Tony Horan SJ
I was born in Liverpool and started at the Jesuit College there at the age of 8. My dominant memory of my 10 and a half years at St Francis Xavier's was of friendly Jesuits, particularly the young Jesuits doing there regency, who took us for hikes and supervised sports. From there, I went to Liverpool University to find one of my teachers there as Chaplain, Fr Vincent Wilkin SJ. At first, the chaplaincy was not my dominant interest but then they put on a play and I was given a minor part and asked to be stage manager. After that, the chaplaincy became my dominant interest, at first because of the girls whom I had been in the play, but then I was invited to join a Gospel Enquiry Group, praying through SEE, JUDGE and ACT questions on a different Gospel passage every week. I met Jesus through these enquiries and learnt to put his teaching into action. Subsequent to that I began to wonder if Jesus was calling me to be a Jesuit and just before I went to do my National Service in the R.A.F., I went to Fr Wilkin to say I was wondering if I had a vocation. He was not surprised.
In September 1952, I entered the Noviceship, 5 days after leaving the R.A.F. Since then, I have spent 22 years working in schools. But my main interest has been helping people to pray. That desire sprang from a conversation with the wife of an Anglican Vicar, who asked me, “How do you teach your people to pray?” It was then I realised that we didn't teach our lay people to pray. It seemed to me in 1963 that all we did was teach them prayers. That changed in my 5 years at Loyola Hall, when we started giving retreats in daily life. I remember one old gentlemen saying at the end of one of them, “Why have I had to wait all my life and only now have I been taught how to pray with scripture”. Since Loyola Hall, I have worked at St Beuno’s Retreat Centre (5 years) and Mount Street Jesuit Centre in London (7 years) but alongside this I have worked with Christian Life Community, that is with lay people wanting to live according to St Ignatius’ teaching. After the retreat in daily life, I have learnt to give the full Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius in daily life and even to give them to groups. Then I started teaching young Jesuits to do what I had learnt to do and I was able to introduce lay people into that course, so that they could teach lay people to pray. I left the Mount Street Jesuit Centre in 2012, confident that there were laypeople to run the courses I had started and laypeople were being taught how to pray. Now I am working from the Corpus Christi Jesuit Community in Bournemouth but still, I hope, helping lay people to pray.