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Cannonball Moments

Share Your Cannonball Moment

On May 20, 1521, St. Ignatius was seriously injured when a cannonball shattered his legs. This cannonball moment marks the beginning of Ignatius’ spiritual journey of conversion. It opened up a new dream for Ignatius; one he had not thought of earlier. He started seeing the world and all things new with the eyes of the Divine. The experience of a shocking event which triggers a form of conversion, a desire to change one’s life fundamentally and start over or change course, a discovery of a new dream, a way of seeing things in a new in light, is not an experience that is limited to the 16th century, but rather an experience everyone can have.

Have you had a cannonball experience you can share with the Loyola community?

Take a moment to reflect on an experience that changed the course of your life, shifted your perspective and/or moved you to action.  Please submit a 4-6 sentence summary of your story.

"One day when I was in high school, my dad and I were looking at possible occupations. My dad was an OB/GYN in a country in Central America. I asked him, daddy how much do you make? He answered: Living a life of caring for the sick and serving the community is costly. Medicine is a career of giving; sometimes I would do the night shift at the clinic for no pay or I would only charge 5 dollars for an x-ray. He also mentioned that later on in his career he made more money, but with a lot of personal sacrifice. This year both of my parents got COVID and I went to my country to take care of them. My mother got better, but my father died of lung complications. While they were sick, we got many phone calls asking for my dad and mom. One woman said she was my dad's third patient. When I walked around the town, people would stop me to tell me how my dad had delivered their children, others their sister's children and so on. When we had the service for my father's death, it was broadcasted by ZOOM to the community. A radio station shared the link for days before the ceremony. People would line up outside the church to give their condolences and later on to hear the mass. An older man held my dad's urn while my sister carried it and began to cry until the urn was covered in tears. Now I know how much living a life of caring pays: it pays love, it pays gratitude, it pays hope and it pays life itself." -Staff Member

"It was my senior year of undergrad and I was performing and I was competing in an organ performance competition. I played my best, but my competitor played better. I had to sit on stage while he played the celebratory performance. I still remember the music he played during that concert and I was sitting there thinking: I lost but I still want music to be my life's work. That was the day I decided to be all in and the competitor is even a friend to this date!" -Steven Betancourt, Staff Member

"My cannonball moment was definitely travelling by myself the first time in my life to another country in another continent. This experience really opened me to know that I CAN go out into the world by myself and that at the age of thirteen, I actually didn't need to depend on as many people as I had thought before. I had to figure things out on my own in a foreign language that I did not understand. Furthermore, it taught me that despite all the bad I hear in the news about the world, the vast majority of people have genuinely good intentions, and are good people no matter their nationality." -Undergraduate Student

"In May, 2010, my pastor, Fr. Carlson, at St. Edward Church on the NW side of Chicago, while hearing my confession, said that I had an addiction with my eyes and desires on the internet and television, so I made a pledge to God that with his help and grace, I would stop carrying out on my problem as best I could. So I did my part of the bargain and God has done his part with graces and encouragement, and I feel that I am a better and more disciplined and happier and holier man since then. Thank you, Lord, and Mary!" -Marty Lane, Alumni

"In 2010, I was told that I had a rare and uncurable form of cancer with an abysmal 5-year survival rate. While I was afraid of getting sick and becoming a burden, I realized that I didn't fear death because I felt that I had lived a complete life. Only one regret bothered me; I regretted that I never had children. Five weeks later, I learned that the diagnosis was false and that I did not have cancer. So, I set out to become a mom. After exploring dozens of options for middle-aged single women, I decided to become a foster parent. Seven years to the day after my cancer diagnosis, I became a foster parent and am on-track to legally adopt my son, Elijah, early next year." -Jennifer Clark, Staff Member

"As a college student, I had a sense that I wanted to work in education though I was not sure how or in what capacity. I encountered significant challenge as a student and had a Jesuit professor, Fr. Michael Buckley, S.J. that listened to me, supported me, and empowered me to advocate for myself. It was through his influence in my life that I realized I wanted to dedicate my career to Jesuit education. The rest is history!" -Staff Member

"I was certain that I was going to be a priest. Coming from an Irish Catholic family of seven kids I knew I was the one son to be called to the priesthood. I spent four years in a college seminary spending my summers ministering in the inner city of Chicago. During my senior year I was cast in a play as the male lead in a romantic comedy. I did not know at the time that the woman lead would become my wife. As we prepared to go on for the opening night, I and co-lead gave each other a kiss for good luck behind the curtain. This moment overwhelmed my senses and shifted my future calling. I would minister but as a married individual." -Chris Murphy, Staff Member

"My cannonball moment has to be my divorce. I tried my very best to keep my family however God was gracing me with new opportunities. Although it was very difficult, praying and seeking God's grace made me aware I was not alone. After walking through darkness my relationship with our Lord only grew stronger. I honestly believe I have been a better mother, friend and daughter with our Lord." -Staff Member

"My cannonball moment was receiving a cancer diagnosis. It made me realize how my faith helped me with what was really important in my life, that is my family and my health. Nothing else mattered anymore." -Staff Member

"Once ultra-focused on life goals, I’ve learned to slow down and enjoy life’s journey. I’ve learned to pay more attention to people and places I encounter day to day in the moment. I am learning that the better things in life sometimes come as interruptions to my plans. I am learning that living with Parkinson’s inspires my faith and invites gratitude for loving, caring people in life; sharpens my empathy towards others who face challenges in life too; encourages patience to savor life’s joys; and find new ways to play favorite activities. Maybe living with Parkinson’s isn’t such a bad thing after all." -Mike DeBartolo, Staff Member

"Leaving a friend's apartment building late one fall night, I encountered Charlie, one of the most visible homeless people in town. Not expecting to see anyone as I opened the inner-vestibule door, I was startled and so was Charlie. I can still see him shuffle his body on the stairs as he drew out of a light sleep. I said hello, and Charlie's apology for his presence turned into a smile and comment about the weather. With my hand on the outer door and with my mind on home, he then quickly spoke of the coming winter. I took my hand off the door to listen for just a minute; an hour later, Charlie and I said goodnight. His breathless stream of war, love, and rejection from the past paralleled his present life of war against mental and physical illness, loneliness on the streets, and rejection from the community. In that hour, Charlie became a touchstone for my vocation of upholding the dignity of individuals and communities." -Staff Member

"A few months before graduating from college, I had committed to serving with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps at a Cristo Rey high school in Los Angeles but still felt unsure about going. I decided to continue interviewing for jobs just in case I changed my mind. One company where I applied for a summer internship decided they wanted to hire me as a full time employee as soon as I graduated, even though I hadn't applied to a full time position. When I told the hiring manager my dilemma about contemplating a year of postgrad service, he was shocked that I might not accept the job-- couldn't I just take the job offer and volunteer on the side? In that moment, I realized how strong my desire was to explore intentional living and working in Catholic Jesuit education, and ten years later I am still working in the field and have lifelong friends from my volunteer year!" -Julie DeMareo, MDiv, Staff Member

Have you had a cannonball experience you can share with the Loyola community?

Take a moment to reflect on an experience that changed the course of your life, shifted your perspective and/or moved you to action.  Please submit a 4-6 sentence summary of your story.

"One day when I was in high school, my dad and I were looking at possible occupations. My dad was an OB/GYN in a country in Central America. I asked him, daddy how much do you make? He answered: Living a life of caring for the sick and serving the community is costly. Medicine is a career of giving; sometimes I would do the night shift at the clinic for no pay or I would only charge 5 dollars for an x-ray. He also mentioned that later on in his career he made more money, but with a lot of personal sacrifice. This year both of my parents got COVID and I went to my country to take care of them. My mother got better, but my father died of lung complications. While they were sick, we got many phone calls asking for my dad and mom. One woman said she was my dad's third patient. When I walked around the town, people would stop me to tell me how my dad had delivered their children, others their sister's children and so on. When we had the service for my father's death, it was broadcasted by ZOOM to the community. A radio station shared the link for days before the ceremony. People would line up outside the church to give their condolences and later on to hear the mass. An older man held my dad's urn while my sister carried it and began to cry until the urn was covered in tears. Now I know how much living a life of caring pays: it pays love, it pays gratitude, it pays hope and it pays life itself." -Staff Member

"It was my senior year of undergrad and I was performing and I was competing in an organ performance competition. I played my best, but my competitor played better. I had to sit on stage while he played the celebratory performance. I still remember the music he played during that concert and I was sitting there thinking: I lost but I still want music to be my life's work. That was the day I decided to be all in and the competitor is even a friend to this date!" -Steven Betancourt, Staff Member

"My cannonball moment was definitely travelling by myself the first time in my life to another country in another continent. This experience really opened me to know that I CAN go out into the world by myself and that at the age of thirteen, I actually didn't need to depend on as many people as I had thought before. I had to figure things out on my own in a foreign language that I did not understand. Furthermore, it taught me that despite all the bad I hear in the news about the world, the vast majority of people have genuinely good intentions, and are good people no matter their nationality." -Undergraduate Student

"In May, 2010, my pastor, Fr. Carlson, at St. Edward Church on the NW side of Chicago, while hearing my confession, said that I had an addiction with my eyes and desires on the internet and television, so I made a pledge to God that with his help and grace, I would stop carrying out on my problem as best I could. So I did my part of the bargain and God has done his part with graces and encouragement, and I feel that I am a better and more disciplined and happier and holier man since then. Thank you, Lord, and Mary!" -Marty Lane, Alumni

"In 2010, I was told that I had a rare and uncurable form of cancer with an abysmal 5-year survival rate. While I was afraid of getting sick and becoming a burden, I realized that I didn't fear death because I felt that I had lived a complete life. Only one regret bothered me; I regretted that I never had children. Five weeks later, I learned that the diagnosis was false and that I did not have cancer. So, I set out to become a mom. After exploring dozens of options for middle-aged single women, I decided to become a foster parent. Seven years to the day after my cancer diagnosis, I became a foster parent and am on-track to legally adopt my son, Elijah, early next year." -Jennifer Clark, Staff Member

"As a college student, I had a sense that I wanted to work in education though I was not sure how or in what capacity. I encountered significant challenge as a student and had a Jesuit professor, Fr. Michael Buckley, S.J. that listened to me, supported me, and empowered me to advocate for myself. It was through his influence in my life that I realized I wanted to dedicate my career to Jesuit education. The rest is history!" -Staff Member

"I was certain that I was going to be a priest. Coming from an Irish Catholic family of seven kids I knew I was the one son to be called to the priesthood. I spent four years in a college seminary spending my summers ministering in the inner city of Chicago. During my senior year I was cast in a play as the male lead in a romantic comedy. I did not know at the time that the woman lead would become my wife. As we prepared to go on for the opening night, I and co-lead gave each other a kiss for good luck behind the curtain. This moment overwhelmed my senses and shifted my future calling. I would minister but as a married individual." -Chris Murphy, Staff Member

"My cannonball moment has to be my divorce. I tried my very best to keep my family however God was gracing me with new opportunities. Although it was very difficult, praying and seeking God's grace made me aware I was not alone. After walking through darkness my relationship with our Lord only grew stronger. I honestly believe I have been a better mother, friend and daughter with our Lord." -Staff Member

"My cannonball moment was receiving a cancer diagnosis. It made me realize how my faith helped me with what was really important in my life, that is my family and my health. Nothing else mattered anymore." -Staff Member

"Once ultra-focused on life goals, I’ve learned to slow down and enjoy life’s journey. I’ve learned to pay more attention to people and places I encounter day to day in the moment. I am learning that the better things in life sometimes come as interruptions to my plans. I am learning that living with Parkinson’s inspires my faith and invites gratitude for loving, caring people in life; sharpens my empathy towards others who face challenges in life too; encourages patience to savor life’s joys; and find new ways to play favorite activities. Maybe living with Parkinson’s isn’t such a bad thing after all." -Mike DeBartolo, Staff Member

"Leaving a friend's apartment building late one fall night, I encountered Charlie, one of the most visible homeless people in town. Not expecting to see anyone as I opened the inner-vestibule door, I was startled and so was Charlie. I can still see him shuffle his body on the stairs as he drew out of a light sleep. I said hello, and Charlie's apology for his presence turned into a smile and comment about the weather. With my hand on the outer door and with my mind on home, he then quickly spoke of the coming winter. I took my hand off the door to listen for just a minute; an hour later, Charlie and I said goodnight. His breathless stream of war, love, and rejection from the past paralleled his present life of war against mental and physical illness, loneliness on the streets, and rejection from the community. In that hour, Charlie became a touchstone for my vocation of upholding the dignity of individuals and communities." -Staff Member

"A few months before graduating from college, I had committed to serving with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps at a Cristo Rey high school in Los Angeles but still felt unsure about going. I decided to continue interviewing for jobs just in case I changed my mind. One company where I applied for a summer internship decided they wanted to hire me as a full time employee as soon as I graduated, even though I hadn't applied to a full time position. When I told the hiring manager my dilemma about contemplating a year of postgrad service, he was shocked that I might not accept the job-- couldn't I just take the job offer and volunteer on the side? In that moment, I realized how strong my desire was to explore intentional living and working in Catholic Jesuit education, and ten years later I am still working in the field and have lifelong friends from my volunteer year!" -Julie DeMareo, MDiv, Staff Member