The whole fall has passed and for a variety of reasons I have not posted a blog. I do apologize. I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. But, I do have some news.
On December 31st I will be moving to Toronto, Ontario to begin my new ministry as Rector of Regis College. Regis is the Theologate (College of Studies for degrees in theology) for Jesuits and lay students. The total student enrollment is about 225 comprised of laity, priests, religious and Jesuits scholastics. Of course, Regis has a president, Fr. Joe Schner, S.J. who is responsible for the academic and administrative operation. My responsibility lies with the Jesuit community and accompanying the Jesuits student towards ordination to deaconite and priesthood. It is a huge challenge but has built in support by people and structures.
Before I go west, I would like to reflect on this past semester here in Halifax at our Centre of Spirtuality. First I am happy to announce that Fr. Jean-Marc Laporte, S.J. will be coming to Halifax to assume the responsibility as Director of the Centre in early February. In the interim Fr. Earl Smith, S.J. will be the acting director.
The programs during the fall have developed well. Since you have gone to the website to read this blog, you are familiar with our programs but let me share something on a more personal note. I am thrilled that we have a number of collaborators working with us at the Centre. For the most part, they have been schooled in the Spirtual Exercises of St. Ignatius through experience and study, workshops and animation of retreats. But, let me explain.
For three evening in the month of November Linda Longmire, a lay woman who prayed for an hour before each session, animated “What is Spirituality?” which had a deep spiritual character with an inter-religious foundation. The evenings centred mostly in silence, quiet and some breathing exercises, which appealed profoundly to the younger generation. Each evening we had about a half-dozen young adults praying in silence.
As well Jim Boyd, a retired engineer and scholar of the Spiritual Exercises, and Fr. Earl Smith, S.J., presently the Acting Director of the Centre, led a group on “Compassionate Listening” for three Saturdays. Some of these people will move into a program to develop their skills in Spiritual Accompanyment (Spiritual Direction) to assist people to develop their prayer life.
Every two weeks Donna Legere has animated “Finding God in All Things” which opens people to a variety of Ignatian Prayer methods for daily living. Donna has made the full Spirtual Exercises–once in daily life about 20 years ago and more recently in Guelph, Ontario in a silent 30 day retreat with an integration program after the prayer experience.
Probably the most successful, in terms of numbers, have the “Days of Silent Prayer”. These Saturdays from 9:00 — 5:00 have filled our Centre with about 20 people each time. Indeed, this makes my heart very happy. When I read the evaluations—positive and desiring more similar days, I realize that we are in a very noisy culture filled with pleasand and unpleasant noise. People are in need to go inside and find an inner peace. That’s what I find so good about personal, daily prayer.
Being a Jesuit Centre our legacy and approach stays very close to St. Ignatius. To open the programs in September we offered “Ignatius and His Legacy for the 21st Century” which Fr. Earl Smith, S.J. and Sr. Mary Lavers, SC , a Sister of Charity in Halifax and a member of the Atlantic Association of the Spiritual Exercises for over 20 years, spearheaded with great interest. With personal input, tapes and time for prayer this group grew in its knowledge of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits).
Thanks for visiting with me and I’ll hope to post one or two more blogs before I fly to T.O. Peace and Blessings for Christmas.
Fr. George P. Leach, S.J.