By Ann Marie Foley - 17 October, 2014
Vocations is the greatest need at this time Fr Tom Layden said at a special Mass where he also highlighted Pope Francis’ call to be “brave and expert rowers” in the boat of the church – “even with the headwind!”
The Irish Jesuit Provincial was the celebrant and homilist at a Mass in Gardiner St Church to mark the 200th anniversary of the Restoration of the Jesuits.
The order was suppressed in 1773 by Pope Clement the XIV and was restored in 1815 by Pope Pius VII.
Fr Hayden said that the Restoration marked the beginning of a period of great growth, and now 200 years later, the Jesuits give thanks but in the context of fewer vocations and an aging province.
“Our morale is, I believe, good. But our future is uncertain. We are called to trust in God in a radical way. We are invited to hold our nerve, to refuse to panic,” he said in his homily.
He added that the Jesuits are reviewing their works in the Irish province, and the call of their Father General to a missionary spirit and activity, especially in north-west Europe.
Next summer, Jesuits under the age of 65 will undertake placements with fellow members both from and in Flanders, Ireland, Britain, and Netherlands to experience serving together their mission in Europe.
“There may be concern that in our emphasis on universal mission we are putting less emphasis on our mission here in Ireland. This is not the case,” he said.
Members from other provinces may work in Ireland and vice versa in the future.
He also emphasised the importance of community life, and collaboration with lay associates. Fr Hayden concluded by saying, “We believe that grace is at work in our history and that the Spirit will lead us to where there is life.”
Colleagues and friends attended the mass on Sunday 12 Oct at 3pm and met informally afterwards for refreshments in Belvedere College.
Earlier this year ‘Under the Influence – The Jesuits in Ireland’ was the title of a two-day history conference to mark the bi-centenary of the Restoration of the Jesuits.
It was hosted in Belvedere College by the Irish Jesuit Province and the Catholic Historical Society of Ireland, and up to one hundred people attended over Friday 19 and Saturday 20 September.
Pope Francis also marked the 200th anniversary of the Jesuit Restoration by presiding over the Thanksgiving Liturgy (Vespers) held at the Church of Gesù, Rome, on 27 September 2014.