St John Francis Regis, S.J.

Priest (entered heaven on December 29th, 1640)

Dear Jack,

Well, it’s time to make a decision.  You can’t put it off any longer.  College is behind, career is ahead; you’re at a crossroads.  You have kept your faith intact until now, which in my opinion is a miracle, considering the path college culture has taken in recent years.  But now you will face more challenges, new ones.  Are you ready?  Have you made some solid decisions as to things you won’t compromise on in life?  You better make them now, because when you find yourself immersed in the fast-paced, glittery world of Wall Street in a few weeks, nobody will give you the time or leisure to reflect deeply before making decisions.

I suggest you go on a retreat SOON, before you have to show up for your first day at the office, and use it to WRITE DOWN your personal mission statement, your highest values, the things you won’t compromise on.  I also suggest you make today’s saint into your personal patron as you launch out into your professional life.

It’s not that John Francis Regis was a financial wizard, but he did have some other things in common with you.  He came from a well-to-do family, received a good education, was tall, athletic, good-looking, and extremely personable.

He felt called to serve God as a priest, however, not as a lay apostle, and he was received into the Jesuit novitiate when he was 18.  Throughout his years of formation he studied hard and worked at various apostolic responsibilities – teaching, caring for the sick and the poor, giving catechism… When he was finally ordained he was assigned to tend the plague-stricken patients of a hospital in Toulouse, which he did with great delicacy, energy, and joy.  But his preaching was so effective that his superiors decided to send him to the diocese of Montpellier, where he began ten years as a traveling preacher through northern France, single-handedly repairing the social and religious destruction wrought by the recently ended (and soon to begin again) religious wars.

Many of the educated classes disdained him for speaking in plain, homey terms, but he paid them no heed.  The poor flocked to him.  In the summers he would preach, teach, and serve them in the cities, involving the wealthy in his work as well.  In the winters, when the farmers had more time, he would travel from village to village.  He slept only three hours a night, and ate little more than apples and bread, but his energy, his dynamism, his devotion to the confessional, his supernatural eloquence, his active charity – in short, his whole Christian, apostolic being flourished all the same.

He had his share of problems too.  The lazy clergy of the zone resented his zeal and accused him repeatedly of various scandals.  The dissolute men of the cities launched another series of calumnies at him because of his work to rescue fallen women from the throes of prostitution.  But his bishop knew the treasure he had been given, and always came to his defense.

John Francis Regis died at the young age of 43, during Christmas week, from pneumonia, which he had contracted due to his unrelenting work to bring Christ to those most in need.

I imagine that the folks you’ll be dealing with in your new career will be a lot like the fallen-away Catholics and angry Huguenots of 17th-century France whom St John had to face – his too was a post-Christian society in some ways.  I hope that God will grant you the same focus and spiritual strength that he granted to St John.  That way you’ll build up a lasting portfolio that’s truly out of this world.

Your loving uncle,


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