Michael Rossmann, SJ, an Iowa native, joined the Jesuits in 2007 just after graduating from the University of Notre Dame. After studying abroad in East Africa during college, he now teaches at Loyola High School in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania - a dream assignment.
Michael enjoys a light-hearted moment with two of his students. In a recent Jesuit Post titled Fun! A Spiritual Manifesto, he suggests that "encounters with the holy should make us more human, more able to smile, more able to laugh until it hurts."
of Jesuit high schools probably remember jack-of-all-trades Jesuit
regents. “Regency” is the stage of Jesuit formation
in between philosophy and theology studies and is an opportunity for a
Jesuit-in-training to spend a few years working in some capacity, usually by
doing a million and one things at a Jesuit school.
many ways, my experience of regency is very typical. I teach four different subjects, coach
basketball, give retreats, and moderate several clubs at the Jesuit high school
where I work.
other ways, however, my experience of regency is quite distinctive. I'm teaching at Loyola, an extremely common
name for a Jesuit school, though this Loyola is in Dar es Salaam,
Jesuit provinces of the Midwest and the Jesuits of Eastern Africa have
“twinned” or partnered for the past few decades by sharing resources, men, and
best practices, and my own work continues this deepening relationship.
the names, faces, and backgrounds might be different, the same Jesuit identity
and shared experience unite my community members in this Jesuit province that
includes six different countries. I'm
just as often inspired by brother Jesuits here as I am back home.
experiences teaching at a high school here have also revealed how teenagers
around the world deal with many of the same issues; concerns about fitting in
are probably universal, for example.
my time here has also been filled with what I call my “Dorothy, we're not in
Kansas anymore” moments.
the middle of teaching my Catholic religion class, the call to prayer often
echoes from one of the neighborhood mosques.
A student confessed on a morality exam his addiction to eating octopus,
a popular street food here on the coast of the Indian Ocean. A Muslim co-worker was the first person to
send me a congratulatory text message on the new Jesuit pope.
students here demonstrate respect and eagerness to learn that may not be as evident
in many American schools, though I also have 500 students, which means 500
exams to grade at the end of each semester and 500 parents to meet at marathon
course, it's difficult to miss the important moments of my family and friends
while away and uncomfortable to deal with a climate and diseases that are
different from home, but I have also discovered a broader sense of home and
extremely common expression here in both Swahili and English is “we are together.” Rarely is the phrase followed by anything
else. It's not “we are together in order
to finish some business” but simply “we are together.” Being together is the purpose and not some
means to an end.
will eventually return to familiar comforts in the U.S. but am excited by the
deepening partnership between the Jesuits of the Midwest and of Eastern
Africa. We are together, and we are much
better for it.