Hearts on Fire at Corpus Christi Boscombe


At the second Jesuit Parishes Conference in February 2014, the delegates from each of the ten Jesuit  parishes in Britain were challenged by the Jesuit Provincial, Fr Dermot Preston SJ to return to their parishes and make them into thriving centres of Ignatian Spirituality.

When our delegates returned from the Conference, and started planning to create our thriving centre for Ignatian Spirituality, they were building on strong foundations. A few years ago Evelyn Maloret of Jersey and long a leader in Christian Life Community (CLC), was invited by Fr Denis Blackledge SJ to give two retreats in Daily Life.  Four Christian Life Communities resulted from those retreats, three of which still flourish.

And in October 2012 Tony Horan SJ arrived in Bosombe from the Mount St Jesuit Centre with a triple mission: to assist in the Community, to assist in the Parish and to continue the Spirituality Work he had been doing in the Mount Street Jesuit Centre. At Mount Street, he had run a monthly day of prayer and reflection on Ignatian Spirituality, so he started this locally. At Mount Street, he also put together and ran a 30 session Ignatian Spirituality course, “Deepening our awareness of God within us”, consisting of five modules, Prayer, Images of God and self, Spiritual Movements, Discernment and Spititual Conversation; and that was also started in Boscombe in September 2013. In London Tony accompanied individuals and groups through full exercises in Daily Life (the so-called 19th Annotation Retreat) so that was also started in Boscombe.

So our next step on the road to becoming a thriving centre for Ignatian Spirituality was a Parish Day on June 21st, the feast of Corpus Christi, which was an opportunity for the whole worshipping community to experience praying in Ignatian ways, led by Fr Simon Bishop SJ, Province Director of Spirituality.  Members of our team came up with the title "Hearts on Fire" when they explained how excited and inspired they felt when planning our Parish Day.  It reminded them of the two disciples who, after meeting the risen Jesus on the road to Emmaus, described their experience when Jesus revealed Himself to them.  They said to each other: "Were not our hearts on fire when He spoke to us along the road and when He explained the scriptures to us?" (Luke 24: v36). The flaming heart logo was chosen from hundreds, reminding us of the revelations of Jesus' Sacred Heart.  Whilst revealing His heart like a burning flame, Jesus Himself spoke of His most ardent love for all people.

The day included a review of the life of St Ignatius "His story, your story, our story", two interactive workshops and time for reconciliation, adoration and of course, refreshments and socialising. The day finished with a barbecue and a “Nightfever” event, welcoming strangers into the church to light a candle. About 100 people participated in the day.

To build on this success it was decided to run Three Weeks of Accompanied Prayer in Advent. The three accompaniers were Evelyne Maloret, Chris Bryden (CLC member) and Tony Horan SJ working with the parish team. Sixteen people made the retreat.

Afterwards a small team of parishioners generously agreed to run the “Nurturing The Seed” programme, supported by the Hearts on Fire team, starting in January  2015. At the end of this five week programme ten people wanted to join Christian Life Community so we started two new groups and we now have five CLCs in the area.

Meanwhile the planning of our 2015 Mission Week has gone apace. The mission week will be launched on Saturday 25th July with a barbecue and beach gathering, followed by a vigil Mass.  Sunday will be a parish fun day with youth events in the evening including a youth mass and party with a firepit.  During the week there will be morning and evening workshops and spiritual guides will be available for one to one prayer sessions.  There will be awareness walks, a men’s gathering in a local pub, a tea for those who live on their own, a healing service, and a final barbecue and Mass, followed by fireworks on Friday 31st.

The week will be supported by a team of six Jesuits who are taking part in a major inter-province project.  All Jesuits in the four provinces of Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands and Flanders under the age of 65 are joining together to work in new ways of evangelisation for a week.  In Boscombe the team will be co-ordinated by Fr Gerry Gallen SJ, of the British province, usually based in Mount St.  The team will include two scholastics (Jesuits in training) and Fr Tom Layden SJ, the Irish provincial, chaplain Fr Jos Moons SJ from the Netherlands and Fr Bernard Pottier SJ,  professor of theology and philosophy in Brussels, member of Pope's International Theology Commission.

Tony Horan SJ