Anthony Nye SJ
Born in London in 1932, I am now exploring what it is like to be in one’s eighties. I am reasonably mobile, but aware of diminishing energy; still working in the parish (Farm St in London) where I was parish priest and still engaged in spiritual direction.
I look back on how my Jesuit vocation developed. I felt called to the priesthood as an Anglican after a retreat at Canterbury in my Lower Sixth Year in a grammar school in Croydon. As a university student reading English at University College, London, I became a Roman Catholic because I looked for greater certainty about the sacraments and the nature of the Church. The call to priesthood returned when I was approaching 21. There was a strong reflection (typical of a student, perhaps) that I needed obedience and the other vows to channel my talents in God’s service .I was helped by several Student Cross pilgrimages to Walsingham in Holy Week at which one of the chaplains was Fr. Edward Ennis SJ. But I was more influenced, I think, by my reading (especially St. Edmund Campion SJ and the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins SJ) than by contact with actual Jesuits.
Obedience has so worked in my life that all my ministries seem to have been chosen by superiors and not by myself. They have presented challenges and opportunities I never envisaged. That is after 58 years as a Jesuit and 47 years as a priest, mainly happy and fulfilled. I would like to list their variety. I have been Assistant (Socius) to the Novice-Master during the spiritual year after priestly studies, then into the “deep end”- headmaster of a boarding school, Mount St. Mary’s. I was university chaplain (Cardiff), retreat-giver at Loyola Hall, St. Beuno’s and Campion House, Osterley, parish priest at Farm Street Church, Spiritual Director at the seminary Allen Hall (at the request of Cardinal Hume), Superior of three communities (a form of community service, one might say), and National Chaplain to the Christian Life Community of England and Wales. There have also been working and studying sabbaticals, allowing travel to South Africa (under apartheid), Zimbabwe (during the war of independence), Guyana, Central Europe and the Holy Land .I am truly grateful for all this variety of experience, which is typical of many Jesuit vocations.
Now in what could be termed semi (but by no means complete) retirement, I am trying to use the space for more prayer and also for enjoying the London I love with all its opportunities of museums, galleries and concerts to keep the mind fresh. I see this time as an invitation to enter into the more contemplative side of the Ignatian vocation, in which I hope to be supportive of the Church and the Society of Jesus with encouragement of others and prayer, by no means at the margin, but at the true apostolic centre.