Greetings & Farewell

Posted December 17, 2008 by Fr. George Leach, S.J.
Categories: Testimonials

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.


My Silent Retreat & Ignatian Contemplation

Posted May 31, 2008 by Fr. George Leach, S.J.
Categories: Uncategorized

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     On May 11th I entered the gentle, mysterious reality of my personal retreat–days of solitude & silence with personal spiritual  accompanyment.  Nestled in the huge pines and clusters of spruce trees, Clarendon Wood at the Manresa Jesuit Retreat House in Pickering, Ontario, provided me with a well equipped, restful cottage in which to pray, read and contemplate life’s mysteries. 

     To begin my time of prayer on Pentecost Sunday focussed my attention of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  I asked myself: ‘What are my gifts?’  ‘How do I use them?’ ‘How will they develop?’  As I walked the beautiful grounds, I pondered these questions and let the answers surface ever so gently.  I realized that it was time to pray formally for an hour.  I went to the cottage, centred and began to pray in the Ignatian style of Contemplation. 

     The Call to Love led me to contemplate the Apparation of Jesus to His diciples on the shores of lake Tiberias (John 21).  In the Ignatian style of contemplation I used my imagination to see the shores of the lake, picture the people like Peter & John & the other disciples and place myself in the scene.  As Jesus asked Peter “Do you love me?” and Peter responded (three times),  I heard the same questions and made my own response in a prayerful, silent way to my God.  In my mind’s eye (my imagination) I watched what they were doing at this breakfast scene:  Jesus called them ashore from fishing;  He prepared some fish over a charcoal fire;  He spoke to them . . .  I prayerfully made my response.

[In Ignatian Contemplation the person praying in this format reads over the Scripture passage,  sees the people involved,  hears the words they are speaking and observes their actions.  He or She draws spiritual fruit from pondering the passage.  Sometimes, the person finds herself or himself in the scene, sitting at the fire or watching the action or responding to the questions.  This method of prayer seems to draw up one’s affective response to the mystery in the Scripture.] [cf  Puhl, Loyola Press,  The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius #101–109 for the guideslines of this method of prayer.]

     My retreat continued for the next eight days with three one hour contemplative prayer periods (morning, afternoon & evening).    Each  period began with a few minutes of preparation time to select the passage and get ready to pray.  Each one concluded with a time to write a review to record the salient points (graces) following the prayer. (This really means about 1& 1/4 hours.)  As well each day I had a meaningful conversation with the person accomanying me on these days of prayer.  Each day’s review led to the next day’s prayer after our spiritual dialogue flowing from my formal prayer periods, my spiritual reading (Bangert’s Claude Le Jaye & Alphonso Salmeron, two cofounders of the Society of Jesus with St. Ignatius Loyola) and times for rest and walks around the much-cared-for grounds.

     The core of my retreat centered on the Following of Christ, the Second Week of the Spirtual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  By contemplating different events in His public life (The sermon on the Mount, the cure of Peter’s mother-in-law, His rejection at Nazareth, His walking on the water, etc.) I came to know Jesus more deeply (a variety of insights and graces arose in me), to love him more dearly (my heart was moved) and to desire to follow Him more closely (living these graces at home will be the proof of the pudding).  (If you read this, please say a wee prayer for me.  Thanks) 

George Leach, S.J.  Director




Getting Settled

Posted May 1, 2008 by Fr. George Leach, S.J.
Categories: Uncategorized

A WINTER JOURNAL … February to April …

On February 2nd & March 15th the Jesuit Centre hosted two Silent Days of Prayer.  On each day more than 20 people spent the time in quiet reflection and prayer.  We all gathered for a faith-sharing (or, gathering of graces) session each afternoon before Mass, which concluded each day. 

In mid-February the Youth leaders from Life Teen Program spend a day of reflection with conferences on different prayer styles, a time of silence before the Blessed Sacrament, followed by a group faith sharing.   They explored their relationship with God and others during the afternoon.  The Eucharistic Celebration concluded our day.

The Centre staff presented two lenten missions during lent–one at Holy Trinity Pastoral Unit in Lower Sackville and the other at Holy Family Parish in Amherst. 

On the first week-end of lent (February 9-13) after preaching at all the Masses (seven in three churches)  Deacon Dan Kelly, S.J., Fr. Earl Smith, S.J. & Fr. George Leach, S.J. shared the mission taking one night each–Monday (Anointing of the Sick),  Tuesday (Reconciliation) and Wednesday (Come Follow Me).

On the fourth week-end of Lent (March 1-4) the Jesuits (Fr. George Leach, S.J. & Fr. Earl Smith, S.J.) preached a mission at Holy Family Parish in Amherst, N.S.    The theme was the Eucharist in preparation for the Eucharistic Congress in Quebec City in June.   After preaching at the Sunday Masses, Fr. George presented a short history of the Eucharist and an explanation of the Eucharistic Prayer via powerpoint on both Sunday and Monday evenings.  On Tuesday Fr. Earl preached on the Eucharist sprinkling his presentation with some salient stories.

After Easter  the Jesuit team (Dan, Earl & George) went to Stella Maris Hospitality Centre to direct, guide and/or accompany 15 retreantants in a silent prayer week-end.  The silence was profound;  the Eucharists were prayerful;  and, everyone went home grace-filled.


Welcome to the Jesuit Centre of Spirituality Blog

Posted March 29, 2008 by Fr. George Leach, S.J.
Categories: Events

During the last two weeks of December and through the Christmas holidays the Jesuits of Halifax (Fr. George Leach, S.J., Fr. Earl Smith, S.J. and Deacon Dan Kelly, S.J.) moved from the St. Patrick’s Rectory to the former residence of the Sisters of Charity at 2287 Brunswick Street. A number of friends assisted in this move “many hands make light work!” We are deeply grateful to Joe Power, Tom LeBlanc, John Lewis, John Brownlow, Grant McLean, Blair Beed & Fathers Owen Connolly & Basil Carew. Of course, our faithful cook, Joanne Pettipas, came with us. Thanks to her, the kitchen stuff arrived in tact with the dishes unbroken and everything else in place. Yes, we have many reasons for deep gratitude.

Our new Centre, replete with Chapel, Large Sitting Room, Library, Dining Room and Kitchen and living quarters on the second floor, provides an ideal space for group and individual ministryboth at the Centre and in the Maritimes. Since the beginning of the year the Jesuit team has animated a Day of Silence under the direction of Fr. Earl Smith for 21 people at the Centre. All three of the Jesuits engaged the people of Holy Trinity Pastoral Unit (St. John Vianney, St. Elizabeth Seton & St. Francis of Assisi) in Lower Sackville in a parish mission with the theme: COME FOLLOW ME. As well, Dan Kelly and Fr. George led the Life Teen leadership team in a Day of Prayer, introducing these young leaders to Ignatian contemplation, vocal prayer and the Spiritual Awareness Inquiry.

Each of the Jesuits minister to many different people in spiritual accompaniment. Some seek spiritual counselling, others are making the Spiritual Exercises in daily life Annotation 19) while others come for regular spiritual conversation.

Since Dan Kelly is ordained a deacon, he preaches regularly at the SMU Sunday evening Mass celebrated at the Canadian Martyrs’ Church. Fr. George and Fr. Earl preside and preach also. Dan is the Roman Catholic chaplain at SMU with an office full of students and regular interviews.

On a monthly basis Fr. Earl Smith, S.J. goes to Antigonish for two days as one of the Spiritual Counsellors at Bethany for the retired Sisters of St. Martha.

Fr. George P. Leach, S.J.