spirituality centre in a secularised environment like Flanders is a challenge
in many ways...
A challenge for sure. The number of spirituality
centres has decreased markedly in our country. But we try to offer a variety of
programmes which may appeal to a variety of people: these include discernment,
art, film, creative workshops, and even sport. We try to imbue these programmes
with a spiritual dimension. Attracting young people is not easy, but it is a
focus of ours, in line with one of the Apostolic
Preferences of the Society of Jesus. We do this with the ‘Family Days’
programme, and the activities on the first Sunday of each month when adults
attend a spiritual talk and teenagers have their own activity.
You also have
another project that will rejuvenate the “Old Abbey”...
it will be a new way for us to “accompany young people”. The “Old Abbey” will
soon share some of its facilities with the Jesuit secondary school of Ghent. Young
teenagers, from the first two years of secondary schooling, will be coming here.
It will be a challenge balancing the activities of the students and the
spirituality centre, but I believe it is possible: it is good for a spirituality
centre to have young people around. The
link with the spirituality centre will also open up several new opportunities
for the school. Since both the school and the centre are Jesuit-based, both build
on the same foundations, those of Ignatian spirituality. Will the teenagers be
too boisterous? They will spend most of the day in class, and go home at 4.00
pm. There will still be a lot of silence at the Oude Abdij!