Bill McCormick, SJ
Province: USA Central and Southern
Hometown: Raymondville, Texas
Highlights of Jesuit Formation:
- Lived at L’Arche Mobile as a novice, where he learned a great deal about community and discipleship.
- Covered the 2018 Synod in Rome with The Jesuit Post and America magazine.
- During theology studies, led a program to form laypeople in his parish to lead 19th Annotation retreats.
Will serve as mission and identity officer at St. John’s College in Belize City, Belize, and as priest at a few parishes in Belize City.
Bachelor’s degree, political science, University of Chicago; Master’s degree and Ph.D., political science, University of Texas at Austin; Master’s degree, philosophy, Fordham University; Master of Divinity, Regis College, University of Toronto
Bill McCormick was born in south Texas, where his faith was nourished by the profound Catholicism of the border region. While he heard the call to the priesthood from a young age, it was only after meeting Jesuits that he recognized in them the form of priesthood to which he felt called. In college Bill was introduced to a heady, cerebral faith that cultivated his intellect, and in Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest, he was introduced to an earthier, more affective faith that oriented him toward service. Life in the Society has ever since been a synthesis of those strands of the faith. The novitiate took him to Guatemala, Denver, Kansas City, Nicaragua, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Mobile, Alabama, among other places, and making the Spiritual Exercises in Grand Coteau, Louisiana, was undoubtedly the most important part of those two years.
Bill completed first studies in philosophy at Ciszek Hall at Fordham University, where he fell in love with the Bronx and its people. Regency was one of the greatest gifts of his formation, during which he taught political science and philosophy at Saint Louis University and became a contributing editor for America magazine. Theology was at Regis College at the University of Toronto, the highlight of which was serving as deacon at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish.
What are three words a family member or fellow Jesuit would use to describe you? (Ask someone.) Do you agree with his or her selections?
Intelligent, humorous, faithful.
I asked a few people this question and got impressively consistent answers. While I was flattered by the first two adjectives, I was surprised that “faithful” and its synonyms kept coming up. This word made me grateful, however, for it is certainly a goal of mine to be faithful, and in the broadest sense of the word: faithful to prayer, to my responsibilities, and, above all, to God and his people through my vows. I have slowly come to see that trustworthiness begins in the little things. Every time I rinse a bowl before putting it in the dishwasher or take my shoes off coming in the house from the snow, I am making a tiny offering of obedience to God.
What’s one interesting fact about yourself not everyone would know?
I love animals. I wanted to be a rancher and veterinarian for most of my childhood, and I still love animals and enjoy studying their biology, behavior and husbandry. My grandfather bred bird dogs, so spaniels and setters have a special place in my heart. In Toronto people are reluctant to talk to strangers, but that doesn’t keep me from asking people to pet their dogs. If you have a Brittany spaniel, we are going to talk!
I would have made a lousy Franciscan, but animals remind me that God created everything good and that humans have a responsibility to steward that creation with love and intelligence. And if plants and animals deserve such care, how much more do other human beings who have been discarded by modernity?
What do you love about the Society of Jesus?
I love that the Society of Jesus is Catholic. We live out our institute as a pathway to God, and we hope by that path to help others find their path. That puts us at the heart of the church, the sacraments, the liturgy, the corporal works of mercy, all the mysterious ways that God draws in his people. This is something some of our biggest fans and critics need to be reminded of from time to time! I love surprising people who come to us with ideological agendas of all stripes with the most obvious fact about us: We are men of Christ.
The Society has always had a universal vision for its mission, and this speaks to the catholicity of the faith. That universality would make no sense without Christ, who unites all things to the Father. It is he whom we seek to serve. This grace is a call: The Society ought to reach all peoples because our faith is in the Lord of all peoples. I love this dimension of the Society, the Society that bears the most Holy Name of Jesus.
Imagine you could travel back in time and meet yourself the first day you entered the Society of Jesus. What’s one piece of advice you’d give to yourself?
Trust God. He has set you on a path, and he wants you to journey down it. He has put you among his people, and he wants you to journey with them. He has given you the example of many saints, living and dead, and has given you the grace of the sacraments to follow them. Yes, discern what path he wants for you. But, just as importantly, persevere in that path.
God isn’t playing hide-and-seek with you. Don’t let the fear of stepping out into the Spirit lead you to rationalize elaborate and decadent processes of discernment. God loves you, God wants you close to him. He does not make his will utterly mysterious, at least not all of the time! God has given you many gifts, and he wants you to use them for and with his people. So get to work!