We celebrate the first vows of two new Jesuits
The last few days have been joyful ones for the Society of Jesus in north west Europe as two new Jesuits made their First Vows. Thomas Klein SJ and Jacques St Laurent SJ both joined the north west European Jesuit novitiate at Manresa House in Birmingham in September 2015.
Yesterday Fr Damian Howard SJ, Provincial of the Jesuits in Britain, received Jacques’ first vows in the chapel at Manresa House, where he himself had made his first vows nearly 26 years ago. Concelebrating were the three men who had served as novice masters over the last two and a half years: Fr Brendan Callaghan SJ, Fr Kevin O’Rourke SJ, and Fr Simon Bishop SJ. In his welcome, current novice master Fr Simon observed that the chapelwas the heart of the novitiate, a holy place which had seen much grace and commitment to Christ.
Fr Damian preached about the importance of religious life – a sign of total self-giving - to the health of the whole Church. He warned against the dangers of complacency, the “cheap grace” of an infinitely indulgent God, and reminded Jacques of the need to maintain the challenge of the Gospel message. “Religious life is the Church’s secret weapon: it’s there to keep the Gospel message salty, the very challenge of it to preserve the tang of faith.”
Jacques is studying Philiosphy at Centre Sèvres in Paris. The Manresa House community welcomed many of Jacques’ friends and relations to the celebrations, including several Jesuit scholastics and current novices who returned from their studies and experiments for the occasion. A group travelled with Jacques from Paris in order to provide music for the liturgy, including Fr Philip Endean SJ, Marc Veselovsky SJ of the Canadian Province, Chris Brolly SJ and Thomas Klein SJ (pictured above), who had made his vows two days before.
Thomas, who is a member of the Jesuit Region of the European Low Countries, is currently studying Philosophy and Theology at the Catholic University of Leuven. He took his first vows on Saturday at the Chapel at Leuven. They were received by the Low Countries Regional Superior Fr Johan Verschueren SJ. Concelebrants included Fr Gerard Wilkens SJ, who baptised Thomas in 1987, as well his novice master Fr Kevin O’Rourke SJ. Thomas’ two sisters and brother attended and five musical nephews and nieces contributed to the ceremony.
“It was a very joyful day with so many friends and family” Thomas commented.
Jacques gave special thanks to all those who had supported him on his journey of commitment and asked for their continued prayers.