Steven and Rene profess their first vows

Steven and Rene making their vows with Novice Master Brendan Callaghan SJ
Steven and Rene making their vows with Novice Master Brendan Callaghan SJ

Every year on the first Saturday in September, novices from the Inter-Provincial novitiate in Birmingham pronounce simple and perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. On 5th September  René de los Reyes SJ and Steven Edmunds SJ of the British Province made their First Vows at St. Mary’s Church in Harborne, Birmingham.  

Both Steven and René are trained nurses.  Steven is an alumnus of St Ignatius College in Enfield.  René, originally from the Philippines, moved to England to train and then remained here to work.

The First Vow Mass was celebrated by British Provincial Dermot Preston SJ, Irish Provincial Tom Layden SJ, who gave the homily, John Verschuren SJ, Provincial of the Netherlands/Flanders Provinces, and Brendan Callaghan SJ,  Novice Master for the Interprovincial Novitiate.

Fr Layden recalled the Decree of the 32nd General Congregation of the Jesuit Order in 1974 when Fr General Pedro Arrupe asked:

The four concelebrants“What is it to be a Jesuit? It is to know that one is a sinner, yet called to be a companion of Jesus as Ignatius was: Ignatius who begged the Blessed Virgin to “place him with her son” and who then saw the Father himself ask Jesus, carrying his cross, to take him into his company”.  He reflected on the nature of the pilgrim journey, and how Jesuits are called to serve the faith and promote social justice.

The church was busy, with many family members and friends of the two new Jesuits travelling to Birmingham to witness this special occasion.  They were joined by many parishioners and about 40 brother Jesuits who all wished them well as they embark on the next stage of their Jesuit formation journey: both men travelled on Sunday to Toronto where they will begin Philosophy Studies at Regis College.

After the Mass there was a splendid reception at the novitiate to continue the celebration, for which special thanks are due to Martina and Collette who have been supporting the novitiate with their culinary skills for over 40 years.

Eight men are entering the novitiate this year: three of the British Province, three of Ireland, and two of Netherlands/Flanders.  They will join the five novices who are moving into their second year.

A Jesuit novice spends the first two years of his formation at the novitiate and this culminates in his profession of the vows. Important aspects of the two years are making the Spiritual Exercises, cultivating a rhythm of prayer and reflection, experiencing Jesuit community life, and participating in a variety of apostolic experiences.

The novitiate community