Fr Gerard W Hughes RIP
The Jesuit priest, author and spiritual guide, Fr Gerry W Hughes SJ, died on 4th November at the age of 90.
Gerard William Hughes was born on 22 March 1924 in Skelmorlie, Ayrshire, and entered the Society of Jesus in 1942. After studying at Heythrop College (at that time in Oxfordshire), Skt Georgen in Frankfurt and Campion Hall, Oxford, he was ordained in 1958, and made his final vows as a Jesuit at Stonyhurst College, Lancashire, three years later. He taught at Stonyhurst for nine years before and after ordination.
From 1967 to 1975, Father Hughes served as Chaplain at Glasgow University, before concentrating on the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius, first at Southwell House in Hampstead, where he was a member of 'The Way' community, and then at one of the Jesuits’ formation houses, St Beuno’s in North Wales.
Ignatian Spirituality always played a major part in the life of Gerry W. Hughes. After leaving St Beuno’s at the end of 1983, he worked ecumenically on spirituality in the UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Sweden and Finland, introducing retreats in daily life and offering training courses to enable lay people to accompany other lay people in prayer and in retreat-giving. He was one of the founders of ‘Manresa Link’, an ecumenical association promoting the Spiritual Exercises, while based at Manresa House in Birmingham. He was the ‘support person’ to the Birmingham JVC community for many years and served as guide for Jesuits at various stages in their formation, including as novices.
Fr Hughes studied theology in Germany just after the war and that made a big impression on him. He was involved in a particular way in spirituality for those involved in social justice, and working especially with justice and peace groups and individuals. In this regard he had a life-long link with Pax Christi.
‘Gerry W’ (as he was affectionately known) will probably be best remembered for his inspiring talks and books. His 1985 book God of Surprises was described by Gerald Priestland as “one of the great books of spiritual guidance”. The sequel, God in All Things, was published in 2003. Other books included Oh God, Why? and an account of his personal spiritual journey, God, Where Are You? His final book, Cry of Wonder, was published on 23 October 2014, shortly before his death on 4 November.
Writing on his web site, Gerry W. Hughes summarised his faith that was deeply rooted in Ignatian Spirituality: “I am a Jesuit priest. As a Christian I believe that God really is in all peoples and in all things, a loving and compassionate presence”.