The Society of Jesus has been part of my life from an early age when, as a child, Jesuit friends of my father used to visit my family. I attended Stonyhurst College where I was inspired by the strong commitment to social justice which many Jesuit and lay teachers had. This inspired me to set up a charity after I left school to provide holidays for disabled children. The Newman Holiday Trust, named after Blessed John Henry Newman, today offers holidays all over the UK.
Following a false start at medical school, I began working in the voluntary sector. After roles with HCPT and Christian Aid, I was appointed Chief Executive of SCIAF, the international development agency of the Catholic Church in Scotland. My family and I relocated from London and soon Glasgow became our adopted home. We have developed strong bonds with the city and especially with the Jesuit school and parish of St Aloysius.
During my time at SCIAF, I was elected President of CIDSE, the network of Catholic development agencies, and participated in lobbies of the G8 leaders and the United Nations. I travelled to many countries where I came to know the work of the Jesuits often in difficult and dangerous circumstances. Their complete dedication to the poor and their willingness to remain alongside them despite conflict and disaster are a powerful witness to the Jesuit mission of “the service of faith and the promotion of justice”. The Jesuit martyrs of the UCA in El Salvador are a particularly strong influence on me.
I am aware of the deep affection and admiration in which people hold Jesuit Missions. It’s a place with a wonderful history of colourful characters and extraordinary generosity of spirit and service. It has an exciting future ahead of it as JM adapts to the many changes in the Society of Jesus and beyond which inevitably impact on our work. Above all, JM is a place where people come first and where Ignatian Spirituality runs through our work like a stick of Blackpool rock!
Want to read more about Jesuit Missions?
Who are the El Salvador Martyrs?