a bridge from the laity to the church. By being a non-ordained religious or lay religious, I have one foot in consecrated religious life and one foot in the beautiful life of the laity.
Describe one moment in your ministry life that has impacted you.
My ministry experience in North St. Louis at St. Louis Catholic Academy has had a powerful influence on my vision of the brother vocation. One day I was invited by the first-grade girls in after school care to make fortune tellers at their arts and craft table. As I knelt down beside them at the table, I realized that this is how I wanted to serve. I wanted to serve on the same level as the people of God, on their level as a brother, side by side.
What is your favorite book, movie, music, or TV show you’ve encountered since entering the Society and why do you love it?
Favorite book since entering the Jesuits is “East of Eden” by John Steinbeck because of how it explores inter-generational family dynamics and our innate wiring for the love and approval of our parents.
Who is a spiritual hero of yours? Why?
A spiritual hero of mine is St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, SJ, because of how he models the art and importance of spiritual conversation, simplicity and finding Christ in our neighbors.
What’s one interesting fact about yourself not everyone would know?
I was a lead actor named Kevin in a children’s Christmas film, “Barney’s Christmas Star,” 2002.
Describe the life of a Jesuit brother. One catch: You must use only six words.
To embrace relationships as a brother.
What does the spirituality of a brother mean to you? How have you lived it out?
The spirituality of a brother means that I find God and help people see God through the ways I interact with the people of God as brother. In other words, this spirituality is relational and one where I ultimately model Jesus the brother. This is lived out through spiritual conversation, caring for my Jesuit companions in community, and my own personal relationship in prayer and active life with Jesus the brother.
What does the “magis” mean to you? How do you live it out?
The magis directs me to embrace what will best glorify God. I live it out through the practice of discernment and learning from Jesuits who model the magis in their ministry and day-to-day lives.