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Novitiate of the Euro-Mediterranean Province of the Society of Jesus
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Daniel Nørgaard

He was there in my weakness

I was born in 1980 in Denmark and raised in a broken family. I suffered from my father’s distance, which left me with a certain insecurity and a need for confirmation from others. Already as a 5 year old, I remember, I was attracted by the idea of becoming a priest. I saw a life spent for God and for others as a beautiful way. On the other hand, I didn’t see myself as holy enough for such a vocation. I considered other ways of life, but from the age of 14 my faith became more and more personal and alive, and the desire to give myself to the Lord grew. As a child and young man I lived with enthusiasm and involvement the activities of the parish and the diocese. The fear of speaking in public and the difficulty of expressing clear thoughts often made me doubt my suitability as a priest. After graduating from the Jesuit high school in Copenhagen, I left for Rome to learn Italian and to discern whether to become a priest. In 2000 I entered the Roman Seminary as a seminarian of the diocese of Copenhagen. I studied with the Jesuits at the Gregorian, and for several years I had a Jesuit as spiritual director. I was ordained priest in Copenhagen in 2007 where only 1% of the population is Catholic.

After the first three years of ministry I entered a deep crisis, because my way of spending myself on others left nothing to me. I suffered from stress and thought about leaving this path for a family life. I opted for a sabbatical year to find the right path again and with help from others I discovered a renewed desire to be a priest. I still had to learn how to live the ministry and my relationships in a better way, and a part of me remained restless and looking for the right place to be. But I really enjoyed seeing what my priesthood could do for other people.

I have performed various services with increasing responsibilities, given retreats with enthusiasm and offered spiritual direction, learned ways to make the Catholic Church more visible in a very secularized society. Contact with Christians from other churches has often enriched me, and I have seen how non-Catholic Christians can thirst for what the Catholic Church offers. In Denmark the Society of Jesus has been strengthened by young Polish Jesuits. After years of meeting with them I realized that what I want to do for the church in Denmark, I can do better as a member of the Society of Jesus.

Throughout my life I see the hand of God who has supported me and made my ministry fruitful in my weakness. It is so beautiful and liberating to discover that my work does not depend on my strength, but is His gift, and in this awareness I hope to grow. I now accept more easily to be on the way and I see my entrance into the Society of Jesus as a natural next step. And when I read “What is it to be a Jesuit? It is to know that one is a sinner, yet called to be a companion of Jesus as Ignatius was” (Decree 2 of the 32nd General Congregation), it makes me feel at the right place.

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