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Réunion

Rose Hill
On September 25, 2022, the Jesuit Spiritual Centre La Pairelle, located near Namur in Belgium, celebrated its 50th anniversary. The Ignatian family from Belgium and Luxembourg gathered to celebrate together. Nearly 400 people came to celebrate and express their gratitude and their deep attachment to La Pairelle. This jubilee (which had been postponed due to Covid) was an opportunity to strengthen the bonds and the spirit of the Ignatian Family, and to thank the Lord for all He has given to hundreds of people during these 50 years. A spiritual and joyful day The day began with a Eucharist presided over by the Bishop of Namur, Pierre Warin. The homily was delivered by Fr. François Boëdec SJ, Provincial of French-speaking Western Europe. “May La Pairelle continue to be this haven of peace, to encounter our God. And may he give us the grace of renewal so that, if he so wishes, we can move forward with confidence towards the next 50 years! » Fr. Nikolaas Sintobin SJ gave a talk about the relevance of Ignatian spirituality today, in relation to a reality TV show produced in Holland, in which Dutch celebrities experienced an eight-day retreat according to the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius, in an abbey. Throughout the day, participants were invited to (re)discover the Ignatian Family through numerous stands that brought together the Ignatian spirituality organisations –JRS Belgium, Forum Saint-Michel, Centre Avec, Jesuit editions, Unamur (University of Namur), La Viale community, Magis, Lumen Vitae, etc. There are many ways to be “Ignatian”! Photo caption: Fr. Patrice Proulx SJ, La Pairelle’s new director, cut the birthday cake with three of his predecessors.
On September 22, 500 teachers, educators and members of the administrative staff of Jesuit schools in French-speaking Belgium met for a day in Liège. Why? To think about and experiment the Universal Apostolic Preferences which guide the mission of the Jesuits and their organisations in the world.  “Apostolic Preferences are well known to Jesuits, but probably less so to our school staff. That is why we wanted to present them and to think together about how to implement them and how to bring them to life”, underlines Thomas Debrux, delegate of the Provincial for schools in French-speaking Belgium.  Fr. François Boëdec, Provincial of French-speaking Western Europe (EOF), invited the participants to remember the beauty of their mission as educators. He presented the Universal Apostolic Preferences and what they mean for the schools: “Apostolic Preferences are a horizon for Jesuits all over the world and also for you, collaborators in mission. They can be experienced whether one is a believer or not.  ‘Accompanying young people in the creation of a hope-filled future’ is the third preference. It is about showing young people that tomorrow is worth living, even if it is not always easy.  The world needs women and men who live their life as a mission.”  The day ended with a video of Fr. Arturo Sosa sj, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, who highlighted what unites Jesuit organisations present throughout the world:  “As a global network of organisations in more than 70 countries, we can greatly contribute to the creation of a more fraternal and united world, where our students can truly become people for and with others and Creation. »  Jésuites EOF 
A participant tells us about his experience.  This summer, a group of young adults walked for 13 days in Spain, following the footsteps of Saint Ignatius, between Loyola and Manresa. The goal of the pilgrimage was to discover the basics of spiritual life, meet others and celebrate together. Lievin Kierremans, one of the participants, tells us how this spiritual adventure has changed him.  I have only just got back home, but I want to leave again. What has happened? I feel changed.  It all started with these words:  “Hello Liévin, You often look for peace and quiet, you like to walk, to spend time with young adults and to have deep conversations; here is a holiday proposition you might like. See you soon. Dad.”  I read the pilgrimage description and I completely related to this quest for meaning, faith and sharing a spiritual life. The title was “beginning again”.  This Camino shook me from the inside. Beyond the people and the landscapes, what struck me the most was nothing less than a reconciliation with God and his Church. The place was symbolic – Montserrat, a jewel between heaven and earth. I was the first to be surprised... and it was one of the greatest moments of joy during this pilgrimage.  Today, I know that I want to make more room for God in my life and continue the path that has only just begun again.  Here are the words I wrote in my notebook:  “I was thirsty… You give me water. I did not know that I had this thirst in me. On this Camino, you are here through the people I meet… I feel reconciled a little more each day. I feel that I have an active part to play in listening to you. It calms me down and gives me confidence.”  Liévin Kierremans 
Caring for our Common Home is one of the four “Universal Apostolic Preferences” of the Society of Jesus. Integral ecology is therefore a priority for the Jesuits, and their Spirituality Centres also take it into account, especially in Châtelard and Penboc’h centres in France, and La Pairelle centre in Belgium. Let’s see how they contribute to contemplating Creation, caring for it and preserving it. Caring for Creation is a spiritual experience. So that everyone can seek and find God in Creation today, Spirituality Centres offer various types of sessions related to ecological reflection, gardening, and even flower arranging. Participants are invited to take a break, contemplate and improve our relationship with ourselves, Creation and God. “Questioning our relationship with nature helps us discover the deep joy that ecological conversion brings”, explains Jean-Brice Bigourdan, director of Penboc'h Spirituality Centre (Southern Brittany, France). Spirituality Centres La Pairelle and Penboc'h, offer sessions that combine gardening and Ignatian Pedagogy. The goals are to show participants that nature and spirituality are linked, and to (re)discover virtues such as patience and contemplation. Among the newest sessions, the "bouquets and spirituality" retreat aims to link contemplation, floral arrangement, meditation and prayer. Participants discover how arranging flowers into a bouquet can be a prayer. Last but not least, families, which are the first place of relationship and education, are also a place of ecological conversion. Some spiritual sessions are especially dedicated to them. Flore de Langle, Communications Officer
Testimony of a teacher in a Jesuit school in Belgium  Virginie Huys, a teacher at Saint-François Xavier School in Verviers (Belgium) tells us about her joy to “live a mutually constructive and enriching relationship with the students” and about the challenges, in a neighborhood with a strong social, cultural and religious diversity.  Differences that unite us   Who are the pupils in the Saint-François-Xavier School?   There is a great cultural, religious and social diversity among the pupils coming from the city centre (Chechen, Russian and Syrian immigration), while the pupils who live on the outskirts come from more affluent backgrounds.   What are the hopes and challenges of the young people?   The major need that students express – and which underlines a fundamental value – concerns social ties. They want to meet, to find activities that give meaning to schooling – retreats, annual gospel show, class outings.  What are the challenges for the school?   With the diversity of social backgrounds, cultures and religions, the main challenge is to build and celebrate a way of living together where differences are not what divides us but what unites us – our humanity. This requires building a climate of listening and respect. For example, during religion course, when everyone can express the pillars of their religion and their way of living them, there is a lot of interaction. Free speech also allows us to discover that students are full of resources and positively surprising.  Being a teacher means living a mutually constructive and enriching relationship with the students, and that gives hope.  Virginie Huys, teacher at Saint-François Xavier College in Verviers (Belgium) 
Four of us from Magis organisation in Paris have been to Calais, in the north of France, to serve people in exile, from July 28 to August 11. We were welcomed by Fr. Philippe Demeestère sj, who lives there with people who seek asylum in France. We have tried to listen and serve them, in particular by joining the volunteers of the catholic “Caritas” charity. What is most striking is the misery in which those who reach Calais live in. When people reach Calais, the first thing they need is tents distributed by the charities (so as not to sleep outside) and to join a camp. Charities are not allowed to come and distribute food or set up toilets or showers. On site, garbage is not picked up; it piles up. Associations must therefore offer these services remotely. The camps are regularly dismantled by the police, most often simply moved a few tens of meters further. The meagre belongings of asylum seekers who are not there at that moment are confiscated, and they must go to a remote place to get them back. In the morning, we visited camps to build ties with the people in exile. They always welcomed us with great dignity and joy, around a coffee on improvised campfires. We gave useful information to newcomers; we also collected 100 to 150 garbage bags of waste each day. In the afternoon, we would go to the day welcome centre of the Caritas charity, a haven of peace which welcomes between 300 and 350 people so they can shower with cold water, charge their cell phone, cut their hair, play football, learn French or English, think about the dangers of crossing the Channel to go to England,  how to ask for asylum or how minors are welcomed – about one quarter of people in exile here are minors – in France and the United Kingdom… By helping in this way, we have forged many bonds of trust. And quickly, people dare to speak and say how terrible exile can be – slavery and mistreatments, the danger of crossings by boat, the hope of a land of refuge for a better life, wanderings that sometimes last for years... Moments of simple humanity, which can do little, but which remind us what really matters – we are brothers and sisters. Will we one day be able to welcome these men and women with dignity? Jacques Enjalbert sj