May 10th, 2015
The Hurtado Jesuit Centre: a reflective space
One of my favourite Jesuit saints is Saint Alberto Hurtado SJ whom the centre here is named after. I’ve been attracted to him mainly because of his apostolic fervour. As is evident if one reads his biography, he integrates well the areas of Social justice, Spirituality, and Academia. As a Jesuit Scholastic, my primary mission from the society is to ‘study’, and so I study Philosophy and Theology at Heythrop College. My small involvement from time to time in the Hurtado Jesuit Centre ensures that I don’t neglect the other two areas which Hurtado was passionate about. One of my most positive experiences of the year has been assisting in giving a retreat during lent at the HJC for a group of about 30 young adults preparing for confirmation.
In the age of what many have termed an ‘information overload’, I find that taking the time to stop and reflect with God’s help on what is happening within myself is a very rewarding practice. I am pleased that the centre was able to offer such a reflective space to these teenagers. Our theme for the day was Discipleship and the activities were designed to help them reflect on Jesus’ invitation to follow him. Emphasis was made of the fact that we are each called by name to follow Christ and that the invitation is not forced on us but is a personal one which we have all been given the grace to respond to.
For the first part of the retreat, I led them in a reflection on the hymn ‘The Summons’. In the second part, Christian (another Scholastic who lives in the Jesuit community here) helped them to enter into prayer by encouraging them to dramatise a selection of Gospel passages. He also led the group in praying the Our Father using British sign language. For me, this was an engaging way to pray since although it was silent, the entire body was utilised.
We ended the day with a led Ignatian Examen. It was very inspiring to see so many teenagers generously giving up a Saturday afternoon and fully participating in all the activities. My hope would be that the few hours of input and the space given at the centre will bear much fruit in their lives as they try to respond to the Lord’s call on the pilgrim journey of life.
Joel Thompson is a Jesuit Scholastic and Member of the Hurtado Jesuit Community