31 Jul 2020
Eka finds home with the Jesuits
The Southern Cross, August 2020 | Eka Tanaya
The Southern Cross | August 2020
After moving from one Catholic parish to another, Eka Tanaya finally had an epiphany and felt at home when he visited St Mary’s Church in North Sydney, which is under the care of the Jesuits.
Educated by the Jesuits growing up in Jakarta, Eka (pictured) said that at St Mary’s he was reminded of Ignatian spirituality and it struck a chord with him.
“It was kind of weird because I was doing this church-hopping thing, going from one Catholic church to another in Sydney for Mass, but not the one that was closest to my house which was part of the Jesuit parish in North Sydney, St Mary’s,” he said.
“Eventually I went there and saw the inscription in the sanctuary ‘Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam’, or ‘for the greater glory of God’.
“One thing led to another and I started reading about St Ignatius, about the Jesuits and also then started becoming more interested in Ignatian spirituality.”
At the time, Eka had spent almost a decade working in business development, project management and marketing in Jakarta and Sydney, and entering the priesthood had never been a consideration.
However, his passion for social justice and a series of “providential” events saw him aligning more and more with the Jesuits’ charism of ‘finding God in all things’ and ‘faith that does justice’.
He volunteered at the Jesuits’ Magis youth program held before World Youth Day in 2008 and randomly he crossed paths with the Order’s vocations director.
“I began to pray regularly, began to reflect, I wrote journals and then eventually I got in touch with the vocations director who arranged a spiritual director for me.”
For 18 months Eka discerned his vocation and in 2010 said goodbye to the corporate world and hello to the novitiate.
As part of his formation he spent 2015/16 teaching at St Ignatius’ College in Athelstone.
“I felt I was called to be a Jesuit priest and also a teacher, so my time in Adelaide was really good for me as it was very confirming in many ways,” he said.
“I believe education facilitates the possibility of providing the actions to issues of social justice. The more people are educated not only in their minds but also their hearts, then perhaps we as a society will be able to treat each other better.”
After returning from the Jesuits’ Boston College in April – amid the tight COVID-19 restrictions in the USA and Australia – 43-year-old Eka is now patiently awaiting his ordination to the priesthood.
Dates for the ceremony have been changed, postponed and rescheduled on several occasions and at this stage it is earmarked to take place in Melbourne on August 22.
While the delays were initially stressful, Eka is philosophical: “This is God’s project, not mine…and I just need to play along. The silver lining throughout my Jesuit formation is that this is God’s grace. There are many, many things that could have gone wrong – actually did go wrong, thanks to my eagerness at times – but then God seems to have some mysterious ways of giving grace through it all.”