‘A calling by God:’ Jason O’Dwyer and the Catholic Mission

Over the 2022 holiday break, the BC Law Impact blog is running a series of some of the most powerful and fascinating admissions essays from first-year students. These personal statements, submitted as part of their admissions applications, tell a variety of compelling stories, but the thread connecting them all is an example of the kind of person who is attracted to a BC Law education: one who is driven to work collaboratively with others, achieve great things and make a real difference in the world.

We want to thank the Office of Admissions, and all of the student essay writers, for agreeing to share their stories with us. For more Admissions tips and other content, check out BC Law’s new TikTok channel.

When I was a senior in high school, I realized the truth of God’s existence, and after a long period of contemplation, I began my process of conversion to the Catholic Church. This conversion has been my greatest challenge to overcome, my greatest trial, though this has been a spiritual trial rather than a physical or mental one. Much like Soren Kierkegaard laid out in his body of work, my process of fully accepting the truth of Christianity and becoming a Christian involved the laborious process of adopting the obligations that the Christian worldview puts on a believer. Going from the ethical phase of my life to a truly religious sense required a shift in my entire perspective on the most fundamental level. To accomplish this, I needed to abdicate my selfish desires for worldly things, learn to love God with my whole being, and take up a new self-image as a child of God. This process of becoming a Christian not only led me to Boston College, but also led me to my desire to learn the legal practice in the first place, so that I could fulfill my vocation and use all my faculties to be a man for others in the truest sense.

My reading of Saint Augustine of Hippo’s autobiography Confessions was instrumental in this shift in my worldview. In the book, he lays out the idea that all things must be given up to God and done for His sake in order to be holy. If God is being and goodness in itself, then it is only just that we dedicate all our works to God and do them for his sake, as the fact that God gives us everything in life means that we owe everything to Him. While I, like most everyone else, am still working to figure out how exactly to determine God’s will in my own life, I have greatly honed this sense through the practices of Jesuit spirituality that I learned at Boston College.

From a standpoint of pride that came from my life pre-conversion, I found it hard to admit to myself that I ought to live not only for myself, but for God and for others. It is quite difficult to rationally accept the burden of not having anything be truly mine anymore, but it leads to a greater freedom. This logic leads to a great sense of purpose that encourages me to use my skills for others, which has been part of my path in pursuing the legal profession. Knowledge of the law will allow me to do justice for others as a part of the justice system, serving people in their needs as they go about their lives in society. However, once I had made the intellectual conversion to the faith, I still needed a conversion of the heart.

The two greatest of the commands that the Lord gives to Christians are to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbors as ourselves. This sort of radical love necessitates fully dedicating ourselves to the wellbeing of the world, and to love God or your neighbor that fully is a learning process. While it is a surprisingly hard task, it is the greatest task of all, as God is defined by the fact that He is love. Being a lawyer is the best path that I have to love others. I have a fascination with civil rights law and constitutional law for this reason. The legal training that I would receive at Boston College Law School would allow me to help others and show the love that is commanded of all Christians.

In addition to civil rights and constitutional law, I learned over this summer that I am very interested in the law of trust and estates. While I was an intern at Lynch Fink Harrington & Gray, I was surprised to find a sense of service in the work I was doing. To know that my work in drafting wills and helping to secure estates gives aging people peace of mind and allows them to know that their families will be secure gives me a real feeling of joy. Moments like these are what drive me to enter law school and to use the talents that it will give me so that I can fill the needs of other people.

To me, my call to the vocation of a worker and the vocation of law is all about the service that I can provide to others and, most of all, to God. As an undergraduate of Boston College, the Jesuits taught me to pursue the habit of constantly living out my vocation, a calling by God that shows how you can live for others and serve God in the way best suited to you. I find that I have a particular affinity for rhetoric and logical analysis, and these affinities, along with prayer, suggest to me that law is the correct career path as I move forward. Boston College is a community that not only allows me to fulfill this vocation, but it is also a Jesuit school, and thus a community that understands what it means to have a vocation.

I am still learning how to be the kind of person that lives my vocation to the fullest. Like any person attempting to embrace the Christian life, I struggle daily to see God’s plan for me, and it is for that reason that Boston College has been a good educational environment for me and why it will continue to be in law school. God calls each of us to “set the world aflame,” doing good works for the sake of the world and His glory, a mission that I would like to continue to develop and which BC has always put a heavy emphasis on. While the ongoing process of my conversion has been a great labor for me, it has led me to greater paths, such as the path that led me to BC and leads me to Boston College’s law school.

In my generation, there is not a great deal of talk about giving up pride and abdicating your own interests for the sake of taking on a higher burden. However, it is because of my mission to empty myself and take on that higher goal that I am here today preparing to practice law. Boston College has always encouraged people to take on that higher sense of duty, as is in accord with its Catholic mission. Through the teachings of Saint Ignatius, Boston College encourages us to join into spiritual union with God and feel the calling that God is giving us in our mortal lives, which drives us to do good for others in the world. It is this union with God that drives me to practice law, and I hope that, at Boston College Law School, I can continue in this spiritual growth, learning to serve God more through service to others with each day.

Jason O’Dwyer is a first-year student at BC Law.

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