On a mission of spiritual renewal
Over the past few months the Jesuits in Britain have been recruiting a team of three coordinators to support Fr Simon Bishop SJ (pictured above with the team) in developing the work of Ignatian spirituality in the UK.
The three new spirituality coordinators met in Birmingham at the weekend for their first planning meeting. A focus of this first meeting was helping to implement the vision of the new provincial, Fr Damian Howard SJ.
Working with Fr Simon Bishop SJ (on the left in the picture), the coordinators' job is to develop the work of Ignatian spirituality in the UK. Having identified a growing demand for experiences of Ignatian spirituality beyond the residential settings of a retreat centre, the team's job is to adapt the Spiritual Exercises and make them accessible to new people in new places. For example, the team responds to many requests for weeks of guided prayer in parishes and university chaplaincies. Each team member has a distinct role, but a shared mission, which is to be of assistance in the spiritual renewal of the Church and the wider community. Fr Simon commented “we are finding a real thirst from people in walks of life for ways of growing closer to God. The pathway to God of Ignatian spirituality is very accessible and having this wonderful new team will enable us to respond in new ways to new people in their churches and beyond.”
Sarah Young (pictured above second from the left) is the ‘Spirituality Teams and People Coordinator’. Her job is to develop teams of spiritual directors and prayer guides in different regions of the UK who could be invited to help deliver outreach programmes. This involves a lot of networking with prayer guides and those who support them, as well as offering training. Sarah explained, ‘There is a desire to reach people in the context of where they live, especially those who are unlikely or are unable to ‘go on retreat’. We hope by making the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius more accessible to people it will be transformative and become a source of life for the church and the world’.
Vron Smith (second from the right) is the ‘Wider Mission Coordinator’ responding to requests for Ignatian programmes from within and beyond the Jesuit network. At the moment this includes groups as varied as L’Arche, Chemin Neuf, Salford Diocese and prison chaplains.
Elizabeth Harrison (far right in the picture) is the ‘Resources Coordinator’ developing resources such as ‘Pathways to God’, the spirituality website of the Jesuits in Britain. Ellie is also working on developing print resources such as training manuals. She explained, ‘the team is continuing with the previous provincial’s desire to see spirituality as the life-blood of the province but now sharing the emphases that the new provincial has identified’.
The three new spirituality coordinators will join Steve Hoyland, Ignatian Spirituality Outreach Worker (centre) in developing the ability of the Jesuits in Britain and co-workers to expand their non-residential Ignatian spirituality work, offering retreats and weeks of guided prayer to people, especially young people, and places which, “others can’t reach”!
The new provincial Fr Damian Howard SJ, will discuss his new vision for the Jesuits in Britain in an article in our magazine Jesuits & Friends Winter edition. If you would like to subscribe please email Jesuit Missions. The magazine will be available on this website from 14th November.
If you would like to enquire about having a week of guided prayer or retreat in daily life with your parish, school or other group, please contact Vron Smith.