Building community through Ignatian spirituality

Corpus Christi, Boscombe
The High Altar at Corpus Christi Church, Boscombe

Final preparations are being made at the busy Corpus Christi parish in Boscombe for the Hearts on Fire parish mission week which begins this Saturday 25 July and is part of the interprovincial summer “experiment” which sees Jesuits from the four North West Europe provinces collaborating in teams.

Fr Tony Horan SJ has previously reported on how the Hearts on Fire mission was established. The final programme can be read here.

There is a strong focus on spirituality for children and young people.  On Sunday, there will be a beach fun day for all the family with a youth mass at 5pm followed by a barbecue.  On Monday and Tuesday there will be meditations for children aged 5-10 and aged 11-14. 

For adults there are daily workshops on developing a strong relationship with God, and the opportunity for one to one spiritual direction from one of the visiting Jesuit team.

“Our aim is to build our community through the gift of Ignatian Spirituality,” explains Siobhan Regan, one of the co-ordinating team for Hearts on Fire. “We are keen to reach out to people of other Christian denominations and are working with Churches Together to welcome other faith communities.”

The senses, prayer and the environment

“One thing we wanted to achieve was to help people understand that prayer can happen anywhere, not just in church,” says Siobhan. “We are holding several different outdoor events to help people find God in the landscape and in everyday life.  There are two Awareness Walks, based on a programme used by retreatants at St Beuno's Jesuit spirituality centre in North Wales, where people are guided in using all five senses to notice the environment and to find their own private prayer space out of doors.  The Emmaus Walk is a walk taken in pairs where two people share, listen and reflect on how they experience God.  And there is Walk on the Wildside, a pilgrimage walk which is taken as a group with stops for group and private prayer.”Fr Denis Blackledge SJ (far left) at the Hearts on Fire consultation in Boscombe, May 2015

The vision behind the youth programme is to create a presence for Ignatian spirituality in children’s lives, according to another member of the Hearts of Fire team, Michelle Ellison. “We want to deepen their prayer life by helping them recognise that there are many different ways of praying together and individually, for example using an online tool like Pray as you go.  We want children and young people to be able to talk about spirituality and understand the different ways they might bring it into their everyday lives.”

In addition to the two prayer mediations mornings for children from 5-10 and from 11-14, the Corpus Christi youth music group is preparing for a special youth mass on Sunday 26 July which will be followed by a barbecue.  And Steve Murray of Behold Ministry will use drama and mime to show young people how they can start conversations about scripture.

The parish priest at Corpus Christi, Fr Denis Blackledge SJ, says initiatives like Hearts on Fire ensure parishes remain vibrant and active: “This week will help us grow and strengthen our community and our prayer life – seeing God in all things.” He is pictured above (far left) during the Hearts on Fire consultation held in the parish in May 2015.