Spiritual pyrotechnics by the seaside beside the sea


May Mind and Tongue Made Strong in Love…Set Fire To Others With Its Flame (Stanbrook Abbey Hymnal)







For everyone involved the four province project was a completely new venture and I was somewhat apprehensive, if not cynical, about the exercise.

As so often happens when one allows ‘thy will’ and not ‘my will’ to be done, my apprehension and cynicism were soon replaced by the consolation in experiencing the joy of the Gospel as we came together to work, rest and pray.

We were joined on the team by Evelyne Maloret and Monika Chmelova, both experienced practitioners in the art of spiritual accompaniment who have been closely involved with the parish over some years. This was truly not just a ‘J’ team but it was the ‘A’ Ignatian team!

The A team

In the parish we met a very enthusiastic team, whose hard work had really laid the way for our arrival and we did our best to slot in and adapt ourselves and our individual rhythms around a prepared programme.   And a comprehensive programme it was too, shaped by the desires of the local community, we found ourselves giving workshops on Ignatian spirituality and prayer, preaching, giving one-to-one spiritual accompaniment,visiting sick parishioners in their houses or care homes, as well as attending other events that had been planned such as the ecumenical healing service, the taize prayer evening, and a powerfully personal mime presentation given by Steve Murray,  not to mention the more social occasions, such as a men’s pub night, an afternoon tea party, and the barbecue and fireworks-on-the-beach finale, lighting up the cliffs over the seaside beside the sea! A fitting material pyrotechnic display, ending the spiritual ‘pyrotechnics’ of a blessed week when hearts, minds and tongues were made strong together in love.

The buzz around Boscombe was contagious.  It was life-giving to see how well-received our efforts were, and there was a palpable sense that the parishioners were hoping to take things further, to deepen their familiarity with what they had discovered, and to put the desires that surfaced during the week into practice.

It was also a great experience of community, or perhaps more explicitly, of being a discerning, apostolic and international community.  We six Jesuits hailing from Belgium, the Netherlands, Scotland, Ireland and England, did not know each other, as we began the week but after just one day the level and quality of sharing was such that we soon felt that we were no longer strangers but had a strong bond and we all felt good to be Jesuits together on a Mission. It was if we were doing what our blessed founders did, coming together as a small band of companions in the Lord willing to be generous and take risks in sharing and working together: a consoling experience in which the colours of the national flags, though no doubt resonating in the varied accents, took a clear second place to the brotherhood found beneath that Banner of the Cross under which each Jesuit places himself in the Exercises.

Gerard Gallen SJ and Mark McDevitt SJ