Erik Sorensen, SJ
Hometown: Red Deer, Alberta
Highlights of Jesuit Formation:
- Participated in an 500-mile (800-kilometer) canoe pilgrimage in Canada that focused on reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
- Volunteered with a small team of Jesuits to provide emergency support at a Jesuit infirmary during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Helped to mentor the robotics team at Loyola High School in Montreal during regency.
Will pursue doctoral studies in liturgy and interreligious dialogue with Indigenous peoples.
Bachelor’s degree, aerospace engineering, Carleton University; Master of Theological Studies, Regis College, University of Toronto; Master of Divinity/Bachelor of Sacred Theology, Regis College, University of Toronto
Erik Sorensen, SJ, was born and raised in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. After graduating high school, Erik moved to Ottawa to pursue a degree in aerospace engineering at Carleton University. While completing his undergraduate degree, Erik met the Jesuits through the university chaplaincy. Working closely with the Jesuit chaplain and encountering a Jesuit who was also studying engineering ignited Erik’s discernment process. After completing his engineering degree, Erik entered the Jesuit novitiate in Montreal. As a Jesuit novice, Erik had the opportunity to serve in a L’Arche community, walk the Camino de Santiago and work at Mother Teresa Nativity School in Regina, Saskatchewan. After pronouncing his first vows, Erik moved to Toronto for the first studies program at Regis College.
During his first studies, Erik assisted with the planning and execution of the Canadian Canoe Pilgrimage in 2017. Erik did his regency at Loyola High School in Montreal, where he taught math and science and moderated the robotics team. After regency, Erik returned to Toronto to complete his Master of Divinity at Regis College. While studying theology, Erik served as the president of the Regis College student council and did weekend ministry at St. Peter’s Parish in Toronto. Erik then completed the Advanced Research Master in Theology and Religious Studies program at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, where he focused on liturgical theology. While studying, Erik served as a deacon at the International Community of St. Kwinten and the English University Parish in Leuven. Erik’s first Mass will be at Loyola High School, where he completed his regency. After ordination, Erik will be pursuing doctoral studies in the field of liturgical theology and interreligious dialogue with Indigenous peoples.
Who’s your favorite saint, and why?
I would have to say that St. Pierre Favre is my favorite saint. I have been really inspired by Favre’s tireless zeal and focus on serving the church at the frontiers, wherever the greatest need was. He had incredible compassion for those he was ministering to, usually through giving the Spiritual Exercises. During a time of significant upheaval in the church, Favre responded by helping individuals ground themselves in their relationship with Christ through the Exercises. His “Memoriale,” a spiritual journal, reveals his own interior struggles and uncertainties; for me, this makes his example all the more powerful. In spite of his own self-doubts and shortcomings, he continued to labor in the Lord’s vineyard. For me, he models simplicity and humility.
What is one hobby you’ve cultivated as a Jesuit, and why is it important to you?
As a Jesuit, I have continued to cultivate my martial arts hobby. I started training in martial arts when I was eight years old. I have had the privilege to train in and teach several different martial arts. For me, this hobby is important because it encourages a healthy balance of mind, body and spirit. It keeps me physically active and also helps me de-stress. Stepping into the dojo helps me to forget everything else and focus on the moment. Additionally, the community aspect of martial arts is really important to me. I have formed many lifelong friendships with people I have trained with over the years.
What do you love about the Society of Jesus?
I love that the Society of Jesus is committed to serving on the frontiers of the church. Through its wide variety of ministries, the Jesuits are constantly reaching out and building bridges. This commitment to being present on the frontiers has always been inspiring for me. I love having the opportunity to meet new Jesuits and learn about their ministry in whichever part of the world they might come from. The flexibility and diversity of these different ministries attracted me to the Society. One of the early Jesuits, Jerome Nadal, spoke about the Jesuits finding their home on the road. I think this is when the Society of Jesus is at its best: when it embodies the flexibility and availability that St. Ignatius desired for this religious order.
What was one particularly meaningful experience you had during your formation, and why was it meaningful to you?
During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, I had the opportunity to volunteer at our Jesuit infirmary and help care for our elderly Jesuits. Many of the Jesuits were infected with COVID, and everyone was confined to their rooms. I was very touched by the serene manner in which these elderly Jesuits accepted the reality of the situation and how they kept a joyful spirit in a challenging situation. It was really moving to be able to help serve these men who had dedicated their lives to serving others. Many of these elderly Jesuits had inspired me in my vocation, and I was grateful to be able to give back to them when they were in need. The group of Jesuits who had volunteered to serve at the infirmary formed a very tight-knit community that cared for each other and for our sick brothers. Being able to serve with these volunteers taught me a lot about availability and compassion.