Jesuits & Friends issue 108, Spring 2021

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A faith that does justice

& friends

Standing together in hope Finding signs of life in a changed world

Issue 108 • Spring 2021 •

PLEASE PRAY for those who have died recently. May they rest in peace

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Mr Michael Ayres Mr Peter Bloomfield Mrs Gillian Chapman Mr T Chick Mr JH Dawber Mrs Sheila Gibbon Mr J Gillespie Mr Alan Granger Mrs H Kelly Mr James Kelly

On the cover: Jesuits and co-workers protest against the imprisonment of Fr Stan Swamy SJ, December 2020. Photo: Jesuit Missions

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Editor: Attila Kulcsár Assistant Editor: Frances Murphy Editorial group:  Denis Blackledge SJ, John Paul de Quay, Megan Knowles, and Zoe Carruthers. Designed by: and Printed by:

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Mr Robert Leeming Mr H Lynas Mrs Elizabeth McGavigan Mr Phillips Mr George Pickup Mr James Richmond Mr JG Sudell Miss Diana Williams Mr AJ Winstanley

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From Fr Provincial Over the last twelve months, the phrase ‘these troubled times’, or some variation of it, seems to crop up repeatedly in my inbox. The pandemic has been traumatic and will continue to cast a shadow well into the 2020s. If that’s not troubling, what is? But getting locked into being ‘troubled’ is, well, troubling too. I notice that every time I repeat the inevitable cliché, it closes me off a little more from the gifts God wants to share. I condition myself into self-perpetuating distress.

problems will be solved and the difficulties vanish. It’s just allowing that in the course of life, a new path might open up which I had never foreseen. Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we come to know that Someone is walking beside us, listening, accompanying, sharing, occasionally challenging us, drawing us ever out of our worries and fantasies into a reality that can sober and enliven us. For that strange, familiar Presence makes all the difference.

The Ignatian Year which kicks off in May is a call for conversion. And if you believe in the Easter God then conversion in the first place means opening yourself up to signs of surprising new life. It’s not that all our

Jesuits & Friends is full of signs of that difference, just as I am sure your life is. Make of them what you will! You will read of people who have been moved to delve God’s hidden depths. For Pope Francis, this has been a

In this issue...

14 Denis Blackledge SJ received

04 Austen Ivereigh takes us behind

the scenes and towards the future as he describes working with Pope Francis.

06 Inspired by their founder, the

given a whole new meaning at Farm Street, as Sarah de Nordwall explains.

08 Michael Barnes SJ draws our

18 Can children pray while they play? Of

rollout in the UK is not enough, writes Colm Fahy of Jesuit Missions.

10 Anna Fraine and Marion Osieyo

celebrate the ways in which their young adult communities have sustained them over the last year.

12 How easy is it to take the mission of a whole province online? Attila Kulcsár finds out!

Fr Damian Howard SJ

15 The idea of a ‘working lunch’ is being 16 Fr Stan Swamy SJ’s imprisonment

09 A successful Covid-19 vaccine

So, troubled times? Yes, but much more importantly a time to stay awake, like the watchman waiting for dawn (Psalm 130). On behalf of all the Jesuits in Britain, I wish you a watchful Lent and pray that you will find the Risen Christ walking at your side.

followers and friend requests aplenty during the lockdown.

JRS UK team continues to overcome obstacles in their outreach to their friends in detention, says Nick Hanrahan.

attention to the interreligious dialogue that bore fruit in Fratelli tutti.

time to dream about a new culture, a society based on love, dignity and respect. For people in Scotland and England, it’s been an opportunity to discover the grace which friendship with the poor brings. For young people, who have lost so much in the lockdown, new forms of community and togetherness have brought life and hope.

has captured global attention – his story is told by Colm Fahy.

course! Maria Neal tells us how.

20 John Paul de Quay helps us to

10 18


imagine the story of Ignatius of Loyola’s conversion, the 500th anniversary of which we celebrate this year.

22 Survivors of abuse in Scotland are

encouraged to make use of a new service, says Laura Andre from Bridge to Support.

23 Praying with the pope: David Stewart SJ.




ooking back on the handwritten notes he sent me last year, some things Pope Francis said have stayed with me. Like this one: ‘I agree with the idea of the book,’ he told me in mid-May. ‘In principle, I am disposed … but I will need a lot of your help. I leave it in your hands.’

Writing a book

The more I’ve looked back on that line, the more I now realise it defined the whole project that became Let Us Dream: the Path to a Better Future, which came out a few weeks before Christmas. It is Francis’ coronavirus book, his response to the pandemic and the new horizons – both dark and light – it has unveiled.

I have described the book as spiritual guidance on a global scale, taking up a metaphor that has come to me often these past years: that Francis is like the director of an Ignatian retreat, accompanying us, opening us to the graces on offer, and warning us of the obstacles and temptations that close us off to God’s action in us. The real agent of change, of course, is the

with Pope Francis What is it like to write a book with the pope?! Austen Ivereigh tells us about the privilege of sharing Pope Francis’ dream.

Holy Spirit. But the director matters, for it is he or she who creates the space and the opportunity, and guides us. Remember 27 March last year, the Urbi et Orbi address in that wet, dark, empty St Peter’s Square? Francis was like another Moses, shepherding God’s people through the desert, assuring us that he was there with us, and helping us grasp the meaning and opportunity of the moment, but always as one of us, suffering with us. He agreed to an interview with me that came out in The Tablet just before Easter: 3,000 words of coruscating reflections on this extraordinary moment, full of wisdom about how to nurture our present crisis to create a better future. I couldn’t have asked for more. But something made me. (It’s the magis.) Listening to his homilies over Easter, and hearing he had set up a postCovid commission that would allow the Church to be at the centre of reshaping the world, I got back in touch with Francis in May, this time to suggest a short book in which he could make



his leadership insights available to the wider world. It seemed to me that, while every leader had views on the crisis and what it should lead to, Francis was the only one who understood the process of conversion itself: the interplay of God’s grace and human freedom, why sometimes great calamities and stoppages – wars, plagues, economic collapse – lead to great advances, and why, conversely, sometimes humanity slips backwards. That’s what I asked if he would be willing to explain. But I had little hope he would say yes. Then I got the note: ‘I leave it in your hands’. He wanted a plan, a strategy, a means by which a book could be written but not absorb too much of the time he simply didn’t have. So I came back with a proposal: a book that could be read in one sitting, divided into a three-part seejudge-act structure, in which I would use his writings and his recorded answers to my questions to craft a text in both English and Spanish that could light a path for the world. In the course of writing the book over the summer two unexpected things

Francis gave me complete freedom to draft – ‘feel free to say: look, Pope, you’re old and you’re talking nonsense, and what you’re telling me doesn’t work,’ he jokingly told me...”

happened. One was that, at Francis’ suggestion, I drafted first in English – unprecedented for a book of this genre. The second – my editor’s idea – was to eliminate me altogether from the text, so that, rather than the usual questionand-answer format, Francis addressed the reader directly. The result was that Let us Dream – the first book by a pope in response to a world crisis – sounds entirely natural in English, and as intimate as if he were sitting across from us. Francis gave me complete freedom to draft – ‘feel free to say: look, Pope, you’re old and you’re talking nonsense, and what you’re telling me doesn’t work,’ he jokingly told me at the start of a recording with his first reflections – but then worked very hard on the text to make sure it came out right. It is a paradox that sums him up: he trusts those he works with, while doing everything he can to support them. There is a lot packed into the book’s 150 pages – anecdotes, insights, many moments of humour and compassion – yet the text moves smoothly and swiftly. It is about the crisis we are living, but there is a timeless quality to it. And since the book came out, I think I’ve come to see what that is. It’s the way Francis passes through this crisis: what he sees, and how he sees; what is revealed; and how, with this new clarity, we can choose a better way. If there is one big, overriding theme, it is the awareness of human dignity that the pandemic has surfaced,

Opposite: Austen Ivereigh presents Pope Francis with a copy of 'Wounded Shepherd'. Photo: L'Osservatore Romano

both its violation and its reclaiming. Francis’ startling diagnosis is that the disrespect we have shown the created world and each other arises from our loss of dignity as a people, which is in turn born of a forgetting that all is gift. But his hope lies in the unveiling of this truth, and the desire for its recovery, above all in the people’s movement from the margins. ‘The people always hold in their hearts a promise,’ he says, ‘an invitation that leads them towards what they desire, despite the exclusion they suffer … an ancestral awareness of God’s closeness and of their own dignity.’ It is why they followed Jesus: he showed the people that awareness was real. It is the Church’s task, now, to walk with the people again, and show them the same. We can’t waste this crisis.

READ Pope Francis’ Let Us Dream: the Path to a Better Future. In conversation with Austen Ivereigh is published by Simon & Schuster. JESUIT.ORG.UK 5


Brother Bernard Elliot SJ on a 'Strangers into Citizens' march in 2009

A forty-year culture of encounter Amid all the turmoil of 2020, JRS around the globe marked their 40th anniversary, which gave Nick Hanrahan an opportunity to reflect on how JRS UK is still drawing on the inspiration of Brother Bernard Elliot SJ to accompany and serve refugee friends, particularly those in immigration detention.


t is fair to say that 2020 will be a year that goes down in the history books. The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), however, won’t just be remembering 2020 as a year of lockdowns and social distancing, but the year we marked our 40th anniversary internationally. As with any milestone, our thoughts turn to those faces and events that have shaped the last forty years. At JRS UK, it is impossible to look at our history without recalling Brother Bernard Elliot SJ. Brother Bernard was very much the pioneer of JRS in the UK. Initially he became engaged with assisting the Vietnamese communities 6 JESUITS & FRIENDS | SPRING 2021

that were arriving in the UK, a work that resonated with the founding of JRS internationally as Fr Pedro Arrupe SJ called the Society of Jesus to respond to the needs of those who were fleeing Vietnam in the early 1980s. Through his encounters with the Vietnamese community, Brother Bernard learnt more about the situations they and others faced in the UK, and became aware of the conditions in which many of them were being detained. This prompted him to start visiting those who were detained and, over the years, this early work became formalised as the UK branch of JRS. Accompanying those held in immigration detention at the Harmondsworth and Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centres near Heathrow remains a key part of the work of JRS UK, work that has continued despite the difficulties of the past year. The pandemic has affected our accompaniment of those in immigration detention greatly. Lockdowns

and social distancing measures meant that for long periods visitors were not allowed into the centres, and therefore emotional and pastoral support had to be given over the phone. This move to remote support came at a time when those in detention, like the rest of the population, were trying to process the growing pandemic, and much fear was felt about how infection could easily spread through the centres. Thankfully, many individuals were released from immigration detention to reduce this risk, but those who remained were left feeling increasingly isolated. The team has taken creative steps to reach out to those in the centres and 170 messages of solidarity have been sent from our detention volunteer team, containing words of support, and assuring our friends who are still detained that they are not alone. These messages were the initial contact with some of our friends whom the team were finally able to visit when they were allowed to return briefly to the detention centres after


the first lockdown was lifted. In the months since, the JRS team has been in detention in much smaller numbers, retaining as steadfast a presence as the situation allowed. ‘The pandemic has thrown up many challenges, and the move to providing remote support has really altered how we embody our mission to accompany those we serve,’ says William Neal, Detention Outreach Officer. ‘Thanks to the generosity, flexibility and patience of our volunteers we have been able to think and act quickly and creatively to continue supporting the friends we were accompanying in detention, many of whom were released back to the community. As we look forward from this anniversary, we hold onto the spirit of encounter which has been so integral to JRS’s work all these years, find new ways to nurture it during this time and ensure we are still here for those pushed to the margins.’ In the months before Christmas, JRS staff Naomi and Will were supporting thirteen individuals who

had been detained despite indicators that they were victims of human trafficking, modern slavery and forced labour. Crucially they were able to assist eight of these men to secure the legal representation that would allow them to challenge their planned unlawful removal. Thankfully none of the planned removals for these individuals went ahead, which should allow their claims to be properly, and rightfully, considered in the UK. A picture of Brother Bernard hangs in the Elliot Garden Room at the Hurtado Jesuit Centre where JRS UK is now based. In the frame there is also a quotation from Br Bernard: ‘When a person feels at home and secure, then their relationships can begin to grow and they begin to put down roots. They begin to enjoy being human. Happiness breaks through, which in turn gives the power to persevere, even when material requirements are at a minimum.’ These words speak to the

... Happiness breaks through, which in turn gives the power to persevere, even when material requirements are at a minimum.” power of welcome and of accompaniment, the central part of the mission of JRS UK. It also resonates with much of the vision Pope Francis presents in Fratelli tutti. The Holy Father speaks of his desire for a ‘culture of encounter’ based on openness and welcome to others, through which we can overcome ‘a cool, comfortable and globalized indifference’ that has taken over our societies. In his kind message to JRS for our 40th anniversary, Pope Francis said: ‘Your witness to God’s love in serving refugees and migrants, moreover, is essential for building that “culture of encounter” which alone can provide the basis for authentic and enduring solidarity for the sake of our human family.’ The work of the JRS team with our friends in detention is a prime example of that witness of which Pope Francis speaks. Those who are left isolated and hidden from sight are reminded that they are valued and have dignity despite being forced to endure a system which is designed to make them think otherwise.

SUPPORT JRS A picture of Brother Bernard in the Elliot Garden Room at the Hurtado Jesuit Centre (Photo: JRS UK)

You can help to continue the work started by Brother Bernard by visiting JESUIT.ORG.UK 7


Friendship in faith Michael Barnes SJ invites us to recognise and be inspired by the interreligious friendships that helped to shape Fratelli tutti.


t is not until the end of Fratelli tutti that Pope Francis reflects on ‘religions at the service of fraternity in our world’. This might seem like an afterthought shoe-horned in at the last moment, were it not for the fact that the encyclical is not just about friendship but is formed in and through friendship. In the last paragraphs Pope Francis mentions some of his sources of inspiration – including ‘brothers and sisters who are not Catholics: Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu, Mahatma Gandhi’, and Blessed Charles de Foucauld who lived and died among the abandoned of the African desert, desiring ‘to feel himself a brother to every human being’. But there are also two interreligious friendships that can be detected in the encyclical, one acknowledged, the other implicit but no less significant. Fratelli tutti ends by repeating the ‘appeal for peace, justice and fraternity’ that marked the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together which Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of alAzhar signed in February 2019. Neither document is 8 JESUITS & FRIENDS | SPRING 2021

afraid to name the dangers of religious – and anti-religious – extremism of all kinds. Yet neither is content with general exhortations. Both are rooted in faith in a God who calls all human beings to see in the other person a brother or sister to be loved and supported. It is possible to detect here echoes of the warm friendship with Rabbi Abraham Skorka that the pope enjoyed when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. In On Heaven and Earth, a record of their conversations published soon after Pope Francis’ election in 2013, they talk about a variety of subjects: the nature of God, the legacy of the Holocaust, the future of religion. This witnesses to the postVatican II rapprochement between Jews and Christians, testifying to what becomes possible when personal friendship overcomes suspicion and allows the integrity of difference to flourish. Pope Francis says that with Rabbi Skorka, ‘I never had to leave my Catholic identity behind, just as he didn't have to ignore his Jewish identity. Our challenge was to proceed with respect and affection, trying to be above reproach as we walked in the presence of God.’ Fratelli tutti is a lengthy critique of the polarising forces of contemporary populist politics. But it is also about what can happen to

human beings when they agree to talk together ‘in the presence of God’. The gospel image of the Good Samaritan which structures the encyclical may seem far removed from the intellectual, cultural and political complexities of interreligious relations. But Pope Francis’ exegesis cuts right to the heart of the matter. He places the Godgiven dignity of each and every person at the heart of all human relations. God invites us all into friendship. The particular privilege of Christian faith is not to guard a vision of completeness that sets us apart, but to witness before our brothers and sisters to the mercy and compassion of God made manifest in the face of Christ. Could our Church reflect that face if groups of friends could somehow find ways of extending the bonds of friendship into other circles and communities? Start with the best experience of these strange times, the practical ways in which so many people have cared for their neighbours, and looked out for each other. Bring their faces into prayer and then, in company with the Christ who is there ‘where two or three are gathered’, remember Ignatius’s wonderful words at the end of the Spiritual Exercises: ‘love shows itself in deeds rather than words’. We may be surprised at what becomes possible.

A symbol of hope


tainted by inequality The rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination programme in the UK has been widely praised, but the global picture is very different, says Jesuit Missions' Colm Fahy.


n 8 December 2020, Margaret Keenan was the first person in the UK to be vaccinated against Covid-19. She is one of 20 million people to have been vaccinated in the UK by the beginning of March 2021. The discovery of the vaccine was recognised internationally as a symbol of hope. However, the privilege we have experienced with our vaccination programme here in the UK is not an experience shared with people across the world. In the first wave, Europe, Asia and America suffered greatly while countries in Africa did not appear to be impacted to the same extent. The BBC reports that fatality rates in Africa crept up consistently from 2.1% in July 2020 to 2.6% in February 2021. While the global fatality rate has fallen since the start of the pandemic, the fatality rate in Africa continues to rise. It is evident that the second wave of Covid-19 is having a greater impact on parts of Africa, Asia and South America than the first wave did. In lower-income countries, most people are employed in the informal sector. The pandemic has

stopped many of these people from going to work, causing millions to fall into poverty.

that the world’s poorest countries have access to the vaccines they need for their people.

A 70-year-old widow from Andhra Pradesh in India commented on how lockdown stole away her only income: ’Suddenly police and government officials came to our village announcing that no one should come out of our houses. I was terribly frightened because how am I to live my life without daily wages? I was in a pathetic situation and was afraid of dying from hunger.’

On 19 February, it was announced that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pledging to donate most of the UK's surplus vaccine supply to poorer countries. While this may seem like a great effort it is simply not enough. No one is protected against Covid-19 unless everyone is, and a secure plan with adequate funding is needed to make sure this happens.

Economic growth has stalled in most countries, and for poorer countries this means their already meagre infrastructure is struggling to cope with the demands of the pandemic. Poor countries are at the back of the queue when it comes to accessing vaccines. To make matters worse, new variants in countries such as Brazil and South Africa are causing further devastation.

It is important to consider healthcare workers not just in the UK, but worldwide, who have fought tirelessly in every country for their Covid-19 patients. We should also remember our elderly brothers and sisters who are especially at risk of contracting Covid-19 in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries. Another important group is refugees, who are living in overcrowded camps, unable to socially distance and without adequate hygiene facilities to wash their hands. All of these people need protection against the virus now, not just the leftovers.

Pope Francis notes in his most recent encyclical, Fratelli tutti, that coronavirus has highlighted existing global inequalities. The UK has a population of 66 million people and the government has ordered 400 million doses of vaccines. The World Health Organisation has recently reported that the poorest countries have administered just 25 vaccinations. This is why Jesuit Missions is calling on the UK government to ensure

SIGN THE PETITION Sign Jesuit Missions’ petition demanding that the government set funding aside for vaccines to be delivered where the need is greatest: JESUIT.ORG.UK 9


Young adults in community Farm Street every Sunday evening.

Anna (bottom left) and her Brixton community at their weekly check-in with Fr Dushan (top left)

Anna Fraine tells us how life in a young adult community has given her a platform for her own work helping young people reflect collectively on the challenges they face.


hen I moved to London fifteen months ago for work, I was keen to live in a community. Google searches drew a blank, but a retweet followed by a chance meeting at a justice and peace conference led me to the Jesuit Laudato Si’ community in Clapham and then to the community of MAGIS-Brixton. The idea of faith-centred communal living was for me an antidote to the increasing societal and ecological breakdown I was seeing and experiencing around me. To enjoy this experience at the start of my working life has allowed me to look at my job and my purpose in a light where I can better begin to face the reality and the demands of our time. Learning and practising Jesuit spirituality has helped me to step more fully into my life. The community has 10 JESUITS & FRIENDS | SPRING 2021

naturally been a place of worship but also laughter, friendship and challenge. We have different political leanings, career paths and personality types (as was made clear from a recent Myers-Briggs workshop together) but we are united by something unique amidst life in the city. Working from home during the pandemic lockdowns has allowed us to build an even stronger community – aided by the sharing of meals, formation, endless baking, and even growing tomatoes, peppers and chillies in the garden during our confinement. Even better, this communal experience centres itself on a love for the gospel – a love that travels beyond the house to the local St Vincent de Paul group, our new parish and to the wider network of Catholic young adults across London who ordinarily gather for Mass at

At a time when society and the Church are facing real challenges, I am lucky to have this experience of being formed, challenged and affirmed by others. I have felt less climate anxiety and grief since living in the community, owing to my developing a daily spiritual practice and a growing understanding of how social bonds can be rebuilt and nurtured. It has been uneasy at times to recognise the parts of myself that require improvement and are in need of mercy and forgiveness. Growth can be unsettling and uncomfortable, but I know it’s necessary. Laughter gets us through, premised on the willingness of each of us to open ourselves to this experience and to the Lord. Each encounter with the Jesuits has brought me closer to the Church, through the experience of being accompanied, and being supported and accepted. I wish this for all young adults, especially as they navigate between hope and hopelessness as a deepening crisis makes itself known. But as Pope Francis encourages us – let us dream! Thank you to the Jesuits for this offering when it is so needed.

FIND OUT MORE Please email for information about MAGIS@ home: Brixton.


tabs’ open in my head as people speak; I can slow down in conversations and really listen to people. This is a practice that I have introduced into my everyday life, whether I am watching a Zoom work presentation, thanking a delivery driver at my front door, or speaking to my sister on a video call.

Deep calls unto deep Marion (back right) with her CLC group enjoying a pizza after meeting at Farm Street

Marion Osieyo reflects on how a young adult Christian Life Community (CLC) group has been a source of hope and depth in a pandemic.


he first time I met my CLC group, I was racing against time for our meeting. I had already completed a dawn run, a demanding eight-hour work day and a three-hour commute. The pace of life was intense and days were flying by in a blur. While I was managing to make time in my day for prayer, I was longing for time for regular reflection about life. And I wanted to do it with other young Catholics. Living in London, I am very lucky to meet people from all walks of life. I am connected to a large network of people but there are very few groups or communities to which I truly belong. I wanted an opportunity to get to know a diverse group of people who

were bound by a common desire to share their spiritual journeys. I read about CLC in the Farm Street newsletter and immediately knew this was an opportunity to form that community. This first meeting was just a few weeks before the first national lockdown, in February 2020. When the lockdown began, we decided to continue meeting online, and this proved to be a valuable way for us to use scripture prayerfully as a foundation for reflecting on our lives during this difficult time. Through our conversations, I have come to appreciate the joy of fully being present to others with the intent not to respond or judge, but to listen. At a time when I have not been able to meet and embrace many of my loved ones, I still have something precious, which is the attention that I can share with others online. I don’t have ‘multiple

The gift of sharing greatly enriches my faith. The meetings give me the opportunity to pause and reflect with God on the seismic shifts happening outside, and on what God is doing within me. I have been able to live these pandemic months with perspective and not at the hurried pace I was having to cope with before lockdown. There have been weeks where I have entered our meetings feeling stretched by the demands of life. Working on the environmental crisis and with two of my family members as frontline NHS staff, some weeks have been challenging, but our CLC meetings have been affirming for me. Our regular meetings have helped us to develop a trust that has allowed us all to share our hopes and joys, as well as our vulnerabilities. I feel God at work, helping me see my life and my friends through the eyes of the one who knows us and loves us. Carl, Veronica, Maria, Chris, Daniel, Julius, John, Diego, Shona and Dushan – thank you for the opportunity to encounter God with you.

FIND OUT MORE Contact for information about CLC groups in your area. JESUIT.ORG.UK 11

Real connection in a virtual world Attila Kulcsár talks to pioneering members of the Province who have used Zoom to tackle the seemingly impossible task of taking Ignatian spirituality and Jesuit formation online.


oom lets people dip their toe in the water,’ says Fr Jim Conway SJ, who faced the challenge of accompanying those enquiring about vocations in their discernment, finding a way to take deeply personal conversations online. ‘These initial chats can feel very strange for the person sharing experiences that aren’t easy to articulate at the best of times – never mind via a virtual platform. But Zoom has allowed me to introduce the enquirers to other men who are all asking similar questions, so they can see they are not the only person thinking about these issues. ‘We have had great success with virtual “come and see” events: monthly one-hour sessions on an aspect of vocations with a Jesuit in formation, be he in Paris or in Toronto. ‘When I had to cancel a residential weekend for 12 JESUITS & FRIENDS | SPRING 2021

enquirers in Clapham, to which we would usually have invited five people, we were able to move it to Zoom and bring thirteen men together one Saturday. We also brought in priests from around the Province whose commitments would ordinarily have precluded them from attending a weekend gathering.’ Helping Jim with the Young Adult Ministries (YAM) at Clapham is Ruth Holgate who, like Jim, had never used Zoom before. Ruth was conscious of the fact that attendees of YAM events would be far better acquainted with the new technology. ‘We knew they would never forgive us if we made a complete mess and this gave us the confidence to jump in and try an online Sunday liturgy. We included a social afterwards, for people to have a natter and a drink – an aspect they told us they hadn’t found elsewhere.

‘We held a retreat over Holy Week for twelve young people, which grew into a second retreat at Pentecost with an international group of forty. Lockdown has made it easier for young people to make serious Ignatian retreats with spiritual direction – and this is when stuff happens.’ The YAM retreats inspired others in the Jesuit spirituality team. Sarah Young immediately sensed the potential of Zoom: ‘I did a couple of courses so that I could work out how to help the surprisingly large number of our spiritual directors who were interested in working online. As time went on, we realised the potential to deepen the online experience. We are offering something to many people who have been quite isolated. We have also, for example, been helping health workers and have seen how their stresses have increased. We are looking at ways of mixing people's offline environments


respond to the pandemic. This coordination culminated in January in our online conference which brought sixty parishioners together with the parish priests and pastoral assistants from across the Province.'

with online participation, with evening retreats that bring people together after a day spent outdoors, walking, cycling or whatever.’ Br Ken Vance SJ and parish pastoral assistant, Andrew Cassidy, organised last summer’s ‘Lockdowns from Lauriston' which attracted more than 35,000 people from almost sixty countries. After twenty years of existence, the Lauriston Jesuit Centre has taken the new name of the ‘Edinburgh Jesuit Centre’, to let their new global audience know where they are. Andrew began Edinburgh’s Sacred Heart parish’s online engagement when he moved its RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) catechism to Zoom – not thinking it would take off. 'We were soon organising parish coffee mornings, bringing together teenagers with 80-year-olds: parishioners who had never met before.

'One early experience for the Edinburgh Jesuit Centre came as a shock, when "Zoombombers" targeted one of our early talks, taking over the meeting with bad language and inappropriate photos. The next day, we worked out effective protocols so that we were confident it couldn't happen again – and we haven’t had a problem since.' Ken has used Zoom in his role as delegate for the pastoral work of the Province, in which he coordinates the eleven Jesuit parishes across Britain: 'Once we upgraded skills and equipment, we were able to get the parish priests and assistants on weekly calls to look at how best the churches could

Another member of the spirituality team, Iona, is leading ‘Imagine’ – online Ignatian meditation sessions: ‘I was expecting Zoom to allow us less depth, less connection – less of that sense of aliveness between people. But in fact, Zoom has made it easier to bring these qualities into sessions. The screen almost provides a safe sense of distance for people, making it less threatening for them to bare their soul than if they were sat in the same room. ‘Zoom is very effective for gathering people together with common interests regardless of geographical location – and it is live, direct and conversational. Over time it’s become clear that a real community has been building, with a sense of journeying together. People are greeting each other at the beginning of sessions and sending personalised messages to the team because they feel they know them. Zoom is enabling community and connection and encounter – in a way that is very integrated into people’s real lives.’

JOIN US ONLINE Find out about spirituality retreats and training (, Imagine (, and upcoming talks and events at EJC ( - and if you are interested in vocations, contact Fr James Conway SJ at JESUIT.ORG.UK 13


Friends reunited

Denis Blackledge SJ finally succumbed to social media during the first lockdown, and was delighted by what - and who! - he found.


’ve had a life-long love of words, and of making words come alive through preaching. The breaking of the word is just as vital as the breaking of the bread. I’ve been blessed with decades of work in the media, and have been forced to learn the craft of getting a message across in a three-minute slot. The art of brevity, once learned, means parishioners get short sermons! The Covid era brought us all into the digital dimension as a vitally important means of keeping connections alive. Having successfully avoided social media for all these years, I suddenly found that my armchair had now become my pulpit! Threeminute, scripture-based, practical homilies became the new normal. Our pastoral assistant, Debbie Reynolds, sent these Sunday homilies out via WhatsApp and Facebook. Soon after, I was moved to 14 JESUITS & FRIENDS | SPRING 2021

begin an ‘armchair retreat’ on Facebook based on the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius Loyola. When I started, I hadn't even worked out how many weeks there would be in total – it’s turned out to be thirty! Initially meant just for a handful of people, word got out and the Archdiocese of Liverpool asked to use it weekly on their website. As Advent approached, the archdiocese asked if I’d do a brief homily for every day of the season – a sort of online Advent calendar. It was also promoted by the Jesuits in Britain, but it turns out that I had a wider-than-national audience. One friend told me the armchair retreat had reached Connecticut; Cape Town was another destination. Someone from New Zealand chirped up. Various folk locally, and lay people working for the Jesuits in Britain, said they were following the retreat. And a lady from Scotland suffering from cancer sent in a touching note. The most unexpected boon to taking to social media at this stage in my maturity has been reconnecting with old friends around the world. When I say old, I mean it in

Photo left: Winston on a boat trip from Darwin to Broome. Photo right: Peter with his Aikido class in Hiroshima

both senses of the word! Peter had been a novice with me and emailed from Hiroshima. Originally from Lincolnshire, he had gone into academia after leaving the Jesuits. He discovered the Japanese martial art of Aikido while at the University of Sussex and went to live in Japan in 1980 to teach comparative culture at Hiroshima University, a city where the Jesuits have a major presence. He now heads an Aikido training centre there. I also received a Christmas card from Winston, now in Queensland, who had also been using the armchair retreat. He too had been a novice with me and had moved to Australia when he left the Jesuits and married. All this was done as I had a hip replacement, but even with my limited mobility I was able to reach way beyond my armchair, beyond Liverpool and even beyond UK shores! When a butterfly flaps its wings, who knows where the impact will be?

FOLLOW THE ARMCHAIR RETREAT You can find it on Facebook:


Striking gold

at Farm Street's lunch service

What brought poet and performer Sarah de Nordwall to Farm Street with a box of untranslatable words, a map of Middle Earth, a jewelled slipper and the writings of St John of the Cross?


arm Street's lunch service for the homeless and vulnerably housed was already successfully providing a hot meal on Wednesdays and Saturdays during lockdown, but Fr Dominic Robinson SJ and the team wanted to provide more – including a space for creative writing where people could get to know each other and themselves in a more profound way.

After fifteen sessions, we have delightful experiences and lessons to report. The first lesson: prepare to be surprised by the way the Holy Spirit brings the most healing encounters from the most unexpected people. Our first guest spoke five languages and brought us gems from the world of Latvian literature. He also translated two of my poems into Russian. His goal was to finish his own short stories that had been written on the backs of A5 leaflets and now he had the chance to work on them and to create some new poems, of which he was rightly proud. Next through the door was an 81-year-old translator of

French and Italian. His take on most of our exercises was to produce touching and romantic pieces. He has also written a play in Esperanto that he is looking forward to sharing with us. He reminded me of one of my favourite characters in literature – Beppo Roadsweeper in Michael Ende’s fantasy novel Momo, who only tells the truth and so only speaks occasionally, but always has something wise to say. The second important lesson was that God really does make up for all the things you cannot do yourself. Planning matters, guidelines matter, shared goals matter and resilient boundaries matter, but most of all love and prayer matter – praying in advance for each of the guests that might come, asking for inspiration to bring the right exercise, trusting the charism you’ve been given by God and trusting that others will bring their charisms into the room, which will lead to alchemy. What marvellous pieces they made from the Russian word ‘Taska’, the Japanese phrase ‘Mono no aware’ and the Spanish word ‘Querencia’. People leave the class feeling delighted because they have discovered the treasure inside of themselves. They become convinced of the truth of an idea that I introduce at the beginning of the class: that each of us has a pocket of keys that we might not know about, but that those are the keys to other people's dreams.

FIND OUT MORE Discover Sarah's work at A delighted poet in the writing class. Photo: Sarah de Nordwall



The oldest man in India to be accused of terrorism Colm Fahy of Jesuit Missions reports on the case of Indian Jesuit Fr Stan Swamy, who was imprisoned in October 2020.


n October 2020, India’s anti-terrorist task force, the National Investigation Agency (NIA), raided an inconspicuous Jesuit house in Ranchi, in eastern India. Their target was the most unlikely of ‘terrorists’: Fr Stan Swamy SJ, an unsuspecting 83-year-old priest who was described by journalist Mari Marcel Thekaekara as ‘one of the gentlest, kindest, softestspoken men I have ever met’. Fr Swamy was arrested by the NIA on 8 October. That means that he has been in prison for over 100 days. This undeserved and unjust sentence begs the question: what was it that led to his arrest?

by peaceful means. However, he has faced a backlash from the NIA for doing so. They have unjustly accused him of having links with a Maoist organisation. Fr Swamy adamantly claims that these are deliberate fabrications in order to undermine his work, which comes into direct conflict with the vision of the Indian government. Fr Swamy and fifteen other human rights activists have been arrested on the same charge. However, The Washington Post has recently reported that an independent investigation confirms that evidence was planted on the activists’ laptops. Jesuit Missions has been involved in the global campaign to ‘Stand with

Stan’, which is calling for Fr Swamy to be released on bail. The first of two protests so far took place outside the High Commission of India in London on 21 October 2020. Fr Damian Howard SJ, Provincial of the British Jesuits, attempted to deliver a letter to the High Commissioner asking for Fr Swamy to be granted bail but was refused entry into the building. At the protest, Fr Howard commented: ‘Fr Swamy is a fellow Jesuit who has given his life to solidarity with a group of marginalised people. Now he is the one who is suffering, and it is our duty to stand in solidarity with him.’ The protest coincided with others in major cities across India. An international solidarity group has been set up and is chaired by the Director of Jesuit Missions, Paul Chitnis. The group includes representatives from Europe, Latin America and north America. It also includes Fr

Fr Swamy was born in 1937 and entered the Society of Jesus in 1957. Since the 1990s, Fr Swamy has focused his attention on defending the rights of the Adivasi people, especially in the state of Jharkhand, where indigenous communities face a number of threats from mining companies and police forces. Fr Swamy has sought to use his constitutional rights to defend Adivasi communities 16 JESUITS & FRIENDS | SPRING 2021

Fr Stan Swamy SJ. Photo: Society of Jesus


Fr Damian Howard SJ (left), Paul Chitnis (third from left) and other protesters in October 2020. Photo: Jesuit Missions

Xavier Jeyaraj SJ of the Jesuit Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat in Rome, who knows Fr Stan well. The group has worked to campaign for Fr Swamy’s release and also to raise awareness of the pressure being put on the freedom of speech of activists. Jesuit Missions’ supporters have also put pressure on the UK government to raise Fr

A POEM BY FR STAN May the New Year Bring a new awakening To all of us. May the new awakening Light a new flame In our hearts. May the new flame Help us discern truth from untruth And hold fast to truth. May truth embolden us To speak truth to power And be ready to pay the price.

Stan’s case with the Indian authorities. Hundreds of supporters wrote letters to their MPs and received sympathetic responses. Questions were asked in parliament on the subject, including one from Jesuiteducated Conservative MP for Barrow and Furness, Simon Fell. Paul Chitnis also held a meeting with Lord Ahmad, the Minister for South Asia. He was accompanied by committed human rights campaigners, Lord David Alton and Lord Des Browne. Lord Ahmad expressed his sympathy with the cause and said he would do everything in his power to help. A second protest was held outside the High Commission of India in December. This was well attended, notably by several Jesuits including Fr Mike Smith SJ who was attending his first protest since 1971. This protest gained renewed attention and articles about it featured in The Times of India and in Catholic media. More recently, articles have appeared in The New York Times and in January 2021, Fr

Howard and Cardinal Vincent Nichols had a letter published in The Telegraph calling for Fr Swamy’s release. Throughout all of this, Fr Swamy has kept a dignified presence in prison despite his poor health and conditions. On several occasions, he has been able to send poetry from his cell. He has also been keen to publicise the assistance he has received from other inmates who have helped him with his personal care needs. There have been three hearings regarding Fr Swamy’s bail. Two have been rejected and the third expects to come to a decision in early March 2021. We continue to pray that the Indian authorities will show clemency and release Fr Stan on bail at the earliest opportunity.

KEEP UP TO DATE You can continue to follow the latest updates on Fr Stan Swamy SJ by subscribing to Jesuit Missions’ newsletter at JESUIT.ORG.UK 17


Playing in the Kingdom of God Maria Neal of the Jesuit Institute introduces a creative and fruitful way for children to discover God.


ew Ignatian Spirituality resources are concerned with the very young. Adapting ideas whilst maintaining their integrity is difficult. Godly Play, researched and developed by Dr Jerome Berryman, offers an approach that is engaging without diluting authenticity. Initially developed for children it is now used across a variety of age groups and in over 57 countries. 'In most religious education children are told who God is. In Godly Play children discover who God is.' Godly Play uses a spiral curriculum of sessions – each one including a time of Preparation, Threshold, Circle, Story, Wondering and Feast. And at each stage an opportunity for sharing Ignatian Spirituality emerges. The 'Storyteller' and 'Doorkeeper' prepare the environment, ensuring it speaks of order and calm with stories arranged around the room in biblical sequence. The children are then invited to cross the threshold and build a circle in the middle of this safe 18 JESUITS & FRIENDS | SPRING 2021

space. The Storyteller uses high quality materials, words and gestures to present the chosen story in the centre of the circle. It may be a Sacred Story, journeying with the people of God; a Liturgical Action story; or a Parable challenging our views. After storytelling the children are invited to Wonder. In Fratelli tutti, Pope Francis

This photo: Kathyrn Lord. All other photos: Maria Neal

asks of the Good Samaritan parable: 'will we abandon the injured man and run to take refuge from the violence, or will we pursue the thieves? Will the wounded man end up being the justification for our irreconcilable divisions, our cruel indifference?' Likewise, the Storyteller asks of the children, ‘I wonder who was the good neighbour to the traveller? I wonder who


The children are able to express personal viewpoints without being judged, and the stories are delivered in an excellent and extremely memorable way.” creative using art materials to interpret and reimagine the story further. Comparable to Ignatius’s imaginative contemplation, Godly Play invites us to enter, be present, and create a ‘composition of place’. This process of play is pleasurable, voluntary and involves deep concentration. If you recall a playtime from your childhood, your total absorption probably felt something akin to meditation or prayer, an exchange of imaginative thoughts, a time of ‘colloquy’, ’as one friend speaks with another.’ was the good neighbour to the thief?’ Often the children respond with their own questions: ‘Why did the priest walk past? Why did the thief steal?’ The children can also respond simply by being still or get

Then follows the Feast, a ritual involving a 'mindful sharing of food, prayer and each other', an opportunity to rewind the clock and share ideas like a ‘review of prayer’. The children are blessed and leave the Storyteller and Doorkeeper contemplating their enlightening responses.

Godly Play is something Ignatius would surely recognise, 'for it is not knowing much, but realising and relishing things interiorly, that contents and satisfies the soul', no matter how young that soul may be. Within the British Province Godly Play sessions have been experienced at: Barlborough Hall Preparatory School, Derbyshire; St Joseph's RC Primary, Hurst Green; St John's Beaumont Preparatory School; and Stonyhurst St Mary's Hall.

JOIN IN THE FUN! For the latest information, check out JESUIT.ORG.UK 19

morals. (Two floors of Castle Loyola were destroyed by the crown owing to his grandfather’s lawlessness.) Iñigo was sixteen when his father died, after which he was sent to live with the Velazquez family and was trained to be a courtier and diplomat in service of the crown.

Hello there...

by John Paul de Quay


orn in 1491 in Castle Loyola in the Basque region of Spain, Iñigo López de Loyola was the youngest of 13 children. His mother having died when he was a child, he was raised by the wife of a local blacksmith. The environment he grew up in was a contradictory blend of Catholic piety and lax

...and took exceptional pleasure in bearing arms as a soldier...

He enjoyed life as a courtier. He was a snappily dressed womaniser and could dance like nobody’s business. Things do not look good ... BATTLE ON, MEN!

... which is where we pick up the story! It is May 1521 (500 years ago for today’s reader). Iñigo leads the Spanish troops against the French in the Battle of Pamplona. He and his men have fought courageously for two weeks but are now outnumbered. Oh yes! My subject Inigo is already vain and irritable. This will make him bitter, too ... if he survives, that is!

Or it may bring him to his senses.

The French soldiers had been so impressed by Iñigo’s courage in battle that they carried him home to Castle Loyola to recuperate.


He gambled and got into scrapes, was rough and abused his position of authority...

Little does Iñigo know that a spherical lump of iron is about to shatter his life as he knows it.


Iñigo’s legs are so mangled by the cannonball that they have to be broken and reset. Iñigo would not be able to go out for quite some time ...

Oh, no no no, Iñigo! This leg has set too short and is lumpy! The ladies don’t like lumpy or limping!

This is tedious! Tell me, do we happen to have any saucy literature about the castle to help pass the time before I can get back to courting?

Reading about the lives of the saints over a long time, Iñigo begins to notice that his thoughts of worldly pursuits are leaving him feeling unsettled.


We do have a book about the life of Jesus, and a copy of ‘The Lives of the Saints’!

Iñigo begins discerning that God is leading him by the spirit through his feelings, and by the time he is able to walk again in Spring 1522 he has a different plan for his life. He leaves Loyola with plans to travel to Jerusalem.

Oh yes! This will cause huge suffering and breed division...!

They look fine, Iñigo! You can walk again!

Doctor! I must have my legs looking beautiful! Break and reset my What is leg again, without anaesthetic? anaesthetic!

Yet when he dreams of imitating the lives of the saints, he feels consoled.

Iñigo stops and leaves his sword by the Black Madonna at the Benedictine monastery at Montserrat, gives away his posh clothes and embraces life as a pilgrim.

Or, just maybe, it might be a pivotal pause, allowing us to see the world with renewed sensitivity.



Making a positive


In Scotland, survivors of abuse by a Jesuit, a member of their staff, or a volunteer can access a new support service - Laura Andre tells us more.


n April 2020, just after the UK entered its first Covid-19 lockdown, Health in Mind, a Scottish mental health and wellbeing charity, launched ‘Bridge to Support’, a new service for survivors in Scotland of abuse by a Jesuit, a member of their staff, or a volunteer. Bridge to Support provides the chance for people to access support, and process the trauma of what happened and the impact it has had on their lives. It’s free, and we work together with people to help them find the support that is right for them and that will help them achieve their goals – whatever they are. The support available is tailored for each person and can include, but isn’t 22 JESUITS & FRIENDS | SPRING 2021

limited to, counselling and psychological support. For some people, their focus may be on rebuilding their confidence and focusing on their relationships, while for others, they may be looking to build essential life skills. Health in Mind has been promoting positive mental health and wellbeing in Scotland since 1982. We are a trauma-informed and trauma-skilled organisation with specialist experience in supporting survivors of abuse. This means that all our staff have the knowledge and skills to make a positive difference to the lives of those who have been impacted by trauma. We also run Trauma Counselling Line Scotland – a free counselling service for adults in Scotland who experienced abuse in childhood. We provide a range of trauma support in Edinburgh and the Lothians, and provide trauma training to other organisations across Scotland.

When setting up Bridge to Support, we recognised that it was important to let people know that the service is delivered independently by the team at Health in Mind. By being independent, it offers a place for people who may not be ready to reach out to the Society of Jesus and still allows them to receive the support that they need through our qualified staff. We know that reaching out and taking the first step towards accessing support can be difficult. As the first person that people will speak to when they get in touch with Bridge to Support, I’ll always listen in a warm and open way. In all that we do, we want to ensure that people who come to us feel listened to and heard.

FIND OUT MORE The service is open Monday to Thursdays, 9am to 5pm. You can find full details at


Lamenting and dreaming The monthly prayer intentions in which Pope Francis invites us to join him draw our attention to the people and places in our troubled world in need of God’s grace and mercy, writes David Stewart SJ.


he shock of loss has become a reality for too many of us, while all of us have lived for over a year with so much change and the disappearance of what we thought was fixed and certain. Bereavement has become a universal reality, yet each loss has been personal and awful. We talk of when we might return to normal while fearing that we never will; the future will be unlike what we imagined. Circumstances ranging from enforced loneliness to the sadness of locked churches have borne down on us. A lot of what we have known has passed away; it will take time and prayer to come to terms with such loss. The People of God have long known the importance of lamenting, not least in the great JewishChristian Psalms. There is a need to lament what was lost as much as to imagine the future. But Pope Francis continues to encourage us to dream of what might be.

Reconciliation, the topic of the pope’s intention in March, is such a rich subject; when we celebrate this sacrament, we bless what we hope is reconciled, repaired, most commonly in our relationships with each other. But we learn also to let go, especially of hurts and loss, drawing down the grace to move forward brightly. This is the renewed depth of God’s mercy, for which we pray this month. April’s intention reflects on how fundamental rights are threatened everywhere. Some brave people risk all to protect them. At times during the pandemic, some of us felt our rights were threatened by restrictions. Lest we slip into selfishness, we need always to remember that human solidarity and concern for the common good are core principles of Catholic Social Teaching. In May, the pope stays with the common good theme; he wants to highlight the place of regulation in the world of finance. Left uncontrolled, it will cause some to suffer as others grow rich. Those already poor are always the first to suffer. June has been, for many couples, the month of their wedding. Joyous celebration with friends and family has not been possible for a whole year. Christian marriage, a

INTENTIONS FOR THIS PERIOD MARCH Sacrament of reconciliation: Let us pray that we may experience the sacrament of reconciliation with renewed depth, to taste the infinite mercy of God. APRIL Fundamental rights: We pray for those who risk their lives while fighting for fundamental rights under dictatorships, authoritarian regimes and even in democracies in crisis. MAY The world of finance: Let us pray that those in charge of finance will work with governments to regulate the financial sphere and protect citizens from its dangers. JUNE The beauty of marriage: Let us pray for young people who are preparing for marriage with the support of a Christian community: may they grow in love, with generosity, faithfulness and patience.

sacrament in our faith, has become unfashionable. Our prayer this month reminds us of the need to support young people who want to follow this sacramental pathway.

FIND OUT MORE The Pope’s Prayer Network (Apostleship of Prayer) has a new website for England, Wales and Scotland. There’s a new mailing list that you can join (but we won’t bombard you with emails!). Find many ways to become an Apostle of Prayer and order some of our prayer cards and materials at




Fr Bart and the parishioners of St Thomas More have been hosting refugee guests for three-month placements for the past four years. Welcoming each new guest’s arrival brings the opportunity for encounter, to hear new stories, and to enrich one another’s lives.

“...the stories of migrants are always stories of an encounter between individuals and between cultures. For the communities and societies to which they come, migrants bring an opportunity for enrichment and the integral human development of all.” Fratelli tutti §133

©Mazur /


could provide a refugee family with an emergency food parcel


could ensure a refugee is welcomed & registered with JRS


could provide a hardship grant to a newly destitute refugee


could ensure in-depth legal advice for a refugee


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