Renewing our shared mission

Pastoral Conference, York

The annual gathering of Jesuit pastoral workers took place this year at the Bar Convent in York on 15th and 16th February.

It was the largest attendance yet, with over 40 parish priests, chairs of parish councils, plus a good number of parish administrators and pastoral associates spending twenty four hours together considering how lay people and Jesuits could work more closely together.The British Jesuit provincial, Fr Damian Howard was in attendance.  He had recently circulated a letter to all Jesuit parishes and ministries in the UK encouraging deeper co-operation in all of our works, reflecting a concern of the whole Society of Jesus.  He said:

“Father General makes a distinction between the apostolic body which fulfils the mission (and to which belong Jesuits and their many partners in mission), and the religious body (which consists of the consecrated men). The model may not be perfect, but it does express both that lay people truly belong to the Jesuit missionary enterprise and that Jesuits have a particular role in its service.

“If we embrace this vision wholeheartedly, I think it will strengthen our shared mission, clarify and deepen its Jesuit identity... To move forward, we need to establish a consistent language for speaking of these two bodies and of the relationship between them. We need, too, to ask how we communicate within and between them to provide formation and information about the mission.  I hope you will find as exciting as I do the vision of a mission-oriented Province with genuine partnership between the many and diverse members of its apostolic body and a clear Jesuit identity.”

This provided the focus of the agenda with interesting debate about collaboration and communication within the parish context. 

Needless to say, there was also time to exchange information and success stories from our diverse pastoral ministries, pray together and enjoy a fish and chip supper in the nearby Longboat Restaurant.

Pastoral Co-ordinator Br Ken Vance SJ, commented “It was an enjoyable, informative and uplifting experience and participants departed on a sunny spring afternoon both renewed in their mission and convinced that the way forward is greater co-operation in all our pastoral works.”

The Jesuits serve ten parishes:

The Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm St, central London
St Ignatius, Stamford Hill, N London
St Anselm’s, Southall, W London
Polish mission chapel, Willesden, N London
Corpus Christi, Boscombe, Bournemouth
St Wilfrid’s, Preston
St Francis Xavier, Liverpool
St Peter’s, Stonyhurst
St Aloysius, Glasgow
Sacred Heart, Edinburgh

Fr Peter Randall SJ and colleagues