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Theodore House, the Christian Heritage Centre at Stonyhurst College, was officially opened by Lord Nicholas Windsor on Friday.  This £4 million project converted a listed disused mill in the College grounds into a centre for study, retreats, Christian renewal and for the training of the laity in Christian leadership. Lord Nicholas, youngest son of the Duke and Duchess of Kent and a convert to Catholicism, is a Royal Patron of Theodore House. He unveiled a plaque on the site of the converted corn mill in the presence of Lord Shuttleworth, the Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire, and more than 200 dignitaries. The opening ceremony also involved a blessing by the Rt Rev John Arnold, the Catholic Bishop of Salford, and the Rt Rev Julian Henderson, the Anglican Bishop of Blackburn. Lord Nicholas Windsor said: "It is a very exciting moment. Theodore House will be a centre of excellence in the fields of formation, study and retreats. It should be known about by schools, parishes and universities as a place where people can visit. It would be the purpose - squarely and fully - of the centre to be part of the 'New Evangelisation' and I think that is the mission." Theodore House is named after St Theodore of Tarsus, a 7th century Archbishop of Canterbury who worked for Christian unity within the British Isles. Architect's model of Theodore HouseIt has 39 beds, a small library, two seminar rooms, a lecture theatre, and a refectory for the use of visitors, retreatants and scholars. Aid to the Church In Need, the charity that supports persecuted Christians, will be among the groups providing retreats for school children and other groups. The Christian Heritage Centre will allow greater access to the magnificent collection of historical and religious artefacts and relics amassed by the Society and Jesus and held by Stonyhurst College on behalf of the Catholic community of Great Britain. The collection includes relics associate with Mary, Queen of Scots, St Edmund Campion and St Thomas More as well as countless other English martyrs. Prominent reactions Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, said: "Theodore House, with it is programmes for people of all ages and cultures, creates an ecumenical environment, which will promote dialogue, cherish diversity and encourage respect, as well as tolerance, for all. I pray that this initiative will enrich spiritually all those who spend time in these beautiful surroundings and may they, like St Theodore, be inspired to become a powerful force for reconciliation and healing within a divided Church." Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, said: "I send my best wishes and the assurance of my prayers at the opening of Theodore House as a place of retreat, study and training. Theodore of Tarsus was the 8th Archbishop of Canterbury. I am the 105th. He came from a far land, fleeing persecution, and exercised his ministry as a bishop, teacher, evangelist and pastor here in England. It is fitting that this place of faith, prayer, education and hospitality is named after him.I pray that God bless the work of this centre, those who serve here and those who come to benefit from it." Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London, said: "As we enjoy our freedom to worship and freedom to live out our Christian Faith, we must never forget the suffering of those who, even in our own times, have none of those same privileges. I hope and pray that Theodore House will deepen the understanding of our rich Christian heritage, and help to form a new generation of Christian leaders who spread the Gospel and serve the nation. Theodore House"Recalling the origins of St Theodore; his refugee status; his experience of persecution; his considerable learning in Theology, music, languages and the sciences; we must bring the same combination of Faith and life to a society that often believes it can do without God. It is my earnest prayer that Theodore House, and the Christian Heritage Centre, will renew the vision and mission of St Theodore to Britain." Lord Alton of Liverpool, Chairman of the Christian Heritage Centre at Stonyhurst, said: "Whether for groups preparing for Confirmation of First Communion, or for parish or school retreats, Theodore House and the Christian Heritage Centre should be a 'must-visit' destination. Set in stunning countryside, at the heart of the Tolkien Trail, it will also be the perfect place for families and individuals wanting to spend a few days recharging their batteries. The name Theodore means 'gift from God' and hopefully time spent at Theodore House will prove to be a gift to anyone who is searching for Him,or wanting to know God better."
Experiences in Brussels, Palermo, Genoa, Torino, Milano and Manchester.   Brussels - Drongen Come and see! The European Youth Retreat 2019 attracted eleven participants who wanted to discover their relationship with Jesus. From February 8th on, the young Europeans went to Drongen Abbey close to Gent to spend the weekend without distraction, just focussing on their faith. The participants were guided through each exercise by a team of former participants, that was trained in leading each spiritual exercise by Wojciech Werner SJ during the previous three Sundays. The retreat consisted of three steps: me—you—we. At the beginning, the participants were encouraged to discover not just themselves but also God’s role in their live. Times filled with creative reflections on each one’s path of life gave the opportunity to discover God’s footprints in their biography. The next phase emphasised the relation to others. This might also include one’s own vulnerability but also times, where the participant did not behave in a supporting or healing manner towards others. Failure and sins were brought into mind to finally let go of them. During a mass the participants faced all their failures and sins by writing them down on a paper that was enveloped afterwards. To show, that Jesus loves each one of us despite our sins and failures, these envelopes were handed over to the flames of a fire lit in the garden. This impressive ritual was for many participants the highlight of the retreat. They experienced, that God loves them and that their failures in daily life and in relationships do not count for God nor reduces his love to each one of us. Many participants were visibly moved by this and perhaps experienced the relieving power of reconciliation the first time in their lives. I assume, for many, this experience opened their hearts for God’s unconditional love. These exercises seem demanding, and indeed, they were. So funny elements like warming up games, get togethers and dancing sessions created an easy atmosphere and helped to make a group out of the participants. Besides team-building effects, the purpose of these games was  something more important: the young Europeans could experience, that joy in a community is a most fundamental part of faith and that God wants us to be happy in an environment, where the faithful can rely on each other. In summary, the European Youth Retreat were a great success. The participants discovered God and his unconditional love in their paths of life and the group leaders grew quite a lot on fulfilling their role towards the participants. God wants to show himself to us and God wants us to grow towards him. Both has happened in these blessed days at Drongen Abbey. Christian Lischka, nSJ (GER)   Palermo – Genoa – Torino – Milano From January 30th to February 2nd, 16 final year students from the Istituto Gonzaga of Palermo experienced the Ignatian spiritual exercises at the Chemin Neuf Community of Villa La Nuza Retreat House. They were accompanied by Fr. Salvo Collura SJ, Fr. Alessandro Viano SJ and Andrea Bonavita SJ. Simultaneously, in Genoa, another 14 high school students from the Istituto Sociale di Torino and the Leone XIII of Milan, accompanied by Fr. Nicola Bordogna SJ, Antonello Famà and Leonardo Angius SJ, went through the same enriching experience. This offer is being made to mature students within the Jesuit Education network at a particular moment in their lives after having been gradually prepared spiritually for this experience. This experience of the Spiritual Exercises is made just a few months away from their state exams, at the termination of high school when they are preparing to make important choices for their future, as they are setting the foundations for their career and their life as adults. More information Jesuits EUM    Manchester Students at the Manchester Universities’ Catholic Chaplaincytook advantage of the offer of some quiet time for prayer and rest on a recent weekend retreat at the Prayer Centre of the Poor Servants of the Mother of God at Freshfield, near Formby. Nine students took part, most of whom are part of the music group which enhances the liturgy at the 7pm Mass at Holy Name Church.  The group was accompanied by chaplaincy team members Sr Cecilia FCJ, Br Geoff te Braake SJ and Senior Chaplain Fr Peter Scally SJ.  A highlight of the weekend was the opportunity to sing at Sunday morning Mass for the residents of the care home run by the sister. Jesuits in Britain  
The Jesuits at Mount Street today hosted an important conference exploring how orders and institutions within the Catholic Church can promote clean energy for a zero-carbon future. Lorna Gold with Fr Damian Howard and Paul Chitnis Key speaker Lorna Gold, Coordinator of the Laudato Si' Project at Trocaire and Vice Chair of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, commented “the key message of today is the urgency of the crisis and the important role the Church and the orders can play through the use of their resources, and deciding when to remove their investments from fossil fuels and divert to renewables.” Adoption by Christian communities The earliest adopters of this kind of action among the Christian community were the Quakers who fully divested from fossil fuels in 2013.  Much of the Anglican Church followed suit in 2016. In Ireland the Catholic Bishops’ Conference divested its fossil fuel investments in August 2018.  Sixty orders in Ireland and all 26 Irish dioceses are now on a path to follow suit, which represents hundreds of millions of Euro of combined investment.  So far the Catholic Church in England Wales has not taken any action, but with today’s conference this is set to change with a potentially significant impact: Catholic orders’ combined UK investments are estimated at over £2 billion. “Today’s event is critical for getting this message across to the Catholic world in the UK,” said Lorna Gold.  “People have two concerns, that they will lose money and that they might be able to achieve more as “active shareholders”, trying to minimise the damage of fossil fuels through influence.  I’d say we have had 30 years to do that and it hasn’t made a difference.  A more radical approach is needed.  Now is the time to divest because carbon free solutions are now viable - with the rise of effective solar and wind power technologies. As the experience of the Irish Catholic Church has shown, their major fund is carbon negative with no detriment to their income.” Operation Noah Fr. Stephen Power and James Buchanan Conference organiser James Buchanan of Operation Noah, a Christian charity working with the Church to inspire action on climate change, said, “it is great to see so many religious here with 65 people representing 20 orders who seem keen to respond to Pope Francis’ call to take action on climate change.  It is positive to see orders considering rethinking their investment in fossil fuel and divestment as a way of accelerating transition to a carbon free future.” Mount Street The conference was welcomed to Mount Street by the Jesuit Provincial Fr Damian Howard SJ and attended by Delegate for Ministry to Young People, Fr James Conway SJ, the province Treasurer Br Stephen Power SJ and Paul Chitnis, Director of Jesuit Missions. Fr Michael Holman SJ chaired a discussion panel.  People brought food to share at lunch time, in order to build a sense of community endeavour, and the event finished with a shared Eucharist celebrated by Fr Dominic Robinson SJ, parish priest at Farm St Church. Stephen Power said  “While the conference’s main topic was fossil fuel divestment, it included an interesting presentation of topics around how to support  a just transition from where we are now to a low carbon future. Under the Jesuits’ current ethical investment policy we do not invest in any company with more than 10% involvement in thermal coal or oil from tar sand. Our ethical investment committee regularly reviews this position and I would expect movement towards divestment unless progress towards sustainable business models are adopted by fossil fuel companies in the near future.”
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
Martina Scully and Colette Maher are faithful friends and supporters of the Jesuit novitiate in Birmingham for over fifty years. Since receiving kindness and support from Gerry Marsden SJ, a member of the community of what was then St Gabriel’s retreat house, back in the 1960s, Martina and Colette have shown their gratitude by freely giving their time and talents to prepare Sunday lunches for the novitiate community.  Their culinary creativity and cheerful presence were key features of all high days, holy days and vow days at the novitiate for over 20 years and will be remembered by everyone who participated. On January 16th a special mass of thanksgiving has been celebrated for the service and friendship of Martina and Colette on the occasion of their retirement, after which they were awarded the Campion Medal for outstanding service to the Society of Jesus. Mass was celebrated by Irish provincial Fr Leonard Moloney SJ, Fr Verschueren, Regional Superior of the European Low Countries, preached and Fr Damian Howard, British provincial, presented the award. “What chance did the firm plans of three provincials have against the prayers of these two women?” asked Johan Verschueren in his homily. The “firm plans” referred to were made around five years ago – to move the novitiate from Birmingham to Ireland as Manresa House is cramped and beginning to crumble; but the project came up against Dublin planning constraints and was abandoned in favour of a scheme to develop the Manresa House site instead. Martina and Colette were typically self-effacing: "I don't think I've worked for such an honour.... [it] is far above us!” commented Martina, “The little we have done and yet we get this big recognition! It is a joy and privilege to have been here and to be allowed in the novitiate. We got more out of it than we gave." Martina described the impact of the friendship of Fr Marsden (who died in 2008) and other Jesuits upon her and Colette: "The Jesuits picked us up and helped make us. They told us we were great when we thought we were nobody. The Jesuits show you a goal and point you in that direction; they make you realise that you are somebody.  Hip hip hooray for the Jesuits.” Fr Paul Nicholson SJ, novice master 2006-14, said “It is hard to imagine the novitiate without Martina and Colette. Their quiet and loving generosity has been a great gift as well as a great example for all of us who have lived in or visited Manresa House.” The redevelopment of Manresa House will begin in Autumn this year and is expected to take two years. The original Victorian central mansion and beautiful gardens are likely to be retained, while the modern extensions will be removed and new accommodation wings and learning spaces with greater capacity will be created. The new Manresa House will be able to host retreats and training in Ignatian spirituality.  The Diocese of Birmingham has helped the Jesuits to find temporary accommodation for the novitiate near Rugby during the building work.
Jesuits and colleagues who work in spirituality centres in Ireland, Britain and the Netherlands came together for their annual meeting in Drongen, Belgium, on 3-5 January 2019. The theme this year was communal discernment – in other words, how groups can learn to reflect well before making joint decisions. The main speaker was Franck Janin SJ, President of the Conference of European Provincials, and one of the founders of the ESDAC way of proceeding » of communal discernment, which is inspired by the pedagogy of St Ignatius and by contributions from the social sciences. He led the participants through two days of discovering in a practical way some aspects of what communal discernment is with a particular emphasis of working in small groups involving particular scenarios. First, the participants took time to pray with a theme alone and in silence. Second, they were split into small groups where everyone had the opportunity to listen and share their insights. Third, the whole group participated in a feedback exercise at a plenary session. The process very much underlined the power of prayer, listening and respectful sharing in terms of coming to some kind of consensus on a topic, as opposed to the normal debate model where there is often a power play with some people left excluded. A form of spiritual discernment, it invites individuals to speak their truth, confident that they will be respectfully listened to, and allows for new possibilities and creative thinking. On the final day, Bishop of Raphoe Alan McGuckian SJ presented a case study called the ‘Living Church’ project from Belfast’s Down and Connor Diocese, where he was the previous director. The programme uses these methods of listening, group work and consensus building to renew parish structures. The meeting was organised by the Peter Faber group of Jesuit retreat house directors and spirituality delegates, who are: Roger Dawson SJ, Piaras Jackson SJ, Bart van Emmerik SJ, David Smolira SJ and Brendan McManus SJ.