Jesuits in Britain have for many decades been responsible for the formation (our jargon for training) of Jesuits from all over the world. They have been sent to London by their Superiors to benefit from our teaching of Theology and Philosophy at Heythrop College at undergraduate and masters levels, and a number also come to study at other universities in London and around the country. We have four “formation communities” in London where Jesuit scholastics (our jargon for students) live alongside British Jesuits during their time here. As part of their formation the scholastics volunteer for ministry in local parishes, prisons or charities and can have a big impact in their local communities. Among our current scholastics is Mayamiko Kachipapa SJ, from Malawi, living in our Wimbledon community and studying at Kings College.
I joined the Jesuits in July, 2011 in Lusaka, Zambia where I did my Novitiate. After making my first vows, I proceeded to Harare to study philosophy at Arrupe College. Currently, I am doing a Masters in philosophy at King’s College, London.
When I think about my time in formation so far, I am always filled with a sense of gratitude for the moment it occurred to me that without doubt I wanted to be a Jesuit. The past five years in formation have offered me many experiences that inspired me personally and helped me grow. One outstanding inspiration is the example, friendship and mentorship of the fine, intelligent, prayerful and proactive Jesuits I live with in Jesuit communities.
I grew up noticing that I had a wide range of intellectual and other human interests. Some such interests were in tension and led me to fundamental questions about my faith, and about the meaning of the things people do.
Before entering the Jesuits, I did a degree in engineering at University of Malawi and worked for nearly two years after college. I landed myself in engineering as a halfway deal between (theoretical) physics – my main interest at the time – and a more practical profession. Some strolls in physics would pull me in one direction and I would question my faith.
While at the university, I grew conscious of both the content and my experience of the faith. Sometimes I just felt drawn to desire for a deeper experience of prayer.
Engineering studies, and later, work assured me that I also wanted to do something that impacted people’s everyday lives. But this pulled me again in another direction that threatened my intellectual side.
The first thing I noticed about the Jesuits with whom I lived was their way of integrating these very qualities in themselves. Right from Novitiate, I met exemplary Jesuits who had deep interests in questions of physics, philosophy, theology, art, and who cared for human welfare and, importantly, their prayer lives. I marvelled. These Jesuits have done so much to improve people’s lives. And this comes right from the spirituality of St Ignatius himself who inspired those Jesuits and I, too, to find meaning in serving for some purpose beyond the individual self: the greater glory of God.
I live each day challenged by them to become better in all my qualities and to serve God and others.
Pray with us
A five-day programme of prayer to lead you a little deeper into Ignatian spirituality.
St Ignatius of Loyola, who founded the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in 1540, with nine companions, was also the founder of a tradition (or 'school', or approach to prayer) now known as Ignatian spirituality.
Four years ago, running up to the Feast of St Ignatius (31 July), Pray-as-you-go took the form of a five-day "novena" (using the term a little loosely - a novena should be nine days!) This was a programme of meditations in the Ignatian tradition, with each day building on the previous one, giving the user the opportunity to go a little deeper than is usually possible with the short, daily prayer sessions.
Paul has been consultor, superior, novice director and the provincial’s assistant for spirituality. He is now province assistant for formation, and Socius (from 1st December).