Though hundreds of Boston College students walk down College Road every day, far fewer of them examine the cozy, homely buildings which line it. Manresa House, at 58 College Road, for example, is as unassuming as the buildings which surround it. A smallish, three-story, brick home, with a short set of steps and a welcoming doorway.
Much like the building, the opportunities available in the Manresa House are often overlooked. It is here that BC offers its services to those students interested in a life devoted to vocational service.
Rev. Terrence Devino, S.J., is Manresa House’s sole full-time employee. Sitting behind his desk in what used to be the dining room of the small family home, it seems that it would be difficult to find a man who enjoys his job more.
The youngest of three, Devino was the first of his family to attend college, at Worcester State University. He studied at Immaculate Conception Seminary on the campus of Seton Hall University, and was ordained a priest in 1987. It was not until seven years later, in 1994, that Devino became a Jesuit, after years of serving as a parish priest in central Massachusetts.
After a time working at BC in the late 1990s, Devino worked in campus ministry at Fairfield University and the University of Scranton, both Jesuit institutions. He came back to BC in 2010 as a special assistant to the president and was appointed director of Manresa House.
In Devino’s words, “Manresa House is a combined effort between the Jesuits of the New England Province and Boston College to encourage our students to consider, to look at, or even to question a vocation to the priesthood or to the religious life, and in particular to the Jesuits.”
Students who have thought about living a religious life can stop by and talk to Devino about “the many and various opportunities within the life of the church,” whether as priests, as sisters, or as laypeople. Students are welcome at any time at the Manresa House. Devino makes sure of it.
“I have about five work study students that come in during the week this year,” says Devino. “I told them that my number one expectation from them is that they be hospitable, so that anyone who comes through that door feels welcome.”
Devino interacts with students at BC on a variety of levels – as a retreat leader on 48 Hours and Halftime, as part of the Ignatian Society at Boston College, as a resident minister in Williams Hall on College Road, and as a guide, mentor, and friend at Manresa House, assisting students in finding their spiritual direction.
“In this day and age, when maybe at times, the notion of priesthood isn’t one that is always very popular, or one that is very talked about, I think it’s brilliant for us to have on campus a house where students can begin to look at a vocational life,” says Devino.
The Manresa House was founded at Boston College in 2007, with Rev. Jack Butler, S.J., as its inaugural director. Originally located on Mayflower Street, the Manresa House moved to College Road in order to be closer and more available to the student body.
Surprisingly, and rather unlike most of the buildings on campus, Manresa House is not named after a person, but rather a place. In a way, the name is quite appropriate.
“Manresa is one of the places along the path of St. Ignatius’ journey, a place where he found himself spending a great deal of time in prayer and discernment, considering and being open to where God was going to lead him next,” says Devino. “It is an important place in the life of the Jesuits, as we realize it was at Manresa where Ignatius knew exactly where God wanted him to be.”
The Manresa House is for more than just those interested in the vocational services, however. The house is used during the week for Kairos retreat sessions, Arrupe volunteer meetings, Ignatian society gatherings, and the 15 minute Examen every Wednesday night at 9:45 p.m.
“The Examen is a 15-minute reflection on your day and your week that St. Ignatius promoted to his followers early on and has been carried on in the tradition of the Jesuits,” says Devino. “It’s the best 15 minutes of my week,” he adds with a smile.
Students stop by for a variety of reasons, and are always welcomed by the “Jesuit hospitality” of which Devino is so fond. “If the light is on,” says Devino, “anyone is welcome.” The door is always open, and Devino always has time to talk.
A student walks through the door one Tuesday afternoon. “Oh, Glee‘s on at eight o’clock,” Devino says. “Some students are coming over to watch. I should order some pizza.”
It is this type of warmth and easy going friendship that Devino exudes. The time he spends with students seems to be the happiest of his day.
Ultimately, Devino’s goal is to be there for students, especially those considering the vocational life. “If I could get up with a bullhorn on campus and address all of our students, I’d say, ‘Have you ever considered a vocation in the church? Have you ever talked to someone about it?'” he says. “And if you’re even vaguely interested, just dial D for Devino.” ♦