In this article Sr Pauline Campbell shares her experience of retreat work with the parents and teachers in Belvedere Secondary College, Dublin, run by the Jesuits. “In 2008 Debbie and I were invited as Spiritual Directors to give a week of Guided Prayer to Parents and Teachers in Belvedere Secondary College run by the Jesuits.
This is a method of making a Directed Retreat in the midst of a busy day. What impressed me most was the generosity of the participants in making time within their busy schedule within the family, to hear the call of prayer and to participate in Ignatian Spirituality, which is part of their sons’ education. Since then this retreat has continued annually during Lent. Gradually the numbers decreased, but spiritual direction has continued for some of the parents.
In March 2017, an Oasis Day was suggested to be held in Manresa to replace the retreat, but some of the parents requested their need to continue to explore their spirituality within the school where their sons were experiencing the Ignatian method. This retreat was organised by a parent.
Shortly afterwards, the group decided to come together to share, reflect and discern for the future. Debbie and I and the Head Chaplin, Padraic Swan, were invited to attend. There were two meetings with many surprises and decisions and the title they decided upon was: The Belvedere Parent Ignatian Group.
The following points were highlighted:
- The Year of The Family being held In Ireland in 2018 with the presence of Pope Francis – Jesuit (parents with their children in Belvedere belong to a Jesuit Family).
- Blessed John Sullivan SJ. How to get to know more about his spirituality, as he taught the boys in Clongowes Wood Jesuit College for many years. The possibility of a visit to Clongowes Wood College was discussed.
- Request for a two-day retreat during Advent
A bus was hired the end of November 2017 for the visit to Clongows and forty parents applied. It happened to be the Feast of Christ the King, and we were privileged to participate in a Solemn High Mass in the presence of the Jesuit community and one hundred and fifty boarders. Conor Harper SJ – Postulator for the Cause of Blessed John Sullivan SJ – gave a very informative tour of the College and grounds. He later gave each participant a personal Blessing with the small cross which Fr. John always held in his hands.
During the First Week of Advent (a busy time for mothers in the preparation for Christmas) a two-day retreat with ten parents was held.
In January 2018, twenty five parents came to a Meditation on John’s Gospel Chapter 4, 5-41 with an introduction to guidelines on Prayer.
Finally, in response to this fast moving experience, the five-day Guided Prayer Retreat was held in March/April 2018, even when the days had to be split on account of the heavy snowfall.
My experience with this group of parents is like a blue sky appearing amidst the dark clouds of the past and present culture in Ireland. These mothers are the hub of the family and want to share their courage and spirituality with their children and friends.
The Founder Parent of the Belvedere Ignation Group has just completed a Two-Year Diploma in Spirituality and has applied for the Spiritual Directors Programme or a Masters Degree in Applied Spirituality for 2018/2019. Being a mother of four boys, the “green shoot” that has developed within this Ignatian family of Parents, is urgently needed within our Church and is under the guidance of Blessed John Sullivan SJ
Pope Francis’s words: “All of us are called to keep striving towards something greater than ourselves and our families and every family must feel this constant impulse. Let us make this journey as families, let us keep walking together. What we have been promised is greater than we can imagine” Amoris Laetitia,325.”