Celebrating a thousand years of life in the Society

The Province Conference held on 23-25 April at Stonyhurst College offered the traditional opportunity for the Jesuits to celebrate important milestones in the service of their members.

As there was no province conference last year, the 2019 meeting was a double celebration: remembering a thousand years of life in the Society and over five hundred in the priesthood. The Jubilarians’ service was celebrated at mass in the boy’s chapel at Stonyhurst College by the Jesuit Provincial Fr Damian Howard SJ. Fr Damian Jackson SJ gave the homily.

Concelebrating were Frs Michael Bingham, Damian Jackson and Dermot O’Connor, all celebrating 60 years in the Society, and Frs Kevin Fox and Peter Edmunds celebrating 50 years of priesthood and respectively 65 and 60 years in the Society (in 2018). Also present were Fr Ian Tomlinson (60 years in the Society) and Fr Keith McMillan (25 years in the priesthood).

Further votes of thanks were given at the Jubilarians’ dinner which followed the mass, allowing all 130 Jesuits and lay partners in mission to demonstrate their appreciation. On the previous evening, scholastic Christopher Brolly and novice John Bosco introduced all the attendees to a lively atmosphere with some musical accompaniment. 

“The celebration was generous, but to think of jubilee as a last hurrah for the oldies is to ignore the Church’s tradition and that of the Jews who handed down both the word jubilee and its spirit,” reflects Fr Kevin Fox. “Read the book of Leviticus (especially chapter 24) and see that jubilee – proclaimed by the yobel, the ram’s horn – is a celebration not of past achievement but of new beginning. For us, then, we seek renewal in the service of the risen Lord, in this season when He will ascend with shouts of joy and the trumpet blast. Thank you for your prayers – and thanks to Christopher and John for the trumpet accompaniment at the cabaret!”