Peter Griffiths SJ
I am Fr Peter Griffiths and I have been a Jesuit for nearly fifty four years and a priest for nearly forty years. After my ordination, I taught Maths and Science in Wimbledon College for seven years. Then I worked as a parish priest beginning in Boscombe, near Bournemouth where I stayed for five years. Then to the parish at Stamford Hill after that, and then I had a break as Superior of Farm Street with special responsibility for elderly Jesuits. After that, I went to Glasgow and worked as Parish Priest for nine years. Now, I am Parish Priest in Stonyhurst - a small country parish in the Ribble Valley.
My parents were devout Catholics and as soon as I was five years old, they sent me to the local Convent school which, though it was meant for girls, took small boys until the age of eight! The good sisters, one in particular, taught me the basics of my faith in such a way that I never forgot what I learnt! On reaching eight years old, I still had three years of education ahead of me before I could go to the Jesuit school in Stamford Hill, and so, despairing of finding a Catholic school near my home, my parents compromised and sent me to the local state school 'round the corner'. I thoroughly enjoyed my three years there. Though the school was not religious, there was a wonderful, friendly discipline. Long before the days of ecumenism and church unity, I was told not to attend the school assemblies, as Catholics were not supposed to join in Protestant hymns! So I was exempt, and during assemblies, stayed in the classroom with two Jews, similarly forbidden to attend Christian assemblies. We had a wonderful time and I have always had a great respect for Jews and Judaism since those days.
My father was an enthusiastic member of an organisation called the Knights of St Columba and I soon came to meet some remarkable men who were similarly totally dedicated to the service of the church and the people in it. They were quite simply 'good men'. I wanted somehow to do something with my life in the service of God and of people like the men I had met in my youth. In those days, the most direct way was through the priesthood and so I began to think seriously about becoming a priest. But what kind of priest? I knew the Jesuits were teachers, parish priests, missionaries, retreat givers and many other things besides. All these ministries had an appeal for me and so I decided to ask to join the Jesuits, if they would have me, and with their great emphasis on obedience, I would be able to leave it up to superiors as to what I should do.
I was accepted, going to Manresa House on the edge of Richmond Park, which was then the novitiate, on September 7th, 1960. The rest, as they say, is history.